Last week I felt this inexplicable urge to sketch. This is quite unusual considering how that is not something I do nor have I shown much interest in the various shades of grey (no pun intended). So I pulled out my stash of pencils1 ranging from HB to 8B and opened the image chosen as my first victim. I dilly-dallied, measuring the image on my phone and drawing a rectangle perfectly to scale2 on a sheet of paper.

Portrait of half of Prasoon
A stolen Whatsapp picture. 12.45 x 16.5 cm

The best part of this was viewing the image with its mirror.

Picture and its mirror
Get the whole picture?

That was when I halted to look back on my naivete. I needed to gather some sort of skill and background knowledge. I watched a few videos3 on drawing facial figures. I paused not for a moment longer, lest the pearls of wisdom slip from my fingertips. And I chose another image to replicate.
Here is the outcome.

Portrait of Ajja
Portrait of my grandfather. 12 x 13.5 cm

As per feedback, this was better. I cheated a bit and did the background with a charcoal pencil. It was then I discovered that graphite and charcoal are not quite “miscible’. However, one thing I need to get a grip on is contrast. It’s like I have a fear of not being able to undo if I press too hard. Escapist mentality? Moving on…

A few days ago, I decided to pick up the pencil again. This time, I drew entirely with a charcoal pencil. This definitely gave better contrast with the same effort. But with respect to proportion and shading, there is scope for a lot of improvement. This skill needs plenty of practice.

Portrait of a farmer
Portrait of a farmer. 15 x 13 cm

Pictures are taken from my phone and compressed by WordPress. Hence the hazy quality.
Original image sources: Whatsapp profile pictures, Flickr.


  1. How do I have a stash of pencils though I was never keen on sketching? A very good question. My cupboard is akin to a mini stationary shop. I have art material that I have never fathomed of using, like a glass marking pencil (I do not have any glass to mark). I would have bought it for some absurd reason.
  2. Up to 2 decimal places. Now don’t ask me how I measured 0.01 on a regular plastic scale.
  3. How to draw: eyes, whole face. The channels have wonderful other how-tos.
  4. I like footnotes. They remind me of Bartimaeus.

2 thoughts on “Sketches

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