The Secrets to Drawing: Colored Pencils

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Lesson Discussion

    • Hi Janet,

      For colored paper, you have several options. For a smoother surface I like to use gray drawing paper. has a pretty good option for this. It is called Gray Bogus paper. You can also use Canson pastel papers, although the tooth will be a bit heavier.

  1. Hi Matt, I am using fine tooth surface and Prismacolor but the colors are not blending well. It seams that the wax of the first layer prevents the rest of the colors to blend, in a close look even the first layer loos quite waxy and with texure. I even used a colorless blender to try to fix it but it did not work. Is the paper the problem? Or am I doing someting else incorrectly?

    thank you

  2. I have noticed that you are using the Prisma color pencils, but would the process be different if you were going to use Faber-Castell “polychromos” since they are based on oil but Prismas are based on wax?

    • Hi Polina,

      The approach will be only slightly different. Polychromos pencils require layers of lighter applications. I think that Prismacolor Premier pencils are a bit more forgiving, allowing you to make alterations to the color as you go.

  3. Hi Matt I have two questions,

    Firstly, what pressure are you using when applying the colour, it looks like you are using a heavier pressure for the cream than for,the other colours.

    Secondly, being left handed would you recommend that I turn the picture around and work on it from upside down that way I can start with the head first or should I start,with the tail end.



    • Hi Katrina,

      I am applying heavier pressure with the Cream color since it is being used for burnishing. So, I am trying to work the material into the surface.

      You should always work in a manner that you find most comfortable, so turning the paper is always acceptable. There isn’t a certain order that you must draw things. So you can and should work in any order that you find most suitable for you.

  4. I just looked up a turtle picture on the net to copy. I’m really happy with the turtle drawing, but my cheap pencils just won’t color like yours. Off to the art shop I go…

  5. Colored pencils were one of the media that really got me interested in doing art. I watched a video of someone doing a portrait and literally thought it was a photo when I was done, it looked that real. I am amazed at how real this turtle looked, and all the advice in this vid really helped me understand how to use this media more efficiently. Time to bring out my prismacolor pencils!

  6. A great lesson Matt as always, a great intro to coloured pencil drawing as I’ve always done black and white drawings as I have a passion for these, but I do want to do your coloured pencil course at some point, so this is been a nice little Intro 🙂
    Thanks take care x

  7. Hi, my name is Adonijah I am 15. When I started this course I thought I would focus mainly on graphite and pencil drawings. I LOVE color pencils and oil pastels!!! Thank you so much Mr. Fussell!!!!

  8. For those looking for turtle pictures to use as your model, go to either or and type in “Turtle images” and go from there. There are lots of pics out there. Or go to your local library and find a book featuring turtles.

  9. Have you done (or are you considering doing) a video on color pencils using an oil-based pencil like the Faber-Castell polychromos pencils for those of us who like the feel of those? I understand that the techniques are different enough that such a video might help me. (I bought the polychromos pencils after researching on the internet the differences between waxed-based and oil-based color pencils. Thank you!

  10. For the drawing…what I did was took a picture of his drawing from the ebook with my iPhone and sent it to my printer, or you could take a picture of his and email it to yourself and print it out. I hope that is ok Matt.

  11. Hi Matt,
    Thank you for yet another amazing lesson. Is it possible to get a list of the colour pencil names/numbers you used. I just bought my Prismacolor Premier set of 72 pencils today, and I’m not sure which dark brown, blue etc you used in this illustration. Cheers

  12. Is there a lesson somewhere on making the initial sketch. You identify basic shapes in your sketch but are there tips for ‘seeing’ them in image you want to use?

  13. Matt:
    What a beautiful thing to be a no kidding Teacher. I am working my why through this course as part of my morning routine and I am consistently impressed. As you mention above, I have been a graphite guy for years doodling. I really like the nuance of graphite and trying to achieve the illusion in black and white. But the more I watch these videos, the more I am fascinated and the more eager I get to try other things like colored pencil. Like a kid in a candy store! So, just another note of appreciation. Well done Matt.

  14. Hi Matt,

    I’m a little confused; I always thought that once you burnish your drawing that you cannot add layers because the tooth of the paper has been flattened thereby preventing any more layers. Is this because of the type of color pencil you’re using that you can continue to add layers or am I misunderstanding the burnishing process? Great picture by the way.

  15. Hi Matt, What happens when you make a mistake? Do you have a section on mistakes and their corrections? Plus do you have a section about when you are unsure about something what do you do next? Eg colour, what goes with what your trying to do? Also, what is Hue?. I get mixed up with the colour terminology – I’m OK up to Teri are, after that I get lost, is there an easierror way you understand with the help of the colours rather than with words? Do you always need to mix colours? Why not just use the colour you need from one single colour pencil… does this give the same effect? Why not? If you had the single colour what close the deal is could you add to it, to get what you need? Finally, how do you know that a picture is finished? Do you always use a blender liquid to make your picture finished, is that cheating? Thanks.

    • Hi Annette,

      Thanks for your questions. I’ll do my best to address them briefly. You do have to be careful with colored pencils. Mistakes are difficult to fix. Work slowly and lightly until you are confident with the marks that you’re making to try and avoid making a mistake that is irreversible. Hue is simply another name for color. For example, the hue of Crimson Lake (a Prismacolor pencil) is red. You don’t always need to mix colors, but mixing often leads to greater complexity in the color, which is closer to how we see things in reality. No, I don’t always use a colorless blender, but using one is definitely not cheating. Determining when a work is finished can be a little tricky. Here’s a post that may be helpful…

  16. The course is very good, I like it, not boring, I learned a lot. But today the video is not working, I payed for the membership, I want to learn more, but its not working. Are you working on these troubles? Thank you

  17. I really enjoyed watching how you create such a beautiful picture from pencils. I never knew one can do that and adding layers make such a difference , I will certainly have a go. Thanks Matt.

  18. I managed to practise and am very happy with the result although I don’t fully understand the colour theory. However I struggled colouring the eyes. I learnt that working a small area at a time makes a lot of difference. I started off in the late evening and finished the next day. Due to the changes in the lighting, the colour of the head is quite different to the body! Thank you Matt for your fantastic teaching.

  19. Hi Matt,
    Great course so far. I’m trying to draw a sea turtle but I find the pattern on the flippers very challenging. Do you simplify the pattern when it is so small and intricate?

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