Products to Buy:
1) Good paper is everything! I always do my drawings on smooth bristol paper which you can buy in pads for about $6 in any art store. I’m in love with this type of paper because it’s thick and it’s the smoothest surface you could ask for. If you don’t have a way to get this kind of paper, another type of paper that works well is, believe it or not, regular paper that you use in your printer. The problem with printing paper is of course that it’s flimsy and will easily wrinkle. I’d suggest if you’re buying paper, just run your hand down it and if it feels nice and smooth then it will probaby be good.
2) The type of pencils that I use for ALL my black and white drawings are Woodless Graphite Pencils which you can also buy in any art store. This type of pencil usually comes in a pack of 4 or more and they create an amazingly smooth line!

To the Drawing Board:
1) When you have a picture or whatever that you want to draw, always do a rough sketch 1st. Do NOT go into hard core detail on the 1st sketch, like individual hairs or wrinkles, because this will just slow you down and it’s not necessary. I would recommend to make sure that everything is in proportion on the face, meaning that the eyes are lined up correctly and the nose is in the right place and so on.  If you’re having trouble getting things in proportion, I recommend using your pencil to guide you. For example, on Pippin’s face, the edge of his lips end at the same place where the pupils of his eyes are. Hold up your pencil to guide you to measuring straight lines like that. As you can see in my sketch of Merry and Pippin, it almost resembles something like a coloring book, it’s very linear and there isn’t much detail. The important parts are there and everything is in the right place.  This drawing took me no more than about 5 minutes. If you’re having trouble on the original sketch don’t worry about it, it does take practice to be able to sketch things quickly and correctly. If you don’t know how to do a sketch really well, not born with the drawing gene as someone said, click here and I’ll do my best to teach you how to sketch.
2) I just want to add that the original picture that you’re drawing from is everything and if you want some tips about picking a good picture that shows good emotion or action or whatever just click here.

Let’s Start the Shading:
1) I’m left-handed so I always start my drawing on the right side of the paper so, if you’re right-handed I’d recommend starting on the left side of the paper. If I was to start with Pippin instead of Merry it’s likely that when I went to draw Merry I’d smudge the prior shading on Pippin and it would leave a mess on the rest of paper. The natural grease of your hands and the pencil that gets smeared by it is not a good combination and it becomes very hard to erase because it actually gets sucked into the paper.
2) The pencil that I always start out with is the ‘HB’ pencil that comes in the Woodless Graphite Pack but it’s usually in with other types of pencils too. The ‘HB’ is the hardest pencil in the pack and I find will leave a lighter line and also is not grainy like the other ones.
3) Always start light. ALWAYS!!! If I were to have jumped to the blacks immediately around Merry’s eye and I were to make a mistake, it would be almost impossible to fully erase it and it would forever leave what we call a ghost line. So, start light and gradually get darker, trust me, it’ll be better for you in the end. Yes, it may take a little longer but patience is a virtue!
4) Personally, I always start with the eye. You don’t have to but I find by perfecting the eye right away, it just makes things so much easier to go from there. In the past, I’ve started the drawing on the nose because everything on the face revolves around the nose and that can help be a guide. Let me just add, that the eye is always the focal point of a drawing. ALWAYS!! No matter what character it is as human beings, we can’t help but travel back to the eyes so that’s just another reason to make sure they’re perfect! As you can see in my drawing, at least one of the eyes is fully done and this will also help you when you start the second eye.
5) From the eye I always travel down the face, not up. I made sure to get his nose started and followed the shadows down to his mouth. Natural curves and shadows on the face will guide you to the next feature so follow them! That’s what they’re there for! Oh, by the way, this much of his face that I got done took me approx. 30-40 minutes.

6) As you can see, I’ve added more detail around his nose and lips. As always I started light and got gradually darker. That’s how it looks like there is so much depth. The more layers you have the more 3-D it will look and therefore more life-like. I forgot to mention, that when I start going into the much darker details, I switch from the ‘HB’ pencil to the ‘2B’ pencil. With the extreme darks like his eyebrows and nostrils, I went as high as ‘4B’ and ‘6B’. The higher up the scale you go on the pencils the softer the lead gets and therefore when you make a line more lead will end up on your paper and look darker. Be careful with the use of these darker pencils because they get harder to erase as you go up the scale. I also want to add that because I started light I have not had to use my eraser yet in this whole process! So it certainly has its advantages!

*I want to add a very very important detail about making your drawings look more realistic and here it is: There are NO such things as lines! I know this sounds crazy but hear me out. In the natural world there are absolutely no lines. Everything is a shadow. Whether a really skinny shadow or a large one it’s all shadow, NO LINE! If you don’t believe me, hold up your hand and sqeeze your fingers together. The lines between each individual finger is actually a shadow being cast by the finger next to it. In Merry’s face, everything is nothing but shadows and that’s what makes it look more realistic. The same goes with all my other drawings, don’t believe me then just have another look and look at them closely.

7) As you can see, Merry’s eyes are both complete and he doesn’t look so much like a zombie like he did in the last drawing. On the eyes, I always start by outlining the eye with a slim shadow because the area around people’s eyes is often quite dark and the darker you make it, the more the eyes will stand out. But don’t make it too dark because you don’t want them to look evil or like they’re wearing too much eye make-up. With this picture in particular that I’m using for a reference, the detail in the eyes is extraodinarily minimal. This has occured in about 98% of my drawings, that the picture I originally used had hardly any detail in the eyes, and that’s where your imagination comes to play. Merry’s eyes are black in the picture. Pure black! How boring is that? So, you want to make sure to give your character life! Put a flash of light in their eyes and add some extra details and you’ll be amazed by how it changes your picture! Such as, in my other drawings of Legolas looking in the distance, and Frodo looking straight at you, there was absolutely no detail in the pictures and I used my imagination and added all those details myself. Also, going back to this picture, when I started drawing in the 2nd eye, I did not look at the original picture at all and added the detail by looking at the detail from the 1st eye I had completed. By doing this, you’re much more likely to get both eyes the same and so they won’t look cross-eyed. As you can also see, I made his left eyebrow darker and the shadow next to his eye, running down his nose, is much darker too. I often make things darker and darker as I go along. Also you can see that I’ve just begun to add some shadow into his left cheek (when I speak of the sides of the face I’m always referring to our point of view and not the person’s in the image). That whole side of his face is going to be almost completely black so you can see what I mean when I tell you that I always start light.

8) Well, as you can see, Merry’s face is just about done. I’ve gotten in all the shadows and his chin is also done. At the same time though it’s not completely done and here’s why. When I’m doing the shadows, especially on the edges of the face, I always look ahead. And what the heck do I mean by that? What I mean is I’m looking at the other areas around and behind his face and seeing what the shades of darks are going to be there. For example, the hair right behind Merry’s left cheek is completely black. As in it’s as dark as dark can get, so I made sure not to put any of the really dark blacks into his cheek. To look at the picture quickly, I might say, “Oh, that side of his cheek is black”, and I’d get that all shaded and then when I went to put in his dark hair behind him, it would be the same exact shade of black that is in his cheeks and all the details in his cheek would blend right into his hair and it would lose its sense of dimension and look flat. You’ll see what I mean better once I get into his hair and work on the areas behind him. I’m waiting to make his cheek to its full darkness until AFTER I get his hair done.

9) After I get the details in the face drawn in I always go straight to the neck. I always want the skin to look the same around the entire body and by doing the neck, ears, forehead, and face together, you’re less likely to get weird shadows here and there and not make the neck look like it’s part of the rest of the body. I usually would do the forehead before the neck but the in the case of these grand little hobbits, I put the forehead off and here’s why; because the hobbits have lots of curly hair, it often ends up covering up parts of their face and you want to make sure that you have those strands of hair all drawn in and shaded, BEFORE you start adding in the detail because it’s those very strands of hair that will add shadows onto the forehead. I always found the neck to be the easiest part of the drawing because there isn’t much that goes into the neck, and if you put a wrinkle or something in the wrong place, who’s really going to know? You definitely want to make sure that you have the width of the neck right though. Make sure you don’t make it too fat or too skinny because people can tell that. This is another detail that I thought I’d mention that is quite important, when you’re doing a drawing of someone famous remember to get the awkward things about their faces correct. What I mean is, Dominic Monaghan (Merry) has a slightly crooked mouth and I made sure to add that important detail because that’s a part of who he is and most people recognize that about him. There are often though some instances where you want to leave out actor’s flaws such as, on Elijah Wood (Frodo), one of his eyes is slightly up higher then the other and if you were to draw a picture with that flaw people would say that his eyes were crooked. For Orlando Bloom (Legolas), one of his eyes is shaped slightly differently to the other. It’s not much, but when you’re trying to draw him, you can usually see it. Again, if you were to put one eye slightly differently shaped from the other, most likely, people will comment on it so just keep that in mind when doing a drawing.