Dotty Art Technique: Pointillism

Published: August 27, 2015

Circle pointillism DIY project

Have you ever pointilled? Pointed? Pointillised?

I learned about this technique in high school when I chose to make an entire 18×24″ pointillism drawing of the crotch of some man wearing jeans that I found in a magazine. The, um, folds of the jeans were perfect for this technique. Side note: isn’t ‘crotch’ one of the best words ever? It makes me giggle like a 7 year old every time.

Anyway, we used a grid drawing technique to copy the image in drawing form onto the illustration board, but my way is FAR easier if you are just getting started and want to try this technique out.

The only catch is that it involves a light box. If you don’t have one already, you can score one on Amazon for pretty cheap, or hack one using a string of Christmas lights under a turned-over plastic bin.


So, back to pointillism. Remember Seurat? This is probably his most famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and it’s at the Art Institute here in Chicago, and I FREAKED the first time I saw it. I like pointillism. This is all dots, and it’s like 6×10 feet.


The reasons I love pointillism so much are:

1. It’s repetitive

2. It’s meditative

3. It’s easy to get a great result

Of course, it takes a long time. You aren’t going to be able to throw a few dots onto a piece of paper and call it a day- the beauty is in the time it takes to make all those thousands of dots look like something on the paper. You get to slow down, listen to a podcast, drink some tea, and dot.

It’s a lot like Zentangle and coloring pages in this aspect, so I think this will appeal to those of you who like those sorts of activities. Also- if you want to just quickly get started, all you really need is a pen and some paper.

I took a slightly less detailed approach to my pointillism projects than Seurat did, and for these 2 I traced circular object with pencil and just dotted around them. More dots for a heavier look, fewer dots, spread out more for lighter areas. You can vary your speed as you get into it also. I dot pretty quickly when I’m trying to fill in a darker area, but then I slow down and dot more deliberately in lighter areas.

The colorful ones are done with Sharpies, the black one is done in Micron.

With the black pointillism, I found an image from my InStyle magazine I have yet to read, and made a photocopy. Then I taped that onto the light box with a piece of paper over it and started dotting away. I began with the darkest parts of the photo, and moved progressively lighter. Meaning, I filled int he darkest parts first, moved onto the next darkest parts, etc. I wanted to keep the similarly shaded areas looking the same.

That’s pretty much it- you can go as detailed as you want. I sort of focused on doing Anne’s face and left her body mostly untouched. There’s a joke there somewhere.

You can see the progression of the drawing below. On the left are the pics with the light box turned on, and the right are with it off.

Such a cool pointillism project!

Really cool Pointillism art project!


And then, because I couldn’t stop with the damn dots, already, I made another.

pointillism circles

Since you’re no doubt completely in love with pointillism at this point, I have compiled some of the most inspiring, mind-blowing examples of pointillism from Seurat up to contemporary pointillism artists. So good.



7 thoughts on “Dotty Art Technique: Pointillism”

      • He he he. I guess that depends of their personality. I’m about as impatient as you can get when it comes to my art. There are many who will be a lot more patient, and will try this. I might add it as part of my creativity challenge, just to mess with their minds a bit 🙂

  1. “I sort of focused on doing Anne’s face and left her body mostly untouched.”….THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID! 🙂

    I remember doing my pointillism project in high school. It was a maple leaf. My mommy framed it 🙂 Now my daughter took it to hang in her place. I agree that it is very zen and meditative. I enjoyed it and love the way it looks. Great job on Anne, but I adore your circles. Very cool looking. Now I want to do a pointillism picture.

    • BOOM! You dropped an Ann Hathaway joke!

      And I totally think you should do some more pointillism- it’s so fun to pick up these techniques I haven’t done in a while and just play around with them. You could send your daughter new framed Pointillism art every week. 🙂


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