My Drawing Process


Title: "Thy Fearful Symmetry"  (from a poem by William Blake, "The Tyger")

Pen & Ink with Graphite, finished in Photoshop

Time to complete - 52 hours

It begins with a loose sketch based on photo reference. I will use several photos for reference along the way, especially for rendering in detailed areas like around the eyes and nose. The first sketch allows me to decide on basic shapes, shadows, and sizes. 

Then I re-draw the sketch focusing on what I want to accentuate in the drawing.

Next, I do a first pass in pen and ink and graphite on one side of the face - this will then be scanned, flipped and joined with the other half - which not only allows me to save time, but ensures that I have a perfect facial symmetry.


The joined facial hemispheres are then printed and hand inked some more.

Once that is done, the eyes are added in graphite and the second, full face inking is completed. Then it is scanned once again and input into Photoshop. I scan at 600DPI (dots or pixels per inch) which is twice the normal requirement for printed images. For comparison, basic computer monitors and TVs are typically 72 DPI.

I use a small format, 8.5 x 11 bed Cannon CanoScan LIDE 120. 

Using a stylus and tablet I then begin to gradually add more lines and shadows. I use a small, inexpensive XP-Pen tablet. Although I own a very expensive Wacom Cintiq 16 pen display, I have never really liked working with it and so, prefer this little tablet instead.

As I add more lines and semi-transparent shadow layers the face begins to take shape - Typically the  line sizes are no larger than 4 pixels, and generally 1 or 2 pixels. (approximately 0.0104 inch) This drawing had a total of 11 shadow layers.


Semi-transparent layers of black and white are added to deepen and expand areas of shadow and light which add visual drama, depth, and intensity.


White hairs are added, one by one, to soften the image - this can take several hours or days. I typically listen to audio books and podcasts during these long stretches of work. But I find the work itself hypnotically soothing, often entering  a 'flow state'.

Tactile / Kinesthetics generated in my mind - As I am applying the hair, I often feel like I am actually petting the animals face and I can feel how soft their fur feels. It is quite an odd but pleasing visceral perception and also guides me as I draw, softening rougher areas.

I struggle with knowing when to let a drawing go. When to stop working on it. Sometimes I have to take a break or maybe just stop working and come back the next day. There is always "just ONE more" line I want to add.

In fact -I had to FIX AND RE-UPLOAD a new version just now because I saw something I did not like about the final drawing - HAHAHA!


That's my process from beginning to end.

Because this turned out to be a long post - I will do the Q & A separately in a few days.

Until next time ... Here's some of my own drawing music - "Another 20 Minutes" 



  1. I am in awe of your talent and skill they look so real !!! BTW,Yes,its me Phoenix Rising The well behaved moderator..hehe. My email cause I could not find yours,its late & my brain fell asleep hours ago .


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