There are different ways to reach that superhuman level of realism but the main secret is experience and practice. Cliché? Yes. True? Also yes.
It was really difficult for me to know how to teach myself photo-realism since I never got the chance to take art classes.
I am still learning and have a long, long way to reach that professionalism, but here are a few things that I have learned during my journey. I hope you benefit from this so you don’t have to fall victim to trial and error with numerous failures like mine:
1. Draw from a photo reference.
‘What is the use of all your hard work when you’ve just created a photocopy of the photo? Why not use a Xerox printer instead?’ I agree. My answer is: ‘You don’t just become a better artist during this process, you become a better human being.’
2. Take more time.
Don’t rush. Be patient and go slow and steady. Analyze your mistakes. Draw every proportion correctly (try using grids, ruler or a lightbox). Match every shade/ detail in the photograph. Your next art should always be better than your previous one.
3. Gather as much information as possible.
There are a thousand different techniques to draw photo-realistically and more than a thousand different youtube videos that teach you how to do that. For example, I learned that my drawings come out more realistic if I use charcoal instead of a pencil. If you’re painting, learn how to mix the right shade. I started by using this amazing online tool where you it tells you what paint you should mix to get that value from the photo: Golden Artist Colors, Inc. There’s a lot to learn and practice so keep on going and don’t stop.
Here’s my improvement in two years: