Looking for an easy way to complete colored pencil work faster? Have you considered drawing on colored papers?
If not, you should.
One of the most frequent complaints about colored pencil as a medium is the amount of time needed to finish a piece. If the drawing is very large or if you work in a representational style, you can easily spend weeks on a single project.
Maybe even months.
Drawing on Colored Papers to Reduce Drawing Time
Using a colored support is a great way to jump start your next colored pencil project. If you choose a color that provides a base color or a base complementary color to most of the drawing, you won’t need to draw that base as you would if you were to do the same drawing on white paper.
Art papers and museum quality mat boards are available in an array of colors from pastel tints to bright primaries.
An artist with an adventurous streak could spend a year doing the same drawing over and over on different colors and never use the same color twice.
Those two factors alone give you an idea of how much time you can save by drawing on colored paper. Let’s take a look at a few more.
Drawing on colored papers is a great way to set a mood from the start.
Let’s say you want to depict a landscape on a rainy day. You love the light of a gray day and those deeply saturated colors make you itch to draw them.
If you work on white paper, you’ll use a lot of grays and spend a lot of time creating the atmosphere of your subject on a gray day.
Choose light gray or light gray-green paper, on the other hand, and more than half the work is done before you put pencil to paper. Gray paper provides an excellent base for a gray sky or misty air with very little work. Gray-green paper is a good base for the greens in a landscape. Either way, you can skip most of the grays in your pencil box and focus on the subject.
Add a little texture to make color even more time saving.
If you choose a surface with a bit of texture as I did for West of Bazaar below, you can save even more time and still get great results by letting the tooth do some of the work for you. Especially if you’re drawing a rainy landscape or other subject with a soft focus look.
The same scene drawn on white paper, blue paper, or even a brighter paper, would produce different results, and create different moods.
August Morning in Kansas (below) was drawn on sanded art paper. Most sanded art papers are some shade of tan, though Uart now makes a dark gray version, as well.
The tooth of the paper and the color perfectly suited my idea for the hazy, hot August morning I wanted to draw. I could have gotten much the same results with a cream, gray or white paper, but it would have taken more time and effort.
August Morning in Kansas was my contribution to Ann Kullberg’s DRAW Landscapes book*. The book includes a step-by-step tutorial on this piece.
Colored paper can provide a base color or middle values.
This drawing of Blizzard Babe was drawn on light gray mat board. The gray color provided an ideal foundation for this light gray filly and her black gear.
It also worked very well with the blue accents, and was a good foil for the flesh tones.
But the real time saver came in painting the blanket. Or rather, what I didn’t have to paint. Most of the work necessary involved adding highlights and reflected light, and the blue trim. Everything else? That’s the color of the mat board!
For Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil, I chose light brown mat board with a neutral tint. The color provided a natural highlight color for the horse. It was also a great base color for all of the other colors in the horse’s coat.
I had to draw the facial marking and accent the eye and buckles, but did very little with the background. A light glaze of light blue to create the cool tint of a distant sky and it was done.
Since I painted this piece using the umber under drawing method, beginning with a surface that was already close to the middle values allowed me to concentrate on the shadows and darker middle values. A considerable time-saver for a complex subject like this.
Colored papers improve sketching speed by providing a second (or third color) for limited palette sketches or studies.
I’ve been drawing outside a lot.
Or looking through a window to draw something outside.
Many of my sketching happens while in the car, when I don’t have all of my pencils. Most of the time, I grab a handful of pencils when I leave the house and do limited-palette sketches and studies.
But even with just one or two pencils, I can make a realistic sketch in much less time by working on colored paper.
This drawing, for example. I used one brown pencil on Fawn Stonehenge paper to create this tree study in 30 minutes or less. I could have added a white pencil to draw highlights and made the drawing even more three-dimensional.
Drawing on Colored Papers is A Great Time Saver
No matter how you work or what you prefer to draw, drawing on colored papers can save you a ton of time and help you finish each piece faster. And you know what that means.
You can finish more pieces!
And isn’t that a goal to which we all aspire?