Carrie L. Lewis, Artist & Teacher

Helping You Create Art You Can be Proud Of

How to Draw a Miniature Drawing

Colored pencils are an ideal medium for creating a detailed miniature drawing. Their very nature is perfect for small works of art. If you’re looking for something new, I encourage you to give it a try.

Miniature artwork is 24 square inches (4×6) or smaller. My demo piece measures 3-1/2″ by 2-1/2″ (commonly known as an art trading card). Miniatures can be much smaller, too.

For more information on miniature art, visit the Miniature Art Society of Florida for national and international definitions. While there, take a look at some absolutely marvelous miniature work in a variety of mediums.

But how do you draw a miniature drawing? What special methods do you need to know?

My short answer is that whatever method you use for other drawings will work if you want to draw a miniature drawing. The biggest adjustment you’ll have to make is the length pencil strokes; they will need to be shorter!

How to Draw a Miniature Drawing in Colored Pencil

My subject for this demonstration is a mare and foal, but the method I’m about to describe works for any subject and any size.

The drawing method is a simplified version of the classical method in which I do an under drawing first, then layer color over the under painting.

The Drawing

How to Draw a Miniature Drawing in Colored Pencil - The Line Drawing

A detailed drawing is especially important with the Classical method, since details are developed from the very beginning. When working with colored pencils, it’s even more important. Corrections can be made quite easily with oils. While you can correct errors or vague areas in the drawing with colored pencils, it is a much more time consuming task. For me at least, it’s better to get everything as accurate as possible from the start.

The Under Drawing

How to Draw a Miniature Drawing in Colored Pencil - Starting the Umber Under Layer

The next step is the under drawing. I used Light Umber and Dark Umber to create a detailed under drawing. Most of the work is done in Light Umber, but the Dark Umber is very handy for adding darks and contrast, especially with these two bays.

I also worked on the background using Yellow Ochre and Dark Umber, both very lightly applied. I used Prismacolor Verithin pencils, which hold a point much longer and have a thinner lead. This allows for more even color application. It is also very helpful in working with such small images and in areas where there is a high level of detail.

First Color Layer

How to Draw a Miniature Drawing in Colored Pencil - The First Color Layer

The image above shows the first two color layers now in place. The first color was Verithin Goldenrod, which I layered over all of each horse but the blacks and white markings. I followed up with Verithin Orange Ochre over all areas but the darkest darks and the brightest highlights.

Second Color Layer

How to Draw a Miniature Drawing in Colored Pencil - The Second Color Layer

Work at this point is a matter of building layers of color to achieve the most accurate possible coloring on each horse and the best color saturation. Usually, saturation of color is more difficult than getting accurate color, but they go hand in hand.

I worked mostly on the foal using Verithin Dark Brown and Terra Cotta to bring her color up to about the same level as the mare’s. I also worked on both horses with Ultramarine Blue and Black, building up the manes and the darker areas around the muzzles and eyes.

Finishing Layer

How to Draw a Miniature Drawing in Colored Pencil - Finishing the Drawing

I started out with Prismacolor thick lead pencils, applying a layer of Burnt Ochre to the mare followed by Bruynzeel Sanguine and Prismacolor Vermillion Red. A little bit of Cerulean Blue and White in specific areas and she was mostly finished.

I also worked on the background, darkening it and smoothing out the texture enough to work with the two horses. Verithin pencils were my choice because they are good tools to blend and apply color at the same time. I used a combination of Light Peach, Parma Violet, and Ultramarine Blue Dark Brown.

Finally, back to the horses, with a light blending layer using Dark Brown and Terra Cotta on both mare and foal and the drawing was complete.

Learn more about drawing with colored pencils with my online colored pencil course.


EmptyEasel: All You Need to Get Started with Colored Pencil


On EmptyEasel: Interview with Colored Pencil Artist John Ursillo


  1. Gina

    Carrie, You always give me little tips that I wasn’t aware of before. The biggest one has been to color in layers. And you recommend different tools for different applications. Thanks!
    I can’t wait for Christmas, because I asked for your new book!

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