UPDATE: Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil, by J.D. Hillberry – a book review

UPDATE to original post:  I’ve been contacted by North Light Shop, an online artist resource site.  They are offering readers of my blog an additional 20% discount off their price of this book.  If you use the link provided herein this paragraph and use the code: MARY when ordering, you’ll receive the 20% discount off their stated purchase price.

NorthLightShop.com offers a great selection of painting and drawing resources for artist of all levels. Fine art instruction and inspiration can be found here in their videos, magazines, online seminars and books for artists.  NorthLightShop.com is dedicated to offering artists the best products and services for their fine art needs.

My Book Review:  Several years ago artist, J.D. Hillberry had a booth at Fort Worth’s annual art festival.  I couldn’t help but notice how many folks were at his tent, of course curiosity got the best so I stopped by to see what all the commotion was about.  In a word, I was wowed – his drawings are ultra-realistic like looking at a photograph.   No matter how close I got to the drawing, it was extremely difficult to see any strokes, smudges, etc.   They were that good.

When I discovered he wrote a book, Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil, it took me all but a second to purchase it.  Not only did I see several of the drawings from the art festival documented in his book, but it contained several others that were equally as good.  It was from this book that I learned the most about the medium, tools and techniques – here are just three areas that are real gems:

  • The difference between graphite, carbon and charcoal:  this was perhaps the greatest piece of information that helped me understand how to use each more effectively within a drawing, and when you can and can’t use one over the other (excellent examples).    Graphite is reflective, carbon and charcoal are both flat, but carbon has more of a smoother appearance of the two.  So now when I’m drawing, these factors are evaluated before I start so I can control the ultimate effect of the drawing.
  • Blending tools and achieving texture:  while most tools I was already familiar with, there were a few like felt, chamois cloth that I was not.  J.D. took this opportunity to demonstrate how each tool behaves during blending (stumps, tortilium, felt, etc.).  This information helped to further develop my drawings, especially with metal, wood, rocks, skin tones, etc.
  • Demonstrations:  excellent.  Several step-by-step demonstrations allowing the reader to follow along at their own pace – these exercises are invaluable in helping to strengthen an artists understanding of drawing mediums.

J.D. book isn’t about how to draw, rather it shows the artist how to use the medium and tools most effectively so they can achieve the desired results they’re after in their drawings.

If you want a resource that will help increase your drawing skills, this is one I highly recommend.


About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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42 Responses to UPDATE: Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil, by J.D. Hillberry – a book review

  1. I of July says:

    it’s as though you have actually managed to capture the air too – if that makes sense… you don’t need me to reinforce the fact that you’re extremely talented, your work speaks for itself… keep inspiring 🙂

  2. This is great, Mary. I’ll tweet it for you.

  3. LucyJartz says:

    I was happy to repost and share this excellent resource. Thank you for the review Mary.

  4. Fabio says:

    Thanks very much for telling us about this book! Keep up your excellent work – you are one of the best painters of our circle. Bravo, dear Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Fabio, thank you so much for your encouraging and wonderful compliment – can’t thank you enough for always being present. Thank you my friend!

  5. Amy says:

    Thank you, Mary! Love the sea painting. 🙂
    20% off is a great deal!

  6. I own this one. Very helpful especially in producing little tricks and overall technique.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Elena – I still reference it if I’m working on something that I can’t quite think through a technique. Do you do much drawing?

  7. Looks wonderful, and has obviously added to your skills😊

  8. Leya says:

    This sounds very useful – and great that readers get a 20% discount! Well done.

  9. Resa says:

    You make a lot of great comments re: technique here, all that I can use.
    Interestingly, my art style is fashion illustration, and of course textures were a compulsory lesson. However, I have always wanted to take it further. I’d like to take it to Watteau!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Resa, thanks very much! It’s very interesting how you can achieve textures today, from using different papers and wood, to putting your paper down on a textured surface. This book opened my eyes to see the techniques of drawing in a whole new light. Your gowns are amazing garments and I can only imagine the pre-work that goes into sketching to achieve the looks and intricate patterns you do. Have a wonderful weekend.

  10. Great review, Mary. Sounds like a really informative book… 🙂

  11. I’ve always thought that North Light was the “go to” best source of books for the autodidact artist. I have tons of their books that I bought years ago…before the internet and their internet shop. It’s great that your review caused them to give a discount to your followers! Yay Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Cynthia – I couldn’t agree with you more about the incredible resource this organization is and has been for artists. Very cool about the discount, right? I had no idea until I opened an email from them, surprised me and of course was delighted that they are passing along such a valuable offer. Have a wonderful weekend, I need to get caught up – been tied up and hoping to get caught back up. Just started another drawing yesterday, perhaps it will get finished over the weekend.

  12. A great review, Mary. This sounds like a very useful book to have, and the extra discount is a good one. 🙂

  13. This book sounds like a great resource, Mary. Hopefully all of the artists out there will grab a copy. Enjoy your weekend!

  14. Susan Feniak says:

    Thank you Mary. This has got nothing to do with this post but I have a question for you. What is your number one tip for a first timer using Oil Pastels?

    • Mary says:

      Get artist quality, student quality has more wax in them which makes it nearly impossible to move them around without loosing your mind. Artist quality are: Senneliers (softest like lipstick, needs textured surface or clear gesso with grit to move), Holbeins (soft, doesn’t do well on paper unless over a layer), Neopastels and Mungyo-Gallery Artist Soft Oil Pastels.

      All four are excellent and each of these are my go-to, these are color fade resistant and once you get the feel can make them do just about anything. Tortiliums work great on them, love using a razor for scraping and getting some wonderful patterns to form.

      If you take a piece of scrap paper and just play with them on laying down, spreading, layering you’ll get a feel for how they respond. Too much mixing of colors on the surface will give a muddy appearance – but scrap off and as long as you have some texture left to the surface for the OPs to grab onto you are good to go at it again.

      Hope that this helps and don’t hesitate to ask me anything!

  15. Pingback: UPDATE: Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil, by J.D. Hillberry – a book review | Patsy's Creative Corner

  16. Thank you for the information…..Hope you enjoy a lovely weekend and Easter Week….with some creativity thrown in, of course….janet:)

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Janet!! I hope you have a wonderful weekend and Easter too. I haven’t been around much this last 1 1/2 weeks, so I’m looking forward to catching up with your blog and gorgeous watercolors. Just started my next drawing ~

  17. Lee says:

    Thanks for all the great information. Have a nice weekend.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Lee – really appreciate it! Hope you have a lovely weekend too! I’m very behind on catching up with everyone’s blog, looking forward to seeing your latest postings.

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