Create 3D Digital Polaroid Effect in Procreate

Create 3D Digital Polaroid Effect in Procreate main article image
Posted on October 21, 2021 by Kymmie J.

Are you familiar with polaroid? Polaroid is actually a company that is best known for its instant cameras and films. You can read the history of Polaroid here.

Nowadays, when you say Polaroid, one would typically think about instant photo printers or cameras with printers that use self-developing films to print right after you take a picture. It has a distinguishable feature, having squared shape film with a thicker frame on its bottom part, and is perfect for display and decoration.

It is a fun way to have and use for memory-keeping and scrapbooking as you can preserve memories using a polaroid camera.

There are a lot of enjoyable ways to use polaroid photos. Some use it for creating a mood board on the wall where one would arrange the polaroid photos in rows and columns, or hang these on their wedding day or any parties, others would pin these in a wire memo board or stick it with a washi tape on their scrapbook and journals, or even stick these on the fridge using magnets.


Did you know that you can still attain the polaroid effect without wasting papers or films? You can create this digitally on your tablet.

To get started, you need:

  • A tablet, stylus, or any iPad version that is compatible with Apple Pencil
  • A drawing app, I prefer using Procreate to create digital stickers

This tutorial will teach you how to create a transparent polaroid so you can add your own photos to it, add texture and shadow to make it more realistic.


A. Prepare the Canvas

1. Open the Procreate app

2. Create a new canvas by tapping the + icon then use a square-sized document or create your own

B. Create the Polaroid (Base)

3. Start creating the polaroid by tapping the Selection tool then choose Rectangle

4. Then on the canvas, draw the rectangle shape, it doesn’t matter if it’s not in the center

5. Once you released your stylus, you will see a grayscale pattern outside the shape

6. Select the color you like in the Color picker tool

7. Drag and drop the color on the shape

8. Once done, tap the Selection tool to exit the selection

9. You can resize or move the shape to the center by tapping on the Move tool

C. Create the transparent layer (or where you will place your photo)

10. Duplicate Layer 1 by swiping to the left

11. Change the color of the duplicated layer by dropping a different color to that layer

12. Once recolored, you can tap the Move tool to resize the shape

13. Use Freeform to adjust each side of the shape, make sure to create a bigger space for the bottom part as we are trying to imitate a polaroid picture

14. To make it transparent, tap on the duplicated layer then tap Select. You will then see a gray pattern outside of the duplicated layer

15. Still having the Selection tool enabled, tap on the layers again, but this time, tap on the original layer or the one we did on Step B

16. Tap on the original layer again then tap Clear

17. Uncheck or Delete the duplicated layer

18. Uncheck the Background color layer to see the final output 

Now we have created a polaroid photo. You can stop here or if you want to challenge yourself and make the polaroid photo more realistic, we will add shadow and texture.

D. Apply texture

19. Tap on the Layers panel, then add a new layer by tapping on + icon. On the new layer, we will add texture

20. Tap the brush tool then look for 4B Compressed brush in the Charcoals section, then set the size to the highest

21. Tap on the Color and set it to the same color of the polaroid base from Step B. If you do not remember what color you have previously used, you can tap and hold on to the polaroid to invoke the Eyedropper tool.

22. Lightly brush on the polaroid 

23. Open the Layers panel and change the blend mode of Layer 2 to Multiply by tapping on N and you will see it created a darker color. For added effect, you can duplicate this and play with the opacity

24. Tap the same layer and choose Clipping Mask

Now you have a realistic textured polaroid photo. You can play around with the blend mode and opacity for more effect. You can stop right here and save your artwork or you can continue on adding shadow. We’ll focus more on the outer shadow of the polaroid base and the inner shadow of the transparent part.

E. Add shadow

25. Enable the Background color again so it’s easier to see the shadow we’ll create

26. Tap on Layer 1 and duplicate it by swiping to the left

27. Tap on the bottom Layer 1 then choose Select

28. Tap on the Color picker then choose Black

29. Drop the color on the polaroid, you won’t see any effect since we are working on the bottom layer. Tap on the Selection tool to exit

30. Tap on the Layers panel and you will see that the bottom Layer 1 is now in Black color

31. Tap the Move tool and adjust the shadow

You can stop here or add a more subtle blur effect using Gaussian Blur.

32. Tap on Adjustments tool, then Gaussian Blur then choose Layer

33. Using your stylus, slide to adjust the blur

34. Then tap on the Layer and adjust the opacity by tapping N

F. Save and export

35. Disable the Background color layer

36. Export your polaroid tapping on Actions then Share, choose PNG

That’s it! It’s so much fun to create these polaroid photos. You can easily import it to your favorite note-taking app and add photos to it. Make sure to put your photos below the polaroid so you’ll see the shadow effect.

If you are using Goodnotes, try to import your photos first then place the polaroid over the photos.

If you are using Noteshelf, you can use the arrangement feature where you can Send to Back or Bring to front the photos and polaroid.

Have fun creating! 

Love this post? Check out more of my articles here!

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