The Draw To Life Challenge: How-to Guide

What Is the #DrawToLifeChallenge?

The #DrawToLifeChallenge is a fun summer activity series produced by the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) where we invite everyone to transform our Hubble images. Whether it be in the form of a GIF, an electronically created painting, a scanned crayon creation, or an original dot-to-dot outlining, bring to life what it is YOU see in the stars and cosmos!

Challenge Guidelines:

  1. Use images from the Hubble Space Telescope. You can find a lot right here on Illuminated Universe, and a nearly endless supply at HubbleSite.
  2. Once you have made your creation, all you have to do is post it to your personal social media account with the following tags:


    You are not limited to just these tags, but must include them to be considered a formal entry. Feel free to add more hashtags (astronomy-related or not) that pertain to your creation.
  3. In the post, make sure to identify the object in the Hubble image. You may write the objects formal name in the description section of the post.
  4. Although it will not affect the selection process, all participants are encouraged to follow Space Telescope on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Since we will be posting some of our fan favorite creations using these social media platforms it is a good idea to follow us to see if your artwork is featured.
  5. Do not feel like you are limited by the type of device you own. There are many different ways to make these creations so be sure to explore different routes. Keep reading for inspiration!

Tips from the Summer Interns!

The 2019 Space Astronomy Summer Program Students at STScI have put together some of our entries for the #DrawToLifeChallenge with explanations on how we made them. Keep in mind you do not need to follow what we do in order to enter the challenge. However, if you need inspiration, feel free to use our creations as guides. Your imagination is the limit!

Anonymous Summer Intern #001

I first started by looking though galleries on HubbleSite to find an image I could turn into something else. The Sombrero Galaxy kind of looked like a sombrero, but also a disk or dish. Seeing as we were in space already, I thought it could also look like the front end of the U.S.S. Enterprise. From there, I took off with drawing out the idea.

I saved the Hubble Heritage image of M104 to my computer and then emailed myself the file to get it on my tablet. I saved the image and used the pen and editing tools inside the tablet gallery to sketch out what I had in mind for the picture.

From there, I used my initial sketch as a guide so that I could draw out my picture in stages, because I wanted to make a GIF with a stop-motion feel to it to show my progress as I drew more detail.

I would draw a little and then save each of the newer images as separate files. I would then draw on top of the newly saved image, giving it more detail and color.

Now all that was left was to combine all the images and turn it into a GIF. I hadn’t made a GIF before, but I knew of a website called GIPHY that I used to help successively show one image after the other. At the top right coroner of the website, there is a “create” button that you can use to make a GIF.

In GIPHY, you can arrange the timing of the images as well as add captions in pretty fonts. As you can see above, I had a fun time with the fonts!

Anonymous Summer Intern #002

After looking through some of the Hubble galaxy images, I settled on NGC 6745, which I thought looked a bit like a hummingbird at first glance.

I started by taking a screenshot of the galaxy image, but I didn’t have any tools or art programs to draw with. I downloaded GIMP, a free and open-source image editor, and sketched a hummingbird’s head over the galaxy image using only the trackpad on my laptop. 

GIMP can help you produce much more detailed art if you have time to explore its full capabilities and has support for tablets and other art tools. However, it is possible to produce something in minutes, even for those who aren’t artistically inclined or do not have access to expensive apps.

In the end, my creation took me less than an hour to make and I made it while taking a few “mental breaks” from work. I think I will take more mental breaks for this challenge in the future!

Anonymous Summer Intern #003

Scrolling through some Hubble images of galaxies, I came across one that appeared to form the outline of my favorite animal, the dolphin! I downloaded and saved the image of M101 (the Pinwheel Galaxy), and opened it with Paint 3D. This app allowed me to doodle some dolphins as well as copy, paste, and rotate my doodle. I added some 3D stickers of small little fish of various colors to represent the stars in the galaxy. Voila… the dolphin galaxy!

Some Useful Image Editing Tools:

Leave a comment to share how you made your images and what software packages you my have used! We’d love to hear from you.


Leave a Reply

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: