Would You Believe These Were DRAWN by an 18-Year-Old?

Rajacenna is an 18-year-old self-taught artist from the Netherlands who draws the most realistic portraits I have ever seen, using only pencils.

I’m a big fan of realistic drawings, and I’ve previously featured amazing works like the pencil drawings of Paul Lung, the ballpoint pen portraits of Juan Francisco Casas, or Cristina Penescu’s detailed scratchboard masterpieces, but at only 18 years of age Rajacenna is in a league of her own. Born in 1993, she started modelling for various Dutch companies when she was only 4, and at 5 years old she made her first appearance on television. She starred in films, soap-operas and tv-series and at 12 she became the host of Kinderjournaal, the first Dutch web-tv for kids.

She only took up drawing in 2009, and although she had never taken any art classes she produced some stunning pieces. Rajacenna was immediately approached by an American publisher who wanted to feature her drawings in a book called ‘American pencil portraits 2″ which contained drawings by some of the most talented people in the art world. She became a professional artist at the age of 17 and has since then created incredibly realistic portraits of celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber. On her official website it says “according to experts, there is nobody at such a young age with such a talent for drawing realistic portraits like she does.” and looking at her works I’m inclined to agree.

When she first started drawing, Rajacenna would complete one of her pieces in about 20 minutes, but the more her skills improved the longer it took her to finish her increasingly detailed masterpieces. Now, finishing a single drawing can take around 40 hours or more. This is one of the reasons why the young talented artist is currently on a break from drawing. On her Deviant page it says she has worked really hard in the past year and her left hand needed some rest, but she will start work on some new drawings soon, and she says her skills have improved a lot since she last posted videos of herself “in action”. Not much more room for improvement, if you ask me, but then again, I’m not an artist…







Feedback (62 Comments)

  • Klado Posted on October 5, 2011

    //no +1 button?, that artist do totally need to come to G+, WE WAITING.

  • Matt Posted on October 6, 2011

    Great technique. I would be very interested in seeing this artist 10 years from now once the haze of youth is starting to wear off.

  • Anonymous Posted on October 6, 2011


  • Shwan Posted on October 7, 2011

    holy hell… and ofcourse i could believe that was drawn by an 18 yo?? why couldnt i?? and amazing job i wiishhh i could draw as well as you do simply amazing

  • milchezza Posted on October 7, 2011

    if it’s real… keep practicing the eyes 😀

  • Denny Posted on October 7, 2011

    Unfortunately, these could very well been done with a Photoshop tool.

    And they are SO perfect that this is a distinct possibility.
    If they ARE completely hand-drawn, they are of course magnificent!

    That said, with the ability Photoshop has to turn any photo into ones like those above, there is very little call for hand-drawn pictures.
    It’s horrible, but one can simply not get paid what the effort is worth.

  • eric Posted on October 7, 2011

    wow. really good job. do you draw from a reference or off the top of your head? hope to see how your work develops.

  • GreGre Posted on October 8, 2011

    judging by the subject, yes

  • matt Posted on October 8, 2011

    Yes, They look pretty juvenile to me…

  • georgia Posted on October 8, 2011

    omg how can those be pencil drawings

  • Madison Posted on October 8, 2011

    I am insanely jealous! She is absolutely amazing!

    and eff yeah lefties!

  • Ellen Posted on October 8, 2011

    Why is there always an ignorant person that has to say something is fake just because they are not able to do it? Not everyone is a shity artist.

  • ctefi Posted on October 8, 2011

    I was 100% sure that they re photos and then I sow the video…

  • Anon Posted on October 8, 2011

    What’s the big deal about her being 18? I’ve seen plenty of younger artists do portraits that are much better and more creative and emotional than hers.

  • Joey Posted on October 8, 2011

    Honestly, it’s not all that shocking that she’s 18 years old and has talent.. I mean, yeah, her pictures are lovely, but what does her being 18 change?

  • Dpeart Posted on October 8, 2011

    Totally agree Matt, she has an amazing skill, but I hope she progresses to creating pieces with some substance later in life. But still, fantastic for a young girl.

  • sarah Posted on October 8, 2011

    There are no words to even begin describing how amazingly talented this girl is. Speechless.

  • anonymous Posted on October 8, 2011

    These are beautiful. It takes a true artist to create a drawing with such skill as she did. She used the medium very well and of course is wonderful at rendering. Although, I would like to see something other than a celebrity’s photograph. If you set your mind to it, anyone can look online at a photo and master the pencil. In her lifetime, she has achieved many great things, but I would like to see original, not referenced drawings. Post a link.

  • anonymous2 Posted on October 8, 2011

    Your shot flat out amazing, it looks like an actual photo. wish i could draw like that.

  • Guitarwarlord Posted on October 9, 2011

    Wow, that is pretty amazing. Her drawings look so REAL!!!! Amazing stuff really, but what’s up with the Coldplay?!?!?

  • Cassandra Posted on October 9, 2011

    Um, ok, I am inclined to disagree. What experts said that “there is nobody at such a young age with such a talent for drawing realistic portraits like she does”. That’s bullshit, and, also, a poorly contrived sentence. Impossible to know whether or not that is factual, and I can tell you it’s not. Ever hear of Akiane? Younger and a much better artist, with greater imagination.

  • Rose Posted on October 9, 2011

    DAMM!!!!!! if i sent a picture of me could you draw it Please
    your super good!!!!!
    like amazing good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sagir Posted on October 10, 2011

    Not a word…absolutely speechless

  • Joefish Posted on October 10, 2011

    These are amazing, and I don’t believe they are photoshopped, just watch the video. And even if they were, it takes more skill to photoshop a drawing than make a negative comment about someones creativity. Enjoy your skill and enjoy the fact that it makes others happy. I hope that one day I am famous enough for you to put pencil to paper for me :-)

  • Valerie Posted on October 10, 2011

    I do not believe that the focus of this article, as you could say, is on how old she is because the focus of the headline is that they were DRAWN by her. Though, her young age means less time and experience and lesser of a matured mind. It is not rare, yet uncommon for someone to have earned a great talent such as this in so few years.
    I wish to also know how big these drawings are, aside Gaga and Justin cause we know this but the talent of these pictures resides also on how much detail she was able to include in such a confined or large space.
    These are clearly NOT fake. Though close to perfection, some VERY minor flaws in some celeb pictures that indicate it has been drawn. Though I wonder how she was able to get black in some, perhaps just a colored pencil. But still regardless someone’s lack of talent or the significant talent of this girl and the near perfection of her art, these are most definitely NOT photo shopped and I think it is exceptional what this girl can do.

  • Lucia Posted on October 10, 2011

    She could use her potential to do things far more interesting than drawing famous people…going further is what’s really called art, get away from the famous!

  • Anonymous Posted on October 11, 2011

    Not to belittle the artist, but I’m a student in art school, and a lot of incoming freshman arrive doing this type of art. They believe that because they can do hyper-realistic drawings from photographs that they are talented. However, the moment that they are put in a figure drawing or painting class that forces them to work from life, the quality of their work makes it clear that they lack the ability to be both expressive and accurate when rendering reality. It’s infinitely more difficult to translate 3-dimensional form onto a 2-dimensional surface than to copy an already 2-dimensional photo into a drawing. True drawing ability comes from working from life, and learning about correct perspective. It’s about how to interpret and translate reality into beautiful drawings that utilize various line quality and tone. A personal and unique style also begins to develop. These pieces have little evidence of the artist’s hand and sensibilities. Good art and talent is not about how much your drawings look like a photo. She should definitely keep pursuing art and is certainly talented, but perhaps she could try working from life.

  • Jane Posted on October 11, 2011

    I’m an artist myself and these looks like they’re too perfect to be actually drawn by hand.. usually you have erase marks, rough edges and things that come with drawing by hand…
    Like someone said above, today, you can use Photoshop, even Corel’s products to get the same effect as these…

    When I was watching one of the videos above, the paper didn’t get moved once. Something just doesn’t appear right in almost all the images above; almost like someone said above, they look photo taken, then probably black and white’d out.

    They are nice, but this day and age, hard to believe these photographs were done by hand without some kind of imperfection in the finished creation itself. These look too perfect .. no imperfections, almost traced, then edited.

    And as for the question, yes, I can believe an 18 year old can draw, but this art is questionable itself. Sad to say… this day and age, makes it hard to get things true to form.

  • Carol Posted on October 12, 2011

    I am shocked to see so many haters. Reguardless how she drew these pictures, its better than anything that I (and clearly you) can do. She should be recognized for having talent, not debated on how they are drawn. As far as the age, there just simply stating for someone so young and no prior expierence/classes to help, she does a pretty damn good job. Doesnt mean there is no one better than her out there, just making a simple comparison. This girl rocks <3

  • Cory Posted on October 13, 2011

    It’s The Left-Handed Society :]

  • herpie Posted on October 14, 2011

    i’m sure it’s real! I’ve read an interview with her (Rajacenna) in a dutch girls magizine, i think it was called ‘Fancy’. :)

  • Rufus Posted on October 14, 2011

    Its definitely real. Its almost perfect, but look at the imperfections. Like the crown Lady Gaga is wearing: the lines are at the bottom are wavy. The pearls as well. The drawings are definitely real. I give props. Screw all the haters.

  • TOMAS Posted on October 14, 2011

    im left handed too i think its amazing. the people who think their photo shopped are wrong

  • Kate Posted on October 15, 2011

    She’s left handed. Figures. So amazing I want to learn how to draw like that.

  • Andrea Posted on October 15, 2011

    For all you RUDE people who are just hating on her and saying it’s fake, did you NOT see the VIDEO of her drawing it? honestly. I’d like to see some of YOU idiots draw like that. I wish I could. Honestly, if you dislike it so much, take your hate somewhere else. Because we don’t want you here.

  • Doug Posted on October 23, 2011

    Although she does have technical skill, these drawings are very boring. There’s nothing artistic, emotional, expressive, etc. about them. They’re simply a graphite copy of a photo. Anyone with a little manual dexterity and some patience could learn to do this type of thing very easily.

  • helen Posted on October 24, 2011

    good skill, but not so strange that she’s 18, age is often irrelevant in art. Not outstanding in any way though, art is ideally about innovation, not so much on reproduction.

  • caligirl13 Posted on November 2, 2011

    It’s obvious there’s some pencil lines in them, but she traces and photoshops them. There’s so much evidence, it’s not even funny. I am disgusted.

    And this is coming from somebody who is a seasoned artist, and who knows what they’re talking about. It’s rather disappointing. I’m not a hater, i’m a realist. Her videos are sketchy as well.

  • Tariq Posted on December 5, 2011

    How about you put your talents into actual good use in the art-world and stop drawing bullshit pictures of celebrities.
    Talent in drawing: A+
    Talent in creativity: F

  • leu Posted on December 5, 2011


    Exactly… that video does not show any kind of actual artistic technique that i know of… these things my 10 year old brother can do. However, he draws things he creates, he doesn’t copy photos of images of celebrities that are burned into his brain because of tv addiction.

    I only know anything about photorealistic drawing from an animators perspective, but i know that you draw the shapes before the shading unless your tracing.

  • Harley Posted on January 22, 2012

    Age never matters with art, and it’s sad this article focuses on her being “just 18″…

    I have to agree with some of the other artists on here. It is very easy to draw hyper-realism from photographs. But this girl seems to be trying to do work without straight out copying photographs–and some of it is absolutely beautiful.

    Her other work: http://rajacenna.deviantart.com/

  • caligirl13 Posted on January 27, 2012

    Harley – thing is, all of her “creative” works she still photoshops. If you compare her realistic pictures to her “colored pencil” drawings you can even tell that filters were applied to photos and everything. Where are her videos of drawing those? Why are there only pictures of her holding the completed drawings but nothing else like WIPs, and even then the completed drawings only from a far away view? If you compare her pictures in graphite to the “fantasy” ones there are just too many stylistic discrepancies. It’s all very very sketchy. Even on her website, if you look up her gallery there are pictures she hasn’t posted on her dA because they match up perfectly with pictures searched on Tineye.com. EXACTLY. this is just so disgusting. She’s soiling the good name of art. :/

  • Siera Posted on February 8, 2012

    Stop criticizing and give the girl some props. I think she has alot of talent. What she chooses to draw should mean nothing to no one else. I wish her all the best!

  • Sara Posted on February 15, 2012

    Her drawing is very real, there’s no doubt that she has talent. Like, good for her. But on her website it says “According to experts, there is nobody at such a young age with such a talent for drawing realistic portraits like she does”. Now that kind of pisses me off a little. Because there are plenty of talented kids out there who are younger than she is. I’m not saying I’m that good, because I don’t draw portraits but I can do something that accurate and with a little more practice I could be just as good as her and I’m younger. She is not the only one. Also, if you take a look at her site, the drawings she did on her own WITHOUT looking at a photo.. are not. that. good. Drawing from a photo is no real talent and has no originality.. I guess that’s what makes me so mad that she gets so much attention.

  • Gigi Posted on March 1, 2012

    This is absolutely amazing! I wish i could draw like this!

  • Colleen Posted on March 1, 2012

    Amazing skills. It would be nice to see her create some art rather than Pop Star portraits.

  • cameron Posted on March 4, 2012

    why is it unbelieveable that an 18 year old would be able to do something like that. a select group in my art class in 10th grade can draw just as amazingly as she can. if she was like 10 i could understand.

    not saying she doesnt have talent for it but at 18 she has had the opportunity to go through many classes…. Just sayin’

  • Sara Posted on March 8, 2012

    While these drawings are remarkable replications, this girl demonstrates absolutely no creativity. All most any artist can replicate a picture. I drew Keira Knightley my senior year of high school from a photo (and I did it in full color), but I believe the true mark of an artist is being able to create something original in their own style and have it be as detailed and realistic as something drawn from a photo. This is something I’m still working on.

    Create art. Don’t just recreate portraits!

    Also, Jolie looks cross-eyed.

  • turner Posted on March 8, 2012

    Cameron, i can hardly believe some 16 yr olds can draw that well, unless they had autism. just sayin’.