Silva likes to recall the story of when he started drawing, growing up in a small town in Portugal. He was only 2. And he pegs his inspiration on simply observing. And seeing his amazing photorealistic art today show that it’s paid off.

…we had a garden and instead of playing with toys I would rather observe the bees, plants and flowers all the time.

The Process

Samuel uses typical unremarkable ballpoint pens you can pick up at any office supply store. What he does differently is he layers pen over pen “cross hatching” to make colors that he wouldn’t have otherwise. A single work has taken him up to 30 hours of work and the detail that time brings is clearly seen in his art!

Ballpoint Pen Ocelot Detailed Closeup

What makes him even more amazing is he does this just in his free time! Samuel calls his art his hobby. His real job? He has a degree in law and practices as a lawyer! In addition, ballpoint pen isn’t the only medium he draws with:

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 fairly proficient with chalk, pencil, color pencil, pastels, oils and acrylics. Maybe one day I’ll create an account just to share those.

He Answered Questions on his Portfolio

Q: How many colors do you have and what pens are these?
I have 8 colored Bic ballpoint pens, for this I used 6 of them plus black. They are just common everyday ballpoint pens.

Everything is 100% ballpoint pen.

Q: Where do you get them? I have never seen them.
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?
No, I just use ballpoint pens for these drawings. Everything is 100% ballpoint pen.

Afghan Girl in ballpoint pen by Samuel Silva

Q: How do you mix the colors? How do you blend them?
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?
No, I’m just a lawyer, art is just a hobby for me, although it takes from 20 to 500 hours or more to finish each drawing. I started drawing when I was 2, that’s 29 years of experience.

Q: What colors do you have?
Yellow, orange, magenta, light green, light blue, blue, pink, purple. I also have a classic black and a classic blue Bic pens.

I only draw for myself, as a hobby, to improve my own skills, to practice on my own, and because I love it, not to please critics.

Q: Do you trace the drawings, use projected images, what do you do to get the proportions?
No. I use a grid on the reference, I then draw another pencil grid on the paper to make the drawing the exact size I want, then draw the simple outlines in pencil as accurately as possible and then erase the pencil as I color the drawing. I look and draw, fully freehand, the traditional typical old way. At this point I don’t need a grid, I can draw just by looking, I just use one to save time.

Q: Do you use photo manipulation, digital effects, drawing tablets or any other digital medium?
No. I like to do my work traditionally, the hard way, the way I like and the only way I know how.

Q: Some say drawing exact copies of photos is not art.
I don’t care what some people think and couldn’t care any less! I love realism, I only draw for myself, as a hobby, to improve my own skills, to practice on my own, and because I love it, not to please critics. Also, there are as many concepts of what is art as there are humans on earth, so what really matters is what art is for you, in your heart, not what others think it is or what others think it should be.

You can find him online: