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Steve Greaves

Photorealism  Paintings

Techniques & Methods

David Beckham Key Chain / Key Ring Tutorial

Steve Greaves - David Beckham Key Ring - photorealism toy painting

1. Taking a Reference Photo 

Steve Greaves - David Beckham Keyring - reference photo

David Beckham Keychain / Keyring - Reference Photo

David Beckham photo print.


I used a Nikon F50 SLR 35mm film camera 

(before I went digital) for this reference photograph

of the David Beckham Key Chain.

A  35-80mm zoom lens with a +4 close-up filter

allowed me to get in close and fill the frame.


The 2" high David Beckham Key Ring stands 

on grey mount board with a slate grey mount 

board background and is lit by a single desk 

lamp with a daylight bulb. White card is used 

to reflect light into the shadows.


A  9" x 7"  photo print was scanned and 

then inkjet printed onto A2 size photo quality 

matt paper.



2. Copying & Transferring a Drawing

Steve Greaves - David Beckham Keyring - drawing

David Beckham Key Ring - Drawing

Pencil drawing on gesso primed board.


The image of the David Beckham Key Chain

was copied onto A2 transparent acetate with 

a fine pigment pen - then from that onto A2 

tracing paper using the same pen. Then the 

image was redrawn on the back with a soft (2B) 

pencil (tedious but a chance to listen to music!)


Finally the image was traced through the 

paper onto the gesso primed board using a 

hard (6H) pencil. Tracing is really not an easy

option. It can take days of intense accurate

drawing to transfer a detailed image ready for



Pigment pens are used on the acetate and 

tracing papers but the image is always laid 

down onto the support in pencil. A putty rubber 

is used to remove any excess pencil marks.


Note the image has been changed to a more

dynamic square format.


3. Painting Materials

Steve Greaves - David Beckham Key Ring - photorealism toy painting

David Beckham Key Ring Painting In Progress.


The support used for this painting is hardboard/

masonite which was roughly sanded on the 

smooth side to give it a key and then given 6 

coats of white acrylic gesso using random 

brush strokes. The surface was left un-sanded 

though small blobs and lumps were removed 

with a sharp scalpel.


For acrylic paintings I use only artist quality paints: 

System 3 by Daler-Rowney and Finity by Winsor 

& Newton. 


I rarely use airbrushes or other gadgets for painting, 

just old fashioned paint brushes (and sometimes 

fingers for dabbing paint). I mainly use Winsor & 

Newton Sceptre Gold brushes which hold their 

shape well, have a good spring and are resilient

to being scrubbed around on a gesso surface. 


4. Photorealism Painting Technique


Steve Greaves - David Beckham Key Ring - photorealism toy painting

David Beckham Key Ring - detail.


I used a size 2 brush, and a sheet of paper 

to protect the surface.  Enlarge Image


In Photorealism painting technique is very 

much played down. The emphasis is placed 

on the Image rather than the brushwork, but 

this is not to say that Photorealistic paintings 

are characterless when viewed from close up. 

Every Photorealism artist / painter has their own 

methods, and ultimately their own individual style.


In my earlier work (e.g. Peregrine Falcon) I 

would work on and complete only small sections 

at a time. A two inch square was cut into a piece 

of paper and I would work through that, being 

unable to see the whole of the image. 


These days I tend to paint the whole image 

quite lightly then gradually work up the tones  

and details into a harmonious whole.


Acrylic paint dries almost as fast as it touches 

the board which makes seamless blending very 

difficult. Brushes tend to wear down fast as one 

colour or tone is blended into another.


In this painting I am aiming to achieve a much 

higher state of finish than with my recent 

Photorealism paintings such as Carly and Amy 


It would be relatively easy to achieve a slick and 

glossy image here such as might be used for a 

magazine advertisement but I am taking pains to 

avoid that, aiming instead for a more down to earth 

kind of realism.

Steve Greaves - David Beckham Key Ring - photorealism toy painting detail

David Beckham Key Ring detail - enlarge 



Detail of finished David Beckham Photorealism painting.



David Beckham



Mini Art Print






David Beckham





Steve Greaves

Trafalgar Square

London Postcard



Paintings Book



Steve Greaves uses

Nikon D300 Camera.

You can get yours here:















Art & Photography - Recommended Books





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