Last week, I shared the method I used to create an under drawing using water soluble colored pencils. While I focused on water soluble colored pencils in that post, the technique applies to any type of water soluble media with the possible exception of water miscible oils. I’ve never tried that combination, so cannot tell you whether or not it would work.
In this post, I’ll show you how to add traditional dry color to the under drawing.
Before adding dry color, make sure the under drawing and the paper are completely dry. If there’s any residual dampness, you risk damaging the paper. I usually allow paper to dry over night, just to be on the safe side. I also usually allow papers to air dry by natural evaporation. Even on the hottest days, this process is less likely to cause warping or buckling.
But you can dry paper with a hand-held hair dryer if you need to finish it quickly. Use a low heat setting and don’t get the dryer too close to the paper to keep the color from running before it dries.
Once I start adding dry color, I use the same methods of choosing colors that I use for any other technique. I start with the lightest colors and build toward the darks layer by layer. By the way, unless I note otherwise, the colors listed in this article are Prismacolor Thick Lead colors.
In this illustration, I’ve added a very light earth tone that’s also a warm color. Burnt Ochre was lightly shaded over the darker area behind the ears and in front of the ears. I used light pressure with a very sharp pencil to draw an even color layer.
Next, I layered Burnt Ochre over the rest of the horse except the highlights. I always work around highlights so they don’t become muddy or—even worse—disappear.
On the horse’s head and neck, I used a sharp pencil to draw a smooth, even color layer. In the mane, I stroked with the growth of the hair, starting at the bottom edge of the highlight and stroking downward to the ends of the hair groups.
I used light or very light pressure on the head, neck, and ears. For the mane, I used light to medium-light pressure.
I began drawing the muzzle with a light layer of pink at the chin and light gray in and around the nostril.
With the base color in place, I began developing values and colors. Colors used were Sienna Brown and Mineral Orange in the middle values. I added a light glaze of Light Umber and Goldenrod to the lighter values, and Dark Brown to the shadows.
I’m still working around the brightest highlights.
Most of the colors I’ll use to draw this chestnut have already been used. Now, it’s a matter of adding more layers until I get the color and saturation (no paper holes) I want.
For each round of work, I add more of each color.
I also increase the pressure with each round of work. The second layer is applied with light to medium-light pressure, the third round with medium pressure, and so on.
When the drawing nears completion, I begin working on the highlights. Some of the highlights are left alone. The highlight along the top of the crest, for example, is whatever color shows through from the under drawing.
For the others, I added Spanish Orange, Orange, or Yellow Ochre if the highlight is warm in color (the highlight along the cheek). If the highlight is more neutral, I used Sand or Cream (behind the eye).
No reflected sky light is included on this drawing, but had there been, I would have used Non-Photo Blue burnished with Sky Blue Light.
Most of the highlights are then burnished with a color like Beige or Cream to keep them unified with the coat colors around them.
Using water media or water soluble colored pencils to draw the under drawing is a great way to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a colored pencil work. It’s also a good way to cover the paper without filling in the tooth of the paper.
I probably won’t be using this combination very often because it doesn’t work very well on my favorite papers. They just don’t handle moisture well and I don’t care for the texture of watercolor papers that are heavy enough to take the moisture.
But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a viable—and valuable—alternative to using only traditional, dry colored pencils.
As I mentioned in the previous post, if you hope to enter your artwork in shows that are exclusively colored pencil, stick with water soluble colored pencils.
If that doesn’t matter, then experiment and have fun!
What about you? Have you tried mixing water soluble colored pencils with dry? Did you like that combination?