Friday, July 26, 2013

Art Basics: Colored Pencils

Class, today we will be discussing the use of colored pencils as a drawing tool.  YAWN!  I'm getting bored already.  I'm a visual learner, I love pictures so I've created a series that explains the basics of colored pencils.  Each picture describes exercises you might want to try.  The best way to learn a new technique is to do it.  Don't worry about mistakes, those are part of learning too. And forget about perfection.  Becoming more creative isn't about the product, it's about the process.

Just a few rules or "tips"
  1. Keep your pencil tips sharp. 
  2. Use light pressure when applying color.  You don't want a waxy look.
  3. Try horizontal strokes versus circular ones.  Both techniques work.
  4. Don't try to erase too much.  Even a white or kneaded erase will leave smears.
  5. If you drop your pencils the inner color core may break. You'll know because the tips keep falling out. Try heating them with a hair dryer for a few minutes.  Sometimes that will fuse the waxy color back together.

Using the side of the pencil
create a spectrum in the order
in the pictures. Overlap colors to
create tertiary colors.

Let's practice a little:
Supplies:  Sharpen colored pencils:  red, blue, yellow, green, orange and violet (purple),
                White paper or a sketchbook, white eraser, pencil sharpener.
Create this color wheel and note the brief color theory notes.
The important thing to remember is the complementary
and analogous colors.


Now practice drawing circles and turning them into spheres using colors.  When using complementary colors to create value you first cover the sphere with value like you learned yesterday.  Then you begin to layer the color opposite to darken the edge.  Finally add another layer of the original color.

Try this also with analogous colors.  Lightly layer 3 colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.  Notice how you didn't use black or white on any of these - White is the paper and  your dark value is created by the mixing of colors

Try drawing an everyday item.  I chose "Miss Pear" again today.  She's looking a little more worn but I  made her look younger and unblemished.  That's my artistic license!

Tomorrow:  What about pens?


  1. Great tutorial, Karen. I love colored pencils. What kind do you use?

  2. What a clever idea to use a hair dryer to fuse the colored pencil back together! My kids drop colored pencils all the time by accident, and when they're expensive Prismacolor pencils, it's hard not to be stressed out every time the pencils are dropped. I'll have to try the hair dryer...

    1. I know you can also heat them in microwave but I think the hair dryer is safer.

  3. This made me take a second look on the stock of colored pencils that we have in the house. The tips you gave are most helpful, i.e. horizontal strokes and use of hair dryer. I'd like to draw a pear like yours too - or maybe another fruit but hopefully the same quality as yours. :-)

    1. Don't worry about comparing your pear to mine. Just enjoy the process.

  4. Makes me want to use my colored pencils, all very helpful in color mixing. Thanks

    1. Can't wait to see what your artistic mind comes up with!