Category Archives: Digital Art

A Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencil Portrait of an English Bulldog

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I took a walk at the Chinese Church near our house. They have a really nice parking lot and a lot of folks use it for walking the perimeter because it is level. I often meet people walking their dogs and recently met this really nice lady who spoke very broken English. I didn’t catch the name of her dog and had to do a bit of YouTube research to determine whether it was a Pug or an English Bulldog. My best guess is it is an English Bulldog. It was so friendly and Minnie loved scampering around it while it sat like a fireplug quite disinterested in my little hyper Shih Tzu. I asked with improvised sign language whether it would be ok to take some pictures of her dog so I could do a drawing. I chose this photo.

Black and White source photo







The Final Drawing:

English Bulldog -9″x12″ – Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils on Strathmore Bristol 300 Vellum paper

I used Strathmore Bristol 300 9″x12″ paper and decided to used 100% Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils. I love how they glide over the paper. I used the 4H pencil to do the layout with a very light stroke and they built up the tones with darker and darker pencils, from 4H=>2H=>HB=>2B=.4B.  I used PanPastel blender pads and kneaded erasers to create soft graded tones and highlights. I used a Camel paint brush to do some of the shading.

Here is a short speed video of the process:

Here is my drawing area as shown from the camera mounted above (Sony A6000 with 16-50mm lens):

My Studio and Drawing Environment



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A Look at Atlanta Traffic in 2026?

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I did this last year as a “tongue-in-cheek” look at Atlanta Traffic in 10 years during the TSPLOST debate…but really, where will we put all the cars!!!

Atlanta Traffic in 2026! (Photoshop CC 2017 Animated GIF)
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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 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
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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. 

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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 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 :

  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
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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: – 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!


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Susan’s Mom and Dad

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I did a photo restoration for Susan, my son-in-law’s mother, of her mom and dad. This was from a very small wallet sized photo she had that was quite damaged. I wanted to enlarge it to 5″x7″ and 8″x10″ and retain the somewhat grainy look of an old sepia toned photo. Here is a side-by-side before and after. I love doing this and bringing back the life and character of the person’s loved ones!

Susan’s Mom and Dad – before and after restoration.
Susan’s Mom and Dad – 8″x10″ – restoration with Photoshop CC 2017 printed on Epson Premium Matte Paper with Epson 3880 printer.
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A Fun Sketch of Abigail – 8’x10″ Photoshop CC with Digital Pencils

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A fun digital sketch of Abigail using Photoshop CC 2017. Abigail took a “selfie” with her iPhone and I decided to try out some new Photoshop CC brushes and actions.
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Meet my Nana! A photo restoration from her silent movie days…

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From an ad in 1920 of a movie my grandmother and her sister starred in when they were in their early 20’s.

My “Nana” was Francis Mann, who in her younger days starred in silent movies when the movie industry was located in New York. She and her sister, Alice Mann were both actresses in silent films with her sister becoming more well known with her roles as Fatty Arbuckle’s leading lady in films, acting alongside Buster Keaton.  One was “His Wedding Night” available on Youtube. (She is the blonde with the wavy hair that appears with Buster Keaton in the first scene and throughout the movie.) “Auntie Alice” and “Nana” as we called them later when they were our Great Aunt and Grandmother lived in Hollywood, Florida in the 60s and early 70s and we would visit regularly. We lived with our Nana when I was a senior in High School and we visited on weekends with Auntie Alice. Mom told us stories of Fatty Arbuckle and how he’d come to visit with their fellow actors on Sundays and Arbuckle was famous for his chili. Unfortunately, there was a scandal surrounding Fatty Arbuckle that destroyed his career. Mom always contended that there was no way he did what he was accused of and he was finally acquitted after three trials. (Link to story here).

Here is a still photo from a movie set featuring my grandmother Francis Mann and an unknown actor that I decided to restore:

This is the original photo in a scrapbook my mother kept of her mom – Francis Mann’s movie career (1917).


Francis Mann Movie Photo Restored using Photoshop CC 2017.

Here is a Youtube video showing the restoration process and the Photoshop tools used to rebuild the photo:

Stop by my Facebook page and Youtube channel and visit awhile!


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How to Create a Sepia Graphite Portrait in Photoshop (with tutorial video)

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A portrait of Ava done with Photoshop CC 2017. Printed on Epson Ultra Premium Matte Photo paper.

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