View Full Version : How to get this effect??

12-31-2016, 02:49 PM
Recently I browsed some pastel pencil videos on youtube for learning purpose and end up with this video. This is from Cuong Nguyen, this is his demo, painting with CarbOthello pastel pencil on Sennelier La Carte pastel board.

My questions are:

1. How to apply pastel pencil that is so smooth like this? (defenitely you can tell that the surface is more like sanded paper but the drawing is very smooth)

2. Is this the result of blending with something or what?

3. I'm really new to pastel pencil, is this achievable when drawing using smooth paper, for instance I draw on Canson watercolor paper a lot? (but not smooth enough so that you cannot draw on it)

When I try to draw like this using canson paper smooth side, I cannot draw as smooth as he is no matter what I do (blending with finger, blending with color shaper, blending with another color)

Really appreciate anyone that can help me..

Youtube link:

Screenshot from my computer:

water girl
12-31-2016, 03:45 PM
Cuong is a master. He uses Sennelier La Carte sanded paper. If you watch his videos, he uses a very sharp pencil and it appears he uses a very light touch. He blends with his pencils, layer on top of layer on top of layer. Practice on the smooth side of the Canson until you are happy with the effects. Then move on to a sanded paper.

water girl
12-31-2016, 04:34 PM
I'm going to move this thread to Pastel Talk, where it may attract more answers to your questions. I'm leaving redirect arrows for you so you will be able to follow.

12-31-2016, 05:43 PM
Blending across a soft transition with a pencil that's an intermediate color and value can create very smooth transitions, but it helps to work on coated or sanded paper. Try the Sennelier La Carte coated paper or PastelMat paper, something like that with a soft smooth surface that's clingy. Then experiment with different blenders - but watch how this master does it.

Blending can also be done with fingers or tortillons. Looking close at the photo, he's blending with tiny circular strokes with pastel pencils and using different colors to glaze nuances of tone and hue into the colors. It's a technique that takes practice and works for both pastel pencil and colored pencils painting. Use a very light touch so that the early layers don't fill the tooth on the painting, because each successive glaze refines the color.

12-31-2016, 08:43 PM
Thank you Karen and Robert I think both of you are right. When I first see his videos, I thought it was the pencil brand. I use Derwent and it's soft, crumble easily. Perhaps the carbothelo brand is harder than mine.

I know from experience that when drawing using hard graphite pencil with a very fine point will produce somewhat smooth drawing, and when drawing using soft graphite like 8B will produce a little bit textured drawing. Not really sure when it comes to pastel pencil using fine tip. Havent tried it either.. i will do some experiments and post it here.

And thanks again Karen for moving the thread to the right forum.

01-01-2017, 02:35 AM
I think I begin to understand why Cuong's drawing looks like that. I think, because he draws on sandpaper! You know what? I even tried to draw on REAL sandpaper this afternoon. REAL sandpaper which carpenter uses to sand wood and furnitures! :lol: And its very strange, eventhough the sandpaper is gritty and has many holes (not sure the term) when I applied more and more layers, the pigment begins to build up and then it appears just like Cuong's drawing, smooth and no sign of paper tooth whatsoever, thick pigment and the paper holds it beautifully!

And the other thing is the pencil itself. Perhaps Carbothello is harder after all, I have one Red pitt pastel from fabercastell, its like derwent pastel but I think it's harder, definitely helps with the "smooth drawing" thing.

Sigh.. I have to find another way as I think buying artist sandpaper is a bit impossible in my country. I recently bought another Canson watercolor paper with heavier weight 300 gsm and I will see how it behaves. I'm drawing a nose! If I can draw small with quality like Cuong's, I think it's possible for me to draw like he does. Bigger means more patience required, am I right?

I still appreciate anyone who is willing to help me on this, pastel is new to me.

Oh almost forgot, happy new year all..! :clap:

Still the sketch but I have positive feeling, hopefully it works in the end, Will keep posting the result:

Real sandpaper LOL :lol: and Canson 200gsm on the smooth side

1. Definitely failed, derwent pencil, blunt tip, applied many layers of diferent colors, light touch between each layer, smear easily when touched.
2. Using Pitt fabercastell, needle like pencil tip, smear but not so much, pigment feels thick like Cuong's but hard to get this effect, doesn't even know I can do it consistenly during painting.
3. Back using Derwent, (just like number 1 but with sharp pencil), smear easily.

4. Definitely the most successful. I'm using sharp pencil, many layers, doesnt smear easily, pigment is thick. Very easy to get this effect, almost effortless.

01-01-2017, 07:18 AM
Not really happy with the result.. But I guess this is what I can achieve using watercolor paper.. :(:(:(


01-01-2017, 10:01 AM
I've been following Cuong's work for awhile and it really is amazing what he achieves with just pastel pencils. He has a few tutorial ebooks that have demos that show every pastel pencil he uses and in what order. You should definitely check them out. He also just recently came out with a 4 hour tutorial video demonstrating his technique. You can purchase them on his website

01-01-2017, 04:42 PM
If you can't get artist grade sandpaper in your country, you can make it for yourself. Use heavy watercolor paper, 140lb or 300gsm, preferably hot press or Not/cold press surface. Get some clear acrylic gesso and pumice dust, or grit from the hardware store for making sandpaper - but use it with clear acrylic gesso. There are threads in this section on the quantity of pumice or grit to use with your gesso. Prime the paper with two or three thin coats of sanded primer and then it's archival, artist grade, just as good as the artist grade sanded paper.

If it's just cost and you can get the premixed primers like Golden Pumice Gel or Art Spectrum Multimedia (Colourfix) Primer, those come out well too. But it can be made just with grit and gesso. How fine the grit determines how fine your sanded surface is. Just give two or three thin coats, each going the opposite direction.

For fine detailed work with the pastel pencils, I'd think a fine grit would work well, fine to medium, not coarse. But I could be wrong. The coarser the grit, the more layers it takes but the less fine detail.

Your nose texture looks pretty good, though.

01-02-2017, 01:27 AM
Joshua Thank you Joshua, I'm aware of that, but what's the point of purchasing the video if I dont have the same tools as he is? When I have everything ready, I will then considered purchasing his tutorial.

Robert Thank you Robert, will definitely try that and see if it works..

01-02-2017, 02:39 PM
Well, dont laugh at me, but this is what I did today. :lol: I was challenging myself, I drew on furniture sandpaper, if I cant do this perfectly, I wont buy the expensive sennelier la carte paper, If my drawing is good enought, I will buy it.

I was thinking what's the point spending so much money without knowing I would succeed or not. This is because for me, I dont have access to sennelier and I have to buy it online, like amazone and this is quite expensive. But here it is.. This is not complete yet as will probably fix some areas tomorrow.

So what do you guys think? Is this looks promising enough? I quite enjoy drawing this, in fact, this is the most enjoyable medium I have ever tried (oil painting, graphite, charcoal, and now pastel pencil)

Also I have a question regarding la carte paper, which one should I buy??? These are from amazone:
1. Sennelier La Carte Pastel Pad 12x16 2 Sheets of 6 Colors
2. 2 packs of 10 Sennelier La Carte Pastel Card 19.5x25.5 200lb
What is the different between Pad and Card??
*Size doesnt really matter right now
Any opinion?

Dont laugh, this is wood sandpaper. :lol: I know sennelier will feel different, but this is what I got for now. LOL I'm using Cuong's drawing from youtube for reference, Please dont compare this with his drawing, as he is a master. I cant even draw from life like he can.

01-02-2017, 02:59 PM
I think it's beautiful and that you'll really enjoy the Sennelier paper. It has a different texture because it's coated with vegetable fibers, not gritty sand. But it has a very deep tooth and holds many layers. One warning about La Carte: it can't abide moisture.

Be careful not to sneeze on it, even tiny droplets of water can leave bare spots on the paper. I think the card and the paper in the pads are similar, though not entirely sure of that. It's the same coating, comes in a number of colors and is lovely stuff to work on. Will allow many, many layers.

I'd suggest the pad with six different colors so that you can experiment with different colors of grounds. If the same place you're ordering the pad also has Art Spectrum Multimedia (Colourfix) Primer, get a jar of that. Some people successfully patch bare spots in La Carte coating with a small amount of Colourfix primer.

Being able to draw portraits from life takes practice and observation. I'd suggest charcoal or pastel sketching on plain paper in a sketch pad. Try doing light and dark sketches on a mid tone paper, like brown or gray Canson Mi-Tientes or a kraft paper sketchbook like Bee Bogus Recycled Rough Sketchbook, which Blick has a 50 sheet sketchbook.

I learned portraits because I'd been doing celebrity portraits in colored pencils realism from photos, got to a point where I was familiar with likeness and proportion and decided to try selling portraits on the street in New Orleans. The license wasn't expensive and I got paid cash on the spot. I was amazed by how much I improved over just the first weekend! My first ones were slow and tentative, thankfully tourists were patient with me when it took an hour and a half or more. But by the end of the weekend I was getting looser and more accurate, just by eyeballing proportions.

One trick I used was holding a ruler out at arm's length to measure proportions on the actual face, this helps if you do not move your feet. I could scale from that to the size of the painting or just work same-size as I saw them.

Most of all though, practice. Do many different people and if possible, sketch them with a timer. Doing ten or fifteen minute poses is better for that accuracy than taking a couple of hours doing a good detailed rendering. Doing fast one to three minute gesture sketches of the face is even better, because each separate observation will teach you more about what to watch for and how to get it down quick.

The nice thing about the short timed ones, one to five minute poses, is that you have a gold plated excuse when they come out unfinished or awful. Just move on and do the next one. Judge your results by how well they come out after you've done a dozen of them, measure your progress against your own previous work and you'll see it faster than you expected.

This training is something that used to be routine in ateliers. Doing a fast value sketch of someone's face - like the "charcoal and white on gray or mid tone paper" ones I sold for a lower price as a street artist - teaches accuracy a lot faster. Accuracy of color is something that will come natural and it's less important if you get values well. The color of various skin tones is influenced so much by the color of the light and reflected light from nearby objects and structures that you have a lot of wiggle room without losing accuracy. What colors the person's wearing will affect it, especially up under the chin. Reflected color from clothes can be very dramatic.

You can also change it if you think it's not flattering to your sitter or just want to harmonize the painting. But that's a little advanced and takes some experiments.

Try doing self portraits, and for reflected color, wear different colored shirts when you do. See the difference between a red shirt, a gray shirt and a green shirt on the color of the shadows under your chin and nose especially, both places where reflected color can be very dramatic.

This painting is gorgeous! You've got the smooth gradients and soft edges, mixed and mingled colors that you were working towards. Other styles involve stronger visible marks but those are just considered painterly. I think sanded paper solved your problem with smooth gradients and layered color nuances, but you'll have a lot of fun experimenting with color anyway.

Hope this helps!

01-03-2017, 01:22 AM
I have finally ordered the sennelier from amazone! Thank you very much everyone and especially Robert everyone is so kind here and has helped me a lot!

Thanks Robert for the warning about Sennelier paper and your tips about drawing from life model. Definitely will try that when I got chance.

And when my paper has arrived I will post my result using real Sennelier paper. Hahaha.. Wuah! So excited! :D