Live Lessons: "Bee" - Colored Pencils

Bee drawing with colored pencils
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This lesson series features:
8 Hours of Instruction
8 Videos

About This Lesson Series...

In this lesson series, we create a colored pencil drawing of a bee on Stonehenge paper. After sketching the subject with graphite, we patiently layer colored pencil applications to build depth in color.

Lesson 1 (1:22:31)

In lesson one, we discuss the process of drawing with basic shapes and draw the contours of the bee with graphite.

Lesson 2 (1:07:40)

In lesson two, we begin with colored pencil applications on the head of the bee.

Lesson 3 (1:06:09)

In lesson three, we work our way to the middle section of the bee.

Lesson 4 (1:07:16)

In lesson four, we work our way down the body of the bee, completing the thorax.

Lesson 5 (57:57)

In lesson five, we complete the abdomen and begin work on the wings.

Lesson 6 (1:11:40)

In lesson six, we continue work on the wings, gradually creating the illusion of transparency.

Lesson 7 (1:06:55)

In lesson seven, we complete the wings and start work on the legs of the bee.

Lesson 8 (59:07)

In lesson eight, we complete the drawing by adding a cast shadow under the body of the bee.

Resources for this Lesson...


Photo Reference

Finished Result

Here's what you'll need...

  • Graphite pencil (H)
  • Toned Drawing Paper
  • Colored Pencils
  • Kneaded Eraser
  • White Gouache
  • Nylon Brush

Lesson Discussion

    • Hi Jennifer,

      The reference photo is shown in the upper right corner of the video during the process. You can also download the reference photo from the resources tab.

    • it always gets me when I see these messages.. I learned early on, open the image in a new browser and minimize it. put to in the corner and open up the video and watch, and you can see the reference right there in the corner. hope this helps.

    • Just a suggestion — but I print the reference out and tape it to the side of my IMac which makes it easier to refer to, at least for me. Hope this helps. Anne

  1. Hi Matt, I Just came across Prismacolor Verithin today. It has a thin core and is made for making thin lines and marks. Because of the thin core it has a harder wax core, which means you don’t have to sharpen it as often to keep the sharp point. It’s not meant to react like regular colored pencils like blending or covering larger areas of a drawing. I ordered it in the 36 pencil set, which is the largest set. The only place I found it was on ebay, new, and only 22.00. Can’t wait to try it on this project. Do you know of it?

    • HI Marjorie,

      Yes, I am familiar with Verithin pencils. These Prismacolor pencils are hard. As a result, they will not behave in the same manner as the Premier pencils – which are soft. They are great for adding details though and do keep a sharp tip. You can think of these variants in the brand like graphite – “H” pencils are harder much like the Verithin pencils, while “B” graphite pencils are softer – much like the Premier pencils.

  2. will you show us sharpening the prismacolor pencils. i have yet to settle on a method. It does not appear that you are using a utility knife. thanks tom

    • Hi Thomas! I use a double helicoidal sharpener from X-Acto (crank type similar to the sharpeners we used to have in school years ago…). It works well on my Prismacolor pencils. I know that Matt uses a simple, hand held sharpener and that works well too. The secret is often in not forcing the pencil too far in the sharpener and in using a gentle motion. Good luck.

      • I’ve been using the hand sharpener sold by prismacolor. I figured I can’t go wrong using the same sharpener they sell, and the price was decent. So far it has not chewed up a single pencil, unlike others I’ve had. It has two point choices, longer & thinner or shorter & fatter.

  3. Jennifer – Just a suggestion — but I print the reference out and tape it to the side of my IMac which makes it easier to refer to, at least for me. Hope this helps. Anne

    • Hi Corinne,

      Lesson 3 was broadcast live on Wednesday. The recorded version of this lesson does take some time to render, upload, and then post. The recorded versions are typically posted Friday or Saturday following the original broadcast.

  4. Hi FYI worker bees are female drones are male and have much larger eyes
    I am loving this pencil work its really interesting finding out the colour contrasts and how to make black

  5. HI
    I AM unable to do lessons on line as I am in AUSTRALIA I have managed to do lesson 3 and really enjoying it looking forward to lesson 4

  6. I’m a new “student” here. Your video quality is exeptional. So crisp, well lit, color grading is great. I know that’s not an accident.

    • Thanks Chris!!! Yes, I’ve had to learn a lot since I began over 10 years ago. Thanks for noticing the little things that people don’t usually know about or notice.

  7. Mat I am 71 and new to drawing. I LOVE YOUR SITE! Your directions are just what the doctor ordered. I have been skipping around, but now getting down to the basics. I am happy with my drawings following along with you, but left to my own demise the curve drops. Consequently, back to your basics. Guess one has to learn to crawl, before walking and running…Thank you for a wonderful site. I am thoroughly enjoying it!

  8. Hey, Matt. I have Prismacolor premier pencils and my dads berol Prismacolor pencils. Is it okay to mix them together? Also i was wondering which one has better pigment. ๐Ÿค” thanks, peter.

    • Hi Peter,

      Yes, absolutely you can use them together. I can’t say which form of the pencils are more pigmented, but I can say that the Berol pencils will break less frequently.

  9. Hi, Matt,

    I am enjoying this series because I do colored pencil work and always learn a lot from you. I’ve been a member for about 3 years and have looked at almost all of the videos on your site, including the ones on painting because they are so informative. I watch them while I’m on the stationary bicycle, so you’re responsible for not only bettering my art but also improving my health!

    I just wanted to let you know that there is a colored pencil white powder designed for highlights. It needs to be mixed with a special liquid and then applied with a brush

    Sometime in the future, could you do a demo or lesson series on watercolor pencil on colored paper???

  10. This is my first attempt at colored pencils and I am in love!!! I have also enjoyed the various opportunities available on the website and have referred it to six of my business partners (who love to dabble in art too). Thank you for such a well organized site for art enthusiasts.

  11. MATT – Sorry I missed lesson 6 last night but would like to know when it will be online to view and complete my picture. Thanks

    • Hi Jolaine,

      The Live Lessons have to be edited, rendered, uploaded, and then coded so that they work on the page after the original broadcast. The software used to broadcast live is different than the software used to edit and render recorded lessons. This takes a little bit of time. The 6th lesson was just broadcast less than 24 hours ago. The recorded version of the live broadcasts are usually available a couple of days after they are first broadcast. Lesson 6 should be up by tomorrow. I hope this helps.

  12. I have a 60 color art set #960 from
    Berol Prismacolor
    Danbury, CT 06810
    given to me as a gift in 1965. Although I have not worked much in colored pencil in the past they are nice pencils with which to work and your classes have allowed me to enjoy them even more. Thanks

    • Colored pencil is my zen — I get lost in the combined drawing and color application process; frustration disappears and time melts away.
      Watching your individual colored strokes take image form is mesmerizing.
      Thank you for showing the drawing nature of the medium. Your explanation of color choices and combinations is very informative and much appreciated. It seems today’s trend is to turn colored pencil into paint with the use of dissolving mediums — no zen. It is inspiring to see the medium used in its original, unique, creative way.

  13. I have painted a picture from one of your previous lessons and I am pleased with the outcome. My question is: I plan to enter the State Fair with a few of my paintings but do not want to ever put myself in a position where I am criticized for using someone else’s art. Do you allow (or object) to a student using your example and submitting it in a juried show.

  14. HEY MATT: I have painted a picture from one of your previous lessons and I am pleased with the outcome. My question is: I plan to enter the State Fair with a few of my paintings but do not want to ever put myself in a position where I am criticized for using someone elseโ€™s art. Do you allow (or object) to a student using your example and submitting it in a juried show.

    Reply โ†“

    • Hi Jody,

      I know I already answered your question through email, but for all that may read this – I’ll answer it again here, since I get this question a lot…You are welcome to do whatever you wish with the drawings and paintings that you create from the lessons on this site. However, keep in mind that hundreds – potentially thousands of other people have done the same drawings and paintings. This really takes away from the originality of what you create. I would suggest taking what you learn during the creation process and then apply your knowledge to your own drawings and paintings.

  15. Hi Matt,

    I haven’t been able to attend live lessons for the past several weeks, due to some health issues (which are now better). I just wanted to stop in here, to say that I truly appreciate your posting the videos for us to either view later or download. Much appreciated! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Hello Matt, Just wondering you mentioned you have every color of the Prismacolor Premier range… I received my 150 pack the other day is that the whole range ? I would like to have the entire collection … Thank you so much Trish M

  17. Hi Matt, joined the VI a couple of days ago and just started working on the bee. Could you tell me where the reference photo is from? I like to keep a record of the source of references for all my drawings. Many thanks!

  18. actually wondering,
    in the material list you wrote down toned paper.
    Is it like grey toned? because the white prismacolor is good to see there and on your drawing as well.

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