Court sketch from the New Haven Black Panther trials, Robert Templeton, 1971
Sketching is also used as a form of communication in areas of Product Design such as Industrial Design. It can be used to communicate design intent and is most widely used in ideation
French illustrator Cécile Metzger’s quirky self-portrait is fascinating for its use of colour. The hint of red pattern on the cup immediately attracts the eye, and together with the contrasting blue cup and orange top – opposite colours on the colour wheel – keeps focus away from the girl herself. To see more, check out Metzger’s Tumblr.
Many of Colombian artist Juan Osorno’s surreal pencil studies depict voided human faces with unusual objects, landscapes or natural phenomena in the place of facial features. You can view the full collection of these abstract sketches on Osorno’s Behance page.
Sketching in graphite is a great way to kick off or restart your creative drive. Here we’ve sourced a selection of inspiring pencil drawings that demonstrate the wonderful (and sometimes wacky) art you can produce with a pencil. These pencil drawings span from photorealism to completely abstract. If you’re so inspired you want to immediately get some new materials, then don’t miss our post on the best pencils.
This mouthwatering still life was created by Steven E Hughes
“The best portrait drawings aren’t just pictures of faces, but records of a long moment shared between artist and sitter,” he explains. “Whether you are able to ask friends or family to sit for a portrait, or can attend a drawing class with a model, it is always an engaging and exciting experience to draw another person from life.”
Dave Brasgalla layered up his pencil marks to create this delicate iris
She’s now moving in more experimental and abstract directions in her work, including very large scale drawing projects based around the human figure.
Oil sketch Child in a hat with a black rosette, Mary Cassatt, c. 1910
Click the icon in the top-right of each image to enlarge it.
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This sketch is a great example of wonderfully weird pencil art
It’s almost impossible to believe this incredible image is a pencil drawing
The Pasha, an ink sketch by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, late 1700s
Burattini believes his work highlights the beauty of imperfection
This delicate pencil drawing is the work of Dave Brasgalla, an illustrator, graphic designer and concept artist based in Sweden. Brasgalla enjoys using traditional media for his personal projects, and finds coloured pencils a particularly versatile and satisfying medium. For this drawing Brasgalla layered up his pencil marks, leaving only a few areas of paper uncoloured.
Steven E Hughes is an associate professor of illustration at Northern Michigan University. His paintings and illustrations have been featured in many exhibitions and publications, including The New York Times.
This striking portrait was drawn by artist Jake Spicer, a passionate advocate of drawing as a tool for communication and inquiry. This particular portrait was created over two hours, using a combination of photographs of the model, Gigi, and sketches done during an hour-long portrait sitting.
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.”
“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.
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.
Nocturene-Battersea Bridge, a pastel sketch by Whistler, 1872
“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.”
James Martin played around with lost and found edges in this life drawing
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.
Her top tip for creating realistic pencil drawings? “Don’t forget you build up your layers slowly. Starting with a 4B for instance, add each layer gradually instead of using a hard pencil pressure from the outset,” she says. “You’ll find that your drawings have much more depth to them.”
This mesmerising pencil drawing is the work of veteran illustrator and fine artist James Martin. Martin currently teaches illustration at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida, and in the past has worked as a background artist for Walt Disney Studios and texture and matte painter for DreamWorks Animation.
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Figure sketch in ink of two women teaching a baby to walk, Carel Fabritius, c. 1640
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.
The time in which each takes depends on his subject matter, with this particular A2 pencil drawing taking Lung approximately 60 hours to complete.
How to draw a faceHow to hold a pencil properlyUse negative space to create water effects in pencil
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.
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.
Girl Knitting by the Sea, pencil and watercolour by Theo van Doesburg, 1918
A landscape sketch in brush and ink with washes, Paul Cézanne, (1888–90)
This pencil drawing was a commissioned portrait of a dog called Poppy. “It’s my job to not only create a drawing that’s pleasing to the eye, but one that captures Poppy and not just any dog,” explains Phillips.
Sketch in pencil and ink of the Piazetta, Venice, Canaletto, c. 1730
Gillian Lambert’s Self Deception series is stunning, and we struggled to chose just one illustration to feature. In the end we went for Hands because we love the simultaneous indifference and exasperation of the subject’s face as it is moulded by the hands.To see the full series, and Lambert’s other work, visit her website.
The research process for this mouthwatering still life piece began with a visit to one of the best doughnut shops in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan: Huron Bakery. “Looking at the contrasts between props guides the still life setup for me. If something is dark, put it against something light, and vice versa. Play pattern against solid areas and look for repetitions to move the eye across the composition.”
Illustration 20 phenomenally realistic pencil drawings 20 phenomenally realistic pencil drawings
1 Applications of sketching 2 Gallery 3 See also 4 References 5 Sources 6 External links
Two ink sketches of Krishna playing the Flute, van Doesburg, early 20th century
Illustration 15 beautiful pencil drawings to inspire you 15 beautiful pencil drawings to inspire you
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.
Sketches can be made in any drawing medium. The term is most often applied to graphic work executed in a dry medium such as silverpoint, graphite, pencil, charcoal or pastel. It may also apply to drawings executed in pen and ink, digital input such as a digital pen, ballpoint pen, marker pen, water colour and oil paint. The latter two are generally referred to as “water colour sketches” and “oil sketches”. A sculptor might model three-dimensional sketches in clay, plasticine or wax.
This sketch of a commuter on a train uses watercolour pencil, which we think conveys the artist/commuter relationship brilliantly. It provides enough detail to give the subject an individual face, but detail is deliberately missing. Artist Josu Maroto works in a variety of mediums, and you can explore more of his work here.
Less weird but no less wonderful, our next choice is Belgian artist Els Dufourmount’s untitled sketch of a girl. Combining a close-up focus and bold shading, Dufourmount uses light and dark to add life to the girl’s face.
Hughes also advises photographing your still life from several angles before you start work. “You never know when a hungry kid will run into your studio and grab that carefully positioned doughnut!” he smiles.
In this wonderfully atmospheric drawing, artist Ian Murphy uses graphite pencil to explore how light disperses around Venice’s confined waterways. Murphy works mostly in pencil and oil paint, and focuses particularly on architecture, emphasising the layers and textures of the buildings he recreates. To see more of his sketches and his paintings, visit his website.
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.
In this life drawing, Martin wanted to play around with the edges of the figure. “Edge control is the most valuable artistic tool to control the viewer’s eye,” he explained in an interview for ImagineFX magazine. “Hard edges draw attention, while soft or lost edges give the eye a place to rest.”
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.”
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.
A girl in a rowing boat, pencil, ink and watercolour, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1870s
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.
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.
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Art runs throughout Varma’s family, his grandfather being master oil painter Raja Ravi Varma – one of the most highly regarded artists in India.
Melanie Phillips has been a professional pet portrait artist since 1997. She works from her garden studio in Wales, which she shares with her artist husband Nicholas and Tibetan terrier Lily.
“I love botanical and floral subjects, and the patterns that are present in the petals of the Siberian iris quickly caught my eye,” he says. “I couldn’t resist buying a bunch of them, with the aim of working on a drawing at home.”
“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.”
See also Doodle Multi-Sketch Etch A Sketch, a toy Urban Sketchers References Sources Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Sketch”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
p. 186. External links Media related to Sketches at Wikimedia Commons
“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.”
“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.”
We just couldn’t pick a favourite from Mike Lee’s superb pencil drawing collection Repose, so we chose two. Lee uses only simple lines and shapes, reducing his subjects to their most basic forms. He has an extensive portfolio of pencil artwork, and you can discover more here.
The ability to quickly record impressions through sketching has found varied purposes in today’s culture. Courtroom sketches record scenes and individuals in law courts. Sketches drawn to help authorities find or identify wanted people are called composite sketches. Street artists in popular tourist areas sketch portraits within minutes.
A sketch (ultimately from Greek σχέδιος – schedios, “done extempore”) is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work. A sketch may serve a number of purposes: it might record something that the artist sees, it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea or principle.
How to draw and paint – 100 pro tips and tutorials01. Franco Clun – Anne Hathaway
Jesus and the Adulteress. A sketched figure composition by Rembrandt
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…
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.
Remrov is a self-taught artist who creates incredibly realistic pencil drawings, often of animals (although he will draw anything he finds interesting). He has autism, which for him means he sees the whole world in tiny little details. This drawing is of Pilaf, a lovebird Remrov has owned for 17 years. “Pilaf helps me a lot with the challenges I face as an autistic person,” he says.
Most visual artists use, to a greater or lesser degree, the sketch as a method of recording or working out ideas. The sketchbooks of some individual artists have become very well known, including those of Leonardo da Vinci and Edgar Degas which have become art objects in their own right, with many pages showing finished studies as well as sketches. The term “sketchbook” refers to a book of blank paper on which an artist can draw (or has already drawn) sketches. The book might be purchased bound or might comprise loose leaves of sketches assembled or bound together.
Composed using soft and therefore much darker graphite, this sketch by Charlie Mackesy shows how effective blurring can be through two indistinct figures. Mackesy is a master of painting and sculpture, as well as drawing, and you can browse his portfolio here.
Is it a bird? Is it an eye? Or could it even be a pencil? This weirdly wonderful sketch was created by Danish illustrator Fotini Tikkou, whose Instagram is full of bright and bold illustrations, favouring coloured pencils and gouache. We love the contrast between the foreground image, drawn in solid lines, and the wavy lines of the now-empty cage.
Three draft sketches in sepia for an equestrian monument, Leonardo da Vinci 1508–10
Randy Owen creates incredibly realistic pencil drawings – like this image of Samuel L Jackson, drawn using Mars Lumograph black pencils – in his spare time.
This series by Cath Riley features hyperrealistic pencil drawings of flesh
Sketch in pen and ink of an idea for a flying machine with a spiral rotor, Leonardo da Vinci.
“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.
Sketch of a reclining nude in brush and ink washes, Lajos Tihanyi, 1910
“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.
Mersmann’s work has been featured in exhibitions all over the world
Jake Spicer thinks the best portraits are created when you can meet and sketch the model in person
Sketching is generally a prescribed part of the studies of art students. This generally includes making sketches (croquis) from a live model whose pose changes every few minutes. A “sketch” usually implies a quick and loosely drawn work, while related terms such as study, modello and “preparatory drawing” usually refer to more finished and careful works to be used as a basis for a final work, often in a different medium, but the distinction is imprecise. Underdrawing is drawing underneath the final work, which may sometimes still be visible, or can be viewed by modern scientific methods such as X-rays.
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“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.
Varma captures every tiny detail in his coloured pencil drawings