'Insanely talented': Student's retro method of 'painting' Sydney landmarks

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

At first glance, they appear to be a selection of photos taken across Sydney.

But on closer inspection, it quickly becomes apparent the landscape images depicting some of the city’s most notable landmarks weren’t created with a simple click of a camera.

For 18-year-old student Xing Lin from Prospect, they take far longer than the split second a mobile phone, for example, captures its backdrop.

Sydney Harbour from Blues Point. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin
The Harbour Bridge in fog behind Milsons Point station. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin

“It takes me anywhere from five hours to 10 depending how detailed they are,” Xing told Yahoo News Australia.

That’s because the images Xing creates are painstakingly drawn entirely on Microsoft Paint.

He first began drawing Sydney’s sights while travelling to high school in Baulkham Hills, with pictures at the start taking him “several weeks”.

“I’d take inspiration from the sights I’d see during the commute.”

With limited software available to him 24/7, he opted to try his hand at creating artwork in MS Paint.

The Great Western Highway at Parramatta. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin
Sydney's CBD by day and night. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin
Sydney's skyline from the west. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin

“I started using Microsoft Paint because it was the only software I could access wherever I was,” he said.

And when he began to share his creations online, people quickly began to praise his unique talent.

“People are impressed that I draw in MS Paint because there’s a sort of nostalgic allure to it and the technical way of drawing on it is more impressive I guess,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

William Street in one of Xing's more detailed pieces. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin
Sydney Harbour from above. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin

It’s that same nostalgia that helped MS Paint – relatively unchanged since its creation in the late 80s – remain on Microsoft computers and laptops amid technological advancements.

Many can remember the first time they accessed a computer and subsequently their first use of MS Paint experimenting with the selection of tools on offer.

And regardless of the user’s artistic flair, it’s fair to say the ability of your average computer user trying to create or draw something on MS Paint would be a far cry from Xing’s work.

And it’s that level of developed expertise that’s left the Media Arts first year student at UNSW with an impressive following online with many eagerly awaiting his latest image capturing another part of Sydney.

While initially capturing Sydney’s west, he has since ventured around the Harbour and CBD and has an impressive portfolio of work.

Another skyline artwork from the west. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin
North Sydney's skyline. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin
One of Xing's simpler pieces at Redfern station. Source: Supplied/ Xing Lin

In a recent picture of Milsons Point station he shared to Reddit, the reaction was a unanimous one.

“I can barely make a square in MS paint,” one person proclaimed.

“Such lovely art! No way that's from MS Paint, another said.

“You are insanely talented,” one person said.

One of his drawings of North Sydney’s skyline garnered over 12,000 upvotes on the online forum last year.

Xing’s drawings have been so well received, he is now being commissioned by those desperate to turn their most loved landmarks into a MS Paint masterpiece.

His latest customer, a member of staff at Royal North Shore Hospital, has paid for a piece depicting their workplace to show off to colleagues after seeing Xing’s Sydney artwork online.

“I like to throw in a lot of details that only people in Sydney will understand and that’s really rewarding,” he said.

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