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by Mike Sibley

"Mike didn't just write a book to show you how to apply graphite to paper, but instead took a much more involved and informative approach of showing you the drawing process as it really matters... namely, how to approach a subject and deconstruct it into components that you can understand and render. I am reading and then re-reading every few chapters and I learn something new each time. Great stuff!"
Rich Adams - Artist

Mike Sibley, one of the world's very few professional graphite pencil artists, reveals his in-depth knowledge of drawing gathered over 25 years. Artists of all abilities, from beginners to professionals, will gain invaluable insights and understanding. In over 280 pages, Drawing From Line to Life, features methods, techniques, tricks of the trade, tutorials and much more. Four concise sections, separated by step-by-step demonstrations, comprehensively detail tools and basic drawing techniques; guidance on how to see in depth, the benefits of using negative space, employing perspective, using light and shade, and advice on working from photographs. A series of instructive tutorials explain how to draw ellipses, facial features, reflections, foliage, and a variety of textures. The final section follows a drawing, using many of the techniques explained, from conception and preparation through to the step-by-step completion.

The technique of Negative Drawing - a fresh way of working championed by the author - is concisely described and explained throughout. Drawing in layers, coupled with working from dark to light, greatly simplifies even the most complex task.

Fooling the Brain details, in two chapters, how to tune in to your creative side, and proven ways to train yourself to see what is really in front of you. The art of illusion tells you how to fool your viewer's brain into seeing more detail than is actually present; ways to use distorted perspective that look natural; and many other invaluable techniques.

A comprehensive index makes this book equally valuable as a drawing tutor, reference source, and technical manual. It's the publication your bookshelf has been waiting for.

Drawing From Line to Life was published in February 2006, and Mike Sibley was supported by an international team: an Editor in the USA; an Australian Designer; 'test pilots' in both the UK and USA; and a UK Printer with a pedigree stretching back to 1702.

Section sown
9" x 12" - 288 pages
MSFA Publishing

"Once in a great while you come across someone who is not only gifted as an artist but as a teacher. I have had problems with drawing trees since I started drawing. You have explained it in a way that finally connected to me so that I am able to make progress."
Deb Howard - Artist


Section 1: An introduction to the tools of the trade and chapters on basic techniques:

  • Introduction
  • Tools
  • Line drawing
  • Tone drawing
  • Erasing techniques
  • Blending and Layering techniques
  • Indenting
Plus a final demonstration of the portrait of a young girl, step-by-step with explanatory notes written at each stage - all the frustrations and celebrations.

Section 2: The philosophical and more advanced techniques section covering:

  • Fooling the Brain part 1 - includes using Negative Space and other methods to see and draw what is really there, and how to fool the brain into letting its creative side work free of conscious involvement.
  • Working from Photographs - the benefits and associated problems, and how to turn photographic anomalies to the artist's advantage.
  • Negative Drawing - a concept developed and championed by Mike Sibley. A fresh, simple way of working that makes many conventional methods appear cumbersome and complex.
  • Perspective - the rules explained, how to use them and bend them.
  • Light and Shade - how to construct believable lighting to greatly increase the apparent reality of any drawing, and how lie effectively.
  • Fooling the Brain part 2 - includes ways to fool the viewer's brain into seeing more in a drawing than is actually present, and other visual 'tricks of the trade'.
  • Transfer methods - a variety of ways, such as the Grid method, of transferring sketches to the final drawing surface.
  • Preparation - Includes how to produce concept drawings, advice on properly preparing a composition before drawing commences, and how failure to correctly prepare can lead to later problems.
Plus a final step-by-step demonstration - A drawing of a Tortoiseshell Cat in 25 stages with accompanying explanations and notes - all the trials and triumphs.

Section 3: The Tutorial section: explanations and step-by-step demonstrations:

  • Drawing Ellipses - freehand drawing from tiny to huge.
  • Drawing Textures - with demonstrations on brick, rusty metal, old paintwork, and textiles.
  • Drawing Foliage - weeds, grass, trees and shrubs.
  • Drawing Hair - a much requested chapter from a master of hair.
  • Drawing Features - covers the drawing of human and animal eyes, and animals' noses.
  • Drawing Reflections - all the theory and artistic advice from shiny metal to water.

Section 4: Putting it all together:

  • A specially produced drawing features Parson Jack Russell terrier Maisie in a farmyard setting. Using many of the techniques demonstrated in the book, the study is followed step-by-step from conception, through the preparatory work, to the final drawing.

"You are a truly blessed Artist. I pray that more people like you would take time out to help out other beginners like me."
Mark Bouffard, Philippines


About Mike Sibley:

  • Born in 1948 in the countryside of Essex, England.
  • Moved north at age 5 and at 18 attended Leeds College of Art and Design (earlier graduates included sculptor Henry Moore and artist Barbara Hepworth).
  • Attained a 2.1 Diploma of Art & Design in Fine Art (Dip.A.D.) that two years later became the Bachelor of Arts (BA honours) degree.
  • Mike left college and worked in a variety of jobs until 1977 when he met his wife Jenny, who bred and showed dogs and horses. It was this that turned his talents in that direction. Two years later Mike was working as a Taxi Driver at night and drawing commissions during the day. In 1980 he turned professional.
  • In 1985 Mike and Jenny moved to the North Yorkshire countryside near Thirsk, the hometown of the famous Vet and Author James Herriot. They live on a four-acre smallholding with their dogs, cats, horses, goats, sheep, and many small animals. When Mike's not drawing he's usually to be found working with his tractor, welding in his workshop, or exploring Nature along the two-mile farm track on which they live.

"I am very thankful for the quality and amount of education in drawing that your book provides. Often these books give a simplistic "just do this" tonality and show a professionally finished piece of art without properly instructing or conveying as to how to achieve that product. My days of frustration are over as your book does the complete opposite of that; it is filled with the generosity of telling me how to achieve these techniques in a very comprehensive and easy to understand way."
Michael Cabrera


About Mike Sibley's work:

  • Mike, a graphite pencil specialist, has been drawing professionally for over 25 years. His well-known prints of dog head studies can be found as far afield as Niagara Falls to South Africa, and Europe to the USA.
  • From 1980 to 1989 Mike drew over 50 head-studies of dogs - an open edition range of prints that many believe to be the definitive collection. Each meticulous drawing took an average of 85 hours to complete. At that time his publisher was selling over 20,000 prints a year, and the collection continues to sell today.
  • In 1990, Mike switched to drawing and self-publishing limited edition prints, featuring dogs in their environments. The first print, an Irish Water Spaniel composition, was released at Crufts and sold out in less than 3 hours.
  • In 2000 Mike set up his popular website - SibleyFineArt.com - and began writing online tutorials to help less-experienced graphite pencil artists. These tutorials have proved to be very popular with a wide variety of artists from Auto Body painters and Coloured Pencil artists to Porcelain painters and Professional Photo Retouchers. As a result Mike was constantly being asked if he would consider writing a book on the subject, so he has taken 18 months away from drawing to produce "Drawing From Line To Life".
  • Mike hosts his own drawing forum at ArtPapa.com in the company of renowned trompe l'oeil artist J.D. Hillberry and master oil painter Alexei Antonov.
  • Mike also designed and personally runs Starving-Artists.net - a website offering artists worldwide exposure for their artwork with the choice of a personal art gallery, for a low subscription fee, or free gallery space at Starving Artists 2.

"I have been working with Graphite now for eight years and I have never had anyone give a better explanation on technique than you do. Thank You!!! And bless you."
Tim Vance

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"Thanks you for sharing your incredible expertise. Your work is truly magnificent."
Mary Goldsmith