Monday, October 1, 2012

"Sherlock" Pencil Studies

(Pencil studies of actor Benedict Cumberbatch in his role as Sherlock Holmes, from video stills.)

This is post 1 of 2 that I want to make about Sherlock Holmes.

First off, I want to say that I've become extremely enamored with the BBC TV series Sherlock. I didn't think that any moving picture re-imagining could beat out Basil Rathbone's portrayal in the black and white 1940s films, but here we are, and I stand humbly corrected.

Not only is Sherlock a beautifully crafted and enjoyable show to watch, it's also brought a brilliant actor into the American spotlight, and to my attention (or more importantly the attention of my pencil). I could study his face and its myriad expressions all day.

There's a lot to learn from sketching actors, even from photographs, but it's wonderful that nowadays HD video is so widely available, too. Where photos are often posed, a paused video frame gives you the opportunity to capture a more naturally expressive moment on a character's face. Every observation and pencil mark from this kind of practice gets stored deep in our memory, and we access it later while making new drawings, without thinking of it consciously.

Please enjoy these practice sketches, and my small tribute to a new favorite TV series. Now go scour YouTube for your favorite actor or actress, and find a nice place to pause and sketch.


  1. will do! :) and really awesome work, Cynthia!

  2. Great sketches! That guy has a super interesting face doesn't he?

  3. I can't wait to see what villan he plays in the new Star Trek movie...

  4. hello! nice blog you have, i'm adding it to google reader! i recently started making portraits out of photos, i'm unsure of what i can really learn from it, if my anatomy when drawing from imagination can get some benefit from it :)

    1. Thanks, Emanuele. I truly think there is something to be learned from every kind of study, and it's best to mix it up. Do plenty of life drawings, photo studies, and sculptures if you can!

  5. Really nice job on the sketches. I love BBC Sherlock! And if you like the actor, he does a radio series on BBC called Cabin Pressure which is absolutely one of the funniest things I've heard.