Every White Line in these Ultra-Realistic Animal Portraits is Just a Scratch

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We’ve seen highly talented artists burn paper, roller skate, and even kick a football around to create art. But here’s something new – Illinois artist Allan Ace Adams actually scratches away at paper to create breathtaking animal portraits. It’s called scratchboard art, and it involves using an exacto knife to scrape away a top layer of black ink off the canvas to reveal the white clay underneath.

A scratchboard is actually a hardwood board coated with a thin layer of porcelain clay. Another thick layer of black ink is added on top of the porcelain, which the artist has to scratch off in order to create an image. “I explain to people that I’m scratching in the highlights instead of the ‘darks’ like you would with a graphite drawing,” Adams wrote on his website. “Shades of gray can be achieved by how much ink is removed or by applying an ink wash. The ink wash can be scratched back though to reveal the white once again.”

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Artist Creates Awe-Inspiring Portrait with 20,000 Teabags

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Shanghai-based artist ‘Red’ Hong Yi has made a name for herself in the art world by creating larger-than-life portraits of celebrities using unconventional materials. For her latest masterpiece Red used 20,000 teabags to depict a tea maker practicing his trade.

To create the incredibly complex portrait, Hong Yi stained the tea bags individually by steeping them in hot water, to create 10 different shades of brown. Hong managed to achieve this level of color variation by changing the boiling temperature for every teabag and the amount of water used. For the really dark tones, she used food dyes. Once the tea bags were ready, she carefully arranged them to form the portrait, then stapled and attached them to wiremesh before hanging them from a wooden frame.

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The Shockingly Realistic Sculptures of Kazuhiro Tsuji

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We’ve featured a lot of hyper-realistic paintings on OC in the past, but here’s something we haven’t seen very often – unbelievably realistic human busts. These 3D sculptures are so life-like that they could give Madam Tussauds a run for their money. They’re the work of Japanese artist Kazuhiro Tsuji, who employs a variety of mold making and sculpting techniques to create his wonderful art.

Born in Kyoto, Japan, Tsuji began to display an affinity towards art, painting, photography, nature, science and technology since childhood. Growing up, he experimented with various media, and finally discovered that ‘portraiture’ was his real passion. But with no money to attend college, Tsuji began to educate himself in the art of special effects makeup.

It all started when he came across a magazine that detailed the makeup techniques used in the 1976 TV mini series Lincoln. Inspired by the intricate craftsmanship, Tsuji gathered his meagre savings and used it to buy makeup supplies. “I took a life cast of myself and attempted to transform myself into Lincoln, which was all the more difficult considering I’m Japanese” he recalled.

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Artist Turns Discarded Paintbrushes into Elegant Female Figures

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San Francisco-based artist Rebecca Szetto uses paintbrushes to create her amazing artworks, but not in the way you would expect. Since 1999, she has been carving the handles of old discarded paintbrushes and turning the essential painting tools into actual works of art.

Rebecca’s unique project began almost 16 years ago, while working as faux painting artist, which basically involved making things look old. “I’d amassed a hefty amount of eco-guilt from the sheer amount of waste, in both material and labor, I witnessed. I began collecting brushes and sandpapers from jobsites for many years with no particular end in mind,” she told Bored Panda. Eventually, she decided to either throw away the used paintbrushes or somehow make use of them, as she was running out of storage space. So she started carving the handles into busts of refined Renaissance women, with the paint-covered hairs acting as elegant gowns.

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Awesome Pixelated Portraits Made with Thousands of Expertly Arranged Paint Swatches

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Peter Combe is a San Francisco-based visual artist who specializes in creating three-dimensional artwork using nothing but paint swatches, hand-punched into small disks. Using his special technique, Combe creates stunning pieces that range from abstract pattern-based compositions to highly realistic pixelated portraits with a vintage photograph-like quality.

Combe has a huge collection of paint swatch disks of over 1,100 colors that he has organized based on tonal increments and light-reflecting values. This enables him to think of tones rather than colors while working. To create a piece, he fits these disks into bezel-cut grooves on a specially prepared archival material, with the aid of a vintage operating-theater lamp.

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Multimedia Artist Creates Portrait of Nikola Tesla Using Electricity

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To pay tribute to Serbian inventor and electrical engineering genius Nikola Tesla, artist Phil Hansen recently created a portrait of him using only electric sparks.

A time lapse video of Hansen creating the painting shows him connecting a couple of wires to a large battery. He then brings the two naked ends of the wire together to produce sparks. He uses the sparks to create burn marks of varying darkness on paper, creating the eyes, nose and other features of Tesla’s face until the mind-blowing portrait is complete.

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Alzheimer-Suffering Artist Drew His Self-Portrait for Five Years until He Forgot How to Draw

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When American artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1995, he decided to make the best use of his limited time and memory. He began to use his art to understand himself better – for five years, he drew portraits of himself before he completely forgot how to draw.

Through this unique series of self-portraits, viewers can observe the London-based artist’s quiet descent into dementia. As the terrible disease took control of his mind, his world began to tilt and his perspectives flattened. The details in his paintings melted away and they became more abstract. At times, he seemed aware of the technical flaws in his work, but he simply could not figure out how to correct them.

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The Photo-Like Paintings of Hyung Jin Park

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Korean artist Hyung Jin Park uses photographs as inspiration to create equally realistic paintings of young Asian women. He generally paints bust-length portraits of a monumental scale, up to seven feet high, depicting women at close range. The hair, lips, eyes and skin are painted with a high level of precision, making them unbelievably real. His photorealistic technique is so accurate that once he completes a piece, it’s almost impossible to tell if it’s a high-resolution photograph or a painting.

But Park’s work can be identified if you are aware of his signature style. He often makes distortions of the women he’s painting, like enlarging the eyes or shrinking the chin, to give them an otherworldly look. He also gives the women a universalized, glazed appearance, softening features just like in Oriental ceramics. So his paintings do appear to be like photographs, but they’re also rather surreal. And although the artist chooses his subjects from among his students, the women in his paintings are really quite different from the real-life inspiration.

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Artist Creates Celebrity Portraits with Thousands of Suspended Buttons

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Artist Augusto Esquivel is an expert at transforming mundane objects into spectacular works of art. One of his specialties is working with standard sewing buttons, which he uses to create stunning, larger-than-life celebrity portraits.

Augusto’s technique is as tedious as you’d imagine – it’s not an easy arranging thousands of buttons to form an easily recognisable pattern. To create a single portrait, he starts off by suspending hundreds of monofilament strings from the ceiling. Then, he threads black, white and grey buttons into those strings in a particular order.

Individually, these strings might not amount to much. But this is where Augusto works his magic – when he brings the strings together, pixelated images of popular icons emerge. Some of his most notable works include button portraits of stars like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dali and James Dean.

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Hong Yi Strikes Again with Football Painted Portraits of Popular World Cup Players

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Shanghai-based artist Hong Yi, a.k.a. ‘Red’, has combined her love for football and art in a very unique way – she recently painted a massive portrait of three superstars of the 2014 FIFA World Cup – Ronaldo, Neymar and Messi – by dribbling a paint-covered football on a canvas.

Red didn’t use a single paintbrush to create her amazing portraits of the three popular football players! Instead, she kicked a paint-stained football around on the canvas, and actually managed to paint highly accurate pictures of her subjects.

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20-Year-Old Artist Creates the Most Realistic Colored Pencil Portraits You’ve Ever Seen

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I must admit, ever since I found artist Heather Rooney’s YouTube channel, I’ve been hooked! She posts all these time lapse videos of her incredibly realistic colored pencil portraits, and, well, you have to see what she’s capable of doing with a few colored pencils. Watching her draw is just as fascinating as looking at the finished artworks, which all look unbelievably life-like. I’ve just spent a good hour watching videos of her drawing some of my favorite celebrities, and I’m definitely going back for more.

One of Heather’s most popular works is a rendition of the famous Hollywood selfie picture (featuring major stars like Brad Pitt, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lawrence and more) taken at this year’s Oscars. The amount of detailing that she’s put into the features of each of the celebrities is simply mind-blowing. Her artwork was featured by every major art site on the internet when she first posted it, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg, believe me. This girl has dozens of incredible portraits just waiting to be discovered.

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Patient Artist Creates Detailed Star Wars Art with Thousands of Staples

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A New York artist has been combining his love for staples and Star Wars to create stunningly intricate works of art. 40-year-old James Haggerty makes pictures of iconic Star Wars characters using tens of thousands of multi colored staples in organized patterns. Some of his most notable works are Darth Vader (made from 10,496 staples), C-3PO (33,580 staples) and Greedo (21,458 staples).

Haggerty’s work is incredible meticulous – he starts out with a thoroughly organized plan. He first creates five to ten ink drawings and picks his favorite one. He transfers that one onto a painted board, about 40 x 32 inches in size. He then patiently punches each staple on to the board. The dark background of the board fills in some of the negative spaces, while the metallic staples form the highlights, adding shine and depth to the picture.

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The Picture-Perfect Pencil Portraits of Natasha Kinaru

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Natasha Kinaru is a beautiful, young Russian artist whose pencil and pastel drawings of celebrities are incredibly realistic. So realistic, that they are often confused with digitally ‘enhanced’ photographs.

“I am inspired by people, so different, beautiful, interesting, mysterious, bright, talented,” said 21-year-old Natasha. “Drawing allows you to see them closer, try to guess the character, to convey mood, emotion. If it works – a portrait (is) alive, looking at it you can see the spark in his eyes and painted soul of the artist.” Some of her most popular drawings feature subjects like Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock Holmes), Daniel Craig, Jim Parsons (of The Big Bang Theory fame) and Leonard Nimoy (Spock in the original Star Trek series).

Natasha said that she doesn’t draw for fame. In fact, anyone can sit down with her for a chat and even pick up a few tips on sketching. She makes her drawings using a complicated technique that involves layers. Using pencils of different softness, she creates tones, then draws the small details, completes the background shading and aligns the last layer. The end result is a character that is so alive and eyes that are so penetrating it’s almost impossible to believe it’s all done by hand, with pencils.

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This Portrait of Morgan Freeman Is Actually a Finger Painting Done on an iPad

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26-year-old iPad artist Kyle Lambert has created an ultra-realistic finger painting of Hollywood star Morgan Freeman. If you put Lambert’s painting and Freeman’s photograph side-by-side, it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. The features are practically lifelike, down to the last freckle.

The British artist from Cheshire took one month and used 285,000 finger strokes on his iPad to complete the painting. He used an application called Procreate that allowed him to zero-in and layer his work. Using the app’s features, he reduced the brush size to only a few pixels for extra precision. This enabled him to zoom in to apply stroke after stroke, producing the amazing, photo-like portrait.

Lambert says that Procreate was crucial to his finger painting process. “It captures every brush stroke automatically and you can export it to the camera roll,” he explains. “It has the best canvas size and video export. It’s the most like Photoshop.”

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David Foster’s Amazing Hammered-Nail Portraits

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Who would have ever thought that fine art could be created out of something as crude as a hammer and a bunch of nails? I’ve seen several art forms made using Pointillism before, but former architect David Foster’s work is quite unique. At first glance, it’s hard to believe that his breathtaking portraits were once a plain box of nails.

David’s art covers a range of subjects: celebrities, animals, flowers and get this – even a hammer and nail! The level of precision and realism in his art is a result of years of practicing and perfecting his technique. On his website he says, “I have always been fascinated with how little information the brain needs to interpret a picture.” He loves the simplicity of a picture just made out of dots.

When he started making portraits, David worked only with ink. He began experimenting with nails only in the past couple of years. He starts with a photograph of the subject, which he painstakingly reproduces by stippling with an ink pen. He enlarges the inked drawing to mark out where the nails go. Then the nailing begins, and many thousands of nails later, the piece is complete. On an average, his smaller drawings number about 5,000 nails, while larger ones can have as many as 30,000. David’s prize winning piece made from 16,000 nails is called Lashes and Nails.

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