How to Draw a Golden Retriever

Welcome Peggy Osborne back in 2020 for another of her wonderful step-by-step tutorials. This time, she’s showing us how to draw a Golden Retriever.

Here’s Peggy.

How to Draw a Golden Retriever

For this tutorial I decided to draw a golden retriever as I see a lot of people struggle with the coloring of Goldens.

Goldens come in a variety of golden tones from a deep red to a pale, almost white golden color. This Golden Retriever is a mid-range golden color. I chose this reference for his sweet expression, which is common to this breed.

Here is the reference photo from Pixabay. I cropped the original a bit.

How to Draw a Golden Retriever - The Reference Photo
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

I’m drawing this on Strathmore Toned Tan Mixed Media Paper. I thought the color would be a nice background to work on, giving a warm glow to the final drawing.

Start with an Accurate Line Drawing

I start with a sketch showing the details I want to draw and the placement of the important features.

How to draw a Golden Retriever beginning with a detailed line drawing.

Getting the Eyes Right

I usually always start with the eyes. If they are not right then the rest of the drawing won’t be either.

The reference photo shows reflections of the window and shadows in the eye. I want to try to convey this in my drawing, so I start by placing those highlights with White.

Then I start layering Sienna Brown, Chocolate, Light Umber, and Dark Brown into each eye using a sharp point and light pressure to build up the layers slowly. I outline the eye and draw the pupil with Black, and use Blue Slate in the highlights.

How to draw a Golden Retriever. Get the eyes right and the portrait is more likely to succeed.

To finish the eye, I use Greyed Lavender, White, and 70% French Grey around the eye.

Next, Draw the Hair Around the Eyes

Remember to always look closely at the reference photo and observe how the fur is arranged and growing. Start at the root of the hair and draw outward the way the fur grows. This gives you a sharp line at the end of the hairs and makes the hair look more natural.

You don’t need to use the same colors I use, these are just guidelines. I use Prismacolor pencils and if you use different pencils the colors will be slightly different, but you’ll still be able to succssfully draw this portrait.

I use a variety of colors to build up the layers; Cream, Rose Peach, Sienna Brown, Beige, Light Umber, Chocolate, Goldenrod, and Dark Brown.

Drawing the Face & Ears

I continue drawing the hair by marking the lightest areas with White.

Then I begin building up layers with lighter colors such as Light Umber, Beige, Peach, Sand, and Goldenrod, working from light to dark. In the darker areas, I use Light Umber, Chocolate, and Dark brown.

I continue layering those colors, but if I see another color in the reference photo, I add it as I work.

In addition, I keep drawing hair-like strokes in the direction the fur grows.

I lay in the darkest areas in the ear with Sepia and Light Umber. I wash the whole ear with Sand using a light touch.

Next I use White in the highlighted areas of the ear to create depth. Then I use a wash of Beige before going over the ear again with layers of Sepia and Light Umber to create more shadows.

With each layer, I draw more details in the ear, repeating the same process with the colors mentioned until I am finished.

I also added Peach, Sienna Brown, Chocolate, Dark Brown, and Burnt Ochre.

When the ear is finished, I move to the other side of the face and ear using the same method and colors.

Continue checking the reference photo as you work, and look for the color placement and apply colors accordingly.

The Muzzle and Nose

Here I’ve added more details to the far ear, and then started the muzzle. I drew the light and dark areas lightly with White and Light Umber to show the contours of the face.

I finish the muzzle using the same colors as the rest of the fur.

To make things easy on myself, I keep all the colors I use as I work in a separate container so I don’t have to look for them among all my pencils. I can just reach for the one I want and it’s right there.

To start the nose, I mark the highlights with White and the darkest areas with Black. The nose has a fleshy look so I use Rosy Beige, Clay Rose, and Peach as base colors. For the darker areas, I use Sepia and 90% Cool Grey.

Drawing the Neck and Chest

The next area is the fluffy hair beneath the chin and ear. I draw in the area with Light Umber. This area will go fairly quickly as it doesn’t have the details that the face has, and I will use solvent to blend it later.

Using various colors as previously stated, I add several layers of color so I can use the solvent to blend them smoothly. You need 4 to 5 layers to get a smooth blend when using solvent.

I use a light touch and draw lines to show definition in the fur and shadows. Sometimes, I also use the pencil on its side, softly creating a wash over the whole area. I repeated this step until I got the drawing where I wanted it.

Once the main colors are in place, I continue adding more layers and details, still using pretty much the same colors throughout the piece.

For the solvent blend, I apply the solvent with a little brush and make sure to follow the direction of the hair with the brush. This softens the colors without completely blending them and makes them look more natural. The solvent also makes the colors look brighter.

The next step is adding fine hairs and highlights with Brush & Pencil Titanium White Mixture. I apply this with a small brush over the areas I blended with solvent. You can see this in this photo.

The Final Steps

Just before finishing the drawing, I place it in a comparison split photo to see how the colors compare side-by-side.

How to draw a Golden Retriever - comparing the reference photo and portrait in color to check color accuracy.

I needed to add more Goldenrod and Greyed Lavender. I also added Dark Umber in the dark areas and then went in again with the Titanium White mixture to add more depth.

To add whiskers, I first used White, then went over them with Titanium White mixture to punch them up.

Then I converted the reference photo to black-and-white for a comparison of values without color.

How to draw a Golden Retriever - comparing the reference photo and portrait in black-and-white to check values.

This is the finished piece.

How to Draw a Golden Retriever - The finished portrait.

So Now You’ve Seen How to Draw a Golden Retriever the Way Peggy Does.

My thanks to Peggy for another great tutorial.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and are now ready to try your hand with a Golden Retriever portrait.

Or maybe you’d like to see other tutorials by Peggy, including How to Draw a Long Haired Dog. They’re all packed with good information and beautiful illustrations.

About Peggy Osborne

See more of Peggy’s work at Pet Portraits by Peggy. You can also meet Peggy in the January issue of CP Magic.

Peggy is an accomplished self-taught artist living in Canada specializing in creating beautiful realistic portraits of pets and family members. She’s had an on going love affair with colored pencils, loving their simplicity, for as long as she can remember.

She started out using graphite pencil so it was an easy transition to carry on with colored pencils. Love of animals and art go hand in hand. Peggy is in awe of what can be accomplished with colored pencils.

Ready for a more in-depth tutorial from Peggy? Purchase her Blue Eyed Aussie tutorial today for more great teaching.

How to Decide the Order of Colors when Layering

How do you decide the order of colors to get the right color, values, or appearance? There are so many options, how do you decide?

That’s what Catherine wants to know. Here’s her question:

How do you determine the order of layers of different colors? I spend a lot of time testing the order of laying down color on the outer edges of my drawings, is there a quicker or better way?

This is a great question, Catherine. Thank you for asking it.

How to Decide the Order of Colors when Layering

One of the joys of colored pencils is the ability to layer multiple colors to create new colors. You also have a wonderful selection of colors to use. So you have to decide which colors to use when, and I confess that decision can look mind-boggling.

So how do you decide the order of colors? Is there a simple method or technique?

I’m afraid the answer is no. In fact, the best answer is one most of us prefer not to hear. Practice and experience.

Lots of both.

But there are few basic principles that may help you make those decisions more easily.

How to Decide the Order of Colors

I once read about an oil painter who used only seven or eight colors and mixed everything else. Obviously, his techniques won’t work with colored pencils, but his method of deciding which colors to mix, what colors to start with, and adjusting colors as he painted can be applied to colored pencils.

The following tips are based on personal experience and the oil painter’s methods.

Study the Colors in Your Reference Photo

The first step is to study the color of whatever you’re drawing. What’s the main color and to what color family does it belong?

This horse, for example, is yellow-gold in overall color. The color family is brown tending toward yellow or golden.

This color family provides the foundation colors for this portrait. The main color family provides the foundation colors for whatever you want to draw.

So determine the main color family for your drawing. Not every color will be appropriate, but identifying the main color family will ultimately help you decide the order in which you apply colors.

Start with a Base Color

The base color comes from the main color family.

The base color should be a medium-light or lighter value. Ideally, as close to the color of the highlights as you can get. If you have to use a color darker than the highlights in your subject, work around the highlights.

This is the first color you’ll put on paper, and it’s also one of the colors you’ll use most often. Set it aside.

This is the base color for Portrait of a Palomino Filly (read the full tutorial.) The paper is a light eggshell color just a little darker than the highlights, so I chose a base color that was a little darker than the paper. This color was used throughout the completion of the drawing.

Choosing the Next Color

After you’ve layered the base color, compare your drawing to your reference. Chances are excellent the base color isn’t exactly the same as the colors in the photo.

So what color do you need to add to make the color on the paper more like the color in the reference photo?

For my horse portrait, I decided the base color needed to be warmed up, so I chose a warm, light-value color that was about the same color as the highlights, and layered that over the horse.

After I finished that layer, I compared drawing and photo again, and chose a reddish earth tone to add more color and value.

The color selection process continued that way until I’d used five or six colors, then I began layering them over and over.

Do the same thing with your work. Compare your drawing and reference photo after you’ve layered each color. Decide how your drawing differs from the reference, and what color you need to use to make the drawing more like the reference.

Keep making those decisions layer by layer, color by color, until you finish.

How to Decide the Order of Colors when Layering
The final color or colors are adjustment colors. They add value (darken dark values) or tint the colors already on the paper. Sometimes they do both.

That’s the Easiest Way I Know to Decide the Order of Colors

Don’t fret too much over deciding what order you should apply colors. You will make mistakes. That’s part of the learning process. Be bold and courageous! Learn from those mistakes.

Catherine says she spends a lot of time testing colors before using them on a drawing. That’s a good idea and a lot of artists swear by it. It’s a good way to gain the experience necessary to know instinctively what colors to use when.

The other option—the one I used when I began—was simple trial and error. Mostly error, sometimes (or so it seemed.)

But knowledge acquired by experience often sticks with me more quickly and longer than what I see or hear by example.

Image by husnil khawatim from Pixabay

My Advice for Deciding the Order of Color Application

Don’t worry too much about getting the order of color application correct right from the start. Unless you’re a highly analytical artist (yes, there are some of those,) it will be more frustrating than helpful to try to plan so carefully. You’re far more likely to frustrate yourself into not drawing at all. At least that’s what happens when I try to plan too far ahead.

The fact of the matter is that one layer of color could totally upset all those carefully laid plans.

So work one color at a time. Do those test swatches if they help you, but don’t try to swatch out the entire drawing before you start drawing.

Instead, choose the base color and put that on the paper.

Then compare what you’ve drawn with your reference photo to decide on the next color. Keep track of the colors you use and the order in which you use them if you like, but work step by step through the drawing until it’s finished.

I guarantee you’ll have more fun drawing and finish more drawings that way.

Unless you are an analytical sort of artist!

How to Draw a Blurry Background

Today’s subject is how to draw a blurry background. Here is the reader question.

I would like to know how muted backgrounds are done. It’s where all the background looks like it’s melted. No specific item is clear. Please help.

I am understanding the question to refer to soft focus, blurred, or bokeh backgrounds. If I’m in error, please correct me, Mardy.

How to Draw a Blurry Background

I’ve already written on drawing a bokeh background, which is one form of a blurry or muted background. So I’ll talk about soft-focus or blurry backgrounds in this post.

What Makes a Blurry Background Blurry

The edges you draw determines blurriness. The softer the edges, the blurrier the drawing looks. Whether you draw intentional edges that are crisp, or whether they just happen due to overlapping strokes, the sharper and clearer the edges are, the less blurry the area looks. That’s because sharp focus brings things forward, and softer focus pushes things into the background.

Here’s a landscape photo. I cropped it but that’s all.

How to Draw a Blurry Background
This photo shows the landscape in crisp focus, the way you’d see it if you were looking at it in person.

This is the same photo, but after I’ve used a blur filter on it in a photo editor.

The edges have been blurred slightly in this photo. You can still tell all the trees apart, but they all have softer edges and are out of focus.

This version shows a little bit more blurring.

A little more blurry. It’s more difficult to see individual trees in the background. The main tree still stands out, but now it’s more because of shape and color than because you can clearly see the edges.

And in this one, I used a different filter to totally “explode” the shapes.

In this photo, none of the trees are distinguishable as trees, let alone as separate trees. Instead, the landscape is reduced to colors and vague shapes with no clear edges.

How to Draw a Blurry Background

The same principles apply to drawing a blurry background. The more you soften the edges of shapes, the blurrier those shapes appear. So when you want to draw a blurry background, avoid creating sharp edges either between colors or values.

How do you do that?

By overlapping the light and dark areas in the background, and fading one color into another.

One Way I Draw a Blurry background

Here’s a quick demo of one way I draw blurry backgrounds. In fact, it’s my favorite “blurry background” drawing method.

I usually begin with a medium- or light-value color as a base. I use light pressure and a sharp pencil to layer color randomly, leaving some areas untouched while others have multiple layers.

How to Draw a Blurry Background

Repeat the process with the next color.

If there’s a pattern in your background, such as vague shapes of trees, you can follow that pattern, but don’t make it too obvious.

Apply colors in multiple layers. If I’m using four colors for a background, for example, I’ll go through all four colors two or three times, always with light pressure, often in the same order. That’s not a hard and fast rule, by any means, but it’s a place to start.

And don’t repeat edges. Overlap them enough to keep them from getting too crisp.

Continue layering one color over another until the background is the way you want it.

The process is described in full in the palomino horse tutorial.

Here is the finished drawing.

How to Draw a Blurry Background - Finished Drawing

Two other things you might also try

After a few layers, use a neutral color as a blending layer. If I’m using Faber-Castell Polychromos, I often use Warm Grey II for blending. If Prismacolor, French Grey 20% is a good blending color.

The blending layer smooths out the previous layers of color. Use light pressure and draw even color. You want all the layers to be smooth, but this layer should be especially smooth.

If, after you’ve put all the layers you want on the paper, it still doesn’t look right, try burnishing.

When you burnish, you use heavy pressure to grind the colors together. You can use a colorless blender for this, but I usually prefer to use a light color. My favorite burnishing colors are light neutrals such as Cream or Light Umber, but use a color that goes with the colors you’ve already used.

Conclusion

I hope that explains how to draw a blurry background.

Drawing a blurry background may look intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Don’t worry too much about duplicating your reference photo exactly or getting everything perfect, and it will be much easier!

How to Draw a Wave Line Drawing

Welcome to Q&A December! We begin the month with a question I’ve been asked more than once: how to draw a wave. Here is Gail’s question:

Hi Carrie,

How do you do a line drawing of waves and then how do you draw the mist and foam from the water?


Overall… water is what bugs me. I never know how much to put into a line drawing when it comes to ripples and highlights, or foam or spray. 


Gail

Thank you for the question, Gail.

I know beyond all shadow of doubt that you’re not alone in wanting to know how to draw waves and water in other forms. In fact, questions about drawing water are among the questions most often asked most artists.

How to draw a wave line drawing

How to Draw a Wave

Since Gail’s question specifically deals with making a line drawing, I’ll show how I make a line drawing of a wave. I’ll also say up front that this is how I make a freehand line drawing of anything I might want to draw, but especially landscape subjects.

Before you start drawing.

Take a few minutes to look at your subject. I don’t mean a quick glance, either. Look for the big shapes. The colors and details are no doubt what first drew your attention, but ignore those for now. Instead ask yourself the following questions.

What shape best describes this wave? Is it triangular or more oval?

Which of the shapes is the largest, and how much larger is it than the shapes around it?

How do the shapes relate to one another in location?

If you have difficulty seeing the shapes, turn your reference photo upside down or flip it side to side. That gives you a different look at the image. Turning it upside down is especially effective in tricking your brain into seeing abstract shapes instead of a wave (or whatever else you’re drawing.)

And if you can’t get past those beautiful colors, make the reference photo gray scale!

Step 1: Mark the Borders of the Drawing

I’ve found over the years that the best way to get a more accurate line drawing is to first take a minute or two to define the picture plain (the drawing area.) You don’t need fancy tools to do this.

Two Ways to Mark Borders

A precut mat of the right size is an ideal tool for marking borders.

This is one of my precut mats. I have various sizes so I marked each one with the size of the opening so I could tell at a glance what size I’m looking at. Beats measuring them every time!

I lay the mat over the drawing paper and lightly draw along the inside edges. The result looks like this. Not very fancy, I admit, but this is just a line drawing after all!

How to Draw a Wave Line Drawing - Mark the Borders of teh Picture
Unless you’re drawing directly on the same paper you will be making the artwork on, you don’t need a fancy border. Just enough to mark the margins, as shown here.

If you prefer to draw directly on your drawing paper—which I do for landscapes—measure the picture plane on your drawing paper, then draw the borders more carefully. Or tape the paper to a back board so the tape marks the border, then proceed with the next steps.

How to Draw a Wave Line Drawing - Tape the margins when drawing directly on good drawing paper.
If you choose to start sketching your wave directly on the paper you plan to use for the finished artwork, mark the borders of the drawing with tape when you mount the paper to your drawing board. Measure it first, so the corners are square.

Step 2: Rough in the Basic Shape

Start with the biggest shapes. Use light pressure to outline them. I’ve drawn this wave a little darker than I usually would so you could see it. I have such a naturally light hand, that my scanner cannot see my first marks!

Pay close attention to the relationships between the big shapes. Draw them as close to the reference photo as you can, but let’s be honest. No one is going to know if your shapes are not 100% accurate.

In the beginning, concentrate on the big shapes, their size compared to one another, and their placement to one another.

Vary the type of strokes to draw different parts of the wave.

Use different types of strokes to draw different parts of the wave, so you can tell the difference between rolling water, foam, and mist. Since mist rarely has clear edges, use dotted lines or simple dots to mark out where it will be in the drawing. You might even want to do this first, since mist will hide or obscure whatever is behind it.

This detail shows the types of marks I used to sketch this wave. The wave itself is a series of short, straight or slightly curving marks. The foam is sketched with wiggly or curving strokes that are also short.

Vary the way you make marks for the different elements of the composition.

The mist is barely suggested with a series of dots.

If it helps, draw these shapes with short lines as this detail shows. For some of us, it’s easier to draw short, straight lines rather than working out longer lines. Especially with very difficult subjects like this one.

Step 3: Add Smaller Details

When you’re satisfied you have the large, basic shapes correct (or as correct as you want them to be,) begin adding smaller details. Continue looking for shapes, but now look for the smaller shapes within the large shapes.

Also begin refining all the shapes. If you used short straight lines for the big shapes, start smoothing them out and making them look more like the curved shapes of the wave.

Continue using light pressure so you can draw over these lines if needed. Drawing with light pressure also means you can erase mistakes more completely.

This is also a good time to start creating the illusion of space or distance to your drawing by making the foreground shapes a little darker and more detailed than the background shapes.

I added a line in the left background to suggest another wave coming in and made the similar line on the right a little crisper.

Continue using light pressure and varying marks to add smaller shapes within the larger shapes.

Step 4: Refine Shapes and Continue Adding Details

Refine all of the shapes and continue adding details until you have as complete a drawing of the wave as you want. That will differ from artist to artist. Some prefer to keep the line drawing loose and to fill in the details at the rendering stage. Others want completely detailed line drawings before starting with color. The choice is yours.

However you draw a wave, it’s important to aim for capturing the character or personality of the wave rather than making an exact drawing.

Develop details as you refine shapes. Continue until the drawing is satisfactory.

One Note About Mist

When you start doing color work on your wave, it’s very important to mark out the mist first. Mist can be pretty opaque or fairly translucent, so you may be able to see some things through it. The best way I’ve found to draw believable mist is to work around it with the first few layers. Then lightly layer color over it and then lift color with mounting putty.

In Answer to Gail’s Question About How Much Detail to Include in a Line Drawing When You Draw a Wave

I have two answers to this part of Gail’s question.

Personal Preference and Line Drawing Detail

The first answer is that this is a personal preference matter. Some artists draw every visible detail, and with good reason. It’s so difficult to preserve some of those details if they’re not in the line drawing. It’s also very difficult to add them later if you accidentally cover them!

Some artists find highly detailed line drawings an absolute must. Other artists find them confusing and unhelpful. This won’t help you at all, but I have had occasion to experience both!

Style of Drawing and Line Drawing Detail

The second answer is that the level of detail you draw depends on your style of drawing. If you want to render highly detailed artwork, then it’s probably going to help you to draw as much detail as possible from the start.

But if you prefer a more painterly and less detailed end result, then you don’t need to draw quite as much detail in the line drawing.

Subject and Line Drawing Detail

I tend to draw detail based on my subject. For animals, and especially for portraits, my line drawings are much more detailed.

Most of my animal line drawings are quite detailed. That’s because everything needs to be in the right place in order to draw the proper likeness of my subject. From Palomino Horse Tutorial.

Landscapes, on the other hand, are usually just quick sketches and are drawn directly on the drawing paper!

This is the type of line drawing I typically do for landscapes. The details in landscapes tend to take on a life of their own and I prefer following to see where the details lead rather trying to force them into place.

That’s One Way to Draw a Wave

It’s not the only way, by any means, but when it comes to freehand drawing most types of landscapes, this is my go-to method.

When you’ve finished your drawing, it’s a good idea to set it aside for at least a day. Letting a fresh drawing sit overnight allows you to review it with a fresh eye the next day. That’s the perfect time for spotting errors in the drawing or finding things you might want to change.

And when it comes to colored pencil work, finding and fixing those mistakes before you start work with a colored pencil is far better than trying to fix the mistake after a few layers of color.

Colored Pencil Blending Methods

There are so many colored pencil blending methods available today that choosing the right one can be frustrating or confusing. Or both.

Do you go with trendy, or stick with tried-and-true?

Do you need fancy tools or can you get by with what you have in your colored pencil tool box?

Colored Pencil Blending Methods - Colorless Blenders

Colored Pencil Blending Methods Made Easy

I can’t say that I wrestled much with blending when I started with colored pencils, but that was over twenty years ago. The only options I knew about were colorless blenders, blending markers, and the pencils themselves.

I learned to blend by layering one color over another to create different colors, or the same color to create smoother color. While I was learning the basics of colored pencil work, there wasn’t time for other methods or tools. Even if they had been available.

A Lot Has Changed

A lot has changed since I first picked up a colored pencil. You have only to look at the colored pencil section on your favorite online art store to see the changes.

Or watch enough YouTube videos.

Everything from authentic art supplies for other mediums to common household substances are being used to blend colored pencils. It never occurred to me to put baby oil on one of my horse portraits ten or twenty years ago. Yet artists use it routinely now.

And some of the newer products such as those made by Brush & Pencil were as yet unknown.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about three basic blending methods. It was so popular that I expanded the content and published it as an ebook.

Blending Colored Pencils Without Solvents

Things continued to change though. New supports came onto the market, as well as new blending methods.

So I’ve updated the blending content again. Blending Colored Pencils Without Solvents is a downloadable tutorial. It explains non-solvent blending methods in more detail, as well as how and when to use them for the best results.

You don’t have to discover basic colored pencil blending methods by trial and error. Get your copy of this new tutorial and start mastering blending today.

New Tutorials for Colored Pencils

Announcing two new tutorials for colored pencils!

New Tutorials for Colored Pencils

Draw from Life in 3 Easy Steps is based on personal efforts to improve life drawing. A quick drawing guide, it’s designed to get you started drawing from life. This three-step method is also ideal for drawing from reference photos.

Portrait of a Black Horse shows you how to use colored paper to simplify drawing. Learn how to use the color of the paper as the middle values.

Click in image to read more.
Click in image to read more.

Both tutorials include a supply list and step-by-step descriptions with color illustrations. Draw from Life also comes with over half a dozen free reference photos so you can practice drawing.

I regularly publish new tutorials for colored pencils on a variety of subjects, including include dogs, cats, and landscapes. The current collection includes tutorials by Peggy Osborne as well as myself.

Update: August 1, 2020

On Saturday, August 1, 2020, Colored Pencil Tutorials became the official online store for all my publications. The new store is now your source for my colored pencil e-zine, CP Magic, an ever expanding selection of colored pencil tutorials, a new series of one-to-one distance learning classes.

All the great free content—including full tutorials by Peggy Osborne and myself, are still available here. And I will continue to publish new content weekly.

But all publications are now available only through Colored Pencil Tutorials.

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Watercolor Colored Pencils

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Watercolor Pencils

In this post, I’ll show you how to finish a drawing started with watercolor colored pencils.

Last week, I shared the method I used to create an under drawing using watercolor colored pencils. While I focused on watercolor 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 part of the tutorial, I added dry color over the under drawing.

Before You Start

Before adding dry color, make sure the under drawing and 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.

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Watercolor Colored Pencils

Unless otherwise noted, the colors listed in this article are Prismacolor Soft Core colors. Any colored pencils work over watercolor pencils.

Step 1: Start dry drawing with the base colors.

When the paper is ready for dry color, use the same methods of choosing colors you use for any other technique. Start with the lightest colors and build toward the darks layer by layer.

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, layer 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. This is the best way to get sparkling highlights when you work on white or light colored paper.

On the horse’s head and neck, use a sharp pencil to draw a smooth, even color.

In the mane, stroke with the growth of the hair, starting at the bottom edge of the highlight and stroking downward to the ends of the hair groups.

Use light or very light pressure on the head, neck, and ears. For the mane, use light to medium-light pressure.

Begin drawing the muzzle with a light layer of pink on the chin and light gray in and around the nostril.

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencils - Step 1b

Step 2: Glaze color over the base layers.

With the base color in place, begin developing deeper values and richer colors.

For this demo, I used Sienna Brown and Mineral Orange in the middle values, a light glaze of Light Umber and Goldenrod to the lighter values, and Dark Brown to the shadows. However, getting the values right is more important than correct color. Since we don’t all see color the same way, select colors based on what you see in your reference.

Continue working around the brightest highlights.

For each round of work, add more of each color. Getting good coverage (filling all of the paper holes) requires multiple layers. For the best color, alternate between two or more colors.

Continue using light pressure and sharp pencils to draw smooth color. Stroke in the direction of hair growth in the mane and forelock.

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencils - Step 2b

Step 3: Add finishing details to complete your drawing.

When the drawing nears completion, begin working on the highlights. Leave the brightest highlights alone. The highlight along the top of the crest, for example, is whatever color shows through from the under drawing.

For the others, add Spanish Orange, Orange, or Yellow Ochre if the highlight is warm in color (the highlight along the cheek). If the highlight is more neutral, use Sand or Cream (behind the eye).

Most of the highlights are then burnished with a color like Beige or Cream to keep them unified with the coat colors around them.

Conclusion

Using water media or watercolor 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 watercolor colored pencils.

If that doesn’t matter, then experiment and have fun!

Would you like to try your hand with watercolor pencils with a short project you can finish in a few hours?

Draw a Tree Branch with Watercolor Pencils is the tutorial for you! See how easy watercolor pencils can be.

How to Draw Cat Eyes with Colored Pencils

Our subject for today is one of the Kitten Posse. I want to show you how to draw cat eyes with Bob as our model.

How to Draw Cat Eyes

About This Tutorial

The eyes are the most important part of any portrait, especially portraits that focus on the subject’s face. Get the eyes right, and you’re almost guaranteed success.

The eyes need to look smooth as glass and wet. Those sound like daunting tasks, but they’re not if you work slowly and carefully, and if you refer to your reference photo often.

How to Draw Cat Eyes Step-by-Step

I used Faber-Castell Polychromos under Prismacolor Premier Soft Core pencils on Canson Mi-Teintes Steel Grey paper. The steps I’m about to describe can be used with any good colored pencils on any good drawing paper.

Step 1: Begin with a Base Layer Warm Grey I

Begin by layering Warm Grey I all of the iris, including the shadowed areas, and the highlighted areas. Use a very sharp pencil with light pressure. The eye needs to be absolutely smooth, so use the stroke gives you the smoothest color. Small, circular strokes are usually recommended.

Work around the pupils.

Go back over the highlighted areas one or two more times. Continue using light pressure for each layer, and keep your pencil sharp.

How to Draw Cat Eyes - Step 1

Step 2: Add Smooth Layers of Cream

Begin adding iris color with the lightest color in the iris, Cream. Use a sharp pencil, very light pressure, and small circular strokes to draw smooth color. Layer Cream over all parts of both eyes except the pupil.

How to Draw Cat Eyes - Step 2


Step 3: Add Darker Values with Nougat

Add one layer of Nougat throughout the iris except the pupil and the highlights. Use a very sharp pencil and light pressure to “tint” and darken the eye color where the sun falls on it.

In the shadows, add two or three layers—all with light pressure—to begin establishing the shadows.

How to Draw Cat Eyes - Step 3

Step 4: Start Working in Other Colors to Get the Right Eye Color

Use light pressure and curving, directional strokes to add Walnut Brown to shade the shadow under the right eye lid, and the smaller shadow along the lower, outside lid.

There are actually fewer dark values in the left eye. It’s darker overall because there are no direct highlights. Use Walnut Brown around the outside edges of the iris and around the pupil.

Use short, linear strokes to draw “linear” shapes radiating outward from the pupils, and inward from the outside edges of the iris.

In shadow areas other than under the lids, continue to draw smooth color.

How to Draw Cat Eyes - Step 4a

Next, use a sharp pencil and directional or circular strokes to add Earth Green to some parts of each eye. Also add one or two layers of lightly applied Earth Green to the reflected light highlights in the right eye.

The results are very subtle, even in real life. You don’t need—or want—obvious color. Just subtle transitions.

How to Draw Cat Eyes - Step 4b

Layer Pine Green over parts of both eyes. Go around the outsides of both irises using a sharp pencil and short, directional strokes to enhance the lines radiating in toward the pupils.

How to Draw Cat Eyes - Step 4c

When you finish layering color, use White to lightly “burnish” some of the lighter areas in each eye (marked in the illustration below.)

How to Draw Cat Eyes - Step 4d

This isn’t true burnishing because you use medium pressure instead of heavy pressure. Also use a dull pencil to blend the colors already on the paper, and make them smoother.

Step 5: Shading the Highlights

Because they’re round and wet, eyes pick up more reflected light than other types of surfaces. Reflected highlights are also often brighter in eyes than on other surfaces.

Bob’s right eye has a large area of reflected highlight in the lower, inside surface, near the corner of the eye. Nearly all of the lower half of the left eye shows reflected light, broken into three separate shapes in two main areas.

The brightest highlight comes directly from the sun and it appears in only two places in the right eye.

Drawing the Direct Highlights

Using a very sharp pencil, carefully outline and fill in the two direct highlights. The eye is wet, so the edges should be sharp and crisp. Get the shape of each highlight and the placement as accurate as possible, since both shape and placement give the eye a round look, like a marble.

Use light to medium-light pressure.

How to Draw Cat Eyes - Step 5a

This is a perfect place to use Prismacolor White. Prismacolors are wax-based so they’re softer than Faber-Castell Polychromos (which are oil-based.) The white goes onto the paper more easily and brightly.

But because they are softer, you may have problems with the tip chipping (my pencil chipped twice.) Polychromos White also works for these highlights. It will take more layers to get the same look, but you’re less likely to have problems with chipping. I used a combination of both brands.

Drawing the Reflected Highlights

Layer White very lightly over each reflected highlight. Follow the reference photo as closely as you can. Fade the white out to soft edges where the reference photo shows that, and draw clearer edges and brighter white where that’s what appears in the reference photo.

As with the direct highlights, get the shape and placement of each reflected highlight as accurate as possible.

How to Draw Cat Eyes - Step 5b

Step 6: Finishing the Eyes

From this point on, it’s a delicate balance of adding colors to get the right values and colors. Darken the shadows as needed, brighten the parts of the iris that aren’t affected by highlights, and adjust edges.

Add additional layers of Cream, Nougat, Walnut Brown, Earth Green, and Pine Green as needed to each area. You can also add other colors if you wish, depending on your sense of adventure and how the reference photo looks on your digital device!

Add as many layers of color as you need to get the look you want. Work slowly and carefully to build color and saturation, so the colors are smooth and none of the paper shows through.

Add Walnut Brown in the shadows and darker middle values. Keep the color layer smooth, but use slightly heavier pressure if necessary.

Add Pine Green in many of the same areas. The two colors—dark brown and dark green—blend to create nice, rich shadows.

Next, add Earth Green into some of the lighter middle values. The left eye (the eye in shadow,) isn’t that dark in value, but it has a bluer cast than the right eye because it’s entirely in shadow. Layer Earth Green over most of it, including parts of the reflected eye light to create those cooler tones.

Layer Cream and Ivory into some of the lighter middle values with medium pressure or a little lighter. You’re still drawing smooth color, so use small strokes, and work slowly and carefully.

Don’t layer each color over all of the lighted parts of the iris, but mix and match them so they blend in some areas, lie side-by-side in others, and aren’t applied at all to still other areas.

Step 7: Finish with Prismacolor

Darken the pupils and parts of the outer edges of the irises with Black, and go over some of the reflected highlights with Warm Grey I.

Switch to Prismacolor Soft Core to layer additional color over the Polychromos. They’re ideal for filling in the last paper holes, and creating eyes that look like wet glass.

That’s How to Draw Cat Eyes

I hope it helps you the next time you draw cat eyes.

Or any other type of eyes, since the method I’ve shown you here works for dog’s eyes, horse’s eyes, and even human eyes.

If you enjoyed this tutorial and want to see more tutorials on eyes, cats, or any other subject, use the contact form below to let me know. Tell me what kinds of tutorials you’re most interested in.

How to Draw Leather with Colored Pencils

Today, I’d like to show you how to draw leather with colored pencils. The project for this tutorial was drawn on gray paper, which gave me a head start on establishing values.

But this method of drawing will work on any color of paper. Yes, even white!

How to Draw Leather with Colored Pencils

How to Draw Leather with Colored Pencils

Pencils: Prismacolor Premier

Paper: Canson Mi-Teintes 98lb pastel paper, Steel Grey. (If you use Mi-Teintes, make sure to use the back, which is much smoother and more suitable for colored pencils.)

Step 1: Add basic colors to begin developing values.

Begin drawing the leather by working on an isolated piece, as I did here, or by layering each color over all parts of the bridle. I tend to work section by section, but either way works.

Ordinarily, it’s best to begin with lighter colors, but since we’re working on a medium gray paper, you can begin with darker values first.

Use a sharp pencils and light pressure to layer Dark Brown over the middle and dark values. Start with the darkest area first, then put a second layer over that area plus the middle values. Work around the two bright highlights at the top and bottom of the leather strap (also known as the headstall.)

Next, layer Mediterranean Blue with light pressure between the lightest area and the darkest value, then layer White over the lightest area at the top of the headstall.

Also layer White over the highlight near the bottom of the strap. To warm up the color, layer Spanish Orange over the browns.

How to Draw Leather - Step 1

Step 2: Layer colors again to create saturation and color depth.

The texture of Canson Mi-Teintes paper helps establish the “feel” of the leather without much effort. The appearance of color on the paper gives the leather a finished appearance after only one round of color. For some kinds of leather, that would be appropriate.

This leather is very smooth, though. Almost polished in appearance. So add a couple more layers of Dark Brown alternating with White in the lighter areas along the side of the head.

Mix Dark Brown and Indigo Blue over the top of the head. Use slightly heavier pressure to create smooth color, but don’t burnish.

At the top of the head, darken the shadow with Indigo Blue, then punch up the reflected light highlight with a little bit of White.

Also layer White over the lower part of the strap and burnish the brightest part of the highlight with White.

How to Draw Leather - Step 2

Step 3: Fine-tune highlights, shadows, and reflected light.

Next, I fine-tuned the headstall by re-enforcing the reflected light with a stroke or two of Cool Grey 20% and adding a form shadow on the back edge of the strap with Indigo Blue.

How to Draw Leather - Step 3

Step 4:

Continue drawing the leather parts of the bridle and reins by using Sienna Brown as the base color, and mixing Dark Brown and Indigo Blue in the shadows and darker areas.

Draw the lighter middle values by mixing Goldenrod and Sienna Brown, then add highlights with a mix of White and Powder Blue.

Use light pressure and circular strokes for the first layers of color in each strap. Add additional layers with medium pressure and the highlights with heavy pressure.

The primary goal is filling in all of the paper holes, so after the colors are established, continue layering with a variety of strokes, gradually increasing pressure with each layer.

Add touches of Black in some of the darker shadows.

Step 5: Add detailing.

To give the bridle an extra look of realism, use a light and dark color to add shadows and highlights around the holes in the straps, the stitching in some of the straps, and on and around the restraints holding the ends of the straps. A stroke or two in most of these areas makes a big difference.

Step 6: Draw the reins using the same colors and layering process.

Finish the reins in the same way and using the same colors.

How to Draw Leather - Step 6

This illustration shows the finished bridle.

That’s How to Draw Leather with Colored Pencils

At least, that’s how I draw leather.

Drawing leather doesn’t have to be complicated. If you follow the steps described here, you can draw even the most complex bridle or harness. Take your time, keep your pencils sharp, and work from one strap to the next.

This tutorial is excerpted from the Portrait of a Black Horse tutorial. The tutorial covers drawing the horse and bridle, ribbons, and metal.

Umber Under Painting Landscape Tutorial

This week, I’m taking a break from the usual Tuesday Tutorial to announce a new, full-length umber under painting landscape tutorial.

Umber Under Painting Tutorial – Cloudy Landscape shows you step-by-step how to paint a landscape on Stonehenge paper, using colored pencils and the umber under painting method.

Umber Under Painting Landscape TutorialOne of the most popular full-length tutorials on this blog has been the Umber Under Drawing Tutorial featuring a dark horse as the subject. It’s been a long time coming, but now you can see the same method used to paint a landscape.

Umber Under Painting Landscape Tutorial

See how I painted a landscape on colored paper from the initial sketch to the finishing touches.

The tutorial includes tips on composing your landscape, picking colors, and painting the umber under painting.

Umber Under Painting Landscape Tutorial - Umber Under Painting

You’ll also see in detail how to choose colors, layer color over the finished under painting, how to lift color if necessary, and how to blend with odorless mineral spirits.

Umber Under Painting Landscape Tutorial - Color Glaze 1

Even if you don’t enjoy drawing or painting landscapes, I hope you’ll enjoy this free tutorial, and maybe even pick up a few tips along the way!

Umber Under Painting Landscape Tutorial - Color Glaze 2

Read the new tutorial, Umber Under Painting Method Tutorial – Cloudy Landscape.

Read Umber Under Drawing Tutorial – Dark Horse.

NOTE on TERMINOLOGY

Colored pencil pieces can be called either drawings or paintings. Many non-artists think of any work on paper as a drawing unless the medium is fluid, such as watercolor.

Many artists also consider any work in colored pencil a “drawing,” while others consider their colored pencil works as paintings.

In the past, I called my colored pencil works drawings to set them apart from my oil paintings. I put the same amount of time and effort into both mediums, and the results were similar. Terminology was one easy way to distinguish between the mediums for students and buyers.

Since I’m no longer using oils, I’m referring to pieces such as this one as paintings. I’ll be updating old posts, articles, and tutorials accordingly.

What you call your colored pencil pieces is a matter of personal preference. Either way is correct, so long as you’re consistent.