New Colored Pencils and Blending Tests

Colored Pencils Color Chart

Exciting news!  I bought my first set of colored pencils today (at least ones that didn’t say Crayola on them)!  Before I started using them, though, I wanted to see what they would look like when blended with each other.  Recently, I learned about color charts from artist Cathy Shapiro (you can find her blog here).  So, taking a page from her book, I decide to create my own color charts by blending each colored pencil with the rest of the colors in the set (a basic set of 24).

First, I drew out a grid of squares 1 cm by 1 cm.  Then, I wrote the name of each color across the columns and then again down along the rows.  I started with each column and shaded each square with the corresponding color at the top of the column.

Colored Pencils Color Chart
Colored Pencils Color Chart

When that was finished, I went back and shaded a second color over each square corresponding to the color at the start of each row.  This ultimately led to a total of 576 colored squares, of which 24 represented the original colors of the pencils, while the rest represented a blended combination of two of the pencils.  For each blended combination, there were two examples: one which showed the first color blended over top of the second color, and one with the opposite blending order.

Even though it’s just a simple study in color blending, I think the final product is pretty in and of itself!  This is going to be SO incredibly helpful now as I look at using these pencils to color in some of my sketches.  We’ll see how it turns out!

Keep Drawing!



Digital Illustration – Concept Art for Little Red

Little Red Riding Hood - Digital Concept Art and Color Layout

In my pursuit to add color into my artwork, I decided to give digital illustration a try.  Currently, I’m working on creating a poster series that features different Fairytale characters.  I have a lot of the sketchwork done for the first character, Little Red Riding Hood, but I have no idea how I want to add color to create a visually striking poster.  So, I scanned some of my sketches into my iPad and used an app called ProCreate to begin laying out color ideas.

This is what I have come up with so far.

Little Red Riding Hood - Digital Concept Art and Color Layout
Little Red – Digital Concept Art and Color Layout

I really like the color scheme, but I still have no idea how I’m going to actually create the poster itself (acrylic, watercolor, pencils, markers, or some combination?).  If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Keep Drawing!

Serenity – Finished Piece

Serenity - Graphite on Fine Heavyweight Paper
Serenity – Graphite on Fine Heavyweight Paper

This afternoon I completed a portrait study I had started over the weekend.  If you saw my previous blog post about creating a proportion tool with thread and cardboard, you’ll recognize this portrait from the sketch in that post. 

This was completed using 2H, B, 2B, and 7B pencils, various erasers, and a fine texture, heavyweight white drawing paper made by Daler Rowney.  This is the first time I focused a drawing on a single aspect of a figure (the portrait) rather than the full figure.  Studies like this can be incredibly helpful in allowing an artist to focus in on smaller details that might instead recieve little attention in a full figure drawing.  My intention is to complete a few more smaller studies like this, focusing on the portrait, the hands, and the feet.  Hopefully this will help me to bring a deeper level of realism to my drawing work.  

As always, Keep Drawing! 

Art Tutorial: Using cardboard and thread to get your proportions correct.

Grid tool made from brown thread and cardboard.

Ensuring correct proportions is one of the most important factors in producing beautiful figure and portrait drawings.  In my work, this is usually accomplished during the preliminary sketching and drafting phases before I move into shading and tone.

There are many different ways to ensure correct proportions in your drawing.  Some artists will use the stick and sight method, where you hold up a stick (usually your pencil) and gauge proportions relative to landmarks found in the original drawing.    Other artists may trace their original outline, sometimes with the use of a light-box, computer screen, or projector (Lisa Clough made a fantastic video that discusses the benefits of using tracing methods in your drawing).

When I want to ensure correct proportions in my own drawings (and I am drawing from an image and not my imagination) I use the grid method.  Some of you may know what the grid method is, but if you don’t, it consists of three simple steps.  First, overlay a grid on the image you wish to draw.  Second, lightly draw a grid on your paper or canvas that keeps the same ratio.  Make sure you draw very lightly, as you will eventually want to erase these lines from your canvas.  Finally, working square by square, copy the image you are working from on to your canvas.

Grid tool made from brown thread and cardboard.
Grid tool made from brown thread and cardboard.

Breaking down your original image into individual squares makes it much easier to see the image as simple shapes and lines and copy that image onto a new canvas.  It can also be used to scale up or down an image simply by changing the size of the squares on your canvas but leaving the ratio the same.

Using a grid made from thread and cardboard
Using a grid made from thread and cardboard

For those of you who do not want to actually draw a grid on to your paper, you can instead create a simple grid made of thread and cardboard that you can overlay on to your paper.  I find this much more helpful for two reasons.  First, it saves time because I do not have to redraw the grid for every new piece of artwork.  And, second, I do not have to worry about damaging the tooth of the paper by going back and erasing lines.  When I have finished sketching out my image, I can lift the grid off my paper or canvas and there is no need to remove any pencil lines.

Initial sketch made with the use of a thread grid.
Initial sketch made with the use of a thread grid.

In the pictures shown here in this post, you can see a simple grid tool I constructed from cardboard, masking tape, and brown thread.  This particular one fits paper that is 21 x 28 cm or smaller.  Constructing a larger grid for larger pieces of work is also possible, though it requires the use of larger pieces of cardboard.

To be honest, I do not know if anyone else uses something similar to this tool.  I made my first one after becoming frustrated with constantly erasing the grids I was drawing on my artwork.  If you use a similar tool, or know of someone who does, I would love to hear about it in the comments!  Also, if you use the grid method, or any other method for ensuring correct proportions in your work, tell me about it!

First Watercolor Sketch

Watercolor Butterfly done in watercolor pencils.
Watercolor Butterfly done in watercolor pencils.

Seeing so many great works of art on other blogs has inspired me to try and begin adding color to my own artwork (which have so far been done only in graphite).  I tried a pastel figure drawing using conté crayons last week (see my earlier post for that one).  Today, I decided to give watercolor a shot, using watercolor pencils.  While I enjoyed the colors the pencils provided, I clearly have a LONG way to go before I really understand how to use watercolors.

I like the detail I was able to get in the butterfly, but sadly, the flower appears to have been done by a 2nd grade version of myself.  I just couldn’t seem to find the right way to add detail to the flowers and it ended up looking like a colored mess.  Well, this was a first try, so here’s to hoping the next one gets better!

If any of you use watercolor pencils and have some helpful tips or advice, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Keep Drawing!

Young Woman with Roses – Completed Artwork

Young Woman with Roses. Blacklead graphite on white bristol.
Young Woman with Roses. Blacklead graphite on white bristol.
Young Woman with Roses, 2015. Blacklead graphite on white bristol.

I completed this drawing yesterday evening, choosing to go a different direction than I had originally planned.  When I began the drawing, I had planned to complete the roses using color, while leaving the rest of the drawing black and white.  However, once I reached that point, I had a hard time trying to decide what medium to do the flowers in and so ultimately, I chose to finish them with pencil.  Making the flowers one of the darkest parts of the image provided a nice contrast with the young woman, and ultimately I am happy with how it came out.

This was the first piece I completed using a new pad of bristol paper I purchased at an art shop here in Brussels.  Unfortunately, it was significantly different from the paper I normally use, and as such there were several areas that did not take to shading in a way I would have liked.  This ended up being a bit more work to try and get the picture where I wanted it to be, and in the end I had to settle on some shading choices that I otherwise would not have achieved.  I will probably not use this particular bristol paper again for this type of drawing, and instead go back to using the fine grain – heavyweight paper I used in some of my previous drawings.

Here is a list of the materials I ended up using in completing this picture:

Faber-Castell 9000 series pencils: 2H, F, B, 2B, 3B, and 4B

Mechanical pencil – HB

Bristol Illustracion Paper

Kneaded eraser, Staedtler pencil mars erasor, and Staedtler mars plastic bar eraser

I’d love to hear what you think about this piece.  Please feel free to leave your comments below!

Keep Drawing!

Young Woman with Roses time-lapse video


Just a short time-lapse video of my recent work on the Young Woman with Roses piece.  Time-lapse drawing videos have been growing in popularity recently, especially with the advent of apps like ProCreate that automatically record an artists work as they complete it.  I love watching these kinds of videos on YouTube, and I am always amazed at the kinds of artistic talent that people display!

Do you enjoy watching time-lapse drawing videos?  Have you tried creating your own time-lapse videos?  Let me know in the comments!

Technique Tuesdays: Imprimatura

I stumbled across the Principle Gallery’s fantastic blog this afternoon and their regular Technique Tuesday’s post. What a fantastic resource! I’ve re-blogged their most recent post here which talks about the technique of imprimatura. Really great stuff!

Principle Gallery

Technique Tuesday Imprimatura

Welcome back to Technique Tuesday! Today’s post is going to look at a technique that we all saw in action at Friday night’s fantastic live painting demo with Teresa Oaxaca. If you missed it, be sure to keep an eye out for when we upload the photos and videos from that night, as well as check out our intern Barbara’s fantastic blog post on what it was like to model for the demo!

What is it?

Imprimatura is a technique that falls into the larger category of underpainting. There will be several Technique Tuesdays where we take a look at different underpainting techniques, but today’s post will focus on the basic concept, something called “imprimatura.” It’s another word that comes to us from (you guessed it!) Italian, and literally means “what goes before the first.” Imprimatura is a transparent or semi-transparent layer of color (usually an earthy tone) that the…

View original post 416 more words