“From the age of five I started drawing, and over time I added more skills, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, all types of graphic design, caricature and digital photography,” explains Stefan Marcu, the artist behind this stunningly realistic gorilla portrait.
Here, some seriously talented illustrators have pulled out their best pencils and drawing techniques to create some truly exceptional pencil art. Featuring celebrity portraits, animals, natural scenes, everyday objects and famous landmarks, there’s something to inspire you in each artwork here. Enjoy…
In the 17th century, graphite pencils replaces the metallic drawing styluses previously used by Medieval and Renaissance draftsmen. Dutch artists were known for their early graphite landscape drawings. In 1795, French painter Nicolas-Jacques invented what is now the modern pencil lead from a mixture of clay and graphite This invention allowed artists to have more control over the density and shade of graphite they used, and the tool subsequently increased in popularity amongst painters, architects, designers, and miniaturists. By the 19th century, pencil drawings were mainly a way for artists to sketch preliminary compositions and studies for paintings and sculptures. The introduction of other fine art pencils, including colored, watercolor, crayon, and charcoal varieties, expanded the medium’s versatility, and pencil drawings became a fine art form in their own right. Today, many artists continue the tradition and often combine pencil lead with other mediums for more dynamic drawings.
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This mindblowingly realistic image of a cat was created by traditional artist Paul Lung. The Hong Kong-based creative’s portfolio on Deviant Art is astonishing, featuring realistic portraits of both humans and animals.
Randy Owen creates incredibly realistic pencil drawings – like this image of Samuel L Jackson, drawn using Mars Lumograph black pencils – in his spare time.
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Pencil drawings can be rendered in so much photorealistic detail as to fool the eye, while a line drawing has the ability to communicate volumes more than what is shown on paper. Indeed, the humble pencil can be a powerful and versatile tool in the hands of a skilled and inspired artist. Whether you’re looking for highly detailed pencil drawings, rough sketches, colored pencil drawings, pencil with ink wash, or pencil with watercolor, we’re sure that you’ll discover works you love within our diverse selection of original pencil drawings for sale by artists from around the world.
The time in which each takes depends on his subject matter, with this particular A2 pencil drawing taking Lung approximately 60 hours to complete.
Burattini found an audience by sharing his pencil drawings on Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram, where he regularly shares his works in progress. This drawing was created using black coloured pencils, graphite pencils and charcoal.
“I believe reality is a beauty in itself so I don’t need to find ways to hide the imperfections of human nature so my work shows the perfection of the imperfections of life.”
Art runs throughout Varma’s family, his grandfather being master oil painter Raja Ravi Varma – one of the most highly regarded artists in India.
Artists who work with graphite lead praise its versatility. Harder and darker leads produce fine lines for more detailed pencil drawings, while soft and light lead is usually reserved for modeling and shading. Artists who make dark art pencil drawings often aim for sharp precision, while softer leads are more often associated with fluid, spontaneous lines. Typical drawing techniques include hatching, crosshatching, blending shades, and scumbling, in which the artist moves the pencil along the surface of the work in small circular motions. Artists often experiment with different kinds of pencils to make charcoal, watercolor, or colored pencil drawings. They also combine graphite lead with other mediums, including pastels, watercolors, and gouache, to spruce up monochromatic images. Pencil and ink drawings are also a common approach as the ink shades complement and play off one another.
Varma captures every tiny detail in his coloured pencil drawings
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Marcu created this study of a gorilla as his entry for The National Open Art Competition UK. “I’m pleased with the piece as it personally represents a big leap in scale, detail and patience,” he says. “It is roughly twice the size of my previous work and I learnt a lot working on this beast.”
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Illustration 20 phenomenally realistic pencil drawings 20 phenomenally realistic pencil drawings
“These objects and scenes in my drawings are thus meticulously detailed to create the illusion of a new reality not seen in the original photo.”
“Although the drawings and paintings I make are based upon a series of photographs and video stills, I use softer and more complex focuses on the subject so that the resulting art presents it as a living, tangible being,” he explains.
It’s almost impossible to believe this incredible image is a pencil drawing
Cath Riley’s pencil drawings are amazing to look at, but she regards her hyperreal work as just a stage in her ongoing evolutionary process of exploration and development.
French Neoclassical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres is known for using limited shading and precise lines to draw his pencil portraits. Adrian Ludwig Richter is similarly recognized for his sharp, wiry lines. Many painters began as draftsmen, as they sketched studies for their painted works. Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Cezanne, for example, sketched pencil drawings of flowers and landscape scenes. Gustav Klimt developed his own style as a draftsman, breaking away from the traditional three-dimensional shaded approach to create figures with pure line. His sketches like “Lasciviousness” for his Beethoven Frieze (1902) instead emphasize the flatness of picture’s surface. Other famous pencil drawings include Willem de Kooning’s “Two Women” (1952) and Pablo Picasso’s “Still Life with Glass, Apple, Playing Card, and Package of Tobacco” (1913). Eugene Delacroix, Amedeo Modigliani, Edgar Degas, John Singer Sargent, Walter Osbourne, William Strang, and Stephen McKenna are just a few other artists known for their pencil drawings.
This series by Cath Riley features hyperrealistic pencil drawings of flesh
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This incredible portrait of Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway is the work of Franco Clun, a self-taught artist from Italy who has picked up everything he knows about drawing from reading manuals and plenty of practice.
Entitled Sensazioni (sensations, in English) this mind-blowing pencil drawing was created by artist Diego Fazio. Over a period of roughly 200 hours, Fazio drew this intricate piece, which we still – no matter how long we look at it – cannot believe is a drawing. Simply amazing.
Burattini believes his work highlights the beauty of imperfection
“My focus is on the study of art and my personal development in all its branches, and I am obsessed with excellence in the creation of any product.”
German artist Armin Mersmann is the man behind this chilly woodland scene. Although he also works with oils, Mersmann is most known for his intense naturalistic graphite drawings. His work has been featured in more than 150 exhibitions and has won him over 30 awards.
“Hyperrealism in my work displays the beauty of the imperfections perfectly, opening a door within the subject that is not normally depicted in real life,” says Italian artist Giacomo Burattini, who drew this unusual portrait.
Her incredible pencil drawings are included in collections all over the world, and she has worked with clients including Nike, GQ, M&C Saatchi, The Economist, and The New York Times.
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You’d be forgiven for thinking that the images in this article are photographs. But we assure you, they’re not. Each and every one is hand-drawn pencil art – many of them in beautiful black and white.
“The very act of drawing every branch, twig, highlight and shadow, rendering textures from the extreme winter skins to the silkiness of new-fallen snow, transforms the scene into an intimate journey. This undertaking is considerably different than merely taking a photo or simply being there,” he explains on his site.
Mersmann’s work has been featured in exhibitions all over the world
When we first saw the work of Scottish artist Paul Cadden, it took a while for us to realise that they were in fact pencil drawings – the hyperrealist artist used just graphite and chalk to create these stunning images.
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She’s now moving in more experimental and abstract directions in her work, including very large scale drawing projects based around the human figure.
On his ridiculously good Deviant art portfolio, he explains his aim: “Portraying the human essence in a traditionalist manner, while not being ignorant about contemporary trends, is my goal as a craftsperson.”
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“The drawing process immersed me for hundreds of hours, interpreting and translating what I saw and felt from hundreds of reference photos, collected branches, twigs, and revisits to the site.”
Give self-taught artist Jay Varma a set of coloured pencils and a piece of paper and it will undoubtedly result in a gorgeous illustration, like this architectural study.
Jay Varma’s skills have been recognised by many, with his work featuring in various prominent publications. In his pencil drawings, Varma pays particular attention to mood and lighting.