How to do pointillism: 7 steps (with pictures)

How to do pointillism: 7 steps (with pictures)
How to do pointillism: 7 steps (with pictures)

Pointillism is a pictorial technique of applying dots to a sheet to create shapes and images. This process resembles that of pixel art, but in two dimensions. Pointillism is a stimulating hobby, accessible to adults and children alike. However, it takes time and patience. If you're looking for a new personal challenge or a creative and fun way to pass the time, get into pointillism.


Part 1 of 2: Prepare your project

Stipple Step 1

Step 1. Visualize the image you want to draw

You can directly create the drawing out of your imagination without having a preliminary draft. However, it's easier to pointillism if you visualize your scene first. In addition to identifying the characters and objects to include in your work, take time to study some important elements. Lay your sketch in front of you and examine it.

  • Identify the source and direction of the light. This will allow you to determine the areas of high and low density of dots.
  • Determine the color value of the drawing. This corresponds to the intensity of a tone. In other words, it is a question of whether the color is light or dark, which is very much related to the brightness.
  • Study the shapes precisely. You will need to reproduce the characters and objects in the drawing without draft. It is therefore important to visualize the shapes and silhouettes well in order to recreate them faithfully.
Stipple Step 2

Step 2. Choose your working tool

Since pointillism consists of making a multitude of points to create an image, several tools can be used. The most successful pointillist works are those with the highest density and sharpness of the points. It is therefore necessary to use a suitable drawing tool, with an extremely fine point. So, while it is possible to use any tool for pointillism, choose it with care. Note that the finer the point, the more realistic your drawing will be. Here is a non-exhaustive list of possible tools.

  • The fine point pens are used by most artists who produce quality pointillist works. The tip is less than 1 millimeter thick (0.7 mm or even 0.1 mm), which allows an infinite number of points and shades to be produced.
  • The pencils (graphite or colored lead) will also allow you to make sufficiently small points, but you risk losing sharpness. Colored pencils increase the difficulty of drawing, but you will be less likely to overlap the dots than with a graphite lead. In addition, the colors will bring an extra touch of life to your work.
  • the brush is probably the most difficult tool to master for pointillism. Indeed, it takes a great deal of control to prevent the points from turning into lines!
Stipple Step 3

Step 3. Decide on the stitch density

Before starting work, you need to set this parameter. Obviously, the higher the density, the more detailed and realistic the image will be. Also, a darker image requires a higher dot density than a light image. Experiment beforehand by varying the spacing and number of dots to create the desired shade (black and white or color). This will allow you to create a kind of palette that you can refer to during the process.

  • The higher the stitch density, the more time you will have to spend on your artwork.
  • If you are short on time and your drawing has a lot of nuance, opt for a work tool that allows you to make larger dots, such as a fountain pen with a larger point (type 2.5 mm).

Part 2 of 2: Making your pointillist work

Stipple Step 4

Step 1. Choose a starting point

Use your original drawing to decide where to start. Usually, it is easier to start with the darkest point. Indeed, it is easier to correct an error in dark areas by adding points.

Stipple Step 5

Step 2. Begin plotting the points

Gently lay the tip of your work tool on the sheet. Start with the darkest point and continue working all the dark areas of the design. The more points there are, the darker the area will be. Then fill in the lighter areas with more widely spaced dots. While drawing, consider the following points.

  • Keep the same space between the points. It is possible to vary the spacing of the points. However, the work will be more pleasant to look at if it is regular.
  • Avoid smudging. Nothing will ruin your work more than uneven stitches. When you draw, be sure to lift your work tool between each point so that it is sharp.
  • Take your time. Art and haste don't mix, especially when it comes to pointillism! Be patient and take the time to do your drawing properly. Pointillism is a time consuming technique, so be prepared to spend hours, even days and weeks, on one project.
Stipple Step 6

Step 3. Add the details

Once the outline is in place, start drawing the dots to create the shapes and silhouettes. Seen from a distance, they should look like lines, whereas up close they will indeed be distinct points. You can base yourself on a geometric path, drawing your points in vertical, horizontal or even diagonal lines. This will only be noticeable in light areas of your drawing or if it is looked at closely.

Stipple Step 7

Step 4. Finalize your project

Don't rush into your job. As pointed out several times, the realization of a pointillist work takes time. The quality of a pointillist canvas is revealed when viewed from a distance and not up close. Indeed, the strength of pointillism lies in creating an optical illusion aimed at making an image emerge from a set of distinct points. When you think you are done, examine your work from a distance. You need to be able to clearly distinguish shapes and shades instead of a multitude of dots. If so, you have completed your pointillist work. Congratulation !


  • Doing pointillism in black and white (using a pen or graphite pencil) may be easier than doing it in color, because you don't run the risk of mixing the hues.
  • It is sometimes easier to practice directly on a sketch of a drawing, before moving on to the realization of the work itself.

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