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Artist’s incredible portraits that are so realistic they look more like photographs than drawings

Have you ever seen a drawing so realistic that you mistake it for a photograph? If you haven’t, let me introduce you to the incredible works of this Italian artist named Emanuele Dascanio.

Believe it or not, the portraits below are drawings, not pictures. They were made using a combination of graphite and charcoal, which Dascanio skillfully rendered to yield hyperrealistic results using renaissance techniques.

Some of his works take up to 780 hours to complete, which isn’t surprising given the high level of detail seen in his creations. Every stray hair, wrinkle, light reflection, and even the gleam of the eyes are visible in his drawings.

Dascanio was born in Garbagnate Milanese, Italy, on June 7, 1983. He realized he wanted to become an artist when he was about 18 to 19 years old and followed through with his passion by formally studying the field.

Dascanio enrolled in Lucio Fontana Art School of Arese, where he graduated from in 2003. He then enrolled in the Academy of Brera but felt he wasn’t growing artistically, so he dropped out six months after.

In 2007, he finally found his mentor – the esteemed Italian painter Giancarlo Corona, a student of the great master Mario Donizetti. Corona helped him refine his drawing skills, taught him the techniques of oil painting, and more.

“Gianluca Corona taught me to connect the arm and the mind with the heart, and that without this trinity and intercommunication, no true artwork can emerge,” he said in an interview with Cindy Wider of

Dascanio says he has no favorite subject; what he cares about more is the image’s content. To him, the subject is secondary, with it functioning as the medium that transmits what he wishes to express.

“It should be understood my designs are not like ordinary portraits, but as allegorical figures or non-conventional symbols that arise from my intuition or subconscious,” he explained.

He uses reference photos in creating his artworks, but if possible, he prefers studying nature/life. He has two types of creative processes.

“The first is to think of a concept and then draw a picture to express that concept. The second is more intuitive and the subconscious; the birth of an image inside of me and then I elaborate the meaning. For both methods I use rapid preparatory studies to initially capture the idea or concept,” he said.

Dascanio is a diligent artist who works mostly for 12 to 14 hours a day. While there might be no work-life balance with that, he says it’s his way of investing in himself.

He believes so much in the quality of his drawings and understands that if he sows a lot, he will reap its benefits in the long term.

His hard work has evidently paid off. Ever since 2003, this brilliant artist has been winning a multitude of awards—both national and international—for his hyperrealistic portraits. He has also participated in many group exhibitions in Italy and in art fairs around the world.

See more Emanuele Dascanio’s incredible drawings in the gallery below.

Follow Emanuele Dascanio on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, YouTube, and on his website.

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