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Old 01-01-2006, 11:14 AM
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Basic 101: Class 32 - Colored Pencils

Hi Everyone! Happy New Year! As planned, we are up and running with our colored pencil class!

For the benefit of those who didn’t pull up Troy’s earlier “Attention” thread, this is not intended to be a basic drawing class. For a few weeks we will concentrate only on fundamental colored pencil techniques, so you will need to have an original line drawing done and structural issues resolved before you get into the first step of your cp project—transferring the image to the paper you select.

You may choose your own subject for this class, but keep it fairly small and simple so you don’t get hung up trying to replicate dozens of tiny color areas. If your choice is a portrait, human or animal, stick with the head only. Keep your paper size to no more than about 9” x 12”, which should accommodate most subject matter and allow for easy scanning as well.

In this class I will follow the presentation procedure of Troy’s classes—giving you enough basic information up front so you can get started and letting further discussions of topics evolve as we give feedback on individual projects. Following are the topics I will cover: (Some were talked about on Troy’s thread, but I’m repeating to give you consolidated information.)
  • Supplies
  • Image Transfer
  • Strokes
  • Layering
  • Colored Pencil Tips
SUPPLIES

The array of products available for colored pencil artists is staggering, and often it’s difficult to differentiate between products and make choices. Following are a few I’ve used and liked that will be good for this class, but take the time to experiment with others as you progress in this wonderful medium.
  • Prismacolor or Faber-Castell Polychromos, because they are excellent pencils and more readily available than some other brands. You should probably have at least a 24-piece set.
  • High quality drawing paper: Stonehenge, Strathmore, and Canson are especially good because they accept multiple layers of pencil well. For this class, it would be best to use white paper.
  • A soft, fine-bristle brush about 2 inches wide (paintbrush from hardware will be fine) for keeping your work free of pencil and eraser “crumbs.”
  • Poster Putty or a similar product (wonderful for picking up color you didn’t mean to put down) and soft white erasers.
  • A battery-powered eraser. Here’s a good thread on these erasers (Thanks, Judith!):
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=234649
  • A good pencil sharpener, preferably an electric one because it will save you a considerable amount of time. I have a Boston School Pro and a Panasonic. Want more info? Here’s the url for a good thread on pencil sharpeners (Thanks, Deb):
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=251483
  • Pencil extenders: Really valuable when the pencils get so short you can’t get a good grip on them.
  • And, sooner or later, workable fixative. This is a good cure for wax bloom (a grayish buildup of wax on your drawing) and gives extra protection to your drawing when you’re finished. (This product is toxic; follow instructions on the can carefully!)
IMAGE TRANSFER

If the original linear drawing you have prepared is one that you want to preserve (for example, to complete a value study or to use for some other project), you will need to make a copy (we’ll call this your working drawing) to use for the transfer process. You can either scan your image for printing or copy the drawing directly if your printer has the copying function.

I recommend that you do the tracing of your working drawing to final drawing paper in color rather than in black. The reason for this is that if you transfer black lines to white or toned paper, some lines may show through very light areas no matter how many layers of colored pencil you apply. Following are three mediums/methods you can use to prepare for transfer:
  • Transfer paper: You can buy Seral wax-free transfer paper in 12” x 12-ft. rolls through art stores or catalogs. Place the transfer paper between your working drawing and your final drawing paper, color side down. If you use this product, choose the color most compatible with the colors in your reference (your choices will be red, yellow, or blue)
  • Pastels: Apply pastel in a color or colors compatible with your reference (and just dark enough to transfer) directly to the back of your working drawing. If you tape your drawing face down to a light box or a large window, you’ll see the linear image very clearly and you can confine the application of the pastel to the lines only rather than cover the entire back of the drawing. Gently shake your drawing over a sink to get rid of the excess pastel, then tape it in place over your final drawing paper.
  • Window or light box: You can transfer your image directly to your final drawing paper without using a transfer medium if your paper is fairly lightweight and you can see through it. Tape your working drawing to a light box or large window face up, and then tape your final drawing paper in place over it. Most of you should be able to use this method, since your paper size for this class is limited.
For tracing drawings using transfer paper or pastel backing, use a fine-point ballpoint pen or a hard, sharp pencil. (I use a red ballpoint pen because it allows me to see the lines on my drawing that I’ve already traced.) For direct transfer to your final drawing paper, use a sharp pastel pencil or erasable colored pencil.

Whatever method you use, apply only enough pressure when you trace to ensure that the image will be clearly visible; pressing too hard will cause indentations in the paper, especially if you are using Stonehenge. Check as you work to make sure your drawing is transferring properly.

STROKES

There are a number of different strokes you can use to apply your color, and each one will give a different look to your drawing. Below is a list of some strokes as well as samples shown fairly bold and unblended to emphasize direction. Try them all out on a sheet of your cp project paper and choose one or two that are the most comfortable for you. (You don’t want to invite carpal tunnel problems with a stroke that doesn’t feel natural!)
  • Scumbling: Strokes are applied with a tight “scribbly” or elliptical motion. Overlapping creates subtle blending of color.
  • Angled parallel hatching: This is the technique that I prefer simply because it’s the most comfortable for my hand.
  • Vertical parallel hatching: This stroke will result in a little more obvious overlapping than angled hatching, but if you use it in your initial layers, you can even the texture out in subsequent layers.
  • Crosshatching: Hatch marks going one direction are overlaid with hatch marks going another direction.
  • Circulism: A technique created by Maggie Toole in which layers of color are built with thousands of open overlapping and intertwining circles of different sizes.
  • Impressing: Invisible lines are applied to the drawing surface with a stylus or a ballpoint pen that has run out of ink. When you apply color to this area of a drawing, the impressed lines will remain the color of the paper. This method is useful for rendering such things as hairs and details of small leaves.
  • Burnishing: A hard, rubbing stroke (with a light colored pencil or colorless blender) is applied to the final color layer to enhance color and produce a lustrous surface. This stroke will ultimately cause the color to fill all of grooves in the paper so none of the paper color is visible.


A few words on strokes for hair and fur: Closely study the directional pattern of hair or fur in your reference. For a natural, believable look, use a stroke pattern that most closely resembles the texture and directional pattern you see in these features. To give hair and fur shape and form, pay close attention to highlights and shadows.

LAYERING

Colored pencil is considered an essentially transparent medium, so you will be building colors by layering one over another, mixing pencil colors on your paper much as you would mix paint on a palette. Two or more colors overlaid will produce a blend, a new hue created through intermingling of the individual pencil colors.

To understand better how to achieve the colors you want, you should have some familiarity with the color wheel and knowledge of a few basic terms:
  • Analogous colors: Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.
  • Complementary colors: Pairs of colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel.
  • Hue: The specific name of the color itself.
  • Value: The lightness or darkness of a color. Light pencil pressure will give you a light value; heavy pressure will give you a dark value. You can also lighten a color by overlaying it with white and darken it by using black, although black can make the color look lifeless.
  • Intensity: The brightness or dullness of a color. If you want to brighten a color, use it to its maximum strength or overlay it with a brighter analogous color (for example, overlay orange with yellow). If you want to dull a color, use its complement (for example, overlay yellow with violet).
There is an excellent thread in the Colored Pencil Library that explains color theory in an understandable way. It will be well worth your time to take a look. Here’s the url for that thread (Thanks, Arlene!):

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=180641

Here’s an exercise that could help you enormously before you get into your class project: On the same type of paper that you will use for your drawing, experiment with replicating some of the colors in the reference you’ve chosen. Keep track of the pencil colors you used to build your samples. In effect, you will be creating a little palette study that can be used as a guide when you start your drawing.

Layering Technique

The smoothness and density of your layers will depend on the sharpness of your pencils, the closeness of your strokes, and the amount of pressure you use. To get the best results with your initial layer, use light pressure. Increase pressure for intermediate layers. Save heavy stroke pressure for the areas of deepest, most intense color in your final layers.

Careful, gradual changes in your pencil pressure will result in even shading and blending of colors. Below are individual stroke pressure samples along with samples that show the change from heavy to light pressure in one color and the change from one color to another achieved by even overlapping of strokes. The two-color change has been made by starting with the darker value for each color and working evenly, with lightening pressure, into the lighter value, toward the other color.



Building Layers

Foundation Layer

First, where necessary, reinforce the lines you transferred from your working drawing so you don’t lose details as you work on your foundation. If you see any detail that needs minor refinement or correction, this is the time to take care of it.

Here are two ways you can lay the foundation for building your color layers:
  • Create a tonal foundation (grisaille) using graphite or a colored pencil that is black, gray, sepia, or another low-intensity color. With this method you establish a monochromatic full value study on which you can build subsequent color layers. If you use graphite for your foundation, spray your drawing lightly with workable fixative before applying color to avoid smearing.
  • Create an “underpainting” using multiple colors compatible with your reference. In each area of your drawing, start with the lightest color you actually see or perceive as an underlying color (for example, yellow in leaves and stems). Apply a flat, even tonal layer of that color to the area, leaving the white paper to show through where distinct highlights are visible. Think of this process as you would a watercolor wash and you will have a sense of how the layer should look. At this point, most of the outlines from the transfer process should still be visible.
Intermediate Layers

Early in this intermediate stage, lightly define the darks and linear features (hair, fur, stems). If you’re doing a portrait, I recommend that you do preliminary work on the eyes and mouth first so that you know those areas are approximately right before you do substantial work on other areas.

If your background is dark, layer that next, before you do further work on your focal point. The reasons: To avoid carrying dark pencil dust into your focus area later and to make the determination of values in the focus area easier.

Continue layering to add form and depth to your drawing through the use of darker analogous colors and complements. When you use a complement, keep in mind that the one you choose should be essentially the same value as the one you want to darken (for example, if the color you want to change is a dark red, you’d want to choose a dark green). As you layer, continue also refining darks and details. Keep pencil points sharp, strokes close and even, and pencil pressure light to medium. Brush your work often!

At some point late in this stage, it’s a good idea to perform a value check. You can do this by photographing your WIP, converting it to grayscale in a photo program, and then comparing it with a grayscale version of your reference. This is an easy way to identify problems with your values and give you an idea of which areas of your drawing need to be lighter or darker.

Final Layer

In the final stage of your drawing, increase stroke pressure and apply finishing layers of color. You may want to do further blending with a colorless blender, Q-tips, tortillons, a hard eraser, or even your fingers, but try samples on a separate sheet of paper before you use these blending aids on your final drawing. At this point you may also want to do some burnishing to add glossiness to certain area, but keep in mind that once you’ve done this, the surface will accept very little to no additional color. With a colorless blender or an adjacent color, clean up little slivers of white between edges that should be touching. Do a careful check of every part of your drawing to make sure you haven’t left an area undeveloped!

COLORED PENCIL TIPS
  • Colored pencil can be used as a transfer medium in the same way that pastel can, but to get a clear tracing will require extra pressure that can easily make indentations in your paper. If you want to try this method, do samples on a scrap of your support first!
  • Remove unwanted or excess pigment by scraping with an X-acto (very carefully!) or lifting with Poster Putty or Scotch Magic Tape. Finish cleanup with a soft white eraser. If you get little blobs of pigment on your work that don’t come off with your cleaning brush, carefully pick them off with the tip of the X-acto knife.
  • Anchor a matte acetate slip sheet under your hand and forearm, shiny side down, to keep from picking up or smudging color. I tape mine to the bottom of my drawing board and move it as needed.
  • If you discover a small nick or scratch in your paper, you can fill it with the surrounding color or a colorless blender, then apply more color.
  • If your surface won’t accept any more color, spray evenly with workable fixative, then apply more color.
  • Before you use spray fixative on your drawing, be sure to test it on a white sheet of copy paper! The spray should be very fine, showing no droplets or coloration.
  • The surface to which you tape your drawing paper should be hard and smooth so you get maximum effectiveness from your stroke pressure. If you don’t have a drawing board, a sheet of Masonite or Plexiglas is a good substitute.
  • After sharpening pencils, wipe the points to avoid carrying bits of pencil dust to your paper. Keep colorless blenders, erasers, fingers, and other blending tools clean so you don’t accidentally “pollute” an area with unwanted color. When using a colorless blender, work from light to dark so you don’t drag dark pigment into a lighter area.
  • Keep your electric pencil sharpener blades free of wax buildup. Sharpen a couple of graphite pencils every so often to clean the blades and get rid of any cp points that have broken off. You can also clean the blades with Q-tips and solvent.
POSTING YOUR WORK

Okay, let’s get started! As in the other 101 classes, please post your reference the first time you post your work, after you’ve transferred your line work and begun your drawing. (You don’t need to post your working drawing unless you have a question about it.) Also, in subsequent posts of your work it would be good if you could post the page number of your original reference so that people can get to it easily as they look at your latest update.

Good luck to all!

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Last edited by beachwalker : 01-01-2006 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 01-01-2006, 11:29 AM
Troy Rochford Troy Rochford is offline
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Okay everyone... let's see some work! I can't believe no one has posted a finished drawing yet
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Old 01-01-2006, 11:31 AM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Great instructions Cindy - can't wait to play!

Finished drawing Troy??? *scuttles off to do the initial drawing*
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Old 01-01-2006, 11:49 AM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Quote:
Window or light box: You can transfer your image directly to your final drawing paper without using a transfer medium if your paper is fairly lightweight and you can see through it. Tape your working drawing to a light box or large window face up, and then tape your final drawing paper in place over it. Most of you should be able to use this method, since your paper size for this class is limited.

Ok, I'm the lightbox queen-- you can also tape your line drawing to the *back* of your final drawing paper. Advantage is if you get interrupted, you can set it aside & pick it back up w/out worrying about it being lined up correctly. And you can shift the angle you're drawing at to something more comfortable as you go. Might not be that big of a deal for the simple images we're working with for the class, but for more complex ones it can be a life saver!

Nervous & excited to get going!
Thanks again, Cindy!
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Old 01-01-2006, 12:10 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Here is the portrait that I will be working on. It is a commission piece that I am doing over again.


I have already done the initial sketch and am awaiting your command.
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Old 01-01-2006, 01:03 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Anita, glad the instructions look good to you. Thanks for the feedback!

Tess, thanks for the additional info!

Midge, you've got a good subject! Just read the info on transferring images and go to it. If you have a light box, large window, or sliding glass door and your image is not too large, you can use the direct method for transfer.
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Old 01-01-2006, 01:25 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

okay! ready to rock!
(I'll...be....baaaaack.... )
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Old 01-01-2006, 01:37 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

I pulled up my photo reference in Adobe Photoshop and using the dropper got the following colors for my pears. I am surprised that I do not have a yellow or a lime green as that is what I see. And for that matter, there is no true red either.

The colors at the top are the pear on the left and the bottom colors are the colors of the pear on the right.

Would you please comment on these colors, please?
Sandra
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:35 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

My original post is #5. Here is where I start having problems. I never seem to get the darks right.


I am using mineral orange, peach, and burnt umber on the neck and shoulder area. Plus I am beginning to get that NECK thingy going.
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:37 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Cindy and all my classmates (old and new).....

A very happy new year to all of you.

Cindy, your instructions are crystal clear. I intend following your advice and looking up the thread on colour theory, and then doing a palette study before going on to my drawing.

Sandra, I found your use of the dropper in Photoshop interesting. Does the software also label the colours or have you added that later?

Incidentally Cindy, is it okay for us students to use a software to break down the colours or are we supposed to develop an eye for it?

Blah
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:39 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Cindy, Thank you for all your hardwork with this class, you've included so much information for us to get started!
One question-at what point do we start posting our cp work? After or during the foundation layer? When we get 'stuck'? Or when finished? Almost ready to begin, I started a value study, I know you said it wasn't necessary, but I wanted to.
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:45 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Thanks for asking that question Michele!

Hi Cindy and all Happy New Year!
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:54 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

hi all! Happy New Year!!!
not sure if this is what you want, Cindy, but here is my reference and line transfer.
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:12 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Forgot to include my color palette for the face and neck:

It starts with cream, light peach, peach, decco pink, jasmine, blush pink, mineral orange, burnt ochre, light umber, dark umber, black.

My picture is #5. Thanks for any help you can give.
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:22 PM
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Re: Basic 101: Class 32

Sandra, I see yellow in both pears, so as your foundation layer, start with the lightest yellow or yellow ochre in your set of pencils. Leave the highlights alone for now. Continue with another layer, using the lightest yellow-green you have in those greenish areas and a yellow-orange in the the warmer areas. The colors you have shown are all possibilities for development of your pears. Keep in mind that at this point the colors don't have to be exact, just close. Believe me when I tell you that as you work you will gain a sense of what color comes next. Just keep your pencil strokes light and close together, and don't hurry the process. It does take time to build colors. People don't call this a slow medium for nothing!
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