I Tried Learning Graphite Illustration for 5 days While in Quarantine

Words and photos by Andrea Sangco

As a former art student during my senior high school, I have always been comfortable using watercolor as my main medium for my artworks. For me, every art piece turned out good if I made it using my paintbrushes.  I’ve always been more of a watercolor type of person instead of a graphite one.

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When asked during my internship to try doing something new, I immediately thought of drawing images using graphite pencils. Graphite illustration has always been my weakness and I decided to grab my old Faber Castell graphite pencils and blank sketchpads to make one drawing study a day. Included in my 2020 goals is improving my illustration skills using graphite, the reason why I took this opportunity to work on it.

I think I still need a lot of studying to do before I’m satisfied with how my graphite drawings turned out. I recalled techniques and searched for graphite sketches on Pinterest to have them as my references to practice on. Here are the illustrations I made.

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Day 1

I decided to try drawing a person’s eye on my first day. I think everyone can guess that I’m not the type of person who spends hours on details, which I think is something I need to change. I think the eyes could have appeared more alive if I paid attention to get the details and tiny lines in check

Day 2

I decided to makes studies of illustrating a person’s lips. I still think it’s insufficient when I could have tried illustrating it from differing angles. I also tried copying an illustration of a woman’s face from Pinterest. This is how both quick sketches turned out. I realized I need to work on my blending and shading more after looking at it.

Day 3

On my third day, I finished illustrating a skull on top of a book. I found many sketches similar to this but I skipped illustrating drapes on the backgrounds since  I never had enough free time to draw it as I dreamed it to be, which I’m hoping to be done a little realistically and I think I’m still far from that level.

Day 4

I focused on illustrating noses on my 4th day. At first, I wanted to make classical art statues as references but I chose to start with the basics. I searched for pegs again and tried to imitate the shading techniques when using graphite to draw. Here’s how it turned out.

Day 5

On my last day, I decided to illustrate Zendaya’s side profile. I thought it would be enough if my drawing bears resemblance to make Zendaya recognizable so I turned away from pressuring myself to make it realistic. I really hope she looked like my role model in your eyes (HAHA). Here’s how it turned out.

Key takeaways?

After going back to art for a couple of days, I managed to reflect and relax even when my online classes were still ongoing. Some key insights that I learned include creativity takes courage. I realized that one of the setbacks that’s been holding me back to do art again is my fear of not being good enough. I’ve been afraid of trying new mediums because I thought it would turn out bad. For me, my drawings turned out good but are still lacking in some aspects, the least I did was to start learning again. I also realized that truth behind Dali’s quote, “have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it”.

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Another realization that knocked some sense to me is that comparing my artwork to those of other artists will both do me both good and bad and it is up to me to decide if I let be a hindrance that continuously taps on my insecurities as an artist or as a source of ideas to improve my craft.

Like every profession, every artist starts as an amateur. That idea took away my self-doubts and made me realize that I can still improve and invest in something I’m passionate about in order to become the person I want to become in the future.


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