In the movie Elf, at one scene an Etch a Sketch is shown with an amazingly accurate rendition of the Mona Lisa drawn on it. Of course, it's really hard to draw on an Etch a Sketch, so I was wondering if someone actually created it on an Etch a Sketch, or if it was made some other way.

There are some other screens with less impressive Etch a Sketch drawings that would still be hard to make, including some that appear to be made in real-time by the character Buddy. I'm interested in how this was done too but I specifically want to know about the Mona Lisa.

  • I thought everybody could do that with their Etch a Sketch? They probably just let some grip do it between takes.
    – tbrookside
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 17:41
  • 1
    While not an answer I would wager it was artificially done most likely with a physical method but possibly cgi as well. The reasoning for this is that even if it could be done by hand the risk of the pro/art becoming damaged and unusable as part of the filming would seem like two big of a risk.
    – Joe W
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


As the Etch A Sketch is only shown finished, I wager they simply fixed a transparent sheet of PVC or tracing paper with a print of the Mona Lisa onto the screen:

Portrait of Mona Lisa on Etch A Sketch

In the scene it is only shown from a specific angle, possibly to hide differences in transparency or specular reflection. Moreover, it does not have the linear character that is typical of an Etch A Sketch drawing, even when done by a professional:

"One-of-a-kind America Etch A Sketch print created by George Vlosich III."

However, later on in the film, we can see Buddy writing in cursive on the Etch A Sketch, which must have been done using CGI:

Buddy writing a letter in cursive handwriting on the Etch A Sketch

  • This is a lot of speculation. Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 21:56
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    @DJSpicyDeluxe It's speculation, but it's well-reasoned and has evidence to back it up. Now that I can compare the Mona Lisa drawing to an actual Etch-a-Sketch drawing, I'm pretty convinced that it was not actually drawn on an Etch-a-Sketch.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 22:34

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