Fan art of Lara Croft from Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

I have had a passion for art and design from a young age, taking art through school, and continuing to develop my own personal collection of artwork. I particularly took an interest in drawing, and have honed my drawing skills in the last five years over many hours of work. For each successive drawing, I try to put in more detail which has resulted in my drawings taking progressively longer, some of the largest (A2 paper size) taking up to 60-80 hours.

My drawings have mainly consisted of black and white portraits and fan art of celebrities and characters, but I have recently been getting into coloured pencil drawing and figure drawing which will help me greatly in improving my character concept art to create more realistic and visually appealing designs.

Graphite portrait sketch of actress Melissa Benoist.
Graphite portrait sketch of Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

My process for any drawing begins with finding a good reference photo. I then adjust the tonal values of the photo in Photoshop which will help me later when it comes to shading.

For portraits, I then superimpose a grid on top of the image which I use to get accurate proportions in my drawings before any serious drawing or shading. I will then copy a similar grid onto my paper, and do some basic line art to identify where key landmarks are such as the eyes, mouth, eyebrows and nose. After this, I will normally go straight to shading the eyes as they are the first thing that people tend to look at. This makes the eyes are one of the most important parts of a drawing - if the first aspect people look at in a drawing is off, then no matter how good the rest of the drawing is, that aspect won’t go unnoticed.

Graphite sketch of a bedroom.

After getting the eyes right, I will move on to the other landmarks of the face (mouth, eyebrows and nose) before shading the rest of the drawing. The most time consuming aspects are usually highly textured or intricately detailed aspects like clothing and hair. For example, the hair in the drawing of Melissa Benoist (seen towards the top of this page) probably took around a third to half of the entire drawing time (which was over 60 hours). Another example of intricate details would be the bedroom drawing (seen directly above this paragraph). The most time consuming part of this drawing was easily the pillows. To create the patterns and satin-like material,  I had to pay close attention to the lighting and shading and shade accurately at quite a small scale - though the drawing was A3, the pillows were still quite small and the patterns even smaller.

While black and white graphite drawings do come with a lot of difficulties, coloured drawings have even more, as not only is erasing difficult, but getting the hues as well as the values correct as an added challenge. Since colours in photos and in real life are often made up of a number of other colorus, it is not as simple as picking up a brown pencil to shade a brown object. In the Tomb Raider drawing seen at the top of this page, I had to spend a significant amount of time analysing the reference photo and experimenting with colour combinations to work out what colours I needed to combine to create the same colours from the image. 

Graphite portrait sketch work in progress of actor Hugh Jackman.
Graphite portrait sketch work in progress of actor Hugh Jackman.
Finished graphite portrait sketch of actor Hugh Jackman.

The above images show the process described earlier - you can see the grid and basic outlines in the above image. These process images also particularly show the amount of detail that goes into drawing the hair. I often draw the hair over multiple passes which each add more detail and shading than the last to build up the texture and shading.

The caricature of Tom Cruise (see the gallery below) in the iconic scene from Mission: Impossible would be the only portrait I have drawn without a grid. With caricatures, the aim is to create unrealistic proportions, but while I did not need to worry about getting the proportions correct, I did have to spend some time collecting and analysing a number of reference photos of Tom Cruise to work out what features of his face stand out the most. More difficult than this was the actual drawing of these exaggerated features, as in caricatures the features need to be exaggerated without losing the mannerisms that make that person recogniseable. This was much harder than I expected, and resulted in my first attempt being a good caricature, but unrecogniseable as Tom Cruise.

Fan art of Lara Croft from Shadow of the Tomb RaiderGraphite portrait sketch of actress Melissa Benoist.Graphite portrait sketch of Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.Graphite sketch of a bedroom.Graphite sketch of a hand making the peace sign.Graphite portrait sketch of actress Victoria Justice.Graphite sketch close up of suit and tie.Graphite portrait sketch of actor Grant Gustin.Graphite caricature sketch of actor Tom Cruise from Mission: Impossible.Graphite portrait sketch of actor Hugh Jackman.Graphite sketch of an outstretched hand.Graphite portrait sketch of actor Daniel Craig.