How to make drawings come to life

Drawing is a skill that most people can boast of. Drawing images that come to life however, require hours of work and are mastered by people who’ve put hours into their work and are driven by passion. Drawing images that look as real as the person next to you is possible, but requires a lot of attention paid to the intricate and minute details that join to form the image.

It’s important to remember that drawing aims at capturing the uniqueness and the expression of your subject. If you are drawing a subject with a big nose, don’t try to slim the nose or remove wrinkles, you want your drawing to look like a real person, not an ideal.

Choose a photograph to draw

If you want to draw something realistic, begin by choosing something real from your surroundings. You could choose a reference or a photograph. Choose an image that matches your skill-set. If you are a beginner, choosing to draw the aged can be fun but also challenging because of the extra intricate lines and texture of their faces. Male portraits usually have stronger shadows while female portraits can have hair which may or may not be difficult to draw depending on your capability.


Start by creating a sketch of the picture you really want to draw. Light sketches will enable you to proportionally put the features where they ought to be and erasing them will be much easier and won’t interfere with the intricate details you must add later. Lightly begin with the major features first so you can create the foundation for the portrait. If you are drawing a beautiful face, begin with the eyes, inside the ear, some strokes of the nose and lips.

Don’t make assumptions when drawing a person. If there are two laugh lines, don’t add more. If there are no bags under the eyes, refrain from putting them. Assumptions could be false and mess up your picture. However, if you do not want to make an exact replica of the photograph, you can add more details later.


The most crucial part that transforms a simple image into a real-life portrait is shadowing. Determine the lightest and darkest parts of your image. If you want your image to be as real-life as possible, make the lightest parts as white as you can with your finest pencil and the darkest parts as black as possible using the boldest pencil.

Use a smudging tool or your finger to achieve realistic shadow effects. This will blend the medium you use whether it is charcoal or graphite and the shadows will be lighter and easier to erase if you make a mistake.

Fill in the finer details

The finer details come last after shadowing and outlining. Take time to fill in places in the eyes, lips and nose. The finer details are the ones that really bring out the realistic quality of the image. Blend the pencil strokes with cotton swabs or tissue paper rather than outlining to get the desired skin tones.

You can begin using watercolours and coloured pencils if you had been using a pencil up until this point.

Try your best but don’t fret when the picture does not come out the way you wanted the first time. There’s always another chance to make it perfect.

Practice daily and the end result will be a beautiful masterpiece. It’s worth it too. It’s exhilarating to look back and see the beautiful thing you created.

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