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

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Coda – halfway finished…using Darrell Tank Five Pencil Method (

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: – 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:

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 ( and will find out in May if it will be accepted.

Many thanks to Alyona Nickelesen at 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 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!



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.

Stone Mountain Banjo Man – Colored Pencil on Sanded Paper with Powder Blender (10 1/2″ x 13 1/2″)

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UPDATE: This drawing was juried into the 2017 Colored Pencil Society of America Explore This! 13 Online Exhibition. This was quite an honor as only 61 pieces were selected from submissions by the international community of colored pencil artists!  Visit the CPSA online gallery at:

I did this colored pencil drawing of a banjo player in a bluegrass band that was playing at Stone Mountain when we took the family to visit the park a couple years ago. The siding was a bit boring on the porch where the band was playing so I found a photo I took last weekend on our trip to the north Georgia mountains of some really dilapidated siding. Unfortunately it was on a building I help design 40 years ago for a company I used to work for! Does that make me feel old or what!!!

I also did a YouTube tutorial of the layout of the Banjo Man and a second YouTube video of the process of doing the drawing.

A colored pencil drawing with Faber-Castell Colored Pencils and Copic Markers on Uart 800 Sanded Paper using the Powder Blender system by
A colored pencil drawing with Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils and Copic Markers on Uart 800 Sanded Paper using the Powder Blender system by

Historic Norcross Homes – A Magazine Illustration for Inside Gwinnett Magazine 1986

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In the mid-80’s I illustrated for several magazines published by Inside Publishing – Inside Gwinnett, Inside Cobb, Inside Northside and Inside Buckhead. I’ve found a bunch of the magazines and wanted to post a few of the paintings and drawings. It was a wild time working a full time job and doing this on the side. Magazine deadlines didn’t always line up with my work schedule! This was for the March 1986 issue in which an article was written on several Historic Homes of Norcross. Done in watercolor from a photo I took. I also did pencil drawings of 5 other homes for the article which I will try to dig up an post. (Can’t believe this was 30 years ago!!!)

The cover of Inside Gwinnett Magazine Fall 1986 – Historic Homes of Norcross – illustration by George Hoffman (


This is the pencil drawing that was published with the magazine article. I created notecards and envelopes with this image on the front.

A pencil drawing done for the Inside Gwinnett Magazine article on Historic Norcross Homes (

A Speed Drawing of Abigail using Powder Blender and Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils

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I had a lot of fun collaborating with my granddaughter Abigail to do this portrait for her mom for her birthday. Abigail took a “selfie” and sent it to me. Done with Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils and finished with Powder Blender (the powder) using foam brushes and paper stumps for blending. Paper used was Strathmore 500 Bristol Plate Finish (8″x10″).

Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils on Strathmore 500 Bristol Plate paper.


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.

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:

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