3 Little Birds with Colored Pencils: Kingfisher with Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

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Lesson Description

In this lesson series, weโ€™ll create a representational drawing of a Kingfisher bird on smooth Bristol paper with Prismacolor Premiere colored pencils.

Lesson 1 - Materials and Sketching

In lesson one, we'll review the materials used for this lesson series and create the sketch of the bird with graphite. We'll simplify the shape of the bird into basic shapes and draw the contours.

Lesson 2 - The Head

In lesson two, we'll begin work adding colored pencil applications. We'll start with the head and work our way down from there. We'll create complexity in the colors by layering colored pencil applications.

Lesson 3 - The Body

In lesson three, we'll continue working our way down the body and address the brightly colored breast of the bird and the overlapping feathers on the back. We'll add textures and shadows after addressing the lighter values.

Lesson 4 - The Branch

In lesson four, we'll complete the drawing by addressing the branch and the talons. We'll pull in a touch of orange in this area to help to harmonize the drawing.

Lesson Materials

  • Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
  • Smooth Bristol Paper
  • H or 2H Graphite Pencil

Lesson Resources

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Reference Image

Finished Drawing

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Lesson Discussion

  1. Ok Matt, you can put away the carrot and stick. You have my undivided attention. Pray tell, what two other gems (birds) will you tempt us with?

  2. I’m really enjoying drawing this, but I’m a bit confused about the 90% warm grey/cool grey. In the first video you give the color as 90% warm grey, but in all the subsequent videos you say “90% cool grey.” Which one should it be? Thanks, Matt

    • Hi Penny,

      Both colors are used in the drawing. 90% Cool Grey is used on the body of the bird, while 90% Warm Grey is used on the fence post. I hope this helps. (You really could use either color in either location and the differences would be barely noticeable. :))

    • Thanks, Matt, I must have missed that. Thank you so much for doing these three birds. I love this one and look forward heaps to the two to come.

  3. Thank you Matt! I really love the way you structured this for download. It makes it quick and easy. And, by the way, thanks for giving us access to download these lessons. I have revisited some of the courses since I first joined; I find it is a great way to improve and see one’s own progress.

  4. Thank you Matt! I love the way you teach and paint. Also thank you for giving us access to your lessons. I am keen in joining all your art courses but I have a problem. I don’t have a credit card or a PayPal to pay online. Is there another way that I can pay on instalment basis. My name is Fathima Farhana Rafeek. I am from Sri Lanka. If you can give me an account number where I can deposit the money on instalment basis, I would greatly appreciate it.

  5. Thanks a lot . It is an amazing tutorial. Showing how to draw a kingfisher in depth.I am trying to do it . And trying to get its depth , by following your tutorial techniques.

  6. I loved this video. I learned so much about shading and color applications, and making a realistic animal with shadow, texture and depth. Thank you for making this wonderful tutorial- you explain things very clearly and I appreciate that.

  7. Hi Matt,
    Thank you for the awesome videos on so many different topics! I am learning how to draw by being a member of your program and I am already seeing much improvement. The one medium that I have been doing the longest is colored pencil. I am very addicted to it! I noticed on your instructions that you are teaching us to sketch directly on the final paper. I think this might be a mistake for some people, especially beginners, as this is difficult to do without erasing and getting frustrated. Erasing is not good for the paper and it does effect the color pencils application. I highly recommend that people sketch on a separate sketch paper then transfer via transfer paper using light pressure onto the Bristol paper. Just my 2 cents worth. Karen

  8. Hi Matt I have been a member for a year now. I have finally figured why I was becoming frustrated and certainly not seeing a lot of improvements my work was on the sloppy side.
    Iโ€™ve decided that I will watch the videoโ€™s may take some notes. But I will do my actual drawing with the download of the book. ๐Ÿ˜€ I found my self rushing to keep up with you. And Iโ€™m only a 18 month old student ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚. Iโ€™m sure it will help and thank you your teaching is great. Terri

    • Terri,
      I push ‘Pause’ a lot! LOL. It may help you to watch the video first without attempting to draw. Then go back and use the video and/or ebook to work on the physical part of the lesson. Everyone has different learning styles!

  9. Sorry my lap top has a mind of its own sometimes. Just wanted to comment on your videos they are very easy to follow and understand. The bonus is you can download the lesson, and do it after watching your video. I am sure this will be a great guide in helping me achieve my goals.

  10. Hi Matt!
    I wanted to thank you for the kingfisher tutorial, which I have recently finished. I’m very happy with the result. I used the e-book and it was really nice to follow, you did a perfect job on it!!!
    I used a different set of pencils (Castle Art Supplies, UK, “soft touch” set of 120). I had gotten them for Christmas and desperately wanted to try them. They were my first “serious” set after my – also dearly loved but very hard and waxy – school pencil set (Jolly, set of 36). Don’t know if you have any experience with the brands, but I was totally in love with the pencils – and with the result, which will get a frame and a place on the wall! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I’ve ordered my pencils and they should be here in a week. I’m looking forward to starting the course then. My free trial will be over, but I think it will be worth the money to join. Thank you for putting this out there!

  12. Hi Matt, thank you and especially for the reminder to break it down! I have a set of Prismacolor but the set I have doesn’t include the 90/20 cool grays. Can you recommend a good substitute?

  13. Can Prismacolor Verithin pencils be used interchangeably with Prismacolor colored pencils? The Verithins are described on the box as โ€˜hard, thin leads that sharpen to a fine pointโ€™.

    • Hi Victoria,

      Yes, you can use them interchangeably. We can compare the hardness of the Prismacolor pencils to graphite. “H” graphite pencils are harder and keep their sharp tip longer. This is true for the Verithin pencils. “B” graphite pencils are softer, make darker marks, but dull quickly. The same is true for Prismacolor Premier pencils.

  14. Hi math. I want to make these three birds on gray toned paper. And all three with Faber Castell. polychrome. Is that a good surface to blend. Can you compare that to Bristol smooth surface which I can also use but because I don’t want to color the background I prefer to use toned gray paper

  15. Hello, how do you get the pencils so sharp I’m using ‘cool bank’ colored pencils and i can’t seem to get the tip fine enough. I also just realized i bought a ‘thick lead’, is this why i can’t get the tip fine enough?

  16. Hi Matt, I noticed you drew the Kingfisher free hand and the BlueJay was “traced”. Why did you do them differently? What are the “rules’ around reference photos? If I want to eventually sell my work what are the “rules” around reference photos with respect to where they come from?

    • Hi Dave,

      The Blue Jay is drawn on PastelMat paper which is little less forgiving in terms of erasing. Also, I didn’t want to introduce graphite on this surface. Using the transfer process not only helped to prevent any issues with keeping the drawing clean, but it also sped up the process and saved time. Even when you transfer a drawing, you still have to complete it with the medium – which is still drawing (not tracing). Contour lines are a just small piece of the puzzle. If you are selling your work, then I would suggest taking your own photos. Obviously this not always possible, so you may consider working with a photographer or getting permission to sell the works you create from the references. You can also alter photos and combine them together using digital photo manipulation programs like Photoshop. There are plenty of copyright free sites with thousands of photos, but I would use these for practice or instructional purposes and not for selling artworks created from them. (This is not legal advice as I am not a lawyer. :))

      • Thanks Matt, great advice. I have been using online images to practice my colored pencil drawings. I from would love to see an instructive video on how to setup a still life including subject, placement, lighting etc…

      • icannot see the pencil
        drawing, is just to light so I can;t see how you have drawen the bird
        is ther any way to make so I can see the pencil lines thank you for any help you can give

  17. icannot see the pencil
    drawing, is just to light so I can;t see how you have drawen the bird
    is ther any way to make so I can see the pencil lines thank you for any help you can give

  18. Matt, Just wanted to add my thanks to those above for your great teaching style and the materials. I just completed the kingfisher and was so proud of it that I gave it a light golden pastel background and framed it. My daughter-in-law took one look at it, recognized it as a kingfisher, marveled that I had actually painted it, and asked if she could have it. I cannot tell you how pleased I was. Am about to start the blue jay.
    I have learned soooooo much from you. Many many thanks.

  19. I have prismacolor premier set but not all the colors for this kingfisher drawing. Which set do we need–i.e. 32 pencil set or more? Thanks for the great videos and all your work.

    • Hi Judy,

      I have every Premier pencil that Prismacolor makes. I’m not sure what pencils I used are to be found in the 32 set. You can always layer and mix colors that you don’t have. The colors don’t have to be matched perfectly. It is the value of the color that is more important.

  20. It would have been MUCH, MUCH, EASIER if you would have had the reference drawing where we could see it as you drew it. . . . I am finding it stressful trying to listen to you and draw from the reference drawing in the resource section. I can’t see what you are doing. . (I think that I will try this another day. We are having an ice storm here, and my son and daughter-in-law are at work 45 minutes away. I am already stressed. )

    • Hi Linda,
      I hope your son and daughter-in-law are safe. You can open the photo reference and have it open in a separate window in your browser. This way you can have a full resolution photo right next to the video if you wish and make comparisons during the entire process.

  21. Thank You, Matt! By God’s grace, mercy, and protection, my son and daughter-in-law arrived home safely! It was a definite answer to my numerous prayers on their behalf.!!!!
    I love your answer, “You can open the photo reference and have it open in a separate window in your browser. . . .” I speak English. I can read and pronounce every word in that sentence, BUT I will have to have my computer savvy daughter help me figure out how to do that !! LOL!! She will know. Not your problem. You have so many classes that I want to take, I will work on something else until she shows me how. I need to be able to watch you and the reference, because I watched the video again, and saw that you turned your paper to draw the feathers on the back. . . Tricks like that I can benefit from. May the Lord bless your day!

  22. Amazing tutorial. My kingfisher turned out marvelous, and I am gaining so much confidence in the colored pencil arena. I love these lessons. I was taking live lessons over the past year to learn fundamentals of drawing, watercolor painting, etc. If I had found this website sooner, I could have saved many miles of driving and many dollars to pay for these classes that were an hour away from my home. This is everything as I learn art at 53 years old in an effort to illustrate a children’s book that I wrote. I hired an illustrator for my first book, and this time, I thought, I can learn to do this! I’m loving art. I never thought I had talent. I was very wrong. Thanks so much. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Matt, I finished the kingfisher and was pleased with the result despite using different coloured pencil brand and of course not all the colours were available in my set. Despite this it was probably the best drawing I have done. I learnt a lot but probably the biggest thing I took away was to be patient. Which was difficult. Thank you. Jill, N.Z.

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