Katarina's Page O' Wenches and Stuff Colored Pencil Tutorial



Colored Pencil Tutorial








The supplies that I use in a typical colored pencil drawing include:

Prismacolor colored pencils
Alcohol-based markers (i.e. Tria or Copic)
Kneadable eraser
Pencil sharpener
Isopropyl alcohol (for blending)
Cotton swabs

Cotton balls




When I color an image with colored pencils, I use one of two methods.  Either I color the image entirely with colored pencil or I color a base layer with markers and then go over the top of them with pencils.  The image in this section of the tutorial was colored with the first method.  Using markers makes the process a little bit faster and tends to make the colors a little more vivid, but either process works equally well.  (A diagram of an image colored using the marker method can be seen here.)


My first step is to get out my Prismacolor colored pencils.  I highly recommend this brand.  They are of excellent quality, not horrendously expensive, and come in a wide assortment of colors.  They are much easier to blend and erase than student grade varieties of colored pencils like Crayolas.


I select which colors I will need for the picture.  I look at my test sheet of colors and decide which shade is closest to the color that I want.  (My test sheet has a small swatch of every shade of pencil that I have and which number that color is identified by on it.  It's very handy.)  For this particular picture (the "Beer Wench" picture from the sketching and inking tutorial), I pick out several shades of blacks, grays, and browns for shadows, the barrel, and Katarina's markings; oranges for her fur; reddish browns for her hair; greens for her skirt; blues for her eyes; yellows for the beer and the accents on her skirt; steel and silver for the metal; and cream and white for her underbelly and blouse and for blending and highlighting.




Before I put down any color, I decide where the light source in the image is coming from.  Deciding this beforehand helps to figure out where to place the highlights and shadows and helps make the finished picture more convincing. 


With all of my coloring, I follow the contour of the object and direction of the object.  This makes the body appear much more rounded and convincing.  Generally, the more colors that you use when coloring, the more vivid and realistic  the finished image looks.  I always work from the darkest colors to the lightest colors.  Some people will tell you to color from light to dark, but this way works best for me.


I begin coloring the shadows in the fur with a light coat of brown - either light umber or dark umber, usually. In the darkest shadows, I use black or sepia.  (Remember to use black sparingly as it can easily kill an image.)  When I color, I do not fill in the whole area with brown; instead I shade with it gradually, setting up my lights and darks and leaving the lightest areas blank.  With clothing, I shade in the same manner but usually I choose a base color that is similar to the actual color that I intend to use.  (i.e. For a green dress, I begin with a dark or peacock green.) 


Shading with complementary colors is also a good method that one can use (i.e. adding red shadows to a green dress), but it's something that must be done very carefully so as not to overwhelm to base color.  It's also important to choose a complementary color that is about the same darkness and hue as the base color.


Here is what the drawing looks like with the preliminary shadows added.


I slowly add more and more layers of color in the same manner as with the shadows.  Katarina's fur alone is colored with seven different colors that make up the shadows, the base color, and the highlights.


As I add more layers of color, the colors become more blended and vivid and less white shows through.  Sometimes I need to go over a section that I am working on with alcohol on a cotton swab or cotton ball to help blend the colors and reduce the build-up from the pencils that I can do more work on it.  (I could use a colorless blender marker, but this tends to gunk the marker up.) 


Once I have the colors layers to my satisfaction, I go back in and blend it all by adding a heavy coat of cream.  I only blend with white on objects that are already white, such as Katarina's blouse, and on areas that are meant to be highlighted.  This gives my colors a glossy finish.  (I shy away from blending colors with blender pencils but it reportedly works well for other people.)


Here is the what the drawing looks like as I start to blend and add highlights.


After I am done coloring, I go back in and touch up any shadows that got too light from the blending and rework any other colors that need touching up.  If I didn't have a detailed background in mind for the picture, at this point I would typically go in and add a layer of loose, light color to liven up the background of the image, then blend it with alcohol to smooth it out.  However, in this case I wanted the background left white for printing purposes.


Here is what the image looks like when I am completely done with my coloring.  The colors are all exactly like I want them to be, but the inked lines have become obscured by the colored pencil.  This happens due to the soft nature of the "leads" in the colored pencils.  To rectify this, I go in and re-ink the lines that got covered by the coloring.  I generally only re-ink the outlines and ignore the detail lines to keep them softer in appearance.  This re-inking must be done carefully because it is very easy to smudge the ink at this point in the drawing.  I may also use a very sharp black colored pencil to rectify the lines.  This actually works better than pen in many cases as a pen may start to clog up from the pencil residue.


Here is the finished product.  Voila!



This entire site, including its name, writing, design, artwork, and any created web graphics Kayleen Connell 1999 - 2016 unless otherwise indicated.
Please do not alter, distribute, or steal any of the contents of this site.