Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Pretty Damned Sketchy
June 9, 2010 11:04 PM   Subscribe

Unbelievable Pencil Art by Paul Lung.

"It's hard to believe but all these beautiful pictures are not photos but pencil drawings. The author of such unbelievable art is 38-year-old graphic artist from Hong Kong Paul Lung. 0.5 mm technical pencil and A2 paper are the only attributes of these masterpieces. He doesn't use eraser and spends up to 60 hours sketching out his pictures. As he often admits people do not believe him and he has to make videos of his work to prove that these art works are not photographs."

His Eric Tsang is spot on.
posted by bwg (53 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Uh.

Wow.
posted by brundlefly at 11:17 PM on June 9, 2010


His Eric Tsang is spot on.

I think he phoned in that ear.
posted by mrnutty at 11:21 PM on June 9, 2010


It should be noted that a lot of those drawings are based on photographs by Alexander Von Reiswitz. Which isn't to put down his art. When I've tried my hand at pencil drawings, I've based it on photos, too - it just might have been useful for the original article to make the source material clear.
posted by Jimbob at 11:23 PM on June 9, 2010


I'd like to see what he uses for his source images. If these are just painstaking reproductions, then I find this pretty boring. Congrats! You just invented the camera. Except yours take 60 hours to develop.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 11:25 PM on June 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


How does he get a tiger to sit still for 60 hours?
posted by Abiezer at 11:44 PM on June 9, 2010


"If these are just painstaking reproductions, then I find this pretty boring. Congrats! You just invented the camera. Except yours take 60 hours to develop."

I don't find them boring at all. Some people like photorealism, others don't.
posted by HopperFan at 11:45 PM on June 9, 2010


Daniel, the real magic doesn't probably come through all the intervening media. Looking at an original you would see that it's pencil.
posted by Trochanter at 11:48 PM on June 9, 2010


Trochanter: "Daniel, the real magic doesn't probably come through all the intervening media. Looking at an original you would see that it's pencil."

While these are boring – albeit incredibly painstakingly made – copies of photographs, the real magic is in the comments.

"Really unbelievable but I believe these are hand drawn. COZ The Signature of the dude is added to the images. also its possible thats why."
"pretty good to bad he wastes his time drawing fag cats instead of something cool"
"Did you notice the white eyebrows on the cats? How does he do that with a black pencil?"
"He is truly talanted. I really liked the cat with the bow tie."

Metafilter comments I apologize for anything I may have ever said or may ever say about you. You are so good to me don't ever change!
posted by barnacles at 11:56 PM on June 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


Oh, I am a huge fan of photorealism. The problem here is that he's literally just copying photographs.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 12:30 AM on June 10, 2010


and for what it's worth I don't mind cats in bow ties
posted by barnacles at 12:35 AM on June 10, 2010


If he's really not using an eraser and reproducing the original photos by sight, then this is quite remarkable. Not everyone will appreciate the ability to copy a photograph precisely with a pencil and paper, but as someone who has spent enough time drawing to know how hard it is to render even very simple things this realistically, I have to admire his skill. I'd like to see a time-lapse video of him working.
posted by millions at 12:37 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really admire his technical proficiency, but it seems strange to me that someone would spend 60 hours to accomplish something that the highest praise for would be, "wow, it really looks like you ordered a print of that photograph!" The Ralph Goings painting in Hopperfan's link is so good, so photorealistic, that it looks like a snapshot of some diner food. Maybe looking at the original makes it somehow better, but I doubt it.
posted by stavrogin at 12:37 AM on June 10, 2010


don't like photorealism, do like cats with bowties.
posted by johnny novak at 1:01 AM on June 10, 2010


Another artist who produces incredibly painstaking pencil drawings (in her case done from the imagination, rather than photographs) is Laurie Lipton.
posted by misteraitch at 1:03 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Photorealism : "The resulting images are often direct copies of the original photograph but are usually larger than the original photograph or slide."

See, that's what photorealists do. They copy photographs. Exactly. Precisely. You can certainly object to the composition of the original photograph, or not care for his technique - but he's doing just what the definition specifies.

Me, I prefer Goings. There's something magical about his work - while these works, while I admire the technical skill behind them, are lacking that. IMHO and all that.
posted by HopperFan at 1:13 AM on June 10, 2010


Oh, I am a huge fan of photorealism. The problem here is that he's literally just copying photographs

Um, not really. What do you think Chuck Close is doing here?.

Machines copy. Artists create.
posted by Hickeystudio at 1:21 AM on June 10, 2010


Great craftsmanship, poor art.
posted by surrendering monkey at 1:21 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


and for what it's worth I don't mind cats in bow ties

*obligatory link*

(scroll down for bow ties)
posted by stringbean at 1:37 AM on June 10, 2010


Great craftsmanship, poor art.

I did some pencil drawings like that, be it on a smaller scale, to get a portfolio and be allowed into art school.

Drawings like that really don't require that much craftmanship. Patience is a much greater virtue for this. And when you work on prepared cartboard it is not that difficult to erase and try again.

After pencil, I tried my hand at airbrush painting, and when I finally had mastered that, Photoshop has suddenly become popular. So my skills to get photorealism were already obsolete before I had got them.
posted by ijsbrand at 1:40 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Amazing craftsmanship, but I'm concerned as to who decided to put eyeliner on the lion.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:45 AM on June 10, 2010


If it looks exactly like the photo he was looking at, then lowercase small font yay for him. It's quite a feat, but more party trick than art. I want to see him work from life, or at least from his own carefully composed photos.

Also, some people ask me to show how I draw fur is eleven minutes and forty nine seconds of a guy drawing fur one hair at a time.
posted by pracowity at 1:59 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


He could put his skill to far better use than copying photos of cats.
posted by fire&wings at 2:55 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I assume that he uses his skill to copy photos of cats because that's what he wants to do. I imagine that is a prerequisite for doing this type of 60-hour marathon of drawing one hair at a time.
posted by moonbiter at 3:39 AM on June 10, 2010


When a man is tired of cats in bowties, he is tired of the Internet.
posted by Phanx at 3:49 AM on June 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, I am impressed.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:56 AM on June 10, 2010


I wanna see a cat with a cheeseburger. That would be Art, with a capital "A."
posted by kaibutsu at 4:01 AM on June 10, 2010


just think of the lols we're missing out on now because we couldn't be trusted with images in comments. We should be ashamed of ourselves.
posted by johnny novak at 4:28 AM on June 10, 2010


This is nothing. Wait until you see my photographs of pencil sketches of photographs!

Which I will then painstakingly convert to pencil sketches and photograph before uploading.
posted by kcds at 4:57 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Moar cats in bowties
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:50 AM on June 10, 2010


He could put his skill to far better use than copying photos of cats.

Copying photos of dead presidents?
posted by inigo2 at 6:05 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Needs funny captions.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:13 AM on June 10, 2010


I tend to consider the process part of the art, so I think these are pretty amazing.
posted by statolith at 6:42 AM on June 10, 2010


You basically know immediately when you look at these that they're done from photographs. Black and white photographs have a particular way of compressing a three dimensional image to two dimensions, of representing the range of values that a human eye sees. These pictures don't look "realistic," in the sense of representing accurately what the eye sees (unless you're hanging out in some very strangely lit places in unsettling proximity to some dangerous animals), they look "photo-realistic," giving a good facsimile of some photographs which were themselves very stylized. This kind of "realism" would probably have looked very strange to a 19th century sketch artist, but to us in our photo-saturated world it seems like a fairly normal way of representing visual information.
posted by bookish at 6:53 AM on June 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Jesus, only on metafilter would we mostly criticize this guy for being too good at his craft.
posted by Think_Long at 7:06 AM on June 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow there's a lot of assumptions about what art should be in this thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:14 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


WAT.
posted by Theta States at 7:35 AM on June 10, 2010


There are only a couple pictures where I could really tell that it was pencil: the eagle and the puffy cat.

I too wish he would choose different pictures... tigers are over-rated!
posted by cranberrymonger at 7:44 AM on June 10, 2010


this guy is incredible. I wonder how long it took him to get that good
posted by istandb4u at 7:46 AM on June 10, 2010


I think part of the reason that a lot of draughtspersons go all grumbleboots over certain types of photorealism is that photorealism can be accomplished with only patience and skill — "talent" (an innate or at least long-cultivated sensibility and sensitivity) need not enter the picture. So, essentially, anyone can do it if they spend enough time at it, but people respond to it like it's magic or something. This can be frustrating.

So yeah. Totally team snob here. Nevertheless, I have to say that I got a good deal of satisfaction from this graphite translation of a Chinese brush painting. It so perversely misses the point of Chinese painting (aesthetically, philosophically, conceptually, technically) as to become genuinely interesting in a way that, sadly, bowtie cat does not.

I would give him the benefit of the doubt and say that was an intentional disruption, but then he went and signed the fucking thing on the front, so I'm forced to chalk it up to a happy accident.
posted by wreckingball at 9:02 AM on June 10, 2010


"people respond to it like it's magic or something"

The skill is pretty magical, yes.
posted by HopperFan at 9:14 AM on June 10, 2010


So, essentially, anyone can do it if they spend enough time at it, but people respond to it like it's magic or something. This can be frustrating.

I think people can respond to the "skill" as if it's magical because, well, it's pretty damned impressive. I also think that the choices this guy makes - what photos to use, size, etc. - could very well be considered "artistic" choices.

I definitely get why some consider this pretty kitschy, but whenever people have that old "but is it art?" debate, it seems like history usually ends up on the side of "yes, it seems to be".
posted by Think_Long at 9:23 AM on June 10, 2010


If he's left-handed, I'm even more impressed.
posted by Toothless Willy at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good point, inigo2 - here is obligatory J. S. G. Boggs dead president drawing.
posted by twsf at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2010


The problem here is that he's literally just copying photographs.
If he's really not using an eraser...

What?

The Greeks, the Chinese, and a lot of artists I know achieved photorealism (or at least realism) and then abandoned it. Because it's boring. Not only do those cats already exist, the photos already exist. He's not asking ro answering any interesting questions. There's no tension at all, and the skill itself, while impressive, is just that. A learnable skill. Would you be equally impressed by a good plumber? Because that's a lot harder than learning to draw like this.

Chuck Close was asking questions about what perception is, and about his own inability to recognize faces. Also, if you look, much of his work is not photorealism, though it asks the same questions. Someone like Vija Celmins is diving into the separation between perception and representation, throwing thoughts about meditation and (if you ask me) sanity in there. That star field painting took something like six years to finish. Who knows about those graphite water drawings.

This guy is an excellent craftsman, for the most part, but not an interesting artist.
posted by cmoj at 11:18 AM on June 10, 2010


So, essentially, anyone can do it if they spend enough time at it, but people respond to it like it's magic or something.

False. So very, very false. This reminds me of the comments about technically proficient guitarists: Anyone can do it if they practice enough. It's simply not true. I spent 4 years in college playing guitar 3-5 hours per day, 5 days per week, and still am not very good. And this was quality practice under the tutelage of a renowned teacher. I simply don't have the talent.

Similarly, I could spend the rest of my life trying desperately to learn to create a pencil drawing half as good as these, and would fail.

Music and drawing are not where my talents lie, and no amount of trying or wishing will change that. If you believe otherwise, then your either a multi-talented prodigy, or you've never really, really tried at anything.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:11 PM on June 10, 2010


I guess I just don't get it. I don't mind photorealism as such, but I agree with those who say that this is just a example of patience and mechanical copying and not really art (or "art", if you prefer). My art teacher showed us some photos he took of a friend of his (and great artist) doing a landscape. The photos spanned about three hours of work and the final product looked amazing. You could see the inspiration in the original scene, but real life was not that beautiful. He'd added flowers where there needed to be flowers. That tree was over there. The sunlight was... well, it wasn't that sunny on the day in question. The final result was what the landscape should have looked like, but couldn't quite manage.

It wasn't even remotely photorealistic either.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:22 PM on June 10, 2010


No idea, no art.
posted by xod at 12:38 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know what? Haters gonna hate. I think this stuff is awesome! Seeing what people have the patience and will to make makes me happy. Seeing people do something they like should make us happy! Especially when they're pretty damn good at it.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:39 PM on June 10, 2010


This is only tangentially related, but it seems like a good place to ask. I'm an aspiring artist who's always been impressed by artists that can pull off large portions of abstract details convincingly, such as fur, hair, or foliage in trees or landscapes. Those details don't necessarily have to be super-detailed (and in larger landscape paintings usually aren't), like these drawings, but somehow those artists make the shadows and shapes read realistically. I'd love to know how to do it. but I haven't been able to figure out how to do it myself, nor have I come across any good explanations or tutorials for what to do. If I'm working off of a photograph, that helps, but even then sometimes I get too focused on the details and then it just ends up seeming off. It's a skill I'd like to have for life and plein air drawing, where it's important to layout those abstract details and tones quickly but convincingly. Any artists out there with advice?
posted by wander at 1:49 PM on June 10, 2010


I've always found it helps to let your eyes go out of focus and observe the general lay of swaths of color on an object. It also helps (for me at least) to frequently back away from your painting (or whatever) and look at it from across the room so that you can see what it looks like when your nose isn't pressed against it.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:52 PM on June 10, 2010


You know what? Haters gonna hate.

Nah, it's more like: Unimpressed are gonna be bored; I was impressed for a few minutes but then I couldn't even be bothered to scroll down and look at all the work displayed. It was amazing how unoriginal it was when with a few tweaks he could have had some outstanding, unforgettable pictures. Maybe that will be his next phase.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:33 PM on June 10, 2010


Hmm, I think I blew my comment. I'll try again.

When you photograph, scan, resize and otherwise force these hyper-real renderings through various intervening media, you lose the artifacts of their creation. You can no longer see that they are what they are. And you can't marvel at them as creations.

I'm not saying this guy is on a level of the top tier of the hyper-realists, but the way his work is presented on this site doesn't allow you to see most of them for what they are. The only time the method is revealed is when the artist blows something, like the mouth on the cat with the bow tie.

I wonder if someone who has studied these things would know if this is part of the point of the hyper-realists -- that as soon as you reproduce the work you can no longer see it for what it is.
posted by Trochanter at 8:54 PM on June 10, 2010


Based on Jimbob's link, what Paul Lung is doing is copying (some might say stealing) the idea and composition of a photographer. It really is less difficult than you might think to make a pencil drawing of a photograph. If anything, he is an excellent draftsman but not an artist. There is no original thought here. I can't call this art.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 11:58 AM on June 11, 2010


« Older "Madonna’s sexuality could be scary because it was...  |  Omar Rodríguez López of Mars V... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments