The practice of making detailed graphite pencil drawings goes back to the 17th and 18th centuries when Plumbago drawings were popular for portraits. These portraits were primarily drawn on vellum, and shading tends to be much lighter than the hyper-realistic pencil sketch portrait of today.

A few hundred years later, contemporary artists in India and across the globe are creating mesmerising portraits and drawings.

Mastering the art of pencil drawing, a few hyperrealist portrait artists have achieved a photographic level of realism in their subjects.

Let’s explore more about this spectacular world by taking a look at the stunning masterpieces by the top 10 pencil artists in the world:

  • Paul Cadden

Born in Glasgow in 1964, Cadden began drawing at the age of six.

Today, he is one of the best pencil artists in the world with his drawings having its own abstraction of reality.

His hyper-realistic pencil drawings are generally based on photographs, stills, videos etc. With the idea to go beyond the photograph, he creates subtler and complex virtual images.

                                “Intensify the normal”  Paul Cadden

Cadden has expertise in making meticulously detailed drawings, thereby creating an illusion of a new reality not seen in the original subject which are usually people, but also include street scenes, rubbish, car, horses and more.

Paul Cadden Pencil Artist

  • Monica Lee

Lee is a Malaysian pencil artist who creates stunning photo-realistic drawings using her graphite pencils.

“I like to challenge myself with complex portraits especially people with freckles or beard. And I’m addicted to details. I like drawing in as much details as I can into my work.” Monica Lee

Before starting her career in drawings, she was a digital artist for twelve years.

Owing to her obsession with the detail of the subject, she takes nearly three to four weeks to produce her drawing. But, the end results are worth it!

She also uses coloured pencils in some of her artworks to make it look more impressive.

Monica Lee Pencil Artist

  • Giacomo Burattini

Drawings of Italian artist, Giacomo Burattini highlight the beauty of imperfection.

“Hyperrealism in my work displays the beauty of the imperfections perfectly, opening a door within the subject that is not normally depicted in real life”  Giacomo Burattini

He believes that reality is a beauty in itself. He does not attempt to hide the imperfections of human nature in his creations and hence, his pencil drawings beautifully show the perfection of the imperfections of life.

He is quite active on social media platforms on Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram, wherein he regularly shares his pencil drawings and works in progress.

He has created this unusual portrait below named ‘Apnoea’ using black coloured pencils, graphite pencils and charcoal.

Giacomo Burattini Pencil Artist

  • Kelvin Okafor

Okafor is a pencil portrait artist from the United Kingdom.

He is the best draughtsmen working today who captures an honest expression of his subject which has a narrative.

I love to draw faces. Each face to me tells an intriguing story regardless of age, gender, race or background. In the process of putting pencil to paper, I begin by drawing in sections/stages. Since I was a child I have always created drawings this way. I visually dissect facial features - I study them and then I put them back together like pieces in a puzzle. This method of creating helps me understand expressions and also helps me appreciate the lengthy process each portrait drawing takes.” Kelvin Okafor

He has worked for many years to develop his technique and improve his skills to achieve this level of perfection in his drawings.

He created the Interlude series wherein he drew portraits using pencil of various models when at their most serene and comfortable environments. The pencil portrait below is ‘Nawell II’ from that series.

Kelvin Okafor Pencil Artist

  • Franco Clun

A self-taught pencil portrait artist from Italy, Clun is well-known for his hyperrealistic work. He has picked up everything he knows about drawing and art from reading manuals and extensive practice.

“At the end of each drawing, I feel I know so much more about the person I have drawn. I learn something new every time I take a pencil in my hand.” Franco Clun

All of his artworks are done on watercolour paper and he spends more than 50 hours to complete.

Franco Clun Pencil Artist

  • Diego Fazio

A 22-year-old Fazio was a tattoo artist before he started creating these incredible drawings.

He is a self-taught Italian artist who makes hyper-realistic drawings that are more than stunning by using a pencil only. 

 “Every single compositional element emerges in the fullness of its volume, positioning itself in a perspective depth that makes the consistency of the material it is made tangible”  ‒ Diego Fazio 

Popularly known as DiegoKoi on social networking sites, he succeeded in quickly developing his style of art, especially by reproducing Carpakoi with a refined technique.

He uses one of the basic drawing techniques, pencil on paper, but it is his extreme attention to detail and ability to perceive the hundreds of shades of chiaroscuro that makes his work phenomenal.

He is a rising young pencil portrait artist and has exhibited in galleries and art fairs internationally, and also won several awards for his work.


  • Ileana Hunter

She is a Romanian graphite portrait artist who never had formal training in drawing but picked up the art on her own.

           “I don't do real life”  Ileana Hunter

Her minimalistic compositions have intricate details wherein her drawings are mainly inspired by the fluidity of the human body and the hidden lyricism of the objects.

Hunter primarily draws portraits and celebrities such as Emma Watson, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Marilyn Monroe, and more.

Ileana Hunter Pencil Artist Portrait

Source: https://www.topteny.com/

  • Dirk Dzimirsky

Dzmirsky is a German portrait artist who is famous for hyper-realistic drawings and paintings.

“My artworks are done in a hyper-realistic style, which is characterized by translating photographs into drawing and paintings with extreme attention to detail and an exaggeration of reality. But for me this style is not an end in itself but only a means to an end.” Dirk Dzimirsky

An extreme level of detail along with a calculated set of light creates an inexplicable melancholic beauty in his artworks.

Dirk Dzimirsky Pencil Art

  • Paul Lung

Based in Hong Kong, Lung is an internationally acclaimed, hyper-realistic graphite portrait artist.

He is known to have created these impeccable pieces of art without using an eraser (with just a 0.5mm technical pencil ).

Beautifully capturing the essence of his subject matter along with the richness of detail, his exceptional works impress the viewer for their disarming realism.

He is active on various online platforms and forums where he posts regular updates of his work.

Paul Lung Pencil Artist

  • Glenn Keelan

He is an exceptional coloured pencil portrait artist from Ireland.

“I am intrigued by the human condition with all its imperfections and fragility; this is what motivates me to create my works which I intend to depict in a raw, fleshy, organic and unprocessed way.” Glenn Keelan

A passionate realism artist, he has an insane attention to detail. He belongs to the rare genre of artists whose works leave you awestruck.

Glenn Keelan Pencil artist

Stunned? Everyone does, these artistic creations beautifully capture the emotions of human life.

Which of these pencil portraits do you like the most? Don’t forget to share your views in the comment section below!