Master Copy: Benji Davies

  • SVS OG

    Hi everyone…Thought I’d share what I’ve been working on for the last few days…I’ve been feeling frustrated about some aspects of my art in general.. and so I decided to take a break from the usual stuff and do a master copy of an artist I admire, to see if I can learn something different and get better digital skills.

    I chose this piece by Benji Davies:


    …if you watch 3rd Thurs live, it’s the same artist that Jake mentioned beforehand a couple of months ago, when he showed the Grandad’s Island book. This piece is from Benji’s newest book, The Dragon and The Nibblesome Knight, which is a fantastic book for bedtime for anyone who has young kids btw - fun to read out loud and lovely story too - rare combination! And it features dragons so big win-win for me.

    Benji paints digitally, as far as I know, so I did the copy entirely digitally as well, no tracing or colour-picking. Here are some screen grabs of the process:



    And the finished copy:


    Side by-side comparison (original on the left, copy on the right):


    Some observations I learnt along the way:

    • Benji uses a lot of dry media brushes - I’m pretty sure he uses some Kyle brushes because I found one texture in there which looked identical to Kyle’s Pastel Palooza brush. But not all of them..there was one brush I found really difficult to emulate, the dry scratchy brush…maybe he made it himself or got it somewhere else.

    • Up super close, Benji’s work has a surprisingly messy look - he doesn’t seem to worry too much about having really sharp neat edges and the process of copying his work felt very natural, like real painting - I really liked it!

    • So how does he ‘get away’ with those messy edges, I was wondering? I think it’s because he really, really knows his values and the contrast is in all the right places to make it work. So it can look clean but fresh at the same time.

    • This piece looks simple but it actually took a really long time to copy, many nights. There’s a lot of detail, careful shading and build up of textures that you don’t really notice full-screen. So it’s not a quick job, even though the design is quite stylised and child-friendly.

    So there we go! I had fun, and I quite fancy doing another one….but I think I’ll have to get a bit further along with 3rd Thurs before I can spare the time…

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @Dulcie you really nailed it. The only thing is that your characters are a little larger. Other then that if they were not side by side I would not be able to tell the difference.

  • that's great dulcie! you really nailed his textures. did you use a special brush for that?
    I love benji davis 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @Dulcie Wow - this is seriously impressive! Thank you for including your steps and explaining your process and thoughts - very nice post - looking forward to seeing your 3rd Thursday piece too!

  • Pro SVS OG

    This is awesome sauce, way to go! I love Benji's work!!

  • Pro SVS OG

    Wonderful work, a nearly perfect copy! Thank you for sharing this!

  • SVS OG

    @Chip-Valecek Thank you 🙂

    @audrey-dowling Thank you! I used a variety of Kyle’s dry media brushes ( …some conte, some pastel, a dry scratchy one, plus an occasional bit of pencil and low opacity round brush.

    @Charlie-Eve-Ryan Thank you, glad you approve! 🙂

    @Kevin-Longueil Thank you! Glad you found the process pics interesting too. Am working on 3rd Thurs sketches at the moment 🙂

    @smceccarelli Thank you!

  • Great work! I really need to start doing master copies. Thank you for sharing the step by step, and for the observations at the end, really helps! 🙂 And for the record, I think your characters are cuter than the originals.......!

  • SVS OG

    @Dulcie really nicely done. And I totally get what you are saying about how something might appear deceptively simple but when you attempt to emulate it you really learn just what is involved to achieve a similar look. Also thanks for sharing the steps along the way - very nice to see your build up!

  • SVS OG

    @NoWayMe Aww thanks, that's very kind of you!

    @Rich-Green Thank you! Glad you found it interesting. Yeah it's really interesting that you can look at a piece and go 'ah that's how they do it' and yet when you try to emulate it, somehow a whole different mindset develops, I don't quite understand why that makes a difference but it really does! It makes me want to do more 🙂

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