Welcome back to this step-by-step demonstration highlighting the layering process with colored pencil. If you’re joining us for the first time today, here are the links for the first two posts.
As mentioned in previous posts, I’m using Prismacolor Premier pencils unless otherwise mentioned. The drawing is on Strathmore Artagain paper in Flannel Gray.
The process I’m using is layering and I’m building black one color at a time.
Colors used so far are, in order of application, indigo blue, dark brown, and dark green. For each layer of color, I used light to very light pressure and drew with directional strokes imitating the pattern of hair growth and hair masses. I drew darker values with multiple layers and worked around the highlights.
As of the end of the last previous post, the drawing looked like this:
Step 4: Black Grape
I layered black grape into all of the shadows and darkest middle values using medium pressure with the pencil tip. I sharpened the pencil frequently to work in the smaller areas, but I also allowed the pencil to become blunt while working in larger areas.
Most of the work was completed with the same methods with which I added indigo blue, dark brown, and dark green. But I added a new stroke and method with this layer.
For the new stroke, I held the pencil close to the end and used the side of the pencil to glaze color over each area. Part of the reason I chose this stroke was to lay down broad, even layers of color, as shown here.
Using a pencil this way also sharpens the pencil as I work. Believe it or not, you can get quite a nice point on a pencil this way so you save time.
You also save time in application because you’re sharpening the pencil and applying color at the same time. A third benefit is that the color is being used on the drawing instead of ending up in the shavings.
The secret is using light pressure with this stroke so you don’t break the pigment core and so you don’t lay down such a heavy layer of color you can’t work with it without resorting to a solvent blend of some type.
I also began applying color with a blunt pencil and medium heavy pressure. For this work, I held the pencil nearly horizontal, but gripped it near the business end. Strokes were applied in the direction of hair growth with heavy pressure in dark shadows (around the eyes and nose in the illustration above) and medium pressure (along the shoulder and across the chest in the illustration below).
The net result was a more solid color layer. The blockier strokes also contributed to developing the bulk of the hair masses and the shape of the body.
And a look at the full drawing after adding black grape. You can still see areas that lean toward the blue, some that lean toward green, and still others that are more purple. That’s okay. You want those variations in finished drawing.
Step 5: Dark Umber
To keep all those colors from getting too bold, though, I next glazed dark umber over them. I used the side of the pencil and medium to medium-heavy pressure to apply the glaze. In the first layer, I used closely spaced diagonal strokes that roughly followed the contours of the body. I didn’t pay much attention to hair masses or to values.
In the second layer, I continued to use the side of the pencil and medium-heavy to heavy pressure, but followed the contours of the hair masses rather than the body.
As you can see here, the colors are beginning to blend to create a nice, rich black color.
In the face and head, I darkened more of the middle values.
I also began doing the eyes, working around the highlights in each eye and the hairs that overlap the eyes. Ordinarily, I’d impress a few lines to indicate hairs. For this portrait, I decided to work around the overlapping hairs.
Also notice the addition of flyaway hairs around the left side of the head.
The brown is less noticeable in the chest, but you can see the saturation I’ve developed in the darkest shadow between the front legs. Gradually, all of the darkest shadows should look more like this.
I like the variation in color that is natural to building blacks with this method of layering. It gives even the darkest shadows a level of visual interest and color variation that you just can’t achieve with black.
If there is a disadvantage to drawing black colors this way, it’s the tendency to give up too soon or start adding black too early in the layering process.
In the next installment, we’ll continue layering colors with another layer each of indigo blue and dark brown. But we’ll also get to black and I’ll show where and how I used that to deepen the dark values.