A Colored Pencil Drawing of a Pine Warbler using Powder Blender

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Original photo by George Hoffman – December 2016 – Johns Creek, Georgia – Pine Warbler

I have eight bird feeders around my house! I know it’s a bit much, but “birding” is a love that was passed down to me from my mom and my grandmother who were obsessed with feeding their birds and frustrating their squirrels. Anyway, I woke up one morning last December and was drinking a cup of coffee at sunrise in my greatroom looking out the window when the sun came up in the east and filtered a ray of yellow sunlight through the trees to hit squarely on this beautiful yellow Pine Warbler just outside one of my windows. I startled my wife Carol  when I exclaimed “I have to go get my camera!” It was just as the sun was coming up and still quite dark. The muted browns from the trees and their dried leaves from the forest behind our house made quite a striking backdrop for the bright yellow feathers on the Pine Warbler’s breast. I have wanted to do a drawing of our little yellow friend ever since.

Youtube Tutorial Video:


I did the drawing using Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils, Prismacolor White, Titanium White powder from brushandpencil.com and of a couple of Cretacolor pencils on sanded paper – tinted sepia with a spray bottle of diluted acrylic paint. This drawing had three applications of Textured Fixative from brushandpencil.com to allow layering, corrections and a protective sealing of the surface. Only one is shown in the video. I thought the drawing was finished at one point and after applying the Texture Fixative and I removed the drawing from the drawing board. After looking at it and doing a bit of touch up, I realized that I could continue working to increase detail and brilliance of the colors and retaped it to keep working. You’ll see that at about the 2:30 point in the video.

The actual drawing took about 6 hours over several evenings. This video is compressed to about 3 minutes.  Please leave me any questions or comments!

For more information on this wonderful bird, visit the Audubon site:


A Step By Step Tutorial on Drawing Your Kitty!

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I recently saw a Facebook post by Debbie,  a work associate,  of her kitty “Pumpkin” and I asked if I could do a drawing of it. She gladly said “YES!” and I did a mixed media drawing that harkened back to a look reminiscent of a sketch from renaissance days. To create a surface to work on, I used alcohol ink stains by Tim Holtz (see video below) to create a rich antique leather-like surface and used Koh-I-Noor “Giochonda” Artists Pencils in charcoal, black, sepia, white and red chalk, powdered titanium white and Powder Blender (from brushandpencil.com). I also used a few traditional colored pencils from Caran d’Ache to add Ochre and Sepia colors. The video is self explanatory and lists materials used.

A Step-by-Step Tutorial:

Debbie’s kitty Pumpkin – 6.5″x9″ on Aquarelle Watercolor Paper – 140lb. Hot Pressed Watercolor Block

Fixative used was Blair Marker Fixative (after treating paper with alcohol ink) and Krylon Matte Workable Fixative (two very light coats at the end – if you use too much fixative, you may need to brighten the whites a bit if the fixative dulls it).

Enjoy and please leave me any questions or comments!


A Portrait of Lloyd – A speed drawing of a Colored Pencil Portrait with Powder Blender on Uart 600 Sanded Paper 9″x12″

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I recently completed a colored pencil drawing of my friend Lloyd Matson using techniques gleaned from Alyona Nickelsen’s new book Colored Pencil Painting Portraits. Her products can be found and ordered at http://brushandpencil.com.

I specifically used the workflow on pages 99-101 for creating a monochrome underpainting, using her Texture Spray Fixative to fix the underpainting layer and subsequent glazing layers, then using her Titanium White and Touchup Texture for details, Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils and Prismacolor Premier White for highlights. I used Powder Blender to create glazing layers to complete the portrait similarly to how I would paint an oil painting with an underpainting and painting medium to create glazes. Thanks Lloyd for letting me use this great photo of you to create this “painting!” I hope you enjoy it!

A colored pencil portrait of Lloyd – 9″x12″ on Uart 600 Sanded Paper

Eliza – a Colored Pencil Powder Blender Portrait

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At our recent beach vacation, our family met in Destin for our annual beach retreat. What an awesome time when all 15 of us can get together…kids, grandkids, son-in-laws, and the entertainment – our family dog Minnie! While there, I took some wonderful photos of our family and grandkids including several of the girls and ladies getting their hair braided by Abigail (13), one of our granddaughters.

This is Eliza’s portrait from from the photos from that day. (less the green wall and ceramic fish hung all over it!) I did it on Uart 800 Sanded Paper with Colored Pencils using the Powder Blender system developed by Alyona Nickelsen at brushandpencil.com. I read her book “Colored Pencil – Painting Portraits” cover to cover and used her step by step recommendations on pages 100 and 101 to create this portrait. Here is a time-lapse recording of the process  edited to show the key steps, materials and techniques for other colored pencil artists to follow. I hope you enjoy the video and portrait. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and give me a like if you like it!

Eliza – Colored Pencil 8 1/2″ x 11″ on Uart 800 Sanded Paper with Polychromos, Caran d’Ache and Prismacolor pencils – using Powder Bender system by brushandpencil.com

Hank Curth – A pencil portrait painted with brushes, pencils and powdered graphite

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Hank Curth Original Photo posted on Facebook

When I saw the Father’s day Facebook post done by my friend Chris Curth commemorating his dad who would have been 100 years old in 2017, I knew I had to do his portrait! The photo was so striking and conveyed such character I wanted to know more about him. I asked Chris if I could have permission to do a pencil drawing of his dad for my second assignment in a drawing class I was taking online. He gladly agreed and I created this graphite painting/drawing using Caran d’Ache Grafwood pencils, General’s Powdered Graphite, paint brushes, several different erasers and blending tools on Strathmore 400 Bristol Vellum paper. Here is a 2 minute YouTube speed video of the drawing:



If you would like to know more about Hank Curth, here is a short bio on his work. Thanks Chris for letting me do this for you and your family! I am planning to make several limited edition prints for family members. 

Ava Grace – A pencil portrait and YouTube time lapse video

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This is the original photo of Ava in front of her house

After doing drawings and paintings for over 40 years, I sometimes wish I could remember how I did something that I find in my archive art bin! Sometimes it is to see if I can avoid what is a really bad effort and sometimes it’s because I really like what I drew or painted. Often I have no recollection of the steps I took to create the art! Anyway, with my current drawings I am really enjoying doing these blog posts and work-in-progress videos on my YouTube Channel so I can look back and remember what steps I took to complete a drawing. This is a drawing I did of my granddaughter Ava for her room. She is SUCH a sweetheart and the photo really captures her. As you can see on my last post of the portrait of Hurley, I have recently taken a course by Darrell Tank at fivepencilmethod.com in which he teaches realistic graphite pencil drawing using only five pencils – 4H, 2H, HB, 2B and 4B. It is a great course and I highly recommend it if you want to learn a very systematic and consistent approach to your drawing. While this drawing is by no means the best representation of his course or methods, I am pleased that it captured Ava so “gracefully!” The 2 1/2 minute speed drawing below represents about 7 – 8  hours of drawing time.

I hope this process is helpful to you. Here is the time-lapse video of the drawing.

Here roughly are are the steps I took that you’ll see in the video ( the layout method by Darrell Tank is different and quite accurate and doesn’t rely on step 1) – links to the products I used are highlighted in green and link to Amazon.com :

  1. I printed an enlarged copy of the image on 9″x12″ paper using  my HP 7610 printer (large format) on 11″x17″ copy paper using a backer sheet of graphite paper (not charcoal or carbon paper) to transfer a rough sketch of Ava’s features to Strathmore 400 2ply Bristol Vellum paper. This works great with a standard printer at 8″x10″ size too.
  2. I work exclusively at the start with 4H and 2H pencils (I use Caran d’Ache Grafwood pencils) to bring much of the drawing to life using a light touch. During this phase I check the original drawing using a set of easily adjusted Alvin 6″ dividers (not the type with the wheel adjustment).
  3. Increase dark areas with HB pencils gradually reinforcing the deepest tones.
  4. Use a kneaded eraser to lift highlights. Crosshatch larger areas and then use the Princeton Brush Bright #10 paint brush to blend and create a soft skin texture. Use a Langnickel 2″ Camel hair brush to soften features and hair and to keep the drawing clean.
  5. Continue to deepen the darks with 2B and 4B pencils (very lightly especially on 4B – used only for the darkest darks!)
  6. Use the Tombow Mono hand held eraser to create dynamic highlights and hair details.
  7. Continue to work back and forth between darks and lights, refining the image until completion.

Here is the finished drawing:

Final Drawing of Ava with Caran d’Ache Grafwood pencils on Strathmore 400 Bristol Vellum 2-ply paper

Meet Hurley! A graphite pencil portrait of a German Shepherd mix

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Coda – halfway finished…using Darrell Tank Five Pencil Method (fivepencilmethod.com)

I’ve been taking a course by Darrell Tank on the Five Pencil Method using 5 different hardnesses of graphite pencils (4H, 2H, HB, 2B and 4B), a camel hair brush, a “pencil like” eraser called a TomBow eraser and a kneaded eraser. Using just these few tools you can do amazing things! He suggests a rather inexpensive paper – Strathmore 300 Bristol Vellum available in tablets or sheets. (I used Strathmore 500 on this) I was working through the course and posted this drawing I was doing of “Coda.” I was halfway through the 8 week course and was contacted by one of Carol’s childhood friends about me doing a portrait of Hurley, her daughter’s dog, for her birthday about a month away. I said I’d be happy to try! Here are the reference photos and the final drawing. All reference photos were captured from iPhone screen captures and texts.

This is the final drawing – 8″x10″ graphite pencil on Strathmore 500 Bristol Vellum paper.

Hurley – 8″x10″ Drawing – Faber-Castell Grafwood Graphite Pencils on Strathmore 500 Bristol Vellum paper

Reference photos:

Screeenshot of Hurley in his relaxed mood!
A screenshot of Hurley
Original photo screenshot of Hurley


A Restoration of Buddy’s Family Photo from 1899

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Final restoration “before and after”

It was my privilege to be asked to attempt a restoration of a very faded photo by my long-time friend and work associate Buddy. I did a couple of pencil/watercolor drawings for him many years ago and he called and wanted to know if I could do a restoration of treasured family photo taken in 1899 in front of his home place. Here are a few progress photos and the final restoration. I made 20 – 8″x10″ prints on archival paper with archival inks on my Epson 3880 printer which he will be giving to his family.

The original photo was scanned by his cousin at his house and uploaded to a Dropbox folder I created to transfer files:

Original 1899 photo scanned at 600 dpi.

I used the Photoshop Perspective Crop tool to remove the outer edge of the photo and clean up the framing.

Original scan cropped with the Photoshop Perspective Crop tool.

I first wanted to make sure the detail was there for me to even do the restoration, so I used a Photoshop Levels Layer to color-correct the photo. (I did a YouTube video of this process on a different photo. You can see this process here: https://youtu.be/eweMTaRN3qI – this is a restoration of a photo of my grandmother that I restored from one of her movie stills – she was in silent movies!) After seeing that Buddy’s photo really had a great deal of detail,  I told him it was going to be a nice restoration project! I could even see the pattern in the girls’ dresses which were probably made from the same cloth by a seamstress!

Color correction with Levels layer and minor cleanup for initial determination if it was salvageable.

The next step was to use the Curves tool to bring out the mid-range details. But there was still a good deal of discoloration and damage to the photo from dust, wrinkles and cracks on the surface.

Used Curves layer and additional cleanup to bring out mid-tones.

In order to eliminate the discoloration, I used the a Hue-Saturation layer with the “Colorize” button to replace the color in the photo with a consistent sepia tone. I used Hue at 41 and Saturation at 15 settings. This is a great setting for antique photos and keeps the original look and feel of the photo. I wanted to keep the look and texture of an aged photo without the distractions and damage that kept the faces unrecognizable. At this point I did quite a bit of very close-in  work with the Spot Healing brush, Clone Stamp, Content-Aware Move Tool and found that the Burn and Dodge tool was invaluable to bring up the very lightest of details in the faces. The pixel information was there and the Burn tool allowed me to enhance the darker shadows in the faces and the Dodge Tool allowed me to brighten the light areas of the faces.

Used Photoshop Hue and Saturation layer (Hue 41 and Saturation 15) with “Colorize” button checked

Here is the final restoration. I added some “fake sky” at the top by adding to the “canvas” and then used the “Content-Aware Move Tool” to move some of the existing (cleaned-up) sky up to the top and fill in the blank area with “real sky” so I could print an 8″x10″ on the printer. I used the Archival Matte paper IPP setting to use non-glossy inks with  Epson Premier Matte photo paper. If you have questions about the settings I used please send me a note and I will be glad to fill you in on what works for these older restorations. Finding out these settings has taken many hours of work over the years and many wasted tanks of ink and sheets of paper!

Cleaned up details, added some “fake sky” to allow 8×10 cropping. Final restoration printed 8″x10″ on Epson 3880 professional wide carriage printer (uses archival inks and I used archival Epson Premium Matte photo paper).

Here is the final “Before and After” photo:

Final restoration “before and after.”


Thanks Buddy! It was great being a part of bringing your family history to life!

Do you have a favorite photo you’d like to see about restoring? Please send me a message on the comment form on this post and I will get back with you!


An Abstract Colored Pencil Collage (9″x12″ on Uart 800 Sanded Paper)

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I did this drawing for the upcoming Abstract Art challenge by Vera Curnow, founder of the Colored Pencil Society of America. She challenged all members to do something abstract “Like telling a story without any nouns!” I like that! I have done a number of traditional collages using acrylic medium, found materials, paper scraps, paper clips and whatever Minnie and I find on our walks! (some of which are posted here:  http://www.georgehoffman.com/category/art/collage/)

But I haven’t translated those to colored pencil. So I took on the challenge and thoroughly enjoyed creating this 100% abstract “Faux Collage” with colored pencils. It allowed me to let loose with some creative techniques that I can actually use in my “normal” colored pencil drawings. Here is the final drawing which was done on Uart 800 Sanded Paper with Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils and Prismacolor Premier and Verithin pencils. I also used the Powder Blender system extensively  and expanded its use by treating it somewhat like an acrylic medium – splattering it, daubing up colors and creating textures.

Here is the time-lapse YouTube video of the process:

100% Colored Pencil Collage – 9″x12″ on Uart 800 Sanded Paper mounted on 1/2″ birch plywood with Grafix Dual Tack film. Polychromos and Prismacolor pencils.

Lutheran West High School Marching Band – A colored pencil drawing with Powder Blender

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10.5″ x 16.25″ Colored Pencil drawing of the Lutheran West High School Marching Band performing at Disney World May, 2013. Faber-Castell Polychromos and Prismacolor colored pencils on Uart 800 sanded paper with Powder Blender.

A Five Minute YouTube Time-Lapse video of the Drawing:

I had much fun doing this drawing from a photograph I took of a marching band at Disney World in 2013. I always wanted to do a drawing of this. As I was working on it, I noticed the LW logo on the band jacket and a Longhorn logo on the sleeve. I asked Carol to Google “LW” and “Longhorn” and see what she could find. It turns out it is the Lutheran West High School Marching band who was invited in May, 2013 to march in the Magic Kingdom parade. I contacted the school and talked to and texted them and they confirmed this was their band! They were very excited to know I had some pictures and was doing this drawing. I entered it into the 2017 Colored Pencil Society of America 2017 International Show (cpsa.org) and will find out in May if it will be accepted.

Many thanks to Alyona Nickelesen at brushandpencil.com for her Powder Blender system and helping me understand how to use the system with colored pencils. She gave me a draft to review of her upcoming book on Colored Pencil Portraits (pre-order at https://www.amazon.com/Colored-Pencil-Painting-Portraits-Revolutionary/dp/0385346271/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8). I finished reading it about 1/4 of the way through this drawing and completely changed my approach to the faces. I highly recommend the book and will be submitting a review to Amazon. I did a full video (speed drawing) of the process of doing this drawing and posted it on my YouTube Channel. It is a 5 minute time-lapse video of the drawing – a drawing that took many hours to complete!