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Drawing Lesson 18, Part 3 – Drawing with Colored Pencils

La Bella Principessa – Drawing with Colored Pencils

Video Lesson Description

In this video lesson you will discover how to make a creative artwork by Drawing with Colored Pencils

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Drawing with Colored Pencils – Shades Rendering

The Classical Method of Shades Rendering while drawing with colored pencils goes in the following sequence. Drawing with colored pencils begins from the dark shadows. First, the artist renders the core shadow followed by the form shadow. The core shadows are the darkest places on the model, with very little light bouncing off these places. The form shadows are lighter that the core shadow, but also very dark compared to the rest of the figure. When you make a drawing with colored pencils, keep in mind that both core and form shadows are not done in full strength at the beginning. The fine artist will return to these places again and again, gradually building up tones after making some rendering on other parts of the form.

Sometimes objects have cast shadows, like behind the model’s ear, as in our example. The cast shadow will be darker than the form shadow. It will also have the dark accent, which is the darkest place on the drawing.


Drawing with Colored Pencils
When drawing with colored pencils, remember that the line between light and dark areas on the form reveals its shape. In the portrait, it is a very important line. It contributes to the likeness. Likeness depends not only on the head outlines but also on the individual three-dimensional form, which are depicted in shade and light rendering. The contour between light and dark areas helps to portray individual features.

A good drawing with colored pencils must develop gradually. There are schools in the States and Europe that are advocating a different approach. Their students have been trained to render one part of the portrait to perfection before going for another part. For example, they will do eyes and nose to a smooth finish, while other parts are still left untouched. Such a drawing approach is not traditional method of classical drawing.

In our drawing with colored pencils, the light comes from the top-left corner. This is classic lightening used by many generations of fine artists starting from Renaissance times.

Light and middle tone areas on the model’s head are only rendered when the artist has already touched up the dark areas. After shadows, the middle tones are gradually appearing. In dark to light order – the middle tones are as follows: the dark halftone, then middle halftone and then the light halftone.

When the artist renders the dark halftone, drawing with colored pencils, unfinished dark tones become relatively lighter compared to the middle tone. So, the artist comes back and deepens the dark tones values once again. The same process repeats when middle halftones are rendered. The artist evaluates the difference in tones and deepens dark tones as well as dark halftone. Later on when light halftones are touched in pencil, the artist might find it necessary to deepen dark tones together with dark and middle halftones.

In this way, the progress on the drawing with colored pencils is very methodical. The whole artwork or its part, like a head for example, gets developed gradually starting from dark tones and moving toward the light areas, constantly making values of shades deeper. Such an approach gives tremendous control over the drawing, so the artist can manipulate tonal values with ease.

After dark and middle tones are marked in pencil, the artist moves to light areas. Light tones are as follow: the local light is the darkest of lights, then comes the light, which is by its name is a very light area well lit by the source of light; and then the lightest spots on the drawing are highlights.

How to draw roses – Drawing with colored pencils

There are several roses decorate La Bella Principessa’s dress.

When drawing roses, a beginner might be overwhelmed by the amount of details and gradations of tones within one flower. Every layer of rose petals can cast shadows on another row and so on. This only adds to the flower rendering complexity. In fact, drawing roses is not as difficult as it might seem. The fine artist can use a bit of simplification. Do not concentrate on every gradation of light and shade. Try to figure out the main shape of the flower first. Check how light reveals the flower shape. In our case, the light source is coming from the top-left. So parts of the petals that are facing the light will have lighter tones, while opposite sides will remain in the shadow. You can use just three main tone volumes to begin with: the light, the middle tone and the dark tone. Everything else will be somewhere between those tones. You may also consider the cast shadow accents, which are the darkest places on the rose. The direction and style of your pencil strokes must describe the petals’ shape and texture.

Gray Scale & Value Finder

Sometimes, students ask me whether to use a Gray Scale & Value Finder when drawing with colored pencils. My answer usually is, if you have been trained to use it and now cannot do without it, you may either carry on using it or at least try to train your eyes so you will depend on it less. If you are a beginner, do not waste your time on such tools, you have a perfect opportunity to develop your sense of judging tonal values by eye.

Making White Highlights

In our artwork, the white paper is tinted in watercolour and therefore, the original whiteness of paper is no longer present. That is why the highlight and light will be done in white wash.

For white wash, I will use watercolour paint. It is opaque enough to cover the yellow-orange tint of the paper’s background.

A high quality Kolinsky Sable brush #4 is the perfect tool for this task. It is very pointy and holds its shape very well.

I will only touch the highlights and light tones of the model’s dress. This will create a fresh and crisp look of her white collar and rose decorations.

When doing white wash, it is better to underdo it than overdo it. Applying several thin layers of white paint is easier than removing one thick layer.

There are two ways white wash can be done. The first is when paint is gradually diluted with water until it becomes completely transparent and disappears. This is the classic watercolour approach. The second method is more graphic where the brush is used as a drawing tool – making thin separate strokes instead of a diluted wash. It is similar to a tempera technique.

Both ways work well and give different visual appearances. You can use just one or both methods together, depending on the texture and style of your picture.

Keep practicing drawing with colored pencils; art skills are not granted, they are obtained.

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