LEE VAN CLEEF – “Angel Eyes”: Part I Tribute to “THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY” (charcoal on carbon)

Okay. I want everyone who thinks that the GREATEST classic western movie ever made was, is, and always will be: “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. Come on now. Raise your hands. You know it – I know it. So, come on now…don’t be shy. You know you want to. Yeah…..THERE you go. Much better.  Huh? Wait a second! Wait just a second!  Terry Lynn! Don’t make me come over there and kick your backside! You get that hand up! Ahhhhhhh….there….much better. Much better. Now…let’s continue, shall we? 

Lee Van Cleef was born to play the character “Angel Eyes” of the legendary western “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly“. His looks, voice, and piercing gaze were perfect for the role of the sinister villain. Odd thing though; you would think that the character who plays the alleged “bad guy” in a movie, would be the one who kills the most people. Nope!  That isn’t the case at all. Oh well.

So as a tribute to my personal favorite western, I decided to do a trilogy of the three characters: “Blondie” (Clint Eastwood);  “Tuco” (Eli Wallach); and “Angel Eyes” (Lee Van Cleef).  Since I didn’t know where to start, I flipped a three-sided coin and it came up “The Bad”, so….I started with Lee Van Cleef. (Bet you didn’t know there was a three sided coin, now did ya? Ha!  I got connections (wink))

I wanted a screen shot that showed his intense gaze and radiated his wickedness…I found just the shot.  Behold! “Angel Eyes” – evil incarnate! Oh…uh..no..uh..wait.  I wouldn’t go quite that far. How about: “Behold!  It’s “Angel Eyes” in all his sinister glory!” Uhh..no. That doesn’t sound right either.  Ohhh…crud!  To heck with it!  Here’s the shot of Lee Van Cleef that I liked the best. (sigh)


The screen shot contains a lot of cast shadows and the lighting is almost directly in front, just off to his left. Thus causing a heavy, cast shadow across his forehead region due to the brim of the hat.

Because of all these cast shadows, a broad range of mid tones and darks is created. Therefore, I decided that I was going to go with mildly dark carbons and mid-range charcoals. And since the apparel that Van Cleef is wearing appears to be suede or some kind of leather coat and hat, I decided that I was going to use a carbon base and overlay charcoal on top.

For his face, I decided to do the same but stuck mostly with two grades of lighter carbon and use compressed charcoal pencils (HB, B and 3B) for the heavy shadows.

I’m one of those who doesn’t follow any strict order when it comes to drawing. If I want to draw the face first; I draw the face. But in this drawing, I decided to draw the hat and coat first. I used a 3B Carbon Sketch pencil from Generals and I created some powder by sanding across a small sanding block.  I then used a cotton ball and applied the carbon powder on the coat and the hat.

Once I had the foundation down, I used a 2B carbon pencil and a 3B charcoal pencil for the hat. I began by layering the 2B carbon in the darkest area via “crisscrossing” four layers. I then blended with a piece of felt and blended from darkest areas to the lighter areas. I then applied the 3B charcoal on the first quarter portion of the “right” side (your left) of the hat and then used felt to blend once again, from dark to light. In the photo below, it would be from your left to right. I used a medium vine charcoal stick for the band of the hat and a 3B charcoal pencil for the shadows.

For the coat, I overlaid medium vine charcoal on top of the 2B carbon powder base and created the heavier shaded areas with a B charcoal pencil. I then blended with felt and used a chamois to pull out highlights to create the illusion of folds and creases. I used a 2H charcoal pencil to create the stitching in the collar flaps. I used a kneaded eraser to pull out the smaller highlights around the stitching.


For the face, I used a hard vine charcoal fusian and ground it to powder using the sanding black. I then used a cotton ball and “Q-tip” to put down a layer of charcoal for the face. This would act as the foundation from which I would then layer the other necessary medias I was going to use. I used a very light touch when applying the foundation.


Since the reference photo has strong cast shadows from the hat’s brim, it actually conceals the details of the ears and basically anything else that’s within the range of shadow. I didn’t like that, so I “tweaked” the picture in Microsoft’s Picture by increasing the light and decreasing the contrast. That allowed me to see more detail that was hiding under the brim.

For the hair, I basically blocked it in and then used a compressed charcoal pencil to create some of the individual strands you will see coming out from behind the ears and in front of the ear lobes themselves. I also used a kneaded eraser to pull out charcoal and create the illusion of “white” hair.

I’m not a huge fan of graphite because of the shine it creates, but I did use a tiny amount to help create the eyes. It’s blended with the carbon and charcoal I used to create the pupil and iris. It helped to create the “right look” for Angel Eyes.

Rendering the rest of the face was done using HB and B carbon powder and a softened blending stump. I used a kneaded eraser to pull out the highlights to help create the appearance of creases in the skin and to create the white hair in his facial stubble, as well as the highlights on the lower lip.

The final results are below.


This guy doesn’t look like someone I would trust with my wallet or my Mother. I hope I did a good enough job that you can tell it is supposed to be the person in the reference photo.

I’ll be starting Eli Wallach a.k.a. “Tuco” next, but you will have to probably wait just a bit as I am also starting a commission for a wonderfully sweet lady who lives in the Southern States. But don’t fret, the other characters are coming.

And just in case anyone might be interested: “Yes” this original will be for sale but not until the other two characters are finished, as I want to have all three printed and offered as a series and individual art pieces. However, the purchase of Lee Van Cleef comes with a caveat and legal disclaimer that I have to mention due to public safety and mental stability.

CAVEAT: Purchase of classic Hollywood Western character art may cause bi-polar disorders and could possibly result in hallucinations  My recent portrait of JOHN WAYNE caused the buyer to begin swaggering like a tall Texas man (he’s not Texan), calling every man he met “Pilgrim”, and converting a pillow case and cardboard box into a ten-gallon hat.  His poor wife wrote to me and was mostly concerned about his new ‘habit” of roping their dog and cat. She nearly fainted when he went to the stove and placed a large metal prongs inside, in order to get it hot so he could ‘brand them.” Ugh! The horror it must have caused her!

So, if you are indeed considering the future purchase of a Lee Van Cleef or John Wayne, or any other great American Hollywood western character art I create…..You’ve been duly warned!!   There. That should make the legal department happy.

See ya! And thanks for stopping by for a look!  Get it? “Angel Eyes”?  Look?  HA!  I crack myself up sometimes.



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