Carrie L. Lewis, Artist

Teaching Drawing and Painting One Student at a Time

How to Draw a Horse in Miniature With Colored Pencils – Adding Color to the Background

Last week, I began a step-by-step demonstration showing how to draw a horse as a miniature drawing. We started with the umber under drawing. The drawing is an ACEO (Art Cards, Editions and Originals) on white Rising Stonehenge paper.

This week, color work begins.

How to Draw a Horse in MIniature - Adding Color Background 600

I’m still using Prismacolor Verithin pencils so I can preserve as much of the paper’s natural tooth as possible. I don’t want to use solvents so preserving tooth is important. Verithin pencils don’t have the full range of colors available in Prismacolor Soft Core pencils, but there are enough to get started.

TIP: To preserve paper tooth, use harder pencils for the first few layers of color work.

Once the under drawing was complete, I started adding colors, beginning with the background. The colors I used are:

  • Dark Umber
  • Goldenrod
  • Terra Cotta
  • Apple Green
  • Grass Green
  • Olive Green
  • Peacock Green
  • True Green
  • Canary Yellow
  • True Blue
  • Non-Photo Blue
  • Ultramarine

I didn’t use these colors in any particular order beyond working generally from light to dark. Many of them were used several times, alternating colors among the many layers I did throughout the day.

Earth tones were sandwiched between layers of green and blue to keep the green from becoming too aggressive. Adding some of the colors I’ll be using to draw the horse also gives the overall drawing color unity. The two parts—background and horse—will work better together if they share some colors.

For the most part, each color was applied in a random, quilt-like pattern. No color was applied in an even layer throughout the entire background. Multiple layers and varying strokes were used to create the look of sun-dappled trees in soft-focus.

Since I wanted as many layers and colors as possible without producing the ‘slick’ look of heavy burnishing, I kept pressure light to medium light for each layer.

Keeping the pencils needle-sharp wasn’t the high priority it usually is. With this type of background, a slightly dull or even an angled pencil tip can be advantageous.

The pattern of lights and darks and colors was used to create a visual path through the painting and to create a center of interest for the horse, but that was as far as design went for the background.

Due to the small size of the painting, I was able to finish the background in a series of sessions in one day. One of the many benefits of working with ACEOs.

How to Draw a Horse in Miniature With Colored Pencils - Adding Color

Next? The horse.

Other Notes

The signature I impressed into the paper before I started drawing is becoming more clear with each layer of color. You don’t need to make a very deep mark to use this method of signing colored pencil artwork.

It’s also a great way to add details, though I didn’t use it here.

While I’m considering the background finished for now, it does still need work. Color saturation is still too weak and there are too much paper showing for my taste. But I’ve found it prudent not to finish any area before working on other areas. So although the background needs work, I want to work on the horse next.

If You Want to Follow Along

If you want to follow this demonstration with your own drawing, here are the materials I’ve used so far.

  • Rising Stonehenge paper, 90lb, white cut to 3-1/2″ by 2-1/2″ (if you want to do an ACEO)
  • Graphite pencil, 2B or softer, to shade the back of the drawing for transfer. Any non-greasy transfer paper will also work.
  • Umber Under Drawing
    • Prismacolor Verithin Dark Umber pencil. I use Verithin pencils for the first stages of most drawings because they have a thinner, harder pigment core. That means they hold a point much longer and they make a thinner mark. They also contain less wax binder, so they don’t fill the tooth of the paper quite as much.
  • Adding Color
    • Dark Umber
    • Goldenrod
    • Terra Cotta
    • Apple Green
    • Grass Green
    • Olive Green
    • Peacock Green
    • True Green
    • Canary Yellow
    • True Blue
    • Non-Photo Blue
    • Ultramarine

Look for the next step in the process next week.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the process so far, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Other Articles in This Series

How to Draw a Horse in Miniature With Colored Pencils

Previous

Is It All Right to Use Oil Painting Varnish on Colored Pencil Drawings?

Next

3 Things to Remember When Composing Artwork with a Camera

2 Comments

  1. John G.

    You are a colored pencil wizard! Every piece you make is pure magic!

    • John,

      Thank you for the complement, but there’s no wizardry involved. Rather, years of practice, trying new things, and always keeping my eye open for ways to improve the talent I was given by God and the skills I’ve acquired.

      In other words, I haven’t really done anything that you couldn’t also do!

      Carrie

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