Coloured pencil art - The basics

If you are new to coloured pencil art, or any art medium, this page is a good place to start. Follow the links to find out more about the subjects covered throughout the site, and you will soon have a great foundation for creating your own coloured pencil artworks. 

Choosing a good photo reference

Unless you are drawing from your imagination or creating abstract art, you will likely start with a photo reference.

Ideally this would be a photograph you have taken yourself, to avoid the risk of running foul of any copyright issues. But perfect photos are rare and copying them directly can introduce problems you might not have thought about.

Getting the outline on the paper

I am sure you are keen to get to the colouring stages, but it is worth taking the time to get an accurate drawing on your paper first. There are various methods of doing this, and we will cover many of them, beginning with the grid method

Deciding on your composition

Composition sounds scary, but it just refers to how and where you arrange the elements of your drawing on the paper.

You might have heard the term "rules" in relation to composition, but I prefer to call them "guides" as they can help you create an attractive piece of artwork.

Whether you are composing a landscape, a still life or a portrait of a human or animal, composition plays its part.

You might also like to learn about the Golden Section along with getting the perspective correct.

The colour wheel and how to use it

Now you have chosen your photo reference and drawn the outline on your paper in a considered composition your next challenge is what colours to use.

For some this comes naturally, but most of us need a little help!

First we need to learn about how our eyes see colour differently from each other, and how light and paint differ in this regard.

It really gets interesting (trust me) when you find out about complementary colours and how they can improve your coloured pencil art.

Coloured pencils can't be mixed in the same way as paint. We will look at how layering the pigments over each other will trick our eyes into seeing different colours. 

Don't forget the darks!

Tone or value is as important (if not more so) than colour!

Many beginners at coloured pencil art make the same mistake of not getting enough contrast into their pictures. High contrast drawings will allow you to make your drawings pop off the page and look realistic. 

You might like these

  • Coloured pencil backgrounds

    coloured pencil backgrounds that add to your artwork. Various methods of creating interesting backgrounds.

  • Mark making with coloured pencils

    Mark making - the strokes we use when creating coloured pencil art. How to pick the best strokes to depict the subject of your drawing.

  • Coloured pencil techniques

    Coloured pencil techniques for manipulating the colour on the paper surface including indenting, resist, scratching, polishing and many more

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