Stippling. It’s What I Do.

Hello, this is the Craig Smith part of the duo, and this is my first ever solo blog. Thank you, thank you, but save your applause until the end. We don’t know if it’ll be any good yet.

With our first combined blog, we had told you a little bit about how I got into the stippling that I do.  I think for this blog I’ll tell you a little about stippling as an art form, and my process in creating it.

The type of artwork I create can sometimes be called by either Pointillism, or Stippling. Recently, I discovered (informed by Alyx) that they are actually slightly different things.  According to, Pointillism is a theory and technique developed by the neo-impressionists, based on the principle that juxtaposed dots of pure color–as blue and yellow–are optically mixed into the resulting hue (like green) by the viewer.  The most famous example of this is the painting “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, by  Georges Seurat. If you want a REALLY close up view of the painting, watch this clip from the movie “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off”.

A-Sunday-Afternoon-on-MEDIUM Seurat-La_Parade_detail

Also according to (paraphrased), Stippling is a style of painting, drawing or engraving executed by means of dots or small spots. The term is attributed to the Dutch word ‘stip’ (dot), or ‘stippen’ (to dot).

So, essentially, Pointillism actually deals with dots of COLOR that get blended in the viewer’s brain, whereas Stippling is more of a BLACK and WHITE thing. So I guess what I do is technically Stippling (note to me: update all references and file names).

How do I do it?

First of all, I’ll choose a photographic image. The best images are ones that have high contrast. Lots of black and white, and middle grays help too. A lot of the best images have a lot of dark areas. Unfortunately, that means a LOT of dots, but the results are worth it. Then I’ll redraw the image onto my art surface, usually Bristol board. I lightly outline the objects or features in the image in pencil, and also outline areas of general shades or areas of similar darkness/lightness values. I will usually have a print-out of the original image next to me as I work, so that I can reference the values for all the areas that I outlined. Then I pick up my trusty Koh-i-noor Rapidograph technical pen and start putting dots on the paper. I do this until I run out of dots, or my arm falls off.

Work In Progress of Golden Gate Bridge

That’s it. It’s very time consuming, and oftentimes aggravatingly mundane. Especially in large areas of the same value, where there’s not much thinking involved, just placing a large number of dots in a large area. One of the best benefits of this style, if using solid black and white, is that it’s great for reproduction. It’s essentially the same process that newspapers have used for a millennia. This means it can be reproduced very accurately even at very small sizes. The main difference being that newspapers use filters and patterns in a mechanical process with the actual photo, whereas my work has the biological random factor in the placement of dots on a drawn image that makes it true art.

And there you have it. That’s how all the stippling images on our website came to be. Speaking of which, you can check out all my images as well as lots of photographs from Alyx at our Etsy shop. Please comment and share liberally, we love visitors.



P.S.:  Now you can applaud if you’re so moved.


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