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They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but these hyper-realistic drawings by amazing artist Arturo Quijada might just make words fail. Originally from Albacete, Spain, Quijada's motto is "Life is a Portrait," and it's definitely served him well.
The deeper dimension inherent in Quijada's work is that these charcoal, ink and graphite illustrations capture the likenesses of actors, musicians, artists and fan-favorite characters so accurately that it's hard to tell if you're looking at a drawing or a photograph. Quijada has a unique way of demonstrating this, and it is a little mind-blowing once you realize what you're looking at.
Quijada's Instagram is extensive and filled with outstanding works of art, and there are even more collected in his official Facebook. Both galleries are full of beautiful pieces, but I've also collected 20 right here. First up are the raw, artistic renditions of iconic actors, artists and movie characters. Next, you'll get to compare the art beside the original photo that inspired it... and see just how well this artist captured his subjects' essence. (Spoiler: so well it's kind of ridiculous. You'll see what I mean. Scroll on!)
As Doc Brown in Back to the Future. This is the first of Quijada's drawings I saw, and it's the expression and intensity of Lloyd's eyes that got me.
Again, this artist has an amazing gift for capturing eye focus and realistic expressions. I think if the eyes were the only visible part of the drawings, they'd still be recognizable.
Same for the light/shadow contrast and shading of facial contours. It's amazing to see older actors/skin drawn realistically, and beautifully. Age and beauty definitely aren't mutually exclusive.
I just super dig the combination of amusement and nostalgia that comes across so clearly here. We haven't even gotten to the wild part of this showcase and I'm happy.
Eyes. Can't say enough about them. Also, the intangible quality of capturing expressions - this one was so real that I actually smiled back.
Oh, so a curveball now - eyes wide shut. Still some of the most gorgeous hair and texture detail I've come across in a long time. This is just lovely.
eautiful. Still not over the individual hair strands or highlights. (And that is a lot of hair to highlight.)
Michael Jackson (Thriller)
Around the time MJ informed the world that Billie Jean was not his lover (but was, in fact, a girl that said he was the one), he showed off some thrilling dance moves, and a chilling face... and here he is again, gorgeously captured in a pensive moment.
Eyes. Do I even need to say it? Also, check out the unruly eyebrows, and stray hair strands.
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
At first glance, Maleficent's silhouette is bold and immediately iconic, but it's the details that make this one stand out. Look at her individual eyelashes and the leather texture on her horn headpiece. (Also, lip shading/highlights. By now I'm just adding up all the time this must have taken and wondering when artists like Quijada sleep.)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Another fully realized character in makeup and and CGI; I still can't decide whether I like these, or the raw celebrity portraits best. Eyes remain the highlight though; here even the tiniest glint is incredibly effective.
Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger (The Joker)
More extremes of light and shadow, and more high drama. The composition naturally begs the viewer to compare the contrasting moods (and Joker incarnations). Just like the roles and actors themselves, they're so striking in different ways, I can't pick a favorite, just enjoy the ride.
Victor from Corpse Bride
Here's one that's 'realistic' in another way - not a human, but a stop-motion puppet character. Say hello to one of Tim Burton's creations from the whimsically-stylized film Corpse Bride. Quijada's drawings of animated stars are just as expressive as the ones of living, breathing subjects.
And here's where it gets really wild.
Quijada's artistic calling card is comparing his work with the original celebrity photograph on his phone. I'm just telling you this ahead of time... because when I first saw this, I actually did not know what was happening here for a minute. I thought "why is there a photo of the art sitting on the drawing? Yes, that is a very nice picture of your - oh my gosh it's the original photo, they're identical." And proceeded to freak out a little.
Yeah, I was lost. In the best way. When your drawing is realistic to the point of viewer confusion... yeah, you're good.
I love how he looks like he's looking at the phone/what's on his face - this adds an amazing dimension of meta weirdness.
Skin pores. Look. I have the urge to throw something out a window, I'm so done. (Translation: GOOD. This is a Good Thing; I have this weird reaction to really good art.) You can also tell these pieces are more recent, because everything looks smoother and more natural - Quijada's found his groove. I love watching artists improve like this!
Literally can't tell the difference. This could be a photograph sitting on another photograph and I wouldn't know, and I don't think you could either. I can't take this. I can't handle the truth of... nah, I tried it. Just keep scrolling.
Samuel L. Jackson
This is getting ridiculous. I've had it with these... gosh-darn incredibly realistic drawings, on this freaking article.
I'm just continually floored by the illusion of depth, facial planes, distance, and use of light and shadow creating the appearance of tangible shapes and three dimensions on a flat paper (just as well as a photograph on a flat screen)... Yeah, I'm done. In several ways, in fact, because this is almost the last picture.
And finally... Stitch!
Remember when this guy was popping up everywhere unexpectedly? He's back.
And, update since this article was first posted - this amazing artist has now opened an official online store. (Though the carbon originals are apparently really fragile... so if these become available, handle with care.)