The Incredible Ballpoint Pen Drawings of Samuel Silva

We originally featured the amazing ballpoint pen drawings of Portuguese artist Samuel Silva back in 2021, but he has been buys over the last eight years, and I though we’d take a look at what he’s been up to.

Looking at some of Silva’s incredibly realistic artworks, it’s clear why many consider him the no. 1 ballpoint pen artist in the world. The photo-like level of detail in his masterpieces is simply uncanny, making it hard to believe that he is a self-taught artist who never went to art school. He started drawing when he was 2-years-old, and developed his own style and technique by creating “simple classroom sketches in the back of exercise books”. A lawyer by by training, Samuel Silva doesn’t create new works as often as other artists, but when he does, you better believe it’s something special.

Photo: Samuel Silva/Facebook

“Ballpoint pens are as underestimated as they are a powerful medium.  It’s not about what you use, it’s about how you use it,” Silva wrote in the description of his DeviantArt profile. “Ballpoint pen ink dries instantly and can not be erased. I just cross hatch the different colors in layers to create the illusion of blending and the illusion of colors I don’t actually have.”


Silva usually takes between and 5 and 50 hours to finish one of his hyper-realistic ballpoint pen drawings, but some take way longer than that. For example, his reproduction of the iconic “Afghan Girl” photo took about 120 hours over 40 days.


Oh, and while you’re staring at these stunningly realistic drawings, please keep in mind that about 30% quality is lost during the scanning process…


View this post on Instagram


Afghan Girl – Ballpoint Pen on paper I always wanted to draw this ever since I first saw it when I was 8 years old, but kept postponing it because I lacked the skill. So I asked Steve McCurry if I could use his picture to draw her and he said yes. Sharbat Gula (Pashto: شربت ګله‎) (pronounced [ˈʃaɾbat]) (born 1972) is an Afghan woman who was the subject of a famous photograph by journalist Steve McCurry. Gula was living as a refugee in Pakistan during the time of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when she was photographed. The image brought her recognition when it was featured on the cover of the June 1985 issue of National Geographic Magazine at a time when she was approximately 12 years old. Gula was known throughout the world simply as “the Afghan Girl” until she was formally identified in early 2002. The photograph has been likened to Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa and is sometimes popularly referred to as “the Afghan Mona Lisa”. Pashtun by ethnicity, Gula was orphaned during the Soviet Union’s bombing of Afghanistan and sent to the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan in 1984. Her village was attacked by Soviet helicopter gunships sometime in the early 1980s. The Soviet strike killed her parents, forcing her, her siblings and grandmother to hike over the mountains to the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in neighboring Pakistan. She married in the late 1980s and returned to Afghanistan in 1992. Gula had three daughters: Robina, Zahida, and Alia. A fourth daughter died in infancy. Gula has expressed the hope that her girls will receive the education she was never able to complete. Took aprox. 120 hours to finish over a period of 40 days. Lost about 30% quality during scanning. The size is 10″ x 8″ or 20 cm x 26 cm.  #stevemccurry #photographer #afghan #afghanistan #middleeast #pashto #pashtun #afghangirl #sharbatgula #malalayousafzai #islamicart #islam #drawing #desenho # retrato #portraitdrawing #portraitpainting #art #artist #artista #artoftheday #realism #فن #hyperrealistic #رسم #samuelsilva #vianaarts #beautifulartwork #جميلة #americanartist

A post shared by (@vianaarts) on


View this post on Instagram


Quintessentially Redhead – Zoomed in. I drew even the finger prints and individual skin pores, not visible here. 100% ballpoint pen. Used 6 colours and black, all BIC. 365 hours over 4 months. Feel free to google me: Samuel Silva artist or VianaArts. Thank you for the likes, follows and shares. Special thanks to the photographer who was nice enough to allow me to use her photo as reference @maja_topcagic Your friend in art, Samuel Da Silva #nawden #ballpoint #ballpointpen #bic #ballpointart #redhead #penart #bicpen #biroart #biro #inkdrawing #inkart #penartwork #artwork #bicpens #biropens #penartist #vianaarts #samuelsilva #samuelsilvaartist #artcollective #artnerd2014 #worldofpencils #drawing @nawden @art_collective #illustration #penartist #beautifulgirl

A post shared by (@vianaarts) on