Believe It or Not!
Ballpoint Pen or Photograph?

Ballpoint Pen or Photograph?

Pen Art

It’s hard to figure out which one is the photograph and which one is drawn using simple Bic ballpoint pens. Samuel Silva is a 29-year-old from Portugal.  He draws photographic quality images using everyday Bic ballpoint pens. 

Margay Cat
Ballpoint pen is not my only medium, it’s just the one I’m currently trying to master. At this point in my life I’m proficient with chalk, pencil, color pencil, pastels, oils and acrylics…Ballpoint pens are as underestimated as they are a powerful medium.  It’s not about what you use, it’s about how you use it.

He’s a What?!?!

For work this good you would think Silva is a professional artist.  Perhaps the most unbelievable part of this story is that this guy is a lawyer!  He makes these amazing drawings in his free time.  The picture above is based on a photograph by Kristina Tararina and only took him about 30 hours to complete (btw, the image on the left is the drawing, the one on the right is the photograph). Because Silva gets bombarded with tons of questions about his work, he wrote some quick FAQs on his website.


Q:How many colors do you have and what pens are these?
A: I have 8 colored Bic ballpoint pens, for this I used 6 of them plus black. They are just common everyday ballpoint pens.
Q: Where do you get them? I have never seen them.
A: Staples, Ebay, Amazon, and pretty much any good office supply store, just because you haven’t noticed them before doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Q: Do you use any other medium mixed with the ballpoint pens?
A: No, I just use ballpoint pens for these drawings. Everything is 100% ballpoint pen.
Q: How do you mix the colors? How do you blend them?
A: I don’t mix them nor blend them. Ballpoint pen ink dries instantly and can not be erased. I just cross hatch the different colors in layers to create the illusion of blending and the illusion of colors I don’t actually have.
Q: Are you a professional Artist?
A: No, I’m just a lawyer, art is just a hobby for me, although it takes from 5 to 50 hours to finish each drawing. I started drawing when I was 2.

For more art, visit Samuel Silva’s website at

Baby Cradled in Dad's Hands

Cat Eyes

Palace Garden in Kyoto, Japan




Share Ripley's Believe It or Not!!

Author: suzanne

15 Comments to “Ballpoint Pen or Photograph?”
  1. amazing is an understatement how you train to become this is what i,d like to know as i wish i could be half this good at art

  2. which photo is which i would like to know its bull that it doesn’t tell me now i’m sitting here wondering which photo is real

    • Hi there! In the second paragraph it tells you the image on the right is the photograph. He draws so well, it’s almost impossible to tell!

    • the one on the right is the photograph and the left one is the drawing. it says on “He’s a What” paragraph inside the paranthesis. the rest of the images are the drawings. next time read carefully

  3. And he did these on letter sized paper.

    as an artist, I am skeptical. Not because I haven’t seen art of this level of detail, but because of what I know about the creative process.

    Artwork of this detail would have to be on a larger canvas, so that you can fit that amount of detail in there.

    That, and add about another 30 hours to it. It could be done in 50 hours, but most I’ve seen with that level of detail would be done in approximately 80 hours.

    And definitely not with ballpoint pens. There aren’t white ballpoint pens. Some of those color blends would have to be done subtractively and that can’t be done with a ballpoint pen.

    I’d love to see a work in progress sort of deal.

    • This is exactly why it’s on “Ripley’s, believe it or not”!!!! Ordinary, every day people can’t do it….artists included. Sorry.

    • Ever think the paper might be white?? Some people are just born with talent that most of us can never understand, if I saw it anywhere else bar here I probably wouldn`t believe it…

  4. Jill Caldwell says:

    Its drawn on white paper dumb ass . With you being an artist youd youd understand the prosess of letting the white paper untouched with the biro stay white where he wants that effect hahaha

  5. It’s very hard to believe. It’s wonderful

  6. SO cool my sister doesnt believe it

  7. simply awesome.!

  8. wow i can draw good but not this good i wish i can draw this good i love his drawingd

  9. AMAZING!<3 That is really cool:)

  10. When I draw for birds for my little girl they look like the letter m haha, and she thinks I`m brilliant at it, will be disappointed once she grows up I think ha

Leave a Comment

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>