I’m very pleased to announce a new tutorial, Draw Clouds from Life. This is the second life drawing book I’ve published, and the first that focuses on graphite.
But don’t dismiss it because it’s not a colored pencil tutorial. The focus of this book is drawing, not graphite, and we all know that basic drawing principles apply to all media.
Even colored pencils.
About Draw Clouds from Life
I wrote this tutorial to encourage artists to take up the challenge to get outside and draw. So the tutorial begins with tips on setting up to draw outside as well as choosing a subject.
But it doesn’t stop there.
A step-by-step tutorial follows, showing how I draw clouds using nothing but graphite pencils and an eraser or two. I use the same drawing method described in Draw From Life in Three Easy Steps. This drawing method can be mastered by any artist from beginner upward who is willing to take the time to draw regularly.
Includes a Photo Collection
Drawing from life is beneficial to every artist.
But I realize that not everyone can get outside to draw. Nor can every artist easily view clouds or take pictures of them.
So I’ve put together a collection of some of my favorite cloud photos. The photos are my own so anyone can start drawing clouds the moment they download the tutorial.
Draw Clouds from Life is perfect for anyone who wants to learn to draw clouds from life.
And once you master cloud drawing, you’ll be able to draw anything else you want to draw.
Beginner and higher.
This tutorial includes a complete, easy-to-get supply list and suggestions for drawing outside. It also contains a selection of reference photos so you can start drawing clouds today!
If you’ve ever wanted a good, basic drawing tutorial, this tutorial is for you. Start drawing better drawings now!
Announcing a new kind of colored pencil tutorial. A tutorial that’s also an artist’s journal.
Or rather, a portrait journal.
I’ve been writing and publishing tutorials for several years, now. Most have been for publication through this blog or, beginning August 2020, my online store, Colored Pencil Tutorials. But I’ve also written a standalone tutorial, Grazing Horses, and provided a tutorial for DRAW Landscapes, both for Ann Kullberg.
But my latest tutorial is something new.
And much more personal.
A New Kind of Colored Pencil Tutorial
With every other tutorial I’ve written for this blog or for other publications, I’ve always kept myself out of the instruction as much as possible. Why?
Because I believed you were more interested in how I made art than in my experiences during the drawing process.
On those occasions when I shared personal struggles to make the kind of art I could be proud of, you’ve provided positive and encouraging feedback. Someone always tells me they struggle with the same thing (whatever it was,) and were encouraged to discover they weren’t alone.
That, in turn, encouraged me.
It also led me to the realization that maybe it was time to change the way I write tutorials.
Blue Roan Horse Tutorial & Artist’s Journal
This tutorial is the first step in that process.
As with most tutorials, the Blue Roan Horse Tutorial & Artist Journal walks you step by step through the process of creating a portrait from client photographs.
But I share behind-the-scenes information, too.
For example, I was using Pastelmat for the first time on a paid portrait. I was also learning many of the Brush & Pencil line of products.
Not everything I tried worked, but I tried to be faithful in sharing the failures as well as the successes in this project.
Why is that so important?
Because Portrait of a Blue Roan is the best portrait I’ve ever done, bar none. That includes over 40 years of doing portraits in oils, as well as nearly 20 years working with colored pencils.
And that’s important because so many things either didn’t work out the way I planned, or went totally wrong.
If I can learn something from my mistakes, miscues, and blunders (and I always do,) then maybe sharing those mistakes, miscues, and blunders can help you avoid them.
That is my hope.
Are You Looking for a New Kind of Colored Pencil Tutorial?
One that draws back the curtain and gives you a peek into the creative process?
One that helps you transition from doing tutorials drawn by other artists, to making your own creations from scratch?
Then I believe this tutorial is what you’re looking for.
The following exercises will help you improve line control with curving lines, spirals, circles, and arcs. Improving these skills helps you layer color with directional strokes, as well as make more accurate line drawings.
You might expect curving lines to be more difficult to draw than straight lines. That hasn’t been my experience, and may not be yours.
But drawing a curving line, and drawing a curving line that accurately represents your subject are two different things. That’s why these curving line drawing exercises are just as important as straight line drawing exercises.
5 Drawing Exercises with Curving Lines
Rather than throw a bunch of exercises at you, let’s take a look at two main types of curving lines: Spiral curves and concentric curves.
Drawing Exercises with Spiral Lines
This is a simple, straight forward exercise. Put your pencil on the paper and begin drawing a line that curves around itself. Keep going as long as you can, making the circle ever larger.
This exercise is good for a number of things, including improving your ability to draw parallel curves, long lines with consistent pressure, and long lines with consistent weight.
In the sample below, pressure and line weight control were good, but those parallel lines…. I need a lot of work in that area and am not afraid to admit it!
Fixed Point Oval
This exercise is similar to the previous exercise except in one important area.
Rather than drawing a curving line that enlarges on a central point in the center of the circle, the fixed point is at one side. It doesn’t matter which side you choose. Make every loop larger than the previous loop, but make every loop overlap at one point.
With this exercise, still do the entire exercise without lifting the pencil.
But start with heavy pressure, reduce pressure to the lightest you can manage, then darken it again to the darkest.
This exercise puts a little spin on the previous exercise and on the first exercise in this post.
Drawing Exercises with Concentric Lines
Broken Concentric Circle
Begin with a small circle drawn in the center of your paper.
Instead of drawing a parallel circle outside the first circle, draw arcs as shown below. You can vary the length of each arc, but make them as parallel to the inside line as possible.
You can also work on line weight and pressure control with this exercise.
Of course, drawing complete circles parallel to the center circle is also a good idea.
Start with a dot or very small circle either very light in value or very dark.
Draw the next line outside the first line and continue. Make each successive line lighter or darker than the one before. Also work on keeping them parallel. The goal is to create a full value range light to dark or dark to light, then work back in the opposite direction.
I was walking the cat when I did this exercise and standing with the pad of paper in one hand, the pencil in the other, and my end of the leash looped over my wrist. The line started out fairly circular, but it didn’t take long to become misshapen.
However, I rather like the topographical look. It fires the imagination, doesn’t it? What sort of topographical formation would look like this on a topographical map?
These are just a few of the many drawing and line control exercises available. Whether you use these specific exercises or something else, the important thing is that you find something that’s helpful to you.
You can even make up your own or customize these exercises to fit your particular drawing style or the area you need to work on.
Whatever you do, remember the main rule. Above all, have fun!
I can’t draw a straight line with a straight edge, and I’m the first to admit it. Horses, yes. Fences, no, in other words. I have to practice drawing straight lines, but really didn’t want to do it until I stumbled upon a few fun and easy straight line drawing exercises.
People often comment on the time and patience needed for colored pencil work. Some use the word “tedious” in describing the process. My response is that “tedious is in the eye of the beholder.” If you truly enjoy what you’re doing, it’s not tedious.
But there are times when time is of the essence, especially if you do portrait work or are working toward a competition or exhibit. Having a full arsenal of tools helps you make the most of your time. One of those tools is line control.
4 Straight Line Drawing Exercises
Following are four line control exercises that will help you improve pencil control. I used a 6B graphite pencil for each of these because I enjoy the way a soft lead goes onto paper. You can use any hardness of lead you prefer, or any dry medium you prefer. They’re excellent exercises for colored pencil, chalk, charcoal or pastel.
Parallel Line Exercise
Draw a line. Choose any pressure and value.
Draw a series of lines parallel to the first line. Make them as parallel as possible while drawing freehand. Use constant pressure.
Don’t worry if the lines aren’t perfectly straight or perfectly parallel when you begin. None of us start that way unless we use a straight-edge. The more often you do this exercise, the straighter and more parallel your lines will become, so keep practicing and leave the straight-edge in its drawer!
Gradated Parallel Line Exercise
This exercise is much like the previous one with the added dimension of making each parallel line either lighter or darker than the one before.
Start with a line. Make it either very light or very dark.
Make each stroke lighter or darker than the previous stroke (depending on where you started) and make each new stroke parallel to the previous strokes.
See how much gradation you can create just with lines.
A variation on this exercise would be to see how close together you can make the lines and how smooth the resulting transitions can be made.
For variation, see how close together you can make the lines and how smooth the resulting transitions can be made.
You can also work from one color to the next, varying color and value.
Hatching Line Exercise
Draw a set of parallel lines with even pressure and line weight.
Now draw another set in an opposing direction. Don’t draw through the previous set of lines. Create an edge between the groups by ending each line with the same amount of space between the first group of lines.
Continue adding new sets of lines in new directions.
The purposes of this exercise are:
Learning to draw parallel lines at different angles
Consistent pressure control
Learning to begin and end strokes precisely and consistently
Learning how changes in stroke direction affects the appearance of a drawing
Value Shift Parallel Line Exercise
It never hurts to practice pressure application as well as line drawing. This exercise allows you to do both at the same time.
Start with the lightest pressure possible and increase to the heaviest pressure possible as you draw the line. Do several this way, making them as parallel as possible and getting the widest possible value shift without lifting your pencil from one end of each line to the other, or going over the line a second time.
After you’ve done a few, start with heavy pressure and reduce pressure as you draw the line.
A variation on this exercise is to use a pencil with a slanted point and change the line width by turning the pencil as you draw.
These Straight Line Drawing Exercises will Get You Started
I highly recommend these straight line drawing exercises, as well as other types of drawing exercises. In the next few weeks, I’ll share a few more drawing exercises you can use to warm up, improve pencil control, or just have fun.
Most of us doodle from time to time. These exercises are ideal for doodling time whether you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment, on a plane, train, or bus, or walking the pet of your choice.
They’re also a great way to relax for a few minutes.
And all the while, you’ll be improving line control and finding new ways to make every stroke carry it’s full weight with your next pencil project.
This tutorial began as an experiment. I found a photo I absolutely had to draw, and that was perfect for testing Brush & Pencil colored pencil painting tools on Lux Archival paper. The results?
In a word, thrilling!
Laying down color was fun, easy, and fast! So was blending. I even got to do a little brush work, something I learned to love as an oil painter. A world of possibilities opened before me as I worked through this drawing.
Now, I want to share that world with you through this tutorial.
Blazing Sunset Tutorial for Advanced Artists
This is a great tutorial, but it’s more than just a tutorial.
In addition to the usual detailed step-by-step instruction and clear images you’ve come to expect from my tutorials, you’ll read my thoughts on each of the new products I tried. I’ll share not only what worked, but what didn’t, so you can avoid some of the mistakes I made!
But most of all, I want to encourage you to begin the transition from duplicating other people’s are through tutorials to making your own art from scratch. I’ve described how I made that transition. Now I want to help you make the same transition.
This tutorial is the beginning of that process.
What is an Advanced Tutorial?
Advanced colored pencil tutorials from Colored Pencil Tutorials are designed to assist beginner and intermediate artists transition to making their own art.
If you enjoy tutorials but really want to make your own art start to finish, the advanced tutorials at Colored Pencil Tutorials will help you.
This tutorial includes a full supply list, and a color chart so you can match colors if you don’t have Polychromos pencils. It also includes a full-size reference photo!
It does not include a line drawing. That’s one of the reasons it’s an advanced tutorial. But you know what? I hope you’ll have as much fun creating your own forest of trees as I had!
Are You Ready for Something Fun?
If you’re ready to try this new method of using colored pencils, I hope you’ll give this tutorial a try. It’s written so you can create your own blazing sunset, then follow the same steps for your own landscape.
And if you’re just looking for a new project to draw, then why not give this tutorial a try?
Announcing my first new tutorial for 2021. Watercolor Pencil Landscape for Beginners.
Landscapes are one of the most difficult subjects for many artists to capture. They have been for me. There’s simply so many possibilities in every scene, that an artist can quickly become overwhelmed.
I didn’t start doing serious landscapes until after I started using colored pencils. My skills have improved over the years, but one thing remains the same.
It still takes a long time to finish a landscape! Especially a big one.
So I started looking for other ways to draw and that’s how I discovered the usefulness of watercolor pencils.
And that led to this tutorial.
Watercolor Pencil Landscape for Beginners
In this tutorial, I share some of the lessons I learned about combining water and traditional colored pencils.
You’ll learn how to start your landscape with watercolor pencils, using them wet and dry.
Then you’ll see how to layer traditional colored pencils over the under painting. I’ll show you how to create the illusion of distance and draw trees that look like trees.
The tutorial includes a full supply list, a color chart so you can match colors if you don’t have Prismacolor pencils, and a line drawing. It also includes a full-size reference photo!
Are You Ready for Something Fun?
If you’re ready to dive into watercolor pencils, I hope you’ll give this tutorial a try. It’s written so you can do this project, then follow the same steps for your own landscape.
Or for most other projects you want to try.
And if you’re just looking for a new project to draw, then why not give this tutorial a try?
A dark background to makes your subject stand out like no other background. Especially a brightly lighted one. But what’s the best way to draw a dark background?
There are several ways to get a dark or black background for your colored pencil drawings. Colored paper, mixed media, and using colored pencil.
Colored paper—and especially dark paper—presents a set of drawing problems better left for another post.
Mixed media with India ink, acrylics, or air brushing are also topics for other posts.
That leaves drawing a dark background with colored pencil; a process that can be time consuming. But it doesn’t have to be, and I’ll show you one way to draw very dark backgrounds quickly.
How to Draw a Dark Background with Colored Pencil
I had in mind a head study of a running horse, but my model was filled with light. She also had a long, black mane.
It might seem counter intuitive, but I planned do a dark background layer by layer. The plan was to use light pressure to layer several different colors to develop a rich black. The process began with Prismacolor Peacock Green and I spent several hours working on it.
As much as I looked forward to drawing the mane, drawing the background around the mane was a problem. This is as far as I got layering color with light pressure.
This drawing waited on the easel. I looked at all that mane, and decided the horse—more specifically her mane—was the perfect subject for the article.
And so it was.
I used both masking fluid and masking film on the mane, working on both at the same time to compare them. The part of the mane that is orange is masking fluid. The rest is masking film.
Drawing the Dark Background
First, I applied Dark Brown over all of the background using medium pressure (normal handwriting pressure). I added between two and five layers over the entire background, but wasn’t satisfied with the result.
Next, I chose three colors–Indigo Blue, Dark Brown, and Black–and applied them with medium-heavy to heavy pressure.
Working from one area to the next beginning at the upper right, I layered Indigo Blue and Dark Brown in random patterns. I then added Black. I used medium-heavy pressure for all three colors.
When I’d covered all of the background, I burnished it with each color. For most of the background, I burnished with all three colors, usually finishing with black. But I also burnished some areas with only Indigo Blue or Dark Brown, depending on whether I wanted cool tones or warm tones.
Finally, I burnished with Burnt Ochre to accent the head and to introduce the primary color of the horse into the background.
It took two days to finish the background with heavier layers of color. Although I don’t usually prefer this more direct method of drawing, it is a satisfactory look.
Ironically, this drawing never went any further. It lurks somewhere in the studio, waiting for resuscitation, but even if it remains unfinished, it served its purpose.
I know one more way to draw a dark background.
And now you do, too!
If you have a drawing you need to be finish quickly and you want deep colors and saturation, this method may very well be your solution.
I’ve been drawing landscapes with colored pencils for almost as long as I’ve been using colored pencils. One of the most difficult things to get right in a landscape are the green colors. So today, I want to show you one way to draw realistic landscape greens.
There are several ways to draw landscapes with greens that don’t look washed out or garish. One of my favorite methods is to start with an umber under drawing. That’s because earth tones naturally tone down other colors.
But most artists prefer to go straight for the color. I confess. I often do that, too, because color is just so much fun!
So let’s take a look at how I use that method to draw landscapes.
Draw Realistic Landscape Greens Using Direct Color
When you draw with a direct color under drawing, you begin drawing with pretty much the same colors you finish with. You simply begin with lighter versions of the final colors, or start with lighter pressure.
You build color through a series of layers and either increase the pressure or mix in other colors. Sometimes both.
While it’s quite likely you’ll include earth tones and complementary colors to keep the greens looking natural, you won’t use them by themselves at any part of the drawing process.
In other words, the under drawing will look like a faded version of the final, full color drawing.
How does that look in practice? Here’s a step-by-step.
How to Use a Direct Color Under Drawing
As with any other method of drawing, the first step is creating the patterns of lights and darks in the composition. You also begin developing the most basic details at this stage.
The Base Layer
For this illustration, I glazed a medium green over all of the trees using open, diagonal strokes to establish the base color.
Next, I drew the form shadows (on the trees) and the cast shadows (between the trees) with the same color. But I increased pressure a little, and used slightly smaller strokes, which I placed closer together.
The results are the same as with the other methods, but the drawing is already showing the finished colors. Green.
The Middle Layers
Next, I layered a light dull-ish yellow over the trees, followed by a couple of layers of a yellowish-green. Those colors provided the warm yellow tint necessary to create the appearance of late afternoon sun slanting across the landscape.
I followed that with another layer or two of the original color into the shadows on each side of each tree. Then I glazed a light-value, yellowish earth tone over all of each of the trees.
After a few more layers alternating between those colors, I burnished with a very cool, light blue in the lightest areas. Then I added a little dark green or dark brown in the shadows, and then burnished with the colorless blender.
Once the basic values were in place, I continued layering all the colors over the trees. Layer by layer, I developed colors, values, and details.
I finished by layering medium green, dark blue, and dark brown into the shadows, alternating between the colors to create a range of values within the shadows.
Finishing the Trees
I finished work on these trees by burnishing in a couple of rounds.
For the first round, I used different colors for each area: Light, cool blue in the lightest areas and dark green in the darkest areas.
I used a colorless blender for the second round of burnishing, and I burnished all parts of each tree.
To burnish, I used heavy pressure, sharp to slightly blunted pencils with a variety of strokes to achieve the look I wanted for each tree.
This is what these trees look like finished.
You Can Draw Realistic Landscape Greens
It takes some thought and patience, but once you master the process, it makes perfect sense.
When you use the direct color method, all you’re doing is developing color along with values and details layer-by-layer.
It’s more difficult to determine where the under drawing ends and the final drawing begins when you use direct color, but it is no less effective than using an umber under drawing or a complementary under drawing.
One note to those who will ask. I didn’t name colors in this step-by-step because the specific colors don’t matter all that much. You can use any combination of yellow-greens, medium and dark greens, earth tones and blues to duplicate the results I showed you here.
Glazing Background Color Over an Umber Under Drawing
The drawing is an ACEO (Art Cards, Editions and Originals) on white Rising Stonehenge paper.
This is the finished umber under drawing. You can read about drawing the under drawing here.
You can finish your under drawing with as much detail as you like. Some artists produce under drawings that look like finished works of art. I admire those artists and their work, but I don’t possess enough patience for such highly detailed under drawings!
My Color List
I used Prismacolor Verithin pencils to preserve as much of the paper’s natural tooth as possible for as long as possible. Finding other ways to preserve tooth is important when you don’t want to use solvents. Verithin pencils include only 36 colors, but there are enough colors to get started.
These are the colors I used.
I didn’t use these colors in any particular order beyond working generally from light to dark. Many of them were used several times, alternating colors among the many layers I did throughout the day.
You can successfully complete this project using your favorite colors.
I started with Prismacolor Verithin pencils, using light pressure and a variety of strokes to layer smooth color.
To keep the green from getting too bright, I sandwiched earth tones (Dark Umber, Terra Cotta, and Goldenrod) between greens (Apple Green, Grass Green, Peacock Green, and True Green.) I further adjusted color and value by mixing in Canary Yellow, True Blue, Non-Photo Blue, and Ultramarine.
No color was applied in an even layer throughout the background. Multiple layers and varying strokes were used to create the look of sun-dappled foliage in soft-focus.
The result is some areas that are more blue than yellow, and some that show a lot of brown.
Since I wanted as many layers and colors as possible without producing the ‘slick’ look of heavy burnishing, I kept pressure light to medium-light for each layer.
Keeping the pencils needle-sharp wasn’t a high priority. With this type of background, a slightly dull or even an angled pencil tip can be advantageous.
Glazing Color on the Horse
I used Verithin pencils to begin glazing color on the horse, beginning with Goldenrod in the lightest values. The medium value base colors were Orange and Orange Ochre, with Indigo Blue as the base color in the mane and forelock.
After the base layers were finished, I added Indigo Blue in the darker shadows to begin developing those shadows.
Then I continued layering with Verithin Terra Cotta, Goldenrod, and Orange Ochre in the red-brown parts of the horse’s coat.
Next, I darkened values with Dark Brown and Crimson Red. With each color, I worked around the highlights.
For the muzzle, eye, mane and forelock, I layered Black in the darkest areas, followed by Indigo Blue in the darkest values and middle values.
I also used some Prismacolor Soft Core pencils (the same colors) to add vibrancy.
Adjusting the Background
Now that the main colors and values were in place on the horse, I felt the need to add more color to the background. For this, I switched to Prismacolor Soft Core pencils.
To begin, I used Dark Green, Olive Green, Indigo Blue, Apple Green, Dark Umber, and Yellow Chartreuse to deepen saturation all around. I applied light colors in light areas and dark colors in dark areas with enough overlap to avoid ”pasted on” value patterns.
Then I used Yellow Chartreuse, Chartreuse, Light Green, Apple Green, Deco Yellow, and French Grey 30% to burnish the background.
The result was a deep and rich color that looked almost like it could have been an oil painting.
Adjusting the Horse
I added Goldenrod, Orange Ochre, and Terra Cotta applied with light to medium pressure and in random order. Mixing colors like this helped create rich, saturated color.
Then I added Orange Ochre, Spanish Orange, Crimson Red, Orange, Peacock Green, Black, Non-Photo Blue, and Goldenrod. In the first pass, I used the colors in the order listed. Later, I used them in random order.
I started with Verithin colors to establish as deep and even a layer of color as possible while filling as little tooth as possible.
When I had done all I could do with those, I switched to Prismacolor Soft Core pencils and used Burnt Ochre, Orange, and Black.
For the most part, I used a medium to heavy pressure, really forcing color down into the tooth of the paper to fill up every last space.
I started the final round of work with Verithin Goldenrod, Orange Ochre, Crimson Red, Ultramarine, and Orange. I used Canary Yellow, and White for highlight colors and to burnish where needed.
Then I added Prismacolor Soft Core Burnt Ochre with light to medium pressure to add teh final touches.
And here is the finished portrait.
If it were a larger portrait, I’d refine the details further and add more color depth. It looked great as an ACEO.
Glazing Color on an Umber Under Drawing is now Complete
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. You can use this method with success on any subject at any size.
And as I mentioned earlier in this post, you can develop the under drawing as much as you like. The more detail you include in the under drawing, the easier (and less work) glazing color becomes.
Are you interested in more information on this method? I’ve published a subject study tutorial that’s currently available on Colored Pencil Tutorials and you can read more about that here.
If you’re like me, you’ve seen a lot of artists drawing on drafting film with colored pencils. You love the work they’re doing and, maybe (like me,) you’ve also wondered what that’s all about.
I haven’t yet tried drafting film. I’m having too much fun with Pastelmat and have some of the new Lux Archival to play with, so drafting film is way down my list.
Even so, I’m thrilled to let you know that if you want to try drafting film and are waiting for the right tutorial, you’re in luck. Peggy Osborne tried drafting film and wrote her January tutorial about her experiences.
Drawing on Drafting Film
In short, she loves it!
Peggy’s new tutorial tackles a favorite subject by drawing cat eyes. The perfect subject to show you how much color and life you can put into a drawing when you draw on both sides of drafting film.
Drafting film is not your typical drawing surface, however, and Peggy also shares valuable tips for selecting colors and layering for maximum impact.
The tutorial includes a full supply list, a color chart so you can match colors if you don’t have Prismacolor pencils, and a line drawing. A full-size reference photo is also included. No additional downloads after you purchase the tutorial. It’s all included!
Are You Ready to Draw on Drafting Film?
This tutorial is perfect if you’ve never tried drafting film but are ready to try it out. You can’t do better than Peggy’s easy-to-read and follow instructions and beautiful illustrations.
And if you’re just looking for a new project to draw, then why not give this tutorial a try?
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.