Colored pencil tutorial - how to use Prismacolor and Derwent pencils to draw a portrait.

Colored Pencil Tutorial

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Detail - colored pencilAnother detail of the colored pencil portrait. (Click on image to see full portrait.) This illustration shows a detail of the edge of the chin, and the start of the neck.

This is a good example of color mixing and layering using the colored pencil. Instead of trying to find a colored pencil with the exact color you are looking for, (which in some cases may be impossible) take several different colors of Prismacolor and crosshatch them one over the other, blending them together to make the desired color.

For instance, if you wanted a light pink, you might use a pink and a white Prismacolor, and then crosshatch them over each other. You'd "build up" the color of these two pencils, by gently crosshatching them, one over the other. The pink and the white colors would blend together after enough gradual pencil strokes, until eventually, you'd get the color you were looking for.

In the detail illustrated here, I was not interested in using a simple brown color for the shadow at the edge of the chin, and neck. I wanted some brown, but also a pinky-peachy brown, a deep, rich, darker brown, a greenish brown, and so forth. I created these colors by using several different colored pencils and layering and blending them together, using a crosshatching stroke. Several flesh colors, green, a dark purple, a dark pink, and a medium terra cotta brown were used. I gently layered them over each other, back and forth, until I got the shading and color effects I desired.


Colored pencil portrat - detail - lips

Here's a close-up of the mouth. Another good example of color mixing, layering and contour lines.

It's easy to see all the different colors used in this example. Purple, peach, several pinks, terra cotta, and greens were used. These colors were rendered using a sharp pencil, and a light touch. Sometimes, I just let the pencil lightly glide over the paper - hardly touching it at all. This was just enough to give the subtle bit of color needed.

By layering these colors, one over the other, I got the color to "build up," gradually covering the paper surface with the proper saturation of color. I didn't get this look by bearing down on my pencils and drawing deep, dark lines right away. It was a gradual process, with lots and lots of gentle crosshatching pencil strokes, and lots of layering.

Notice that a lot of the crosshatching lines are also contour lines. They follow the shape of the face (roundness of the lips, etc.). This is a favorite technique of mine. It does not lend itself to all colored pencil (or drawing) techniques, but it is very effective in some portraits. (Read more about "contour" sketching lines in my Shading and Rendering Tutorial.)

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