tutorial - how to use Prismacolor and Derwent pencils to draw a portrait.
Colored Pencil Tutorial
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favorite colored pencil technique involves using colored paper.
The vast majority of my colored pencil portraits are drawn on
Canson colored paper. (Click on these thumbnail images to see
the full portrait.) Canson's Mi Teintes colored paper is a good
choice, since it is considered lightfast (all except for the
The portrait on the left was drawn on a tan-colored Canson paper.
The center portrait was drawn on a pale greenish blue paper.
The portrait on the right was drawn on a rich brown colored
I start a new portrait, I always think carefully about what
color of paper best fits the mood of the portrait I want to
create, and which color will best compliment the color scheme
of the portrait. Choosing the appropriate color of paper for
a colored pencil portrait is not something that should be done
portraits allow me to leave the color of the paper peeking through
a great deal, even on parts of the face. Other portraits require
that I cover most of the face with colored pencil, leaving only
the background area untouched.
is a detail of the portrait on the right. The Canson paper was tan colored,
which complimented the color scheme of the portrait very well.
shown in this illustration, I was able to use the tan color to my advantage
when rendering the skin tones of the face and arm. Notice how I left
the arm (shown at the bottom half of this illustration) rendered in
a loose, sketchy way. I added a few "contour" lines of brown
(near the edge of the man's chin) and a few light flesh-colored lines
to show the roundness of the arm. These simple strokes were all I used
to render the arm, because the tan color of the paper "doubled"
as the arm's flesh color too.
also was able to leave small areas of the face untouched as wellI
didn't need to worry about covering every nook and cranny of the face
with colored pencil. The nice tan colored paper also "doubled"
as a flesh color for the face, just like it did for the arm.
this portrait, the brown paper used was dark and a bit overpowering.
But I felt it was an appropriate choice, since the portrait I
had planned was a moody, low-key piece.
I left the
background almost completely alone, allowing the brown paper to
show through. I used few brown or dark pencils to render the face
- I let the brown color of the paper serve as most of the "dark
I only used
a few dark blue and black pencils to get the detail of the eye
and pupil, eyebrows, the dark line that separates the lips, and
using a pale blue (almost a white-blue in parts) for some of the
highlights of the face. Some "accents" of reddish-orange
and pale blue gave the portrait some sharpness, and added contrast.
try to hide the pencil strokes of the portrait - I thought they
were an asset to the overall look.
basic things to remember when drawing in colored pencil:
your pencils sharp most of the time!
drawing lightly, and carefully. Don't start laying down dark, rich
colors right away.
the paper surface clean. Don't let any colored pencil "crumbs"
stick to the drawing surface. Carefully brush them away, before they
smear or streak on the drawing.
a kneaded rubber eraser to lighten up or erase areas. Don't use the
same eraser that you use for graphite or charcoal, however. Have special
kneaded rubber eraser set aside for your colored pencil work.
read more about colored pencil materials, papers, and colored pencil
brands, read the art material section.
To see some more examples of my colored pencil portraits, check out
my portfolio page.
colored pencil and portrait book recommendations:
Colored Pencil for the Serious Beginner by Bet Borgeson (Get
this book at Amazon.co.uk)
is considered one of the best colored pencil artists around. I
really love her sense of color, and her philosophy about art.
A wonderful book!
Basic Colored Pencil Techniques by Bet Borgeson (Get this
book at Amazon.co.uk)
colored pencil book by the wonderful Bet Borgeson!
Drawing a Likeness by Douglas Graves (Get this book at
book on drawing portraits. Douglas Graves is a wonderful portrait
artist, and he understands how to get a good likness!
got my own book now, self-published, called Drawing
Portraits: Fundamentals. I've tried to put a lot of the information
that you see on this site in the book (unfortunately, nothing
about colored pencil, since it's a B&W book). Check
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