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Drawing with colored pencils is dramatically different than drawing with graphite pencils, in several ways. In this tutorial, I will introduce and discuss some general concepts, tips, and techniques you'll need to learn in order to work well with colored pencils.
To get started on your colored pencil portrait, you need to find a way to get your basic portrait drawing outline onto the paper. Colored pencil is not like regular graphiteit does not erase easily. Therefore, it is not a good idea to use it to work on your drawing and proportions, since a certain amount of erasures usually are needed during this process. (And, you don't want to do your sketch in graphite, and then lay the colored pencil over the graphite. Graphite pencil and colored pencil don't work so well together.)
Since I used no photo reference for this particular portrait, I just quickly sketched out the simple outline of the face right onto the paper, using a flesh-colored Prismacolor. I didn't need to do a lot of erasures, since the face was made up from my imagination. However, if I were using a photo reference or was drawing from a live model, I probably would have done a preliminary sketch on tracing paper, or lightweight sketch paper. Then, I'd transfer the preliminary sketch to my drawing paper or Bristol Board. (No, I would not trace a photograph. Never will I suggest such a thing in any of these tutorials!)
A favorite method I use to transfer the preliminary drawing to my paper is to cover the other side of the tracing paper with flesh-colored Prismacolor pencil. This makes it kind of like "carbon paper," but with Prismacolors as the "carbon"! Then, I carefully transfer the image onto my white Bristol board, by tracing over the outlined sketch, onto my paper. The Prismacolor "carbon paper" transfers a flesh-colored Prismacolor line onto my drawing paper. Just what I am aiming for!
Two main things to remember with colored pencil is layering, and starting out with light tones. Also, have a sharp pencil tip at all times. Invest in an electric pencil sharpener (not an extravagance when using a lot of colored pencils) or get a very good manual pencil sharpener.
Lightly and carefully, start laying down the general tones of the portrait. Start with light tones first. Do not get messy, or make large, loose strokes. Keep your pencil sharp, and let the tip glide over the surface of the paper. Do not dig down and lay a dark, rich tone yet. It's too soon for that.
When you have drawn and rendered the majority of the face's lighter and more subtle tones, start to lay down the darker, richer and more saturated areas of the portrait (for instance, dark hair, red lips, bright colored or dark colored clothing, darkest shadows of the face, etc.). To get these colors sufficiently rich and saturated, gradually begin to bear down harder with your colored pencils, making stronger and darker pencil strokes. These strong lines are the most difficult to erase, which is why you should wait until you are almost finished with the portrait to put them in.
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