PENCIL PORTRAIT ARTIST
Commission a pencil portrait from photos
Welcome to the pencil portraits page. Working directly from customer photos I’m able to take commissions from anywhere in the UK or overseas. On this page you’ll find information about the process of commissioning a pencil portrait, or you can follow the link below to go straight to the drawing gallery
For portraits in pencil I draw onto a smooth and slightly off-white cartridge paper which is acid-free – important to prevent your drawing from yellowing with age. I choose heavyweight 220gsm paper to prevent creasing. I like to use Faber-Castell pencils in several different grades, ranging from HB down to a very soft 7B.
When the portrait is finished I clean around the drawing with a putty eraser and then spray it with a specialist fixative spray to stop any of the graphite from rubbing off. Lastly I’ll place it within a cellophane sleeve so that you can safely handle it until you’re ready to have it put in a frame. Pencil portraits are sent out sandwiched between custom-cut MDF sheets so that they can’t be bent or creased in transit.
I always aim to keep the shading on faces as minimal and as delicate as possible and have developed a ‘layered’ technique of lightly hatching and crosshatching, with very little smoothing down of the pencil marks. This is particularly important in communicating the translucence of a child’s skin as it allows the brightness of the paper to shine through the hatched lines even in areas of shadow. The technique works well both for paler skin and also with darker skin shades, which reflect a great deal of colour and light.
For a typical head-and-shoulders portrait I like the concentrate the most detail around the face, hair and neck, becoming more ‘sketchy’ around the upper arms and chest. This helps to keep the focus of the portrait on the facial features, which usually communicate the most about the subject of the drawing. I also like to learn from you something about the character of the subject so I can try to communicate this in the portrait.
How the process works
Select the ‘more information’ link below to read in detail about how to commission a portrait. You’ll find advice on what size of pencil portrait to choose, what sort of pose would be best and what sort of photo reference I’ll need to work from. It may also be helpful to look through the pencil gallery and let me know if any in particular have a look that you prefer. You’re also welcome to get in touch for a chat any time.
Of course, probably the most important aspect of the portrait is to capture a good likeness and this is something I work hard to make sure I achieve. The process is very much collaborative, and I’ll ask you to check a scan of your portrait before it’s finished to make sure the likeness is spot on, and to make amendments if not. You can see a comparison with some original photo reference on the feedback page
Giclée print copies
If you’d like to give a copy of your portrait made to give as a gift to another family member, I can have a high-quality giclée copy made that looks indistinguishable from an original pencil drawing.
Framing a pencil portrait
I supply portraits unframed, but am always happy to offer advice on what kind of frame will suit your portrait. Here I’ve written a guide to framing a drawing which includes conservation advice.
People and pet portraits
If a child or young person has a favourite pet you could consider a ‘joint’ portrait. I have drawn children with dogs, cats, bunnies and even a lizard! It makes for an original portrait.