How to Draw Distance with Colored Pencil

One of the keys to successful landscape drawing is knowing how to draw distance. In other words, creating the illusion of distance. Successfully creating the illusion of distance on a piece of flat paper involves four principles. The more of them you get right, the better your chances for success.

How to Draw Distance with Colored Pencil

The Four Elements of Drawing Distance

Size. Objects that are the same size appear to get smaller as they recede into the distance.

Color. Distance changes the appearance of color. Bright colors are more faded looking. Most colors shift toward blue with distance.

Values are less pronounced as they recede into the distance.

Detail is also less pronounced in the distance.

You can—and should—begin drawing distance from the first strokes of your pencil. In this demonstration, I’ll show you how to do that with a monochrome under drawing by using nothing but pencil strokes and pressure.

how to draw distance

In The Foreground

Strokes should be clear and strong in the foreground. They should reveal the texture of whatever is in the foreground. Although you should always begin with light pressure and build toward heavier pressure, the pressure you use in the foreground can begin a little heavier than what you use in the background.

The following detail comes from the foreground. In the extreme foreground, the strokes are long and spaced so there’s a lot of paper showing between them.

Immediately behind that is an area where the strokes are shorter and closer together. They’re so close they almost make a solid tone.

One way to use strokes to create pictorial depth is to make them shorter and closer together as they move into the background of your drawing.

I used medium pressure in this area. Medium pressure is about the same as normal handwriting pressure.

Green Landscape 2

In the Middle Distance

Strokes should still be visible, but less dramatic than in the foreground. They should be shorter or smaller than strokes made in the foreground. They should also be a little less defined. If you used a very sharp pencil in the foreground, consider using a slightly blunted pencil in the middle ground. Also decrease pressure.

Look at the detail above. The further into the middle distance the grass, the shorter, blunter, and closer together the strokes appear. The darkest strokes are a cast shadow, but even within that shadow, notice how the strokes are close together and very short compared to the longer strokes in the foreground.

The illustration below is also from the middle distance, but it shows the tree that is the center of attention in the composition. I used a squiggly stroke to outline the leafy shapes and to draw the main shapes within the large one. In the light areas,  I only used one stroke. In the darker areas, I layered several squiggly strokes. Each layer was added with medium-light pressure.

The shadows are quite dark in this tree, so I alternated squiggly strokes with straight strokes, usually on a diagonal. For these, I used medium pressure and two or more layers to darken the shadows.

One other thing to note is the abrupt transition between dark shadows and lighted areas. Because this tree is closer, there is more difference between the lightest highlights and the darkest shadows. To emphasize this, I didn’t draw many middle values. There will be middle values when the drawing is complete, but for the under drawing, I kept the lights and darks simple.

how to draw distance

In the Far Distance

The further into the background you go, the less distinct strokes should become and the lighter the values. Even when drawing grass, I usually use horizontal strokes placed very close together to draw so that no texture is shown. Sometimes, I use the side of a well sharpened pencil and simply shade the area. Whatever type of stroke you choose, use light pressure.

The illustration below shows the same type of tree as the main tree, but these trees are not as close as the large tree. In reality, they are the same color as the big tree (shown in the detail above), but because they’re further away, the color is less intense and the values will not be as clearly defined. To draw this, I used different strokes and different levels of pressure.

For example, instead of using squiggly strokes to outline the bulk of the tree shape—as I did in the big tree—I didn’t outline the tree shapes at all. I used a blunted pencil and a “tapping” (also known as stippling) stroke to add color. I started in the shadows and made the dots close together.

Then I used the side of the pencil to layer green over all parts of each tree.

Then I added another layer of stippling. This time, I worked into the lighter area.

I did a couple of rounds of stippling and glazes until the trees were as dark as I wanted them.

Green Landscape 4

In the Farthest Distance

There is another band of trees in the near distance. They are the same kind of trees, but because they’re so far away, their colors and values are muted.  To draw them, I used the side of the pencil and very light pressure to shade the general shape without drawing individual trees. To show that they are trees and not a distant hill, I then used light pressure to tap a little color into the shadows.

In the far distance is the last band of trees. These were drawn with very light pressure and a blunted pencil. I glazed color over the entire shape, then added a few dots in the shadows with very light pressure.

Notice the difference in value and detail between the large tree on the left, the middle ground tree on the right, the trees in the near distance, and the far distance. These changes in size, value, and detail are how you draw pictorial depth—the illusion of distance. It’s also called aerial perspective.

Green Landscape 5

This is the entire drawing. All the parts described above work together to create the illusion of distance, even though I’ve used only one color.

how to draw distance

This is also an example of a monochromatic under drawing. In this case, I chose green for the under drawing, but you could also use an earth tone or any other color.

Even though the drawing is nowhere near finished, you already get an idea of the distance I’m drawing. With each round of work, I’ll deepen the illusion of distance.

Follow these simple methods and you can do the same thing in your next landscape drawing no matter what method of drawing you use.

More Straight Line Drawing Exercises

A few months back, I published a post featuring a few drawing exercises designed to help artist learn better line control. That post and another featuring curving lines have been so popular, I decided it was a good idea to share a few more straight line drawing exercises.

Some time ago, I started reading How to Draw What You See by Rudy De Reyna. It’s an old art instruction book, originally published By Watson Guptill Publications in 1972. It’s not exactly state-of-the-art, but some things are timeless.

Drawing is one of them.

Each chapter represents a project, with assignments to draw and exercises to practice. It starts, as you might guess, with the most basic drawing element: the line.

The first project was drawing straight lines. Freehand.

I’ve always said I can’t draw a straight line with a straight edge. I have the evidence to back that up. Plenty of it. So I was skeptical when Mr. De Reyna said anyone could learn to draw a straight line.

But I’ve done enough practice with line exercises for straight lines and curving lines, that I decided the line drawing exercises in the book were worth a try. Below is one page of practice for the first exercise.

Freehand Line Drawing 01

I’d like to point out a couple things about these lines. First of all, most of them are fairly straight. They aren’t parallel, but that wasn’t part of the exercise. The exercise was drawing straight lines.

I also paid attention to the direction I was drawing. See the arrows on the ends of some of the lines? That’s the direction the pencil moved across the paper. For the most part, I drew from left to right. That’s no surprise. I’m right-handed and drawing left to right is natural.

I drew the vertical lines and diagonal lines by turning the paper.

What was surprising was that in some cases, it was just as easy to draw right to left. Look at the lines below. I drew every other line left to right. But rather than go back to the left and draw the next line, I drew it right to left. Much to my surprise, those lines are as straight as those drawn left to right.

In the end, the direction in which I drew didn’t make that much difference.

Freehand Line Drawing 01b

Following is the second page of lines.

For this exercise, I not only tried to draw straight lines; I tried to make them parallel. I also tried to connect them to create shapes. The longer lines outlining the series of inset triangles are the result. I drew all of those lines left to right.

Then I began filling in the smaller spaces by turning the paper and drawing more lines in random patterns.

Freehand Line Drawing 02

This section of lines (below) represents another discovery. It was easier to draw from top to bottom, moving the pencil toward me, than it was to draw left to right.

Freehand Line Drawing 03

This is an important discovery because it verifies what I’ve observed about my drawing habits for quite some time. Whenever I’m drawing repeating strokes to draw something like grass or hair, I usually turn the drawing in whatever direction is necessary to allow me to stroke toward myself and still draw a ‘bottom-up’ stroke (from the bottom of the blade of grass or strand of hair to the tip of it).

That might seem like a small thing, but imagine you’re working on a larger piece with a lot of grass. Your hand will fatigue from the constant and repeating motion unless you take a lot of breaks or find another way to draw. Such as changing the direction of the stroke. Stroking away from yourself instead of toward yourself.

Understanding this type of drawing mechanics will help me work more on those kinds of drawings. I can give my drawing hand a break without stopping work just by turning the paper and changing stroke direction.

And here I thought I was just doing a couple of line drawing exercises!

The bottom line? No time you spend drawing is wasted, even if all you do is put lines on a page.

So do some line drawing exercises and see what happens!

Why I Teach Colored Pencil

Why I Teach Colored Pencil Courses

I never thought it would happen. I mean, what do I know that anyone else would want to learn, let alone pay to learn from me? But it has happened, and I find myself thinking about all the twists and turns that led to this place, and about why I teach colored pencil in the first place.

How I Learned to Make Art

When I first began making art way back in the 1960s, there was no such thing as the internet. At least not for public use. I learned how to paint by painting every paint-by-number kit that featured a horse. Every Christmas, I got one or two and they were the highlight of the season.

After working my way through all known kits and painting them the way they were supposed to be painted, I started making changes. Small at first, then bigger.

A different color here or there.

A changed leg position.

Maybe a change to the background.

An early painting, a paint by number kit with the horses painted my own colors.

One day, my mother suggested I try making my own drawing and painting that instead of looking for another paint-by-number. A window opened on a whole new world. I’ve been drawing and painting ever since.

I could have gone to art school had I wanted to. But by the time I graduated high school, I already knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.

I wanted to draw horses to look as life-like as I could make them. I wanted to paint portraits.

Since abstract art was all the rage at the time, I was more or less on my own. I learned how to draw and paint by trial and error.

When I picked up colored pencils a few years later, it was the same process.

Why I Teach Online Art Courses

Why I Teach Colored Pencil

A lot of what I’ve learned about drawing and painting has come by trial and error. I can’t tell you how many paintings I started over because something didn’t work or because I made poor choices. I don’t regret those obstacles. Every single one contributed to the artist I am today.

But those obstacles become even more useful if they can be used to help others avoid the same mistakes and pitfalls.

Or reach their artistic goals more quickly and without the detours I experienced.

If even one new artist succeeds because of something they learned here, then all my work—including the mistakes—has been worth it.

And that’s the primary reason I teach.

From the beginning, my blog posts, tutorials, and one-to-one classes have been designed to provide to you what I wish I’d had years ago. Personalized instruction on the subject and style of my choice offered by someone whose work I admired and wanted to emulate.

And a way of hopefully avoiding some of the time-consuming trial-and-error learning I experienced.

Why I Teach Colored Pencil Courses

What You Gain From an Online Colored Pencil Course

I don’t know if I’m an artist whose work you admire. The fact that you’re reading this post suggests that maybe I am.

Nor do I know if you want to learn what I can teach.

What I do know is that the instruction you’ll get is personalized. One-on-one correspondence by email. Personalized help with drawing, and personalized critiques of your work-in-progress during the course and, if you like, afterward as well.

While I hope you share my love of the form and art of horses, my larger hope is that you’ll find something of value in the material itself. Whether you want to learn a new medium, try your hand with a new subject, or just want to brush up on existing skills, there is something here for you.

Are you ready to start?

Tutorials and classes are now offered through Colored Pencil Tutorials. Purchase the tutorial of your choice, download it and start today.

Or you can enroll in a one-to-one class by the day or week.

Both are available to artists at all skill levels.

Spring in CP
Spring in Colored Pencil
Colored Pencil on UArt Sanded Paper

About Carrie

Carrie has been making art for most of her life and has been painting portraits of horses and other animals since selling her first portrait in Junior High. She specializes in up-close-and-personal portraits and moment-in-time images, with a special interest in horse racing of all types.

Her focus is now on teaching colored pencil and, by special request, oil painting.

Colored pencils are her medium of choice.

She writes regularly for the online art magazine, Topics include the artist’s life, the business of art, and, of course, colored pencil and oil painting.

Thank you, and we hope to sign you up today.

*The artist’s specialties are with horses and other animals and with landscapes. Other subjects will be considered except for nudes and offensive subjects. If you have a question, please contact the artist.

Want to Improve Your Colored Pencil Drawings? Try a Drawing Kit!

Want to learn more about drawing with colored pencil, but don’t have the time for an art class or online art course?

Introducing the solution!

A colored pencil drawing kit.

Yorkie Drawing Kit
Colored pencil pro, Gemma Gylling has almost single-handedly made suede board one of the most popular surfaces for drawing animals in colored pencil. Click on image to read more.

Ann Kullberg’s colored pencil drawing kits are the next best thing to taking an online course. I’ve done them for my own instruction and have used them as class projects.

The demonstration pieces are created by colored pencil artists like Gemma Gylling (see the Yorkie at left), Karen Hull (baby portrait below), Anne deMille Flood, and Cynthia Knox.

Kits are available for all levels from first-time artists to advanced artists. It doesn’t matter what your current skill level, you will find a project that suits you and will help you push your skills to the next level.

It doesn’t matter what your favorite subject is, either. Subjects include portraits, pets and animals, florals, landscapes, and still life subjects.

These drawing kits are also a great way to learn new methods. The Yorkie kit featured here shows you how to draw on suede board and includes a piece of suede board.

Interested in drawing on Mylar film or in combining dry pencils and water soluble pencils? There are kits to teach you that, too.

In short, there’s a kit designed to teach you just about anything you want to learn when it comes to drawing with colored pencils! I wish kits like this had been available when I was learning to draw with colored pencils.

Each kit includes:

  • Step by step images
  • Clear instructions
  • A line drawing to transfer
  • A reference photo
  • Drawing paper (not included with digital downloads or in-depth tutorials)

Baby Girl on Black Mat Drawing Kit
Learn how to draw baby skin tones on black mat board. Click on image to read more.

As if that weren’t enough, Ann’s return policy is pretty simple.  If you don’t like your kit, you can return it for an exchange or refund. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

If you want to be a better artist, but are on a limited budget, these drawing kits may be exactly what you’re looking for.

But don’t take my word for it. Browse the collection and see for yourself.


I am a participant in Ann’s affiliate program. That means that if you follow these links and buy a kit (or anything else), Ann will pay me a commission. For more information on how that works, read my Affiliate Information page. If you choose to do so, thank you very much!

If you prefer, you can go directly to Ann’s website and make your purchase that way. The choice is yours.

No matter how you purchase one of these kits, you will benefit and your drawing will be better.

How to Draw a Horse Using a Grid

Drawing With a Grid, Step 1

A few weeks ago, I showed you how to prepare a digital photo for use as a reference photo. Another article shows how to put a grid on a digital image using Photoshop. Today let me show you how to draw a horse using a grid.

How to Draw a Horse Using a Grid

Before I begin, though, I need to let you know that it’s okay if grids don’t help you. They don’t help everyone. The fact is that drawing with a grid causes more confusion than comfort to some artists. All those lines! Where do you begin and how do you keep them straight?

I confess that drawing with a grid doesn’t always work for me, either. I had so much trouble getting perfectly square grids by hand that I finally resorted to making them in Photoshop!

But if you do like using a grid, I hope my digital grid helps you use them more effectively. Let’s get to it!

How to Draw a Horse Using a Grid

Here’s my reference photo with the grid in place. I chose red for the grid because it shows up the best on all the colors in this image. Click here to see how I made the grid.

I print the grid without the image on a blank sheet of paper and use this for the initial drawing. If the drawing is 8.5 by 14 inches or smaller, I print the grid full size. The grids for larger drawings are printed at a reduced scale.

I printed the drawing grid on 24lb inkjet paper, which is smooth enough for a good detail drawing and sturdy enough to allow a lot of erasing.

It’s also an inexpensive substitute for most drawing papers.

Drawing the Horse

Step 1

Rough in the large shapes. Concentrate on size and placement. Don’t worry about detail; that will come later.

Start with the largest shape first and add other shapes around it. The largest shape is usually the horse. Everything else is backdrop.

Don’t be afraid of changing the composition, even if you did compose the image with the camera and/or cropped or resized the reference photo before you started drawing. Cameras capture everything with equal importance. To the lens of a camera, the horse is no more important than the fences or trees in the background.

Eliminate details that complicate the composition or distract from the subject. Make background items smaller or move them around if that helps your composition.

For example, in the drawing below, you’ll notice that I simplified the fences to the left of the horse. There are now four simple rails instead of the confusion of shapes in that area.

I also moved the fence post from its position beyond the horse and under the muzzle to beyond the shoulder. I made that change because it’s less of a distraction in that position, but I chose not to remove it altogether to anchor the fence.

The lead chain has also been removed and I replaced the undefined shape over the horse’s back with a small tree.

Step 2

Draw the smaller shapes and define details. I like to work from the gridded reference photo on the computer so I can enlarge the photo to focus on whatever area I’m drawing.

I also generally start with either the eye or the muzzle. It’s important to get the eyes right as soon as possible, but it’s often easier to start drawing with larger shapes, like the muzzle.

Make the drawing as accurate as possible, working from section to section.

To help clarify shapes that are confusing as a line drawing, add a little shading. Nostrils, eyes, and ears are often easier to draw if you draw and shade the shadows in each area.

Darkening the outer edges of the subject can also set it apart from the background.

How to Draw a Horse Using a Grid Step 3

Step 3

The last thing I do on the drawing grid is outline the highlights and darker shadows. For this, I use a lighter, sometimes broken line. I don’t want to confuse the drawing by having all the lines the same thickness and darkness.

I also do a little shading to define the horse. Sometimes, it’s easier to shade than to draw a line, especially in areas where the gradation is very subtle.

I also use directional strokes to suggest three dimensional form. This helps establish the subject as a form in physical space.

How to Draw a Horse Using a Grid Step 4

Step 4

Once I’ve done everything I can with the drawing grid, I tape a piece of tracing over the drawing and transfer the drawing to the tracing paper. This is where a mechanical pencil really shines. It doesn’t get blunt, so every line is exactly as dark or thick as I want.

You’ll notice that the darkest lines are the outside edges of the shapes. Interior lines are thinner or lighter, dotted or dashed, or a combination. Since I don’t want to shade now, I use this variety of lines to tell me which edges are hard and which are soft.

How to Draw a Horse Using a Grid Step 5

I also used the direction, length, and shape of lines to convey an idea of the shape of the horse’s forehead, nose, and cheek. Again, you can do this if it helps you. If not, don’t use it.

This detail (below) is a perfect illustration of how this method works.

One thing I notice now is that I forgot to draw the buckle behind the eye. That’s a simple fix, so it’s not a big deal. But it does illustrate the importance of making sure you’ve transferred every part of the drawing before you separate the original drawing and the drawing on tracing paper!

Step 5

Once the drawing is the way you want it on the tracing paper, turn the paper over and review the drawing from the back. Flip the reference photo horizontally if it’s on your computer.

Looking at the drawing and reference photo this way gives you a fresh look at your subject. There’s nothing like looking at something in reverse to see what mistakes you may have made.

And if you happen to have a left- or right-hand bias—as I do—working on your drawing from the back helps compensate for the bias.

You can also hold the drawing up in front of a mirror if that works better.

You may not need to do much work this way. The red lines in this illustration show my corrections.

How to Draw a Horse Using a Grid Step 8

Step 6

When your drawing is satisfactory, mount a clean sheet of tracing over it and make a fresh drawing. This will be your transfer drawing. When you’ve finished with it, put it into storage. You don’t have to keep it beyond getting the artwork finished if you don’t want to, but I keep all of my drawings. Especially with portraits, I just never know when those line drawings might come in handy!

Here’s my final line drawing.

How to Draw a Horse Using a Grid Step 9

Before proceeding to the next step, I usually mount the drawing in a working mat of the proper size, then let it sit somewhere for a day or more so I can review it. This is my last chance to make corrections to the line drawing. When I’m convinced there are no further changes to be made, it’s ready to be transferred to good paper.

That’s How I Draw a Horse using a Grid

Now you can draw your own horse using a grid.

Or anything else you care to draw!

Drawing with a grid is a versatile tool for many artists. Creating grids on digital photos makes using a grid even more versatile for many of us!

I hope it helps you too!

Bruynzeel Design Colored Pencils

A few weeks ago, I shared a few tips for for repairing broken Prismacolor pencils.

The discussion led to another question:

I don’t want to mess with fixing broken pencils. What other brands of pencils are available?

The good news is that there are dozens of high-quality pencils to choose from.

The bad news is that most of them are more expensive than Prismacolor and some of them are more difficult to get. I’ve already shared a video review of Caran d’ache Luminance Pencils and a comparison of Faber-Castell Polychromos and Caran d’ache Luminance. If you haven’t watched those videos, give them a look. You may need go no further.

Today, I’m highlighting another brand of pencils with a video review.

Bruynzeel Design Colored Pencils

Artist’s Caveat

I haven’t used these pencils so my recommendations are based on the fact that I’ve used other products by the same company or have talked to other artists whose judgment I trust. These pencils were on my To Buy List. Yes, I said were; more on that in a minute.

Now, for the review.

Bruynzeel Design Colored Pencils

A very long time ago, I purchased a set of Bruynzeel Full Color Colored Pencils. That was back in the day when I didn’t know much about how colored pencils were made or the differences between scholastic, student, and artist grade pencils.

I loved those pencils. Color went onto paper smoothly and with very little wax build up. I didn’t have a very big set because they were expensive, but they mixed well with the Prismacolor pencils I was also using. I remember thinking that if I ever stopped using Prismacolor pencils, I’d use these instead.

Unfortunately, that line of pencils was discontinued.

Bruynzeel now produces Design Colored Pencils. The same pencil renamed? I’ve wondered about that, but don’t know for sure.

A Few Interesting Facts

From The 3.7 mm wide-gauge, perfectly centered, and double-glued colored cores combine with the finest light cedar casings to make Bruynzeel Design Colored Pencils very resistant to breakage and a joy to sharpen. A balanced color range, with matching pigments between the colored pencil and watercolor pencil ranges, in addition to subtle color release and incredible lightfastness, make them a top choice for the discerning graphic artist, fine artist, designer, illustrator, or hobbyist.

The largest set contains only 24 pencils, even though there are a total of fifty colors available.

The pigment core is thinner than many other pencils—3.7mm versus 3.8 or 3.9. Personally, a thinner core is helpful in creating finer detail and/or for smaller work.

I checked prices at Dick (my go-to online source for art supplies). The 12-pencil set lists at $19.95 and the 24-pencil set is $39.46. Pencils are available in open stock for $1.69 each unless you buy twelve or more. The bulk price is $1.52 each.

For more, check out this review.

Would I Buy These Pencils?

They appear to be a step above average in quality, but according to the above review, are not on a par with other pencils in the same price range. The last time I bought open stock Prismacolor soft core pencils, I paid about the same price that Dick Blick is charging for these.

I also had good success with the Fullcolor pencils and have saved even the stubs, though they’re years old.


Bruynzeel-Sakura claims the pencils are  made in the Netherlands, but they are actually manufactured in China under the guidance of Bruynzeel.

The less than honest disclosures about where the pencils are actually made is a problem for me and negates the price and quality issues to some extent. Is it enough make me look elsewhere? That’s why I’ve taken them off my list of pencils to buy.

Does that mean you shouldn’t give them a try?

No. That decision is yours entirely. If you do—or if you already use them—let us know what you think of them.

Product Update

2017.05.06: In October 2016, Royal acquired Bruynzeel-Sakura. I don’t yet know how that will affect the quality of Bruynzeel Design colored pencils or any of the other products under the Bruynzeel-Sakura name.

In response to a reader question, I have contacted Royal Talens about getting lightfast information, and will let you know what I learn.

Royal Talens Website

Bruynzeel (Official Website)

Bruynzeel Design Pencils at Dick Blick

What Do You Want to Know?

Is there a brand of pencil you’d like to know more about? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. Whenever possible, I’ll purchase the pencils and try them myself. When that’s not possible, I’ll research them as I’ve done here and summarize my findings, along with my best recommendation.

Water Soluble Colored Pencils 8 Articles

A couple of weeks ago, I asked for reader feedback on future articles. One of the subjects suggested was a few demonstrations on water soluble colored pencils. What a great idea!

So today’s post is a collection of eight must-read articles on this topic.

Some of them are right here on this blog. EmptyEasel published the others. Wherever they appeared, they’re all the step-by-step demos you’ve told me are so helpful.

water soluble colored pencils

8 Must Read Articles about Water Soluble Colored Pencils

From the archives

How to Start a Drawing with Watercolor Pencils

I wanted to learn what I could do with these water-based pencils. This article is the first of two parts and describes how I used watercolor pencils to create the background and under paint the horse.

water soluble colored pencils

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Watercolor Pencils

This is the follow up to the previous article. See how I completed the under painting, then used traditional pencils to finish this small study.

From EmptyEasel

How to Draw a Sunrise Landscape with Watercolor Pencils – Part 1

One of my favorite things about colored pencils is their versatility. Traditional wax-based pencils and water soluble pencils can be combined for a wide array of stunning effects. In this post, I show you what I did and how it turned out.

water soluble colored pencils

Drawing a Sunrise with Watercolor Pencils – Part 2

I used a combination of pencils and methods including water soluble Faber-Castell Art Grip Aquarelle, traditional Faber-Castell Art Grip, and Prismacolor Premier. Today I’ll also be using Prismacolor Verithin pencils.

How to Start a Drawing with Watercolor Pencils

Watercolor pencils are great for under painting a drawing. In this tutorial, I show you how I started this portrait with watercolor pencils. The tutorial also contains tips for preparing watercolor paper for this type of work.

Using Dry Colored Pencils over a Watercolor Pencil Drawing

I started this drawing using brushes and a homemade “palette” of colors drawn with the watercolor pencils. If you haven’t read the first article yet, I encourage you to click the link above and then come back here to finish reading about the process.

water soluble colored pencils

Blending Tips & Brushing Techniques for Watercolor Pencils

Watercolor pencils look and handle like traditional colored pencils, but they dissolve and blend in water. In this article, I share favorite brushing tips and techniques for creating just the right result.

How to Fix Mistakes Made with Water Soluble Colored Pencils

As much as I love working with colored pencil, the medium can be unforgiving. When I was first learning the craft, any serious mistake meant the end of a painting—just tear it up, throw it away, and start over. (A lot of images ended up in the circular file under my desk back then.)

Fortunately, over the years I’ve discovered a number of techniques for repairing mistakes. In this post, I share one way to correct mistakes with watercolor pencils.

There are my Recommended Articles on Water Soluble Colored Pencils

I hope you enjoy them!

What I Do When I’m Under the Weather

What I Do When I'm Under the Weather

We all experience times when we’re under the weather physically or creatively.

I’m in the second week of a two-week cold (today is day eleven). My colds usually last about two weeks whether or not I see a doctor, so I use a variety of home remedies to deal with the symptoms while the process runs its course. Lots of rest, lots of fluids, and a reduced schedule. A cough suppressant or decongestant as needed.

I’m not in a very creative place at the moment. Fiction writing—yes, I do that, too—has ground to a halt. The plain truth is that almost everything has. I have enough energy to do what must be done and that’s about it. Blogging (although this post took most of the week to come together) and EmptyEasel articles. Maybe a bit of drawing one or two days in the last week.

So what do I do with all that “spare time”?

(By the way, lest you get the wrong idea from the illustration above, my cold isn’t that serious. I just love lightning and had to use that image! Now, where was I? Oh, yeah.)

What I Do When I’m Under the Weather

These are a few of the things I do when I’m in the middle of a cold or any other illness that sidelines me temporarily or long-term. Maybe these things will help you. Maybe they’ll prompt your little gray cells to other ideas.

1. Read

My first recourse is always reading. When I’m under the weather and lack energy for the usual routine, I have lots of time for sitting around or lying in bed. That means lots of time for reading.

Usually, hubby makes a trip to the library and lugs back an armful of books. Favorite authors include Agatha Christie, Jan Karon, Chris Fabry, and Joel C. Rosenberg. There’s nothing like holding a book in my hand, so although I have a lot of selections on my Kindle for PC, I still prefer books with real pages and actual covers.

What I Do When I'm Under the Weather

Sometimes, I read some of my stories. The older the better, usually. Otherwise, it’s too much like work!

2. Look at Photographs

I especially like looking at online photographs. One of my favorite places to browse is Pixabay. Pixabay images are published under a CCO license, which means they’re free for use in any commercial way. The images in this post come from Pixabay.

I don’t generally think of these images as reference photos, but you can never tell.

What I do often find is grandeur, beauty, awe—and sometimes sheer whimsy.

(This photo of colorful tomatoes reminds me of a drawing I once considered. It involved horses of different colors galloping across a black background. Drawn in colored pencil, of course!)

What I Do When I'm Under the Weather

3. Surf the Web

Just this week, I happened upon a YouTube Channel for the Longines Masters. I spent an hour watching the speed challenge of the 2013 Longines Hong Kong Masters. Show jumping on the clock. Did you know there was such a thing? It was fascinating to see world class show jumping riders and horses racing the clock on what looked to me like an impossible course. Lots of jumps and lots of big jumps.

The amazing thing was that there were three clear rounds of the 18 competitors. Amazing!

Needless to say, I bookmarked that channel for future reference, along with the channels for the FEI and American Endurance Riding Conference.

But I also watch videos on making art, some of which I’ve shared here and some of which I will be sharing in the future.

What I Do When I'm Under the Weather

4. Watch Movies

I don’t do this much at home, but when I was in the hospital for nearly a week in March of last year, my husband and I watched at least one movie every night for the duration. Sometimes two or three.

What do we like to watch?

  • Almost anything with Humphrey Bogart or John Wayne.
  • The Thin Man series starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • The Avengers series
  • Dreamer, Seabiscuit, the Black Stallion, etc.

The hospital room had a VHS player, so we pretty much went through the part of our collection that hasn’t yet been replaced by DVDs.

God is good and provided for me for this cold. Shortly before it got bad, my husband came home from a regular church meeting with a package of CDs. A collection of 44 episodes of an old radio program, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, starring Bob Bailey. I’ve been listening to one CD a day for the last several days and I must confess, I’m hooked!

What I Do When I'm Under the Weather

The Common Thread when I’m Under the Weather

The most important part of the process for me is the realization that I’m not a machine. I don’t create on demand (though I often behave as though I do) and I don’t control very much at all in life or in the studio.

Times likes these remind me that taking time to slow down and take a step back are just as important as all the time and work I put into art, stories, even this blog. If I don’t stop to recharge physically and creatively, pretty soon, the battery runs down.

And so does the mind and body.

So the best advice I can give you for dealing with your under-the-weather times is to find ways to recharge. Everything I’ve shared here recharges me in some way, preparing for the day with the lightning stops, the rain goes away, and the rainbows appear again.

12 Reasons to Love Colored Pencils

12 Reasons to Love Colored Pencils

For those among us who use them as our primary medium—or as one of our primary mediums—there are a lot of reasons to love colored pencils. If you’ve used them for any length of time at all, you can probably list five or six with no hesitation at all.

And I’ll wager that if each of us listed our top twelve reasons, every one of us would have at least one reason that was unique to us. That’s just human nature.

And the nature of the medium.

Following are my top twelve reasons for loving colored pencils.

Why I Love Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are easy to use

Open the box, sharpen the pencils (if necessary), grab a piece of paper, and start drawing. You don’t need to prepare a painting surface, mix a palette, or—best of all—wear protective clothing.

Colored pencils are clean

You don’t have to worry about getting them on your hands, clothing, or the things around you. You won’t find traces of them some unexpected place in the house because you brushed against wet paint without knowing it and transferred that color to other parts of the house.

No drying time

One of my chief complaints about oil painting was waiting for paint to dry. That’s not a concern with colored pencil drawing.

Unless you use solvents to blend or work with watercolor pencils.

All those luscious colors!

What artist doesn’t love color? And there are so many!

Colored pencils go everywhere

Colored pencils are easily transportable. Throw a few supplies into your field kit or a tote bag or purse (depending how big the set—or your purse—is) and you’re ready to go. Anywhere. Everywhere.

No smelly solvents (unless I want them)

I can make a beautiful drawing without having to breathe solvent fumes.

I can create a range of affects from soft focus to tight detail

Fine art colored pencils are much more versatile than the colored pencils I used in grade school. Almost everything that could be done with brush and paint can be done with colored pencils.

Colored pencils look—and work—great on so many different surfaces

We all know about drawing on paper. A lot of us have tried mat board, too. But what about sanded art papers, wood, canvas, or even Mylar? Colored pencils work on all of them and produce unique and interesting affects on each type of surface.

Nothing else captures ‘found’ texture quite as well as colored pencils

I’ve added interesting and unique textures to more than one drawing simply by laying the paper on a textured surface and lightly—or maybe not so lightly—shading over the paper. What a great way to add visual interest quickly and easily.

Colored pencils are perfect for making small format and miniature art

The thing that turns so many people away from colored pencil is the very thing that makes them ideal for small format and miniature art. The thin color core. What better medium for drawing details on artwork that’s 4×6 or less?

Bonus: You don’t need special tools…except for maybe a magnifying glass.

Colored pencils are perfect for drawing hair

Colored pencils are also fabulous for drawing hair. One of the things I love most about drawing horses is drawing those long manes and tails. I can paint a decent mane or tail with oils and very small brushes, but colored pencils are far more satisfactory.

The cat can play in my art box and I don’t have to worry about hazardous materials sticking to paws

This is important in a house with indoor cats. Cats like to climb. Cats like to explore.

They also like to help.

12 Reasons to Love Colored Pencils

Years ago, one of our cats once threw himself on an oil painting while I was working on it (I worked flat, by the way). I had to take time to clean the paint off the cat before repairing the damage to the painting.

That doesn’t happen with colored pencils.

Those are My Reasons to Love Colored Pencils.

Why do you love them?

Video Demo – How to Draw Hair

Video-Demo How to Draw Hair

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know one of my favorite subjects to draw is horses.

What you may not know is that one of reasons—maybe the biggest reason—I like drawing horses is all that long, luscious hair!

Horses aren’t the only subjects with long, luscious hair. So when I came across an excellent video tutorial on drawing hair, I realized many of you might also be fascinated by the process.

The review is provided by Emmy Kalia on YouTube. Emmy’s YouTube channel and her web site feature tutorials in colored pencils and graphite with a special focus on human subjects. Some of her most interesting videos are about drawing hair and skin tones.

How to Draw Hair

The video is a “hair” over 23 minutes long, so grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, sit back, and be amazed.

Here’s Emmy.

Isn’t that fabulous, and aren’t those Faber-Castell browns enticing? If you don’t already own a set, have you put them on your wish list? I hope so because they’re on mine!

Tips for Drawing Hair

When drawing any type or length of hair, keep your pencils sharp, especially when drawing loose or flyaway hairs.

Work from light to dark and use the darkest color to add accent shadows after establishing other colors.

Start developing highlights from the beginning. It’s easier to preserve them than to replace them.

Use an eraser, sticky stuff, or some other method to lift color and create lighter highlights and other accents. Emmy uses oil-based Faber-Castell pencils, so the pencil eraser she uses is very effective. It’s less effective with wax based pencils, especially if you use soft pencils like Prismacolor Soft Core.

Don’t forget the details! Little things like a few flyaway hairs, little shadows between groups of hairs, and brightened highlights make all the difference. But don’t overdo them. Sometimes less really is more!

Here’s a hair drawing I did several years ago. I chose the subject because of the hair and—along with the blanket—the hair is still my favorite part of it!

Portrait of Blizzard Babe in Colored Pencil on Gray Mat Board

But the best part is that you can draw hair like this, too. All it takes is practice!

And a good subject.

More Information

Emmy Kalia’s on YouTube Channel