My Pencil Drawing Story

In September, 2014 I was watching YouTube videos on my iPad4 when I came across a video on drawing with regular graphite pencils. I was amazed at what could be drawn with pencils.

So I dug up an old black and white photo of my sister when she was 13 and attempted to draw here. I was quite pleased with myself and thought I did a good job, so I showed it off to my sister (now in her 40’s). She was polite, but I could tell she had issues with how I recreated her teeth. LOL!

Here is my very first serious attempt at drawing with pencil.

drawing of stephanie
My very first attempt at pencil drawing in September 2014.

Yes, looking back now I realize that I had a very long way to go in becoming a pencil artist.

But I did not give up!  Immediately I put pencil to paper and 3 days later produced this drawing.


Angelina Jolie – Sept 18, 2014 – Three days after starting to draw with pencil.

I could immediately see that I was getting better fast. But still, this is not that good and I was not satisfied to stop there.  So I got right back to drawing and here is what I ended up with.


My pencil drawing of Charlize Theron – Oct 2014

Okay. I’m starting to get the hang of this!

But it wasn’t a straight-up trajectory.  I faltered along the way, like with this drawing of my daughter.

My daughter Jenai completed Nov 2014.

I believe I took a step back from my progress with the above drawing, and perhaps one day I’ll do it over again.

At this point I’ve never drawn an animal. So I attempted to draw a cat.

Cat in the Mouse Hole – Nov 23, 2014

Here I was working on how to do wood texture as well. I think it came out pretty good.

Next, I decided to draw a baby. Again, I was working on textures, so you can see I really put a lot of effort in the details of the blanket.

Baby Blanket – Dec 5, 2014 in graphite.

The details of the blanket and the comforter I believe came out great. I was very pleased with this.

And then, I got really lazy and drew this of Anthony Hopkins. Cringe!

Original Drawing of Anthony Hopkins Dec 2014

I was not very pleased with the drawing of Anthony Hopkins. I would go on to actually improve this drawing (somewhat) in a future YouTube video

But then I showed my Charlize Theron drawing to a really good hyper-realistic artist via email who lived in New York. She emailed me back and pointed out all the areas I needed to fix by paying more attention to the reference photo details.  Every itsy bitsy detail had to be reproduced, was what she basically taught me. So I was tasked to draw the glass of water you see below.

water glass drawing
My first hyper-realistic drawing in graphite pencil.  December 2014

The only reason why my first hyper-realistic pencil drawing of the water and glass above was a success was because I was pushed to keep at it UNTIL it was EXACTLY like the photo. I attempted to stop 3-4 times during this drawing assuming it was completed. She would tell me to keep at it, pointing out the most microscopic deviations. I took a whole month to complete this because I had to keep going back and making tiny adjustments.

To this day I’m very thankful to that person (I don’t recall her name, sorry) because it unlocked within me what I needed to get better and better.

When I would take my time and not be happy with less than perfect, then my drawing showed it as hyper-realistic. When I was happy with less than perfect, well, I got okay drawings, such as the next one here.

Uma Thurman March 26, 2015

I was really proud of this drawing done 3 months following the “Water Glass” previously. It came out pretty realistic, including the shine in the gold chain and the loop earrings. The shading and highlights were pretty good, although now I can see that it would have been much better had I pushed the darks more. This is something I teach to others now, to push those darks.  This is advice I received from master artist JD Hillberry and consider it the second best advice I’ve received (following the advice to be picky about details as noted earlier).



Friend’s Son Graduation Gift – May 2015

While I think this came out pretty good, it was not “hyper”. Yet, I was proud of the clothing details. If I had continued on this as I did with the “Water Glass”, it would have been better. But I had not committed myself to such strenuous attention to detail that is required.

I took a break from drawing people and decided to try another animal. This time a couple of horses.

Mother and Foal – Sept 8, 2015


Pierce Brosnan Sept 13, 2015


Jack Nicholson – Sept. 18 2015

Again, I went so far with it and decided to call it finished although I knew I could push it more. At this time I was pushing out drawings within days, as you can see from the dates of the last few drawings and this next one.

Gordon Ramsey – Sept 29, 2015

After drawing Gordon, I took a month off before starting on this next one shown below.

Olde Tyme Kitchen – Nov 16, 2015. Practicing my eye for details.

The above drawing was my practicing to concentrate on the details. This is important to do from time to time in my opinion. The left half is the drawing, and the right is the original photo. Notice how meticulous I was in capturing EXACTLY what I could see in the original photo.

And then, I could tackle what I consider one of the best drawings I’ve ever done to this point.

Desert Man – Dec 23, 2015 in graphite with some charcoal (darks).

And why stop there?  I followed this up with what I consider an even better, hyper-realistic drawing of the “Girl in the Wall” shown below.


Girl in the Wall – January 28, 2016

The above drawing fools everyone I’ve shown it to. If I don’t say anything, they wonder why am I showing them a photograph of a girl.  Then I tell them it is a pencil drawing and get to enjoy their expressions.  I’m really proud of this one, especially being able to replicate leather gloves and the wall material.

A few months later I started on another drawing, this one for the daughter of friends that was graduating High School.

Chloe Graduation April 29, 2016

Note the freckles. It was very time consuming to replicate exactly what I found on the reference photo. This is required for photorealism.

Leo DiCaprio Nov 20, 2016
Rick and Sandy – drawing of 25th Anniversary picture. Nov 2, 2017


Homeless – Feb 10, 2018
Robert Downey Jr. – June 4, 2018


“Little Boy Lost” – Aug 22, 2018


“The Vision” – April 2020 (drawn from original painting by Akiane Kramarik)