Colored Pencil Drawing Techniques - Apple Head

Colored Pencil Drawing of an Apple

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Colored pencils are probably the most misused and misunderstood medium in the art world.  I think that colored pencils are so often misused because of how readily available they are.  Colored pencils are everywhere.  You can even buy colored pencils at the gas station. 

There are several things to keep in mind when you are using colored pencils to ensure that you are using them properly.  Keep these things in mind and you can't go wrong. 

First, you need to color heavily with colored pencils.  This means that you need to really build up color so that the finished drawing almost looks as it was painted.  Be careful not to start heavy, but rather build up to a heavy application.

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  Secondly, you need to mix your colors.  Color mixing will make your colored pencil work look more realistic and natural.  Try to mix the color that you need instead of just grabbing a manufactured color.

Next, you need to be sure that you layer your colors.  This method is similar to mixing your colors since some of the color will mix when you layer the pencils.  Layering colors means to put color on top of color to add depth to the object. 

Also, if you like to outline, save your outlining to the last stage of the drawing.  And perhaps, most importantly, you need to take your time.  Colored pencil drawing is a process that takes a lot of time to do correctly. There are a variety of different brands of colored pencils.  I like to use Prismacolor pencils, but you can compare colored pencil brands here.

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Video Transcription

Today we're going to look at the proper use of colored pencils.  In this video tutorial, I'm going to do a drawing of an apple for you. You can see that I'm going to start off drawing the apple loosely with a dark brown colored pencil.  I'm also going to do a little drawing of a light source to give you an indication of where it is.  And then I'm going to start sketching in the shadows, kind of like you would do with an under painting, but not to that extent.  It's just to help me find the values.  Then, I'm going to go over it with the local color of the apple with the colored pencils.  In this case, it's going to be a red apple, so I'm using a deep red to color over.  Now, what I'm going to be doing here, is I'm going to be layering my colors.  I'm going to be mixing the colors.  And you can see I'm using a brighter red to go ahead and highlight some of those areas.  I'm going to define the stem and then I'm going to take that brown again and start to define some of the shadowed areas on the apple.  The proper way to use colored pencils is to basically build up layers of colors, like you would with a painting.  Each layer that you put on will actually mix with the color underneath.  That will give your color depth and it will make your drawing look more realistic. So, I've also added some green and some yellow.  And the apple that I'm drawing actually has those green and yellow areas on it. Now, you may notice that it is getting really dark now.  I'm just putting more pressure on the dark brown colored pencil.  And I'm really building up that darker value.  And I'm slowly building up the contrast in this drawing of an apple.  I'm going to bring that contrast a little further by adding some white to indicate some of the highlighted areas on the apple.  And since my light source is coming from above, most of the highlights are going to be on the top of the apple.  At this point, our apple is beginning to look somewhat realistic.  But to really bring out those shadows just a bit, I'm going to some blue.  Notice that I'm not using black at all.  I'm just using the dark brown and the dark blue.  Those will naturally mix to make a natural black.  Now, I'm going to take a bright red and I'm going to add a little bit more pressure to it, to really layer the colored pencils.  At this point, because I've spend so much time and attention to layering the colors, I'm creating some depth in the color.  Our apple is really starting to look realistic.  This is the proper way to use colored pencils.  A lot of people that I see use colored pencils, just put one layer on.  They don't really think about color mixing and I think that is a mistake.  You should really think about mixing colors and layering colors when you are using colored pencils.  So, just a few more touches with the highlights and the shadows and now our apple is pretty convincing, and three dimensional.  So, at this point, I'll try to bring out the apple a little bit more by providing contrast around the apple.  To do this, I'm going to give a little bit of tonality to the table that the apple is sitting on.  And, I'll put a little cast shadow under the apple with the brown and the blue.  No black.  I'm not going to leave the color of the table just one color, so I'm going to layer that color as well.  So, I'll add a little bit of white to it.  And then I'm going to cross hatch in the opposite direction with more blue, in order to make the color look  more consistent on the paper.  Then, I'm going to burnish the colored pencils with a white.  You can use a colorless blender, if you have one.  White works pretty well.  And then I'll go back and touch up some of my outlined areas.  I'm also going to add a background and in this case, the background is going to be a yellow-green, just to provide more contrast.  And this will bring us to the end of this video tutorial on colored pencils.

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