Picture-Perfect Pencil Drawn Portraits by Olga Larionova

In this digital era, it’s amazing to see artists like Olga “Melamory” Larionova using a primitive tool like the graphite pencil to create stunning portraits that rival high-resolution black-and-white photographs.

I’ve always been fascinated by hyperrealist art, but the level of detail in Olga Larionova’s pencil artworks just blew me away. Getting every little feature and reflection just right with glossy paint is impressive enough, but doing it with a simple graphite pencil seems borderline impossible. Yet this young artist from Russia’s¬†Nizhny Novgorod proves it can be done. The uber-talented Melamory has been drawing ever since she can remember. She started by coloring the drawings her mother used to create for her, and as the years went by she began drawing the shapes herself. You’d never guess by looking at her incredible creations, but Olga never went to art school. She did read some books on academic drawing and that helped her develop some basic techniques, but she thinks being a self-taught artist and not having to follow a strict set of rules has actually helped her develop her own unique style. Having graduated from the University of Architecture, Melamory now works as an interior designer, but hyperrealist art remains her greatest passion.


Olga Larionova has always considered herself an artist, but she only discovered hyperrealism ten years ago. Inspired by the works of several artists, the likes of Armin Mesmann, she decided to try it herself. She doesn’t have any secret drawing techniques and says her stunning works are simply the result of years of painstaking practice. Olga is inspired by everything around her, from famous singers and actors to the interesting features of a person walking past her, or the way light reflects on various surfaces. Whenever something catches Melamory’s attention, she just whips out her trusty pencil and starts¬†drawing.


One of the most interesting things about Olga’s artistic process is that she works on different areas of her portraits at the same time ultimately linking them like puzzle pieces to create awe-inspiring images. As you can expect, achieving this kind of detail takes a great deal of time, and Larionova says a single portrait can take between a couple of weeks and several months to complete.












Check out more of Melamory’s amazing pencil drawings on her Deviant art profile.


Feedback (9 Comments)

  • Ann Honey Moss Posted on April 17, 2013

    There is a long standing discussion, in the art world, about the need for this type of work post photography. It is obvious, though masterfully drawn, these works are drawn from photos and not from life.
    I do not denigrate the work. Only question the motivation and relevance.

  • Dave Posted on April 25, 2013

    I agree. Though shockingly talented and awe-inspiring, that’s not what art it about. I’ve banned my art students from creating art like this, or anything created without a computer as I don’t feel they’re relevant post photoshop. I’m happy to see this kind of thinking is spreading.

  • lee Posted on May 7, 2013

    I can’t believe you can influence your students like this. Art is about any creative expression. Some people like to paint a circle on a coloured background and call that art. Not my thing, but who am I to judge? Art = freedom of expression.

  • David Posted on May 13, 2013

    I believe the old masters would have worked from photos if they were available to use. The creative ability may come through with the use of the computer just as well, but a pencil and paper is such basic and raw creative medium, very basic. If you are to continue into the world of commercial art and creativity on demand then grab a computer by all means! I believe even in this modern age there is still a place for basic pure creativity in its simplest forms where your mind is all that is plugged in. And I agree Art is freedom of expression!

  • anonymous Posted on May 22, 2013

    Dave’s a troll. Just ignore him.

    Art for arts sake is valuable. This is talented, and represents one of the more beautiful things people can do on this earth.

  • JJ Posted on May 22, 2013

    The “old masters” you talk about, Dave, used many optical aids in their works including locking themselves in a dark room and painting an image that would come through a lens to their canvas. So, in a sense, they DID draw from photographs as obviously the image showing up on their canvas was two dimensional. Are you an actual art teacher or are you the high school football coach as well?

  • deecee Posted on May 25, 2013

    Sadly some of you fail to grasp that Dave’s response to Ann Honey Moss was wholly appropriate. Some 40+ years ago I attended ‘art classes’ and showed the out-of-university tutor some of my drawings. I explained I wanted guidance to achieving photo-realism and he said he didn’t see the point, why not use a camera. It became clear after a few sessions that his idea of art was more to do with graphic design or throwing paint at canvas. It doesn’t matter that the artist works from photographs – the finished product gives great satisfaction to the artist and demonstrates skill (that few have) and an expression of creativity that can be appreciated by most people.

  • kewapo Posted on June 3, 2013

    You can make photos of things that happen.

    With hyperrealism you can ‘take a photo’ of your dreams. And that is art too.

  • Bob Posted on June 8, 2013

    This work is excellent and I am so glad there are people still having the skill and attention to detail and craftsmanship as days of old when artists truly learned the “craft” of what it is to be an artist. Thank you for upping the bar!!!