How to Use a Colored Pencil Tutorial

How to Use a Colored Pencil Tutorial

We all enjoy a good tutorial, don’t we? But do you know how to use a colored pencil tutorial to get the most from it? If you’re serious about learning colored pencils, this post is written for you.

To begin, I’ll share a few tips for choosing a tutorial that’s right for you. Then I’ll give you a few tips that have helped me learn more from the tutorials I watch and do.

Let’s get started.

How to use a colored pencil tutorial

Choosing the Right Tutorial

I think most students choose a tutorial based on one of two things.

One, the tutorial is by a favorite artist and, two, they like the project.

There’s nothing wrong with either of those two things, but if you really want to improve your skills or gain new skills, you need to consider a few other things, too.

What do you want to learn?

If drawing water is something you want to get better at (and who doesn’t?), then choosing a pet portrait tutorial probably isn’t going to help you very much. It may be fun, and you may learn something, but you won’t have advanced your goal.

Instead of looking for any tutorial with a fun or attractive project, look for a tutorial that features water. Any kind of water. Drawing water in a glass will help you even if you really want to draw water in a landscape.

Can’t find any tutorials with water? Then look for one with a reflective surface. Reflections behave pretty much the same no matter where you find them, so if you find a tutorial with a classic car or lots of glass, that’s a good substitute for a tutorial with water.

Artistic style matters.

That is, if you want to improve your skills and not just have fun. Earlier this year, I worked on an art deco tutorial that was interesting and enjoyable, but didn’t really improve my existing skills or teach me any new skills.

If you want to learn the art deco style, then look for art deco tutorials. If you want to learn mixed media with colored pencils, look for those kinds of tutorials.

And if you want to learn a new support, that’s what you should look for. Matching the style of the tutorial to the style you want to learn will help you advance your skills much more quickly and could be a lot less frustrating!

Unless you just want a fun project.

Look for a Challenge

Every now and again, it’s a good idea to deliberately push yourself. Challenge is a key to avoiding stagnation. That was, in essence, the theme of the post I recently wrote about getting bored with my favorite subject. I’d forgotten to challenge myself within that subject and eventually got tired of it.

Don’t do that! Periodically look for a tutorial that really stretches you.

Maybe it’s more advanced than you think you’re capable of doing. Maybe the composition is more complex than anything you’ve ever done before, or maybe it’s a totally different subject. Don’t automatically exclude a tutorial because of those things.

The best way to learn anything is to push yourself. The more often you do, the more quickly you’ll improve. Just be aware of challenging yourself to the point of giving up. No good will ever come of that!

How to Use a Colored Pencil Tutorial

So now you’ve chosen a tutorial. Let’s talk about how to use that tutorial.

Read it first.

Before you set up the paper or get out the pencils, sit back and read the tutorial front to back.

Yes, it will take time and I know you’d rather be drawing, but you do want to learn, don’t you? The best way to soak up new knowledge is by repetition. Reading a tutorial first and then doing it is one form of repetition.

Follow the instructions.

This seems so obvious I shouldn’t need to say it, right? But I do need to say it because I know I’m not the only one who tends to take shortcuts. Especially if I think my way is better, faster, or easier.

Again, you’re taking the tutorial to learn something, so do what the instructor tells you to do, when and how they do it. If that method doesn’t work for you, you can change it later.

Or drop it altogether. That’s perfectly okay, too; but how are you going to know if you don’t do the tutorial the way it was written?

Do it over.

Once you’ve finished the tutorial, remember that you don’t have to be done with it. You can follow the same steps to do your own subject.

After that, you can do it yet again, but this time adapt the method to your own personal style.

The Bottom Line

Knowing how to use a colored pencil tutorial for maximum benefit is important if you want to do more than just have a pleasant experience. Choose wisely, follow the tutorial faithfully, and you’ll reap the benefits.

Interested in reading more on this topic? I’ve written an article for EmptyEasel that expands on some of these points and adds others. Read How to Find the Best Art Tutorials Online for Your Learning Style.


  1. Gail Jones

    Thank you Carrie. I felt like this article was written for me. You made so many good points here. One thing I sometimes do is allow myself to jump off into so many areas of interest which can be problematic for setting and reaching singular goals. At least I have been buying most of my newest tutorials with the “shiny water or glass” in focus. So… I had two photos I couldn’t decide between for another project on my own. Now I can rule out one because it doesn’t help me towards my goal learning. Thank you Carrie. This article has helped me sort out my priorities with CP.
    In Christ,
    Gail J.

      1. Gail Jones

        I understand Carrie, I have done that too… picked out a few photos and then because they aren’t exactly perfect… coming to a screeching halt and not doing any of them. You are definitely not alone with that.
        In Christ,
        Gail J.

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