I've been fascinated with miniature art for YEARS, and to prove it, here's a timelapse video of me drawing a miniature eye in graphite from a few years ago.
Cue my first YouTube video evaaarrrr.
Please excuse the production values, this was done prior to today's technological advancements using a geriatric DSLR camera, a ropey timer that I got from eBay for about 50p and hacked together in Photoshop...
But it still demonstrates the process and skills involved with creating miniature art.
See? That wasn't too horrific right?
Yes, yes, there’s no sound, and there’s a reason for that. I couldn’t find any that I liked so I left it silent. Am I the only one who never watches videos with sound on anyway?? However, if you want to collaborate with me and create some background music for my videos, get in touch!
The drawing itself is a self portrait done in graphite on Bristol board paper with some black colour pencil and white ink. The full size is about 2" across (I have very tiny hands) and the images below compare the finished artwork next to a coin so you can get an idea of size.
Despite it's detail it only took me a few hours to do, even with my timer dying on me every 12 shots, the battery on my camera quickly running out, the tripod hitting me in the face as I worked and small angry people running around (by that I mean my children, who were toddlers at the time) trying to steal my stuff even with the supervision of their father. I believe at one point you can see my raise my arms aloft and cry 'Why me?! Why me God?!' Anyway, I got there in the end. The fact miniatures are so small means they can work up exceptionally fast.
I actually did a series of these miniature eye portraits and at the time they were very popular. I even sold some and did commissions based on them too. It amuses me to think my eyes are peering into rooms across the world... but anyway... I think it was the gold frames that sold it really. They were random find in Sainsburys of all places. I kept a few left for future projects just because they're so beautiful.
If you fancy having a go at drawing your own self portrait miniature eyes here are my top tips:
- Check out my post on essential graphite techniques or colour pencil techniques so you're up to date on the core skills you'll need.
- Re-sharpen your pencil points with sandpaper rather then sharpening the whole pencil. It helps prolong the life of your pencil AND achieves a sharper point.
- Don't be afraid to use implied lines or marks. By that I mean you don't have to draw every bit of minute detail. Just be respectful of contrast and the complete FINAL effect.
- Use your own references (I've taken reference photo's with my iPhone- you can also get little macro lenses for your smartphone camera which work brilliantly) or find stock images that are free for you to use. You can also check out my tutorial here on how to draw a photorealistic eye in graphite for an image you can use.
- If you're going to frame it, find your frame FIRST and then measure your paper up prior. Mine were just decorative photo frames found in the home ware department of a supermarket!
- Avoid erasing unless you've got a very small pencil eraser or electric eraser. A standard eraser could obliterate your drawing.
- Treat it like a full size drawing. Don't let it's size intimidate you. Use a magnifying glass if you're concerned. I'm short-sighted and managed fine.
- Play with mark making and texture. A dirty blending stump can create subtle shadows and crosshatching can appear like skin texture.
- A black colour pencil on the darkest points such as darkening the iris works very well... as does white ink for adding flecks of light- but respect the white of the paper and keep your work clean!
- Fix it! When you're finished spray your drawing with fixative as any slight smudging will easily wipe out the detail.
You might also be interested in these miniature portraits I made for a dolls house...