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"A Color Pencil Portrait - Start to Finish"
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Author: Karen_Cardinal, Contributing Editor

This is a lesson I have had on my website for awhile now.
Though (I hope) I do draw better than this now,
I still use the same techniques.

I hope you can find something in this lesson that will be useful.



For most pictures I draw there is a standard list of items I use. No.2 pencils and scrap paper for my thumbnails, graphite pencils and sketch paper for my graphite drawings, and Prismacolor pencils and Canson paper for the finished product. I also go through a lot of erasers, and constantly use my pencil sharpener, rulers, and X-Acto knife. One thing I've learned is no matter what materials you choose...always buy professional grade for your finished product. (Pencils that are color fast and paper that is acid free) Many of my older drawings have completely faded away because I did not do this early on.
Through trial and error I have found that what works best for me is Prismacolor color pencils and Canson Mi-Teintes paper. Both are able to take a lot of abuse, give you a wide range of looks, and most important are color fast and acid free. There is such a wide variety out there, though; you will want to experiment to find what works best for you.
A great place to find your supplies is at: Dick Blick's . They have a great variety of products and really good prices. That is where I usually get all my supplies.
Thumbnail drawings

From all the advice I've read in magazines, books, and on the web, one thing is repeated more than any other..."Draw as much as you can." Have a pencil and paper (it doesn't matter what kind) with you at all times, and draw everything you see. I have taken that advice to heart and try to draw sketches as much as possible. If I'm having a hard time getting inspired at home I take my sketchbook and pencils to the mall and draw the people there. (It is a lot of fun because if you stay there drawing long enough you will start to gather a crowd. I was even able to get a commission from doing that once)

Sometimes my sketches are nothing more than gesture drawings that only I can interpret. Other times they are fully realized sketches complete with notes.

I've discovered that even a quick "scribble" can be an inspiration for a new work, so never ignore this step...sometimes it's the most important part of your drawing.
Graphite drawing

This is where I work on what I want my finished picture to look like. I use this step to work out any problems with cropping, conflicting angles, values, etc.

I generally draw my graphite sketches full sized to my finished piece. This is done, however, for my convenience in transferring my drawing to my color paper, and can be drawn in any size you choose.

The importance of this step is to get a clear idea of what your finished piece will look like, before you start using your color pencils. Graphite is much easier to erase than color pencils, and the paper and pencils for this step are quite a bit cheaper than your good supplies, so you can make as many sketches as you like until you are satisfied with the outcome.

This is where my method varies from a lot of other color pencil artist. Since I began using toned paper for my work, I found that the old method of using a light board to trace my drawing didnít work anymore. (Especially if I was using dark paper) So I developed my own way to transfer my drawing onto my paper.

First I make an outline sketch of my graphite drawing onto tracing paper. (This is why I make my graphite full sized)

I only have to trace the lines that I need. I donít really need to draw the shading lines unless the shading needs to be exact. (Such as in my picture " Blaze ")
Don't wait - discuss this topic with fellow artists now in our Colored Pencil forum!
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