10 awe-inspiring pieces of monochromatic art

nicolas delort - the hobbit

"I prefer building an illustration around which the viewer can imagine a story," says Nicolas Delort

Sometimes it can be daunting to erase colour from your work. Black and white brings its own set of challenges – mastering light, shade and form using only tonal values.

However, there are many merits to working in greyscale – certain moods and atmospheres can be conveyed immensely successfully using little or no colour whatsoever. For example, you can instantly add an aged, vintage feel or a mysterious tone using monochrome. It also demands a highly skilled artist, and mastering black and white can aid your colour pieces.

Some artists go back into their monochrome creations and add a flourish of colour, perhaps some gold leaf or a severe red, to draw attention to a focal point. In other cases, artists add these embellishments so their work operates on two levels, so to speak. In any case, the lack of colour certainly doesn't mean a lack of beauty, complexity or detail.

Learn more about tonal values in our complete guide to all you need to know.

01. The Whispering Garden

yoann lossel the whispering garden

Yoann Lossel's The Whispering Garden is a stunning example of the French artist's expert use of graphite, gold leaf and petals. He uses watercolour graphite to create his moody materpieces, juxtaposed with gold leaf to highlight the image's "sacred parts".

02. Fairy tales

fairy tales niroot puttapipat

Fairy Tales by Niroot Puttapipat shows off the artist's exquisite line work. Although the image is mainly made out of silouette's, it manages to maintain it's detailed fantastical story, modelled in reality.

Niroot often works in watercolours, "Colour is wonderful. But for me, its expressive powers are distinct from the sheer aesthetics of a well-drawn line," he says.

03. Yeti

Travis Louie Yeti

Travis Louie's Yeti is a stellar example of the US-based artist's penchant for the bizarre, often with a great sense of humour and historical grounding reminiscent of 19th century ephemera and old photographs.

Travis's fine shading (using acrylic paints), eye for detail and monochrome palette enhances the otherworldly feel.

04. Pirates Away

pirates away socar myles

Pencils, pen and ink and toned paper make up Socar Myles's mysteriously menacing, yet charming illustrations.

The Canadian artist works to her strengths, admitting she isn't the greatest at colour perception.

Her drawings are full of bold lines and pwerful contracts, as well as oozing with enchantment and a vintage mysticism.

05. Adornment

anna dittmann adornment

Myth, relaity and ethereal motifs... expect all three from Anna Dittmann. While Anna doesn't stick to black and white, she uses a severely limited palette which add a mysterious and almost dream-like quality to her images.

"Value is key," she says. "When value hierarchies are strong and clear, colour is secondary." The artist has found there's a delicate vintage quality that can result in limiting a colour palette.

Next page: five more stunning black and white illustrations

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