How to Do Pointillism

Updated on February 8, 2018
This was my first pointillism piece, a Donald Duck
This was my first pointillism piece, a Donald Duck | Source

What Is Pointillism

Pointillism is an art technique of neo-impressionist painting. Pointillism and stippling are the same things, but the former is the original name. The basis of pointillism is creating a bunch of dots in different densities to create a cohesive image when viewers look at the bigger picture. It was developed by Georges Seurat in 1886 as a variation of the art form impressionism.

What You'll need

  • Paper
  • Fine liners/liquid pens.

When selecting your fine liner/pen, make sure the tip is as thin as possible and that the ink doesn't bleed when used on paper.

This is my latest pointillized piece, using mainly black with a tiny amount of red to bring out the eyes and tongue.
This is my latest pointillized piece, using mainly black with a tiny amount of red to bring out the eyes and tongue. | Source

Pointillism Tips and Techniques

Pointillism is not a "just do it" type of art. To create a great masterpiece, you must first learn the techniques, as the way you create each individual dot will have a huge effect on your final product. Once you have learned the basics (which doesn't take long), you will be off creating your own masterpieces.

The biggest piece of advice is to avoid making tadpoles. Pointillism is tedious work, and one of the most common errors is creating what is known as a tadpole. It's created if you create a dot that isn't perfectly circular but has a small tail at the end of it. This looks like a tadpole and can have a negative impact on your final piece. To make sure no tadpoles appear in your pointillism, make sure to:

  • Not work on the piece for long periods of time. You do not spend hours trying to complete your artwork. Doing pointillism for hours straight is difficult, making you tired and increasing the likelihood of creating tadpoles. Take a break every once in a while to relax your mind and drawing hand.
  • Hold your pen vertically rather than in your regular pen grip. Holding the pen straight up ensures that once your dot is created, the pen only rises upward and not slightly sideways (creating a tadpole, which is more likely when you are using your regular pen grip).
  • Take your time. Pointillism is meant to be fun, and rushing it is a mistake.
  • Vary density to provide depth. When creating your pointillism art, it is important that you show depth. You can do this by changing how many dots you place in one area. For example, if you were creating a shadow, the dots that compile the shadow should all be placed close together and there should be lots of them. This signifies that this part of your picture is darker than the rest. If you were creating points on the object which created the shadow, you would use fewer dots and space them further apart, signifying this area of the picture is lighter. Remember that when making shading effects, the amount of dots are always constant. For example, if you have two objects with shadows, make sure the density of each shadow is the same. If one shadow is lighter than the other, it ruins the final outcome.
  • Have fun. The best way to do pointillism/stippling is by enjoying the process. Create a fun setting for yourself by being comfortable (relaxing clothing and a nice chair), and listening to music or watching some TV as well. Also, you can get a group of family/friends to do the activity together to make it even more fun!

Practice Sheet

The best way to practice pointillism is by practicing. I've provided a sheet that covers the basics of shading and creating shadows. Just print it out and use it to get started!


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      Barry McCockner 

      5 months ago

      this is cool art

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      Mike Ox Long 

      5 months ago

      Joe Mama has entered the chat

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      joe mamma 

      5 months ago

      jah has entered the chat

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      5 months ago

      Thanks bruhhhh

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      7 years ago

      it interesting ! thanks


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