How to Make a Fake Mug Shot

By Erika Cole

Updated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Camera

  • Computer with Internet access

i Handout/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

A fake mug shot can be fun to show to your family and friends. You can send it to people you know as a practical joke, or post it on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and see what kinds of responses you get. It's easy to create a fake mug shot that looks realistic if you have some basic graphic design skills and a good graphics editing program like Photoshop. If you don't have graphic design skills or access to good graphics editing software, you can use to create a fun fake mug shot.

Have a photo of yourself taken against a plain background. Most mug shots are taken against a white, gray or light blue background. Some are taken against a white or gray brick-style wall. Most mug shots aren’t pretty. You may want to dishevel your hair or use makeup to put some dark circles under your eyes. Browse some mug shots on or run a Google image search on “mug shots” to get ideas. You can either hold up a sign (printed with a fake file number and the name of the city in which you’re pretending to have been arrested), or you can add a sign later using a graphics editor.

Use a graphics program to crop your photo to about a 3:4 (width:height) aspect ratio. For example, 300 pixels wide by 400 pixels high or 600 pixels wide by 800 pixels high.

If you didn’t hold up a sign for your photo, use Photoshop or other graphics software to add one. Use a free graphics website or do a Flickr search for Creative Commons mug shot photos, then copy the sign and paste it into to your photo. Not all mug shots have a sign, but having one in your fake mug shot will make it more believable.

If you don’t have basic graphic design skills or software, or you just want to have fun and don’t feel like going to the trouble of creating your own fake mug shot, use Go to and click “Mugshots.” Upload a photo and type in your name, the city of arrest and a date. The website will generate a fake mug shot for you. You can download the picture or post a link to it.


Consider making your fake mug shot black and white for a traditional look. Most graphics software has an option to automatically convert photos to black and white, and also has a black and white option you can choose.