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Of all the art styles, there is one genre that often gets the double-take. “Realism” has been prominent since the 1970s, and the talent we have curated represents some of the best Portrait Artists in India today.

Since time immemorial, artists have strived to depict the world around them. While many take the route of abstractions or symbolism, fine art is also represented by the intricate details of realism. Hyper-realism, an advancement of photorealism, is a visual art genre of sketching, painting or sculpture that resembles a high-resolution photograph made popular in the early 1970s.

Considering that these pieces make you look twice and marvel at the fact that they are handmade, there’s no doubt that realism artists are well on their way to their 10,000 hours. We’ve collected 15 amazing portrait artists from India who adopts realism in some capacity in their stunning artwork.

01. Aakash Ramesh

In his words, Aakash Ramesh’s sketches are expressions of himself and an extension of what he feels at a particular time. Aakash primarily uses a pencil to create realistic portraits of celebrities and fictional characters. His work has a soft and traditional feel that makes you think of vintage posters. In fact, he’s given us a step-by-step guide on how to draw a realistic portrait, so go ahead, channel your inner hyperrealist.

02. Abhishek Ghaste

Abhishek Ghaste is a self-taught artist that hails from Nashik. His graphite renderings of celebrity portraits are remarkable (and they seem to agree as well)! His profile features many stars, some commissioned work and his enthusiasm for fitness. Clearly, he’s no stranger to the discipline required to excel at both.

03. Ankit Jasmatiya

Ankit Jasmatiya is an artist staking his own in the digital sphere. His YouTube channel has an audience of over 300k, and he teaches a class on Skillshare on portraits and realism. He primarily uses charcoal and pencil but has dabbled with ballpoint pens and soft pastels for his work. Ankit’s pieces depict celebrities, cultural icons, and animal life certifying his dedication to capturing portraits of all kinds.

04. Ayush Mishra

At only 19, Ayush Mishra already has the skill set of a seasoned portrait artist. He loves sketching celebrity portraits with graphite and charcoal and presents them like headshots. If you look closer, you will see how dedicated he is to the finer details of a person’s features which provides the secret sauce to his portraiture recipe.

05. Meher Art Studio

It’s time to get hyper-surreal with the man behind Meher Art Studio based in Delhi. The work has a strong base in ethnic portraits and composites (multiple subjects), sometimes breaking the realism barrier to depict subjects of mythological importance or surrealist musings. The ability to do so comes from a strong foundation in fine art whose processes are proudly displayed and inspires many to join the available classes and workshops.

Pratima Unde is a freelance illustrator and a graphic designer who experiments with various styles for her realistic portraits. She sometimes uses a technique called “giggling”, which uses neverending lines in circular motions to develop detail with an eye-catching texture. A quote from her highlights her motivation for creating these unique pieces – “I try to bring out the emotions people go through; ones they subconsciously engage in, and which do not easily or readily show on their faces and in their expressions. The subjects I approach are very shy and prefer to keep everything to themselves, much like a secret or personal indulgence. I speak for them through my illustrations, bringing out what lays unsaid or unexpressed.” For a deep-dive into the mind of Pratima Unde, check out our interview with her here.

07. Sadashiv Sawant

A realism veteran, Sadashiv Sawant is a master at the craft. With over 30 years of experience in architectural visualization, his ability to understand light and shape is phenomenal. His work spans portraits and still life, both possessing incredible detail and presence. Sadashiv now gives back to the community by training up and coming artists at “Pencil Perceptions”, where the value of his experience truly shows.

When we spoke to Shital Verma about his personal art style, he mentioned that lines and strokes, in particular, are his priority to help decide the creative direction of a portrait. He has a unique way of using texture to add or take away from the piece’s sub-narrative. A digital and ballpoint pen artist, Shital has had an illustrious career in advertising and marketing after studying fine art in Benaras.

Freelance illustrator, art instructor, TedX speaker. Sri Priyatham is an artist playing to win in the art world, and his broad expanse of work shows it. A fine arts graduate from JNAFAU Hyderabad, Priyatham dabbles in several styles, albeit digitally showcasing portraits of characters from pop culture, celebrities, and a tremendous amount of concept character studies. He attributes his personal growth to choosing the path of a freelancer and talks about the lifestyle here.

10. Ujwal

Hailing from Kerala, Ujwal is a talented portrait artist whose collection of work feels very slice-of-life. While he also showcases celebrity portraits and the like, his commissioned work instils familiarity for the viewer attesting to his skill in realism. He is self-taught and often uses charcoal, pencil and acrylic paints.

11. Vaibhav Tiwari

If “celebrity realism portraiture” was associated with a name, it would probably be Vaibhav Tiwari. This 21-year-old has created a plethora of Bollywood star portraits leading them to be featured by them and many media outlets. Wielding a pencil or a ballpoint pen for his work, Vaibhav sketches the tiniest detail seen by the naked eye prompting that double-take synonymous with hyperrealism.

12. Vishnu PR

Colourful and vibrant, Vishnu PR is a highly skilled digital portrait artist who believes that “art is all about materializing your expressions”. His sense of lighting and material texture is what makes his work uncanny to its subject. Vishnu’s skills extend to typography and branding, and he is the founder of a unique illustration service called Vectrez. We had a chance to dive into his process of bringing a digital portrait to life where you can learn to add your personal touch to make the piece truly unique.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

While his daily fare is about creating eye-catching movie posters as a senior art director, Vivek Mandrekar is a skilled fine artist as well. When going over his construction of a digital painting of a Bollywood legend with us, Vivek reveals that even a simple expression can inspire the story behind a masterpiece.

14. Vrinda Parag Pai

Vrinda Pai is a pencil artist and an instructor at “Pencil Perceptions” (yes, the very same started by Sadashiv Sawant above). This Mumbai based artist explores still life and landscapes as much as portraits, and her work has been featured at art fairs and on book covers.

Who was your favourite portrait artist? Did we miss anyone? Let us know!

Creative Gaga - Issue 55


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The more you read, the more you learn and the closer you reach to become a perfectionist. Nithin Rao has shared his knowledge through a tutorial for an illustration, helping the learners grow at a faster pace.

There are certain things that one must be careful before starting out with an illustration. Nithin Rao mentions some of these things before instructing through a step by step tutorial for the creation of a digital illustration.

It is always good to have the scene and story set in your mind before designing character as this helps in better ideation while sketching, thus resulting in a rapid design development. This also eases out the process of research for references.


Read through this detailed instruction guide and create a realistic illustration.

Step 1

Start by doing a basic line sketch of your character, keep perfecting it until and unless you are fully satisfied with your sketch.

Nithin Rao - Tutorial

Step 2

Once the sketch is in place, it’s time to set the mood of the visual by roughly doing the light and shades. It can be grey or any monochromatic color. Sometimes, putting basic colors helping to get a glimpse of how the final image might look like.


In this particular image, Nithin is creating an evening sky with more of an orangish tint than blue and to make the visual more dramatic, he has given the main light source from behind. This is a tricky situation as the reflection of the sky will act as another light source from the front of the characters.

Nithin Rao - Tutorial

Step 3

Create different layers for every new object and also for objects that overlap. Using the pen tool for selection is simple and makes it easier to edit the selection while working on it.


For instance, Nithin has made a different layer for the creatures left leg since it is easier to color its body when the leg is on the top layer.


Also, keep in mind to create minimum layers as too many layers cause confusion and slow down the work. Mind it, layers are created to make the work faster, they shouldn’t hamper the work process!

Step 4

Start in the traditional way by coloring the face with basic tones. Never add dark shades or highlights in the beginning. The final light and shades can be decided only after the completion of the background.


Once decent textures are achieved, then move on to other parts of the illustration.

Step 5

The same technique of beginning coloring with basic shades and then adjusting the shades as per requirements should be followed for all the parts of the illustration.

Step 6

The creature in this illustration is furry and creating a fur texture is painful if done without a brush.


To create the brush first paint the kind of hair texture that is needed on a new layer in shades of black. To not make it look identical, paint about 7 to 12 hairlines. Then select Edit>DefineBrush Preset> Name the brush and save it as a brush for future use.

Step 7

Once back to the artwork, the new brush will already be selected.


Go to Window and select Brush settings. Give some spacing and overlap a little bit of the edge to maintain continuity.


Then select Shape Dynamics >AngleJitter >direction, this will help you paint smoothly in the angle needed.

Step 8

Start painting with mid-tones. Once decent light and shades are achieved, then start adding the highlights.


The brush may not work in some areas. To break the repetitive feel on the texture, start painting individual hairlines using soft round brush or any other brush that you are comfortable with.


The fur surface becomes interesting when lit from a background. For this, show some high light on all the edges.

Step 9

Eyes are Nithin’s favourite parts to paint as they are the easiest of all!


If one understands how the effect of light works on crystal, diamond or water droplets, then painting eyes is no big deal as the same technique is applied here as well!


Follow the steps below to paint the eyes.

Step 10

Wanting the nose to look like a dog’s, Nithin has created another brush for this texture.


Painting the texture on a different layer, he then changes the layer into Soft Light from the layer pallet option. This gives the texture the highlights and darker shades based on the below layer, which was painted with the basic color tones on the nose.

Step 11

He has created yet another brush for the grass and painted individual grass separately. Sometimes making grass requires more than one brush.

Step 12

Since the character is right in the middle, multiple layers of grass need to be shown. After painting the ground, a soft shadow of the characters should be added for depth.

Step 13

Now is the time to add some clouds. Using reference images for adding clouds are of great help for beginners.

Step 14

With all the surfaces painted, sometimes there arises a need to add a color gradient to the entire illustration.


In this case, Nithin has added a yellow tone on top of all the layers to make it impressive. He has also added some dust particles on the illustration to create a dramatic mood and feel.

Step 15

The last step is to give the final touches to the characters which include adding sharp highlights.


To make the illustration look realistic, one can add hills in the background, painting them light and dark.

Creative Gaga - Issue 55