How to make an awesome pencil sketch of any photograph

Picture of How to make an awesome pencil sketch of any photograph
I draw things. A lot of things. But drawing or sketching is not a gift, but rather a skill that can be learned. Try these techniques and be prepared to AMAZE your friends and family at what a good artist you are!

In this instructable, I will be walking you through how to take any photograph and make a kick-ass large-format sketch out of it, suitable for framing, gift giving, or impressing that girl/guy you wanna shag. Cuz lets face it: drawing is sexy, baby, yeah! Grrrr!

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Assemble your art supplies

Picture of Assemble your art supplies
To start with, you will need to go to your local art store to get the items that you don't already have. I am going to assume that you are like most people and don't have a single item except maybe a number 2 pencil. Oh, and you will need scissors and scotch tape in a few steps, but I assume that you have that stuff.

Here is a list of what i recommend you get in order to successfully complete this instructable:

Required supplies:

-sketch pencils in different hardnesses: HB, 2B, 4B, 6B (and 8B optional) = $5
-a sketch pad that is 18" by 24" = $10
-1/2" drafting masking tape = $4
-a pad of tracing paper 9" x 12" = $3
-a good wad of kneaded eraser = $2
-a "Tuff Stuff" eraser stick = $2
-dry cleaning eraser pad = $4
-a foxtail (aka drafting duster) = $3
-assorted paper stumps for shading = $2
-prismacolor pencil sharpener = $4
-erasing shield = $1

Total required supplies: $40

Optional supplies, in order of importance:

-small pencil case for pencils and erasers = $2
-larger pencil case for small pencil case, eraser shield, and dry cleaning eraser pad =$3
-sketch pad board 23"x26" = $10
-stand-up easel for displaying your finished work like a pro= $20
-nylon portfolio bag 23" x 31" = $22

Total optional supplies: $57

Total recommended supplies: $97
1-40 of 180Next »
MohammodA13 days ago
chinthadap made it!14 days ago

its nice

akochas1 month ago
AnamtaZara1 month ago
somesh.viswa4 months ago

i've drawn dis pic n i want to learn a way to make it more realistic.....can u help me.....???


thats actually really good, ive been drawing for 4 years now and ive learnt that to make a really great realism drawing or whatever you have to have at least 3 pencils, i normally use a 8B, 4B and H to get the different gradient of colour. Anoother thing i would say is you need a bigger difference in darkness, so lets suppose the features of the face have to be a lot darker ... eg: shadows on ears and shadows around the nose, trust me you will see a great improvement once you darken the shadows a bit more , another thing i would say is never let any "paper" (blank spaces without coloring) of course it really depends on the pic ur basing from. However im pretty sure you will always find places you could draw in ... hope this helped

VikasT14 months ago
prajwal.ghale made it!5 months ago

I made it!!

gazishajib5 months ago
Erchan7 months ago

This video is unavailable. would you upload again when u are available please?

mugshotremoval10 months ago

This would be a great way to make someone a nice gift

jacobjackson11 months ago

@thesparine Great post..!!

@meghna21 Found another video tutorial that also explains the same thing in bit more detail, I think it might help you. -

golfiscool11 months ago

Great instructable on how to sketch! You use a lot of the same materials that I use. Nice job.

meghna2111 months ago

i wanted to learn to sketch not trace

Erchan1 year ago

Time, time, time... Also need experiences.

IDEA: Use photoshop actions. Make it in 1 minute. If you want naturel look print %60 - 70 opacity. Then sketch it yourself and make %100.

alky19571 year ago
Yup, it says "This video does not exist"
98893 years ago
This is great and all, and interesting techniques. But ... this isn't sketching. It's TRACING. It doesn't matter if you're going to lightly erase all of the lines after you trace it. It's still tracing. A real sketch is looking at a reference photo and using your own skill to sketch out the picture, NOT drawing your pencil over lines that are already there for you and claiming that you "sketched" it. That doesn't make art; it makes a lame copy. You didn't make it. You just copied a photo.
WAHOAH! Hey dude, the Instructable is called how to make an awesome pencil sketch out of any photograph. What were you expecting? Personally I thought it was going to end up being some sort of cheap computer trick, and I was pleasantly surprised. Some people, myself included, have absolutely no artistic skill but enjoy doing things like this, working with the hands et cetera. You don't have to follow the 'ible yourself, so don't be rude to someone when they go to all the effort to make a useful Instructable. Also, um, what's up with your inactivity? Did you create your 'ibles account simply to slag off at this guy? Low blow, man.
I don't disagree with what you are saying, and I won't try and speak for 9889, but the reason I agree with the statement (hence the +1), is due to the fact this member wrote in the opening statement of this ible that "drawing or sketching is not a gift, but rather a skill that can be learned".

I take offense to that being an artist and someone who has created, sold and gifted many pencil portraits and drawings.

There is no "art to tracing". Thats my opinion, and no one needs to agree with it if they don't want to.

Clearly someone who has no artistic ability can benefit and perhaps learn something from the efforts of this author, I personally feel however, that some of the statements made were unnecessary.
Obviously, you can have a natural ability or gift for something, such as art or music, but that's not to say that these things can't be learned as well. Obviously, tracing is way easier than drawing something freehand. Obviously, you have every right to take offense to someone disregarding your hard work. But I was not disagreeing with 9889's point, I was disagreeing with the way he said it. People do not need to be so abrasive. I completely agree with you, tracing is not sketching. But it's the next best thing.
I agree that 9889 could have made the same point in a slightly nicer way. I don't know this member, and have no reason to stick up for him or her.

I think a lot of people just don't like when this tracing method is used and passed off as original free-hand work, suggesting theres no talent needed to create art (as the author said). At the end of the day, a child can learn to trace. So in a way its like changing the lyrics to a song and calling it original.

As long as people are truthful with how they created something there shouldn't be anything wrong with it.
Ok, I'm still in on this :)
Consider the classical western european music tradition: by that I mean music written by a composer using symbols on paper, played by people trained in the discipline of a performing on musical instruments. The original idea for the "music" can only be accredited to the composer, all others involved in a musical performance are merely reproducing, using what they have been taught by others as their guides. Why would someone pay a lot of money to "see" a conductor leading a performance of a Beethoven symphony? Mr. Beethoven isn't going to show up to defend his idea, so is the conductor no less the artist for that? Is he reselling something that is not his? It's a pretty twisted take on this thread, but an interesting discussion to some of us! (BTW, yes, I am a former pro musician, lost my hearing, and I hate fakers.) Still, this instructable is no more than an intro to sketching, using tools and exercises, just like beginning violin lessons!
Do you denounce photography as "art", since you merely point and shoot? What about the Camera Obscura? Camera Lucida? Can't this method be seen as an aid to the drawer? For certain some people have differing abilities, but to disqualify someone who reveals a technique that may help someone enjoy drawing photo-realistic sketches can't be that bad. Purism is boring. Art for art's sake. Live and let live.
Tracing is not Art, its merely copying.
And No, I don't "denounce photography as art".

I don't agree with the author of this ible who says that "drawing is not a gift but something that can be learned".

We all have the right to an opinion. No one said you had to agree with mine.
What about throwing paint on a canvas and rolling around in it? What about making a video of cars driving down a country road and projecting it on a painting? What about piling rocks on a beach? Anything you can use to express yourself is art. In the comment below I'm agreeing with stringstretcher.
I respect your opinion, but it doesn't change mine.

TRACING IS NOT ART. - It's no better than plagiarism.
*grits teeth and resists the urge to throw a small animal* Okay, I'll go for a compromise. What if there's a deliberate shift in the layout of the photo, or if the photo is taken by the tracer? Or if the photo is taken by the tracer and then tracing is deliberately used as a statement, a message put across about perhaps the very thing you're complaining about? Then is it art? Then is it enough of a personal expression for you to accept that for some people, maybe, it is in fact ART???
I'm not trying to tell anyone how they should think nor how they should view art. So let's be clear on that first.

In this case specifically, if anyone uses a "tracing technique", they should come clean about it and not try and pretend they did it without copying. Plain and simple.

To address your broader argument on the basis of artistic merits, I have to ask you what you think of all those people who copy the works of accomplished artists and sell the work for profit. Certainly the buyer feels defrauded when they learn they paid for a forgery. With your argument, the final product is still art. Right?

So let me also ask you, what does that say about the pure expression of Art, when its been taken to the lowest form and is merely copied? Whether its for financial gain, or for this authors chances of landing a shag? (Read what he wrote in his intro).
From my understanding, what we're discussing here is a photograph being traced. No-one in their right mind is going to pay for a tracing thinking it's a legit PHOTO. When would they learn they paid for a forgery, two days after purchase? I don't think so.
Secondly, my mother did an art crime paper just last year, returning to University after a while. I think that copying the works of accomplished artists is downright despicable. But still I say, the focus here is on a photograph, presumably that the tracer has taken, and which IS NOT the work of an accomplished artist.

Your entire argument here is of some lowdown creep stealing a well-known artist's work and using it for financial or social gain. However, this is virtually impossible using the techniques outlined in this Instructable. As you can plainly see, this Instructable is for the tracing of a PHOTOGRAPH, NOT a drawing that has already been made.

If your focus is on making a drawing like this and passing it off as an original sketch, still I disagree with you when you say it is copying. Even after the tracing process, there is still a lot of work to be done, and there is skill and personal flair involved in finishing the drawing. Many artists used and still use reference images for sketches and paintings. This is virtually the same thing.

In conclusion, forgery is NOT the issue here. The issue is on whether or not the tracing of a photograph is or is not your original work. I still insist that it is, and although the final product may or may not be too accurate for the tracer's skill, the indisputable fact remains that the person in question has made something of their own, taking whichever details they desire from a photograph and attempting to imitate them. I therefore finish with my final statement:

Tracing an existing photo and attempting to imitate its details can be, and is often, original work and art.
I know we're discussing a tracing, but you have referenced things not pertaining to this instructable, so lets be fair when I do the same.

"What about throwing paint on a canvas and rolling around in it?..."

Clearly, we have a difference of opinion, and that's okay. I'm not trying to make you change your mind any more than you'll change mine.

I see Tracing as a Copy and NOT original work.

I also don't see it as worthy of the same artistic credits due those who create without tricks, aids or plain forgery.
Clearly, you misunderstand. When you said tracing is not art, I responded by using some examples of what is most definitely art, but might not have used a whole lot of effort in making it, or is rather obscure. Those examples didn't have anything to do with this Instructable, and neither does this argument. I am officially distancing myself from this conversation, as I'm tired of trying to reason with someone who, quite frankly, cannot see another's point of view and is rather fixed in their opinions.
You're "tired of trying to reason with someone who, quite frankly, cannot see another's point of view and is rather fixed in their opinions."


I have been nothing but cordial and polite to you. I have said that I respect your opinion. I have said I am not trying to change anyones opinion or tell people how to think. Just because I don't agree with you doesn't make me incapable of seeing your point of view!

I JUST DON'T AGREE WITH YOU! That doesn't make me right or make you right. They are just opinions. We all have the right to one.

In the future, you may want to refrain from engaging in any type of debate if your sole goal is to be proven right or change the opinions of others. Getting so frustrated that you must "grit your teeth" and have to "resist the urge to throw a small animal" is clearly a problem, perhaps one to address with a mental health professional.

And if you must remind others (so I have read) about the "be nice" policy, perhaps you can at least take your own advice before rudely dismissing someone who does not agree with you.

Have a wonderful time here at Instructables and good luck to you in the future.
Okay, revoking the distancing.

Sorry, the insult was uncalled for. Everyone is indeed entitled to their own opinion etc etc. As for the gritting of the teeth, I was exaggerating. I was using a technique commonly known as hyperbole. Yes, you were polite to me, excepting your previous statement. My sole goal is not to be proven right, it's to encourage people in general to be open-minded. Saying something is not, and cannot ever be, something else, is indubitably closed-minded. Sorry. That's just my opinion, and I'm entitled to it.
Well lets agree on this:

You believe that Tracing in this case does not discount the artistic merit of the project. (I get that).

I believe that Tracing is a form of copying, and although it can appear artistic I think the final product is misleading and less authentic.

We both have our opinions. I understand yours. I just don't agree with it.

And having a difference of opinion does NOT make anyone close-minded.

If we can't agree on that, then I give up.
Okay, I agree. I think the problem here is that you're arguing that tracing ISN'T art, and I'm arguing that tracing CAN BE art, under the right circumstances. In this case however, I will agree to disagree.

(By the way, I was thinking of making an artwork that is deliberately misleading and less authentic in order to comment on several different things, that was why I was so argumentative)

Humble apologies (corny as that sounds),

St Jimmy
Well if you write your misleading and inauthentic artwork as an instructable, don't let it go to your head. Despite the fact they call it "published", you still don't qualify as an "author" in respected circles.
Hey, what was that you said about the "be nice" comment policy? What would you have me do in order to qualify as an author? Now you're just being mean. You just insulted my attempts at social commentary. I think you need to take everything a notch down, and stop thinking from just your own perspective for once. Look at everything from a third-person sort of opinion, and evaluate things objectively. Then apply tact etc, I know I'm lecturing at this point in time, but I think it's my turn.
I apologize. My comment was intended to be satiric in nature towards your "by the way" comment. I was not trying to insult you or be mean. I thought it was mildly funny to reference the "author" context against the "artist" context for which we have been debating.

Perhaps this is where we should part ways and maintain to "agree to disagree".

Take Care.
In that case, no hard feelings.

1-40 of 180Next »