Landscape Drawing Tutorial -
The Bowerman Stone

This was Peter's first landscape drawing tutorial done in coloured pencils.

In fact he had drawn it twice before creating this one. As he hadn't scanned the drawing for a tutorial example the first two times, he set out to work it a third time so that he had step-by-step illustrations for this landscape tutorial. 

First version of Bowerman Stone drawingThe first version of the Bowerman Stone

The image above shows the completed first drawing of the scene.

It was worked with Faber Castell Polychromos coloured pencils over an initial colour wash from Staedtler Karat Watercolour Pencils, on Daler Rowney Langton 300gsm watercolour paper.  The paper has a satin finish - not too smooth - and it therefore enables you to show the stonework well. Choose too smooth a paper and you will get detail without the effect of the granite stone surface.

The second version is shown below and was completed on cartridge paper.  Different combinations of colours were used on the stone and the landscape has also been varied quite a bit. Different techniques were used for painting the sky in both drawings.

The background is of less importance, as the stone is the reason for the project.

2nd version of Bowerman Stone drawingThe second version of the Bowerman Stone

In this second version the stone takes a more central position and the picture relates more closely to the reference. You will benefit from creating thumbnail sketches with graphite pencils in situ, before deciding on the final composition, if you are working "en plein air".

You will notice that the sky is much more satisfactory in the first version.  Working a sky in watercolour pencil wash is always a gamble - you never know how it will turn out.

Sometimes it will work out well and then sometimes it will prove to be a mess.  Working in dry colour is much more reliable, though not always as successful

I will let Peter tell the story of this landscape drawing below, in his own words.

Preparation for the drawing

Bowerman stone reference photoThe Bowerman Stone reference photo

Part of my reference photo is shown above. You will have noted that the first version of the picture is more rectangular in shape and includes more of the background scene.  The choice is entirely yours whether you opt for version 1 or 2 for your finished picture. Download links for the reference and my outline drawings are beside the photo above. 

When considering your choice of paper, keep in mind that the stone surface works better with a paper that has some tooth.

Sky options to choose from

You will also need to decide whether you are going to use watercolour pencils for the sky in this drawing, and if so start by stretching a 300gsm watercolour paper. You might like to compare the sky scans below before making a decision. Both methods are shown in detail on the drawing clouds page.

Sky from rubbed in dry pencilSky worked by rubbing dry pencil into paper

The sky above was completed using wax type coloured pencils rubbed in from a palette of colour with a piece of white felt. The clouds were lifted out later with an eraser. 

Watercolour pencil skyWatercolour pencil sky

The second sky was underpainted using a wash of colour from watercolour pencils. When it works well, it is far superior to dry pencils.

Working the background

With the sky in position, I suggest that you next tackle the background moor when drawing landscapes.

In this sample (below), I used watercolour pencil dry to lay down an initial light underlayer of colour which can later be softened with a damp brush and the colours merged.  If you chose to stay with dry colour, your final result will not have such strong colours.  

Omit all the stone at this stage.

Dry watercolour pencil landscapeDry watercolour pencil landscape
Mositened watercolour pencil landscapeMoistened watercolour pencil landscape

You will note that I am building some fairly strong tints on the paper to provide a basis for later dry colour.  If the colours appear too strong when you come to apply the dry pencil, you can reduce the impact by lifting some of the excess colour with a pad of damp clean kitchen paper.

Let the paper dry again before adding wax pencil, though.

Softened watercolour pencil washSoftened watercolour wash

Above is another version of the same picture, with some early working of a second layer of dry colour into the landscape and sky shown below. 

Working dry coloured pencil over the top of watercolour pencil washAdding dry Polychromos pencil layers

The foreground grasses

You can then work forward into the grasses in the foreground, but omit the stones so that all the granite surfaces are left as white paper. 

Make sure that you erase any surplus graphite lines, leaving only those in the stones which indicate changes of surface, shadows or cracks. If using watercolour pencils carefully blend in the dry pigment with a damp brush, keeping your brush moving in the direction of the surface you are painting. 

Our aim should be to complete all the background of the picture first. 

Lefthand detail scan

You can now apply some dry point coloured pencil to the moor and foreground, building up the layers.

Keep those background hills blue and faded out - apply a layer of white over the top if your colour gets too strong and then add a further light layer of grey blue if necessary.  

Leave all the stone surfaces white.

Right hand detail scan

Don’t forget to apply a layer of dark shadow to the foot of the tree areas to give that 3D effect of the light falling from the left hand side so that the shadowed areas match that of the sunlight on the main stone.

All this is merely scenery behind and around our main feature, but the green will balance the rich stone. Your background will differ from mine as you will either be working from the photo or from your own inspiration.

I do not necessarily stay too close to the reference when I draw landscapes. 

Working the Bowerman Stone

Scribble stroke for rockThis image is colour enhanced to show the method
Building up the scribble stroke lightlyKeep colour application very light as shown

For the stones, you will first need to practice with the colours you have available on a piece of scrap paper the same as you are using for the picture.  The development of the stone surface depends on building up overlapping lightly applied circles starting with white in the lightest areas,  adding a light warm grey  or starting with the warm grey for mid shaded area,  warming this up with green gold (very lightly applied) and then working darker shades of warm greys finishing off with dark sepia for the darkest shadow areas.

A lot will depend on the pencils you are using and the paper surface.  For the sample shown here, I used Polychromos and Daler Rowney Langton paper.

The stone stage 1

This is a scan (above) of a repeat working of the stone, using Polychromos colours

You will see in stage 1, that I have started with a warm grey 1,  Bistre, and Dark Sepia.  There is no colour yet on the light areas.  Successive lightly applied layers of pigment are applied, working on the sunlit areas last.  Test your darkest darks on a sample sheet before applying to the deep cracks. Avoid black if possible.

The stone stage 2

Keep working more layers and adjusting for colour and density as you go.

You can lift out excessive pigment with white tac, or add more cream as a burnish to lighten slightly. Here we have further layers using Cream, Brown Ochre and Warm Grey 3 & 6.  The actual colours you use are not vital, just ensure you work light layers of suitable shades until you have a good balance between stone and background.

Close up of bownerman stone version 1Close up of version 1
Close up of bowerman stone version 3Close up of version 2

The lefthand (top if viewing on a phone) image is a close up of the stone worked on the first (letterbox shaped) drawing. The righthand image shows the same area on the second (square) version. 

Note the different colours selected and the slight differences in the way the cracks and lighter areas are shown. 

Completing the landscape drawing tutorial

You can then go on and complete the collection of smaller stones spread about the area.  Make sure the light is consistent. When you finish the picture, the middle toned main stone should contrast with both the sky and the landscape. 

I have done several versions of this picture and each time the combination of colours for the stone and the landscape has been different.

If the bug for drawing landscapes has now bitten you there are more tutorials throughout the site.

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