realistic drawing: tips, tricks, traits

Realistic Drawing

Drawing realistic images is not a simple thing to do but with the right tricks and time you can do it. Realistic art can vary across anything not just faces. however, drawing realistic faces is what I will be talking about. Some common ways to start a realistic drawing is by using a grid, simple shapes, and still life(looking at image and drawing what you see). However, drawing a face is more than just shapes and lines. Realistic drawings involve a lot of shading, adding dark black and bright white and every shade in between. With smooth blending and no harsh lines or scribbles.

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The image above is a portrait drawing I did. it took me about a week to complete working on and off all day.(the @ on it is my art Instagram where I post all my art). I started with a grid of 9 x 12 and created a rough sketch. I then erased the grid and began to fix details and shade. The shading is what takes the longest. Because, there has to be solid black and bright white and everything in between.  All of it must stay blended into each other so it doesn’t have harsh lines or edges. I just used a mechanical graphite pencil and a blending stub which I will describe soon. I find grids to be an easy drawing starter because you can go one square at a time thinking of everything as lines and shapes instead of one big complicated image.


the image above is also a drawing that I did using the following materials: Bristol paper, blending stub, graphite pencil (wooden or mechanical are both okay), Kneaded eraser, and reference image. The Bristol paper is a thick smooth paper that professional artist use a lot for realism. I found my Bristol sketch book at my local craft store. I find most of my materials there. The blending stubs are used to blend out graphite to create a smooth appearance and soft transition from light to dark. When it comes to pencils used for the most part any pencil will work I use a standard mechanical pencil. The kneaded eraser is not used for erasing mistakes but for adding highlights and lightening areas. The reference image is not required if you prefer freehand from your imagination which you don’t need a reference for.

Color vs Black and white

The image above is another drawing of mine. most of my art is in black and white. I do color as well just not as much. This drawing took me just over a week. I started it like I do every drawing. With a simple rough sketch using a grid then erased the grid and added details. then I started to color and shade it. Shading with color is not nearly as easy as with black and white. For one, you cant really erase colored pencil so I always slowly build up my color. instead of packing it straight in.

in order to keep everything smooth because blenders don’t work with colored pencil I use small circular motions with my pencil. This blurs away scribbles and harsh lines sometimes that doesn’t do the trick completely and I want my drawing to look smoother that’s when I use rubbing alcohol and a Q- tip to blend the colored pencil.


Shading is “the darkening or coloring of an illustration or diagram with parallel lines or a block of color”. the blending stub is used to blend the graphite to give a smooth gradient finish. This is very important in realism. when shading it is important to remember that it is easy to add color or darken areas, it is not easy to remove color or shade. When shading a realistic drawing I always start by making everything really light then slowly and carefully darken it. Shading is the key to realism. when things get shaded correctly they come to life. A little bit of solid black and a highlight can really change the appearance of a drawing. For example, the eye. When I shade the eye I have solid black in the center and a highlight in the top corner. This gives the eye a wet appearance. learning to shade different objects like a sphere is very helpful. I’ve linked a sphere shading tutorial here


The best way to improve your drawing skills is practice. Practicing shading will be the biggest help. If you can shade basic shapes then your realistic drawing skills will improve. Practicing different genders is incredibly helpful as well.  the female face is the hardest to draw so practicing that more will help improve your skills.