The Colored Pencil Course: Composition and Still Life

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This course features:
5 Hours of Instruction
22 Videos
21 eBooks
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Lesson Discussion

  1. In setting the reference photo up to copy, I find I go from regular size to super huge. Is there any way to adjust the size of the image
    to copy. Thanks, Doug

  2. Matt,
    i have not had any probs.printing out the “photo references” however i have a ???
    1. in any of these modules,there is no size mentioned….what size are we suppose to make this 2 wine bottles/grapes
    color drawing ?


    • Hi Raquel,

      We all have different sizes in which we like to work. Some folks feel more comfortable working larger, while some like to keep their drawings smaller. I like to work small with most mediums that require precision and time, like colored pencils. This particular drawing is very small (6″ by 8″ ish). This size allows me to work enough detail in the drawing without becoming overwhelmed. That being said, some artist will naturally feel more comfortable working a bit larger so that details are a bit easier to achieve. So, it’s entirely up to you as to what size you decide to make your drawing.

  3. love watching you work, it’s like magic one minute nothing is there and then poof a drawing in front of our eyes i know i don’t have natural talent for this but i have always said anyone can do anything in life,however
    how well its done weeellll that’s another story thank you so much

  4. Hello,

    I tried this exercise with the paper Bristol Smooth because I did not know the Vellum.
    I am French and you can find other brands of paper more easily in my country.
    On the other hand I discover the Bristol and I like it.
    I find that the result of my drawing is very correct on the smooth.
    Is there a real difference between these two papers?

    • Bristol Smooth is really too smooth to get many layers on colored pencil. Bristol vellum is better. Vellum is still smoother than hot pressed paper with medium tooth. Many people love hot pressed paper for colored pencil because you can add many layers of pencil for rich color. Cold pressed paper has lots of tooth (it is rough and better for watercolor), so very hard to fill the white valleys in the paper with color.

      Each paper behaves a bit differently. Smoother paper allows sharp detail, but fewer layers. A bit more tooth allows more layers and richer colors.

      • I’m wondering how my Strathmore “Colored Pencil” paper compares to Bristol Vellum. It doesn’t give much information, just that it’s acid free, Medium surface, White, for finished artwork.. 100lb.

  5. Wow, Matt!

    The apples in Lesson 4 were about where my skills brought me prior to purchasing this course. But I was so surprised how much this lesson (6 & 7) improved my drawings. The wine bottles and corks were a big step up for me–my drawing really looks great, if I may say so. I hadn’t used Bristol velum before. In fact, I may have been using mostly cold press paper (in a bound journal) that required several layers with OMS to fill the tooth. It didn’t allow the sharp details that the Bristol velum gives (I can even make out the miniature lettering on the label of my drawing!). I had tried some areas of complementary underpainting before, but not the technique you showed.

    Thank you for this course. It has proven to be just the boost my colored pencil art technique needed to get to the next level from a place where I was stuck. I have “peeked” ahead and can’t wait to draw the dog, landscape, and portrait!


  6. When I download the book it is not showing up in my ebooks. What should I be doing differently? I am studying while we travel internationally and cannot always be online. Thank you!

    • Hi Roberta,

      When you open the ebooks in your browser, you can download them to your computer or device. You may have to designate where you save them on your device. With most computers, the default location is in your “Downloads” folder. You can choose where to download them, to a “Ebooks” folder for example, by right-clicking on the download link.

  7. I’m still in the 7 day trial period of the course and I’m struggling with how big my drawings should be. Too small and it’s hard to fit all the detail in and too large means lots and lots of colouring and burnishing. Any tips please?

    • Hi Christine,

      You bring up a good point. Some people are more comfortable with smaller drawings, but detail can be hard to develop. Some people are more comfortable with larger drawings – but it takes more time and use of the material. Choosing the size that is best will vary from artist to artist. Colored pencil drawings don’t have to be large since we have such great control with a pencil. But drawings need to be large enough to develop the details. This drawing is fairly small – around 5″ by 7″. This size may be too small for you, or perhaps just right. If you’re having trouble getting the details that you desire, you may try a slightly lager surface. It may take some experimentation to find what works best for you. There is no “one size that fits all”.

  8. Hi Matt the wine bottles seem so difficult to me. I don’t know if drawing small or what. Sometime I want to give it up but I’m not quitter. Matt if you have any suggestions please let know.

    • Hi Kenya,

      This drawing is very small. You may find it easier to make your drawing larger. Doing so will take more time, but it will be easier to get all those details.

  9. Been sick for the last few days. Decided to work on the wine bottle whenever I can. I just completed the wine bottle on the right. I’m so happy. Wish I can show my progress. I am using Derwent Coloursoft 24 set. I do not have the same colours but the previous modules gave me the confidence to try other closely related colours. However I could not write the silver metallic (derwent metallic) wordings on the purple portion of the left bottle. Not sure if it’s the colour pencils I am using or the paper I am using.

    • Hi Debbie,

      The metallic pencils may be the issue. I typically don’t use them since we see things in the world around us as flat colors. The metallic look is achieved by placing the reflected colors in the correct locations instead of by using a metallic pencil.

  10. Hi Matt, is their a way to get really bright highlights with prismacolour pencils. The white pencil doesn’t really show up that well even on reserved areas? Really enjoying the course by the way it’s amazing how quickly your skills can improve so thanks for your brilliant

  11. Hi Matt, It has been a long time since I tried to draw. I am 86 and use to draw. I have many hobbies. But suddenly I have this urge to use colored pencils and coloring books. I needed a refreshening in how to better use the coloring in layering. I am just watching right now but will start little by little with the drawing and coloring. My hands don’t work like they used to but I still can do pretty well. I have a good sense of color my father was an artist. My favorite is nature. Can I go back and watch it over again? I will let you know how I progress.

  12. Hi Matt, I am having trouble staying with my lesson as we are possibly moving. I love the course but I can’t find where to download the eBook’s. For right now it would help me.

  13. Hi Matt

    I am having some problems printing the reference images, (0n all reference images). They always want to print on multiple pages and I have to keep adjusting preferences per photo.

    It would be great if the images were set to print on A4 or A5 size as standard.

    As an aside, measurements in metric would also be useful for us non metric nations.

    I have to also let you know that I think your lessons are the best I have ever had and my skills have improved no end. Plus, I love the way you say “ Drawing”!

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