Here are a few simple steps to achieve a realistic still life graphite drawing.

Caravaggio is one of my favorite classic painters, he’s famous for his use of dramatic lighting in his paintings during the Baroque era.  You don’t have to be tied down to this particular technique, but I plan to use a similar effect in demonstating this drawing.

  • Subject Matter & Materials:
    • First decide on the subject matter and materials to use:
    • there are many different methods and styles to experiment with.
    • For this drawing, I used Strathmore Drawing paper and drawing pencils ranging from 2HB (hardest lead) to 8B (softest lead).
  • The Drawing Process:
    • To begin, I used a “rule of thirds” method for the placement of the orange.
    • In other words, I did not place the orange dead centered.
    • I took a 2HB pencil and quickly sketched the subject and background, blocking the darks and lights.

Photo Realistic Graphite Drawing Tips

    • Here, I used 2B, 4B & 6B pencils and filled in the areas with dark and light values.

Photo Realistic Graphite Drawing Tips

    • Along the way, I went back and built up multiple layers of graphite using different types of pencils ranging from HB to 4B.
    • I used an 8B pencil for the very heavy (black) areas and shaded it very dark. It helped to make the orange pop out of nowhere.
    • Then, I took a 2H pencil and carefully create a cross-hatch method by rotating my hand around without touching the drawing.
    • This is a very slow process, however it gives a nice photo-realistic detail and style at the end.

Photo Realistic Graphite Drawing Tips

  • The Finish:
    • Lastly and most importantly, you want to make sure you spray a couple coats of workable fixative on the drawing for protection.

I hope this post has been helpful and I wish you luck! Doug
Guest author/artist: D.E. West is a Contemporary Artist who specializes in oils, acrylics and graphite. He prefers Still Life, Nature and Landscape settings. He also illustrated his first children’s book with an author friend out of Florida few months ago. West lives in Kansas City with his wife and 3 kids. For more information, please check ~ or visit my blog ~

Doug is another talented artist friend whom I met on Twitter. I am grateful for his helpful tip and hope he is a guest author again real soon! Lori

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