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

Colored Pencil Tutorial

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Here is another colored pencil portrait. No model or photo reference was used. This portrait was drawn on Strathmore Bristol Board, vellum surface. The original portrait is about 5x7," but it was drawn on a 9x12" Bristol Board pad. I was able to use the extra area of Bristol Board to "sharpen" my colored pencils. (Click on the image to the right to see the portrait on the entire sheet of Bristol Board, "sharpening" marks and all!)

To "sharpen" colored pencils in this way, you lay your pencil tip down on the paper at a severe slant, and make a pencil stroke. As you make the stroke, twist the pencil tip completely around, so all edges of the pencil tip are dragged across the paper. By doing this, you sharpen just the very tip of the pencil. Using this technique will help you to avoid having to drag out the pencil sharpener constantly.

Colored pencil - profile of man

Detail of forehead and hair

This colored pencil portrait uses a detailed, refined crosshatching technique. Above is a detail of the forehead, and beginning of the hairline.

I used a lot of small, short strokes on this portrait. There were still some "contour" strokes (like in the previous colored pencil portrait) but also some smaller, more meticulous strokes. This gives the portrait a tighter, more detailed appearance. Notice that there are many colors used in this close-up example. I used light flesh, peachy flesh, terra cotta, blue, purple, and a pale yellow for the skin. The hair also has a bit of purple, brown, orange-brown, and blue. These colors are overlapped and blended together in such a way that when the portrait is looked at from a proper distance, the colors will look natural and perfectly normal.


Detail of eye - colored pencil portraitThis illustration is an extreme close-up of the eye.

I used a dark brown for the eyebrows, mingled with purples, peach and flesh colors, and terra cotta browns.

I used very little of the Black Prismacolor pencil. I use only a small amount, in the darkest areas of the portrait only.

See a close-up of the mouth. Some contour lines were used to suggest the shading of the lips, and around the mouth.

colored pencil portrait - detail of hair

An extreme close-up of the hair. I used Prismacolor's "colorless blender" to blend the pencil strokes of the hair together. This colorless blender (a pencil with a some sort of smooth, transparent pencil lead) worked beautifully. It doesn't add any color to the area I want to blend, it just smoothed everything out.

I used a lot of color in the hair. The same colors I used in shading of the portrait (touches of purple, green, and rose) were also used in the hair, just with more subtlety. When looked at from a distance, the hair looks primarily brown - but these subtle colorful highlights give the hair an extra richness. Also, using the same colors that were used in shading the face keep the color "scheme" harmonious. (To read more about color "schemes," read my Color Tutorial.)

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