10 Tips for using Coloured Pencils!

Hi guys and welcome to this week’s video! Today I’ll be showing the process of this
tiger whilst talking about some tips and tricks for using coloured pencils. This piece is up for grabs as part of one
of the prizes for the giveaway I announced in the previous video, so make sure to check
that out later! But let’s get right on to the tips! My first tip is something you might’ve heard
me talk about a few times before: start off with an accurate outline sketch! If you don’t start off with a precise foundation,
no matter how beautifully you render your subject, the end result won’t look convincing
or correct. This is especially important for realism and
portraiture in particular, where something being slightly off will change the resemblance
and likeness tremendously. I’ve already made a video about methods
you can employ to create an accurate sketch, so I’ll leave a link to that in the cards
and description. I recommend trying all tools you have available
to construct and check your sketch, and use whichever suits you the best. Tip number two is about the visibility of
your outline sketch. If you’re using graphite to sketch, make
sure that you use a hard pencil- so something higher on the H-end of the scale- and also
use a light hand when sketching. This will make it easier to erase, but also
will mean that you won’t risk indenting your paper which may be difficult to colour
over later. Additionally, try erasing the sketch as much
as possible just before you colour that section of your work so that there is very little
graphite remaining when you colour over it. If you leave a lot of graphite on the paper
and try to colour over it, the graphite outline will still appear visible underneath the translucent
coloured pencil, or it will mix in with the coloured pencil and make the colour appear
muddy or dirty- which is something that is particularly obvious with paler colours and
can really detract from your piece. Alternatively- as you may have seen with my
outline- you can use erasable coloured pencils to sketch. This is my preference although these prismacolor
col-erase don’t quite erase as well as graphite. I prefer drawing with these erasable coloured
pencils as I can choose a colour similar to that of my subject matter- and this means
I don’t need to erase the sketch as the colour will just blend in to the colouring
later on. Using multiple colours in the sketch also
allows me to separate different areas and break up a complicated subject matter, by
mapping in things like highlights, shadows and fur patterns. My third tip is to swatch out all of your
colours before you start colouring. I always swatch out my new materials before
starting on anything. I know that getting a new supply is exciting
and the first thing you might want to do is to jump straight in to using them, but knowing
what colours you have available will make the process a lot easier. I don’t recommend relying on the colour
of the pencil barrel or end cap when choosing colours, or the brands own official swatch
charts as often these are inaccurate and occasionally the colour is completely different. When creating a swatch chart, I like to create
a little gradient for each colour so I know what it looks like when applied with a light
touch and what it looks applied with a firm hand and fully saturated. Not only does the chart help you to see what
colours you have in your collection, you can also use it as a tool to help pick colours
for your piece. I’ll often hold up my swatch chart to a
section of my reference image to help find the closest colour match. You can also try out colour mixes on a scrap
piece of paper before applying them to your piece. Using a scrap piece of paper as a little tester
will also help to keep track of which colours you’ve used if you’re unable to remember
them or have to put your colours away between sittings. Tip number 4 builds upon the third- be familiar
with the products you’re using and their properties. Different lines and brands of coloured pencils
have different characteristics and this can determine what sort of techniques and applications
the coloured pencils are best suited for. Some properties that I consider when choosing
pencils are: -Range of colour- for instance, the Derwent
Drawing pencils come in a range of muted and natural tones, so this would limit their application
for brighter subject matter. -Laydown, pigmentation and hardness. A softer pencil will offer quick and smooth
laydown whilst a harder pencil that can hold a sharp point will work well for details. And Lightfastness- and this factor is important
when choosing pencils for pieces designed for sale or display, but isn’t critical
for practice pieces or sketchbook work. Lightfastness is how long you can expect a
colour to last when exposed to light- colours with a low lightfastness rating will fade
or change colour relatively quickly which will affect the appearance of a piece. So for instance, in this piece I’ve chosen
pencils with a high level of lightfastness. And I started off by blocking in with my Derwent
drawing pencils which offer fast laydown. Then I work with polychromos to adjust the
colour and add detail- the transparency and colour selection of polychromos make them
excellent for glazing, but they also sharpen to a good point for adding in fur detail. I also use the Derwent artists black and white
to add in fine and delicate details as these pencils are hard and sharpen to a fine, hardwearing
point. Moreover, being acquainted with how your pencils
react to the paper you’re using is also really helpful. For instance, some papers take a lot more
layers than others- which is something that is really useful to have a feel for before
starting, so that you know how many layers you can put down before you’ll become limited
in what you can do, or how many layers it will take to cover the grain of the paper. Experiment with different ways of using your
materials to see which techniques work best and which ones you prefer. Tip number 5 is a little less practical- be
prepared that the colouring process with coloured pencils takes a long time. Be patient and try not to rush through it. If you find yourself getting sort of impatient
and irritable at the process, step away, take a break and come back to it later. It’s so easy to push on through in the wrong
frame of mind and make a mistake that can’t be erased or takes a very long time to work
over and correct. Moreover, rushing through the end of a piece
serves an injustice to the hours of hard work and focus that you’ve already put into the
piece. Unlike some other mediums- such as acrylic
or oils- there’s not much room to adjust or correct as in most instances with coloured
pencil, you are limited to the amount of layers you can apply to a piece. The transparency of the medium also means
that it can be difficult to drastically adjust a colour or lighten up a dark area. Coloured pencil is a slow medium- even though
this piece is relatively small at 15 cm squared, or 6 by 6 inches -and I think that I’m fairly
speedy when it comes to coloured pencil in general- the colouring of this piece took
five and a half hours. No doubt it would’ve been even slower if
I didn’t use extra products to expedite the progress. -And that brings me onto piece of advice number
6. Use extra tools to help facilitate the process. Like any medium- there are obstacles and limitations
to coloured pencil. So for instance, not being able to easily
layer pale colours over dark, being limited to the amount of layers you can add as well
as even coverage taking a long time to create. So I use solvents to help blend out areas
to create smooth coverage faster, and I use fixative and touch-up texture to be able to
regain texture on a burnished surface so I can then add more pencil and lighter colours. These products help to overcome the biggest
obstacles I have with coloured pencil and it makes me feel like I have total control
over the medium. So for the piece I used the zest it pencil
blend to blend out my base layers, and later on I use the brush and pencil touch-up texture
and titanium white to rework some areas and paint in highlights and whiskers. Additionally, I’ve found that using pastelmat
is incredibly useful because the fine texture of the paper allows you to add pale colours
on top of darker ones – without the use of fixatives, which is something that I couldn’t
achieve on other surfaces such as drawing and watercolour paper. To improve speed for coverage and laydown
you could also use other mediums along with your coloured pencil. Coloured pencil works really well with pastels
and watercolours for instance- both offer quick and even coverage, but perhaps lack
the ease of fine control that pencils do so well. Perhaps in the future I’ll make a more detailed
video about which support materials I use with coloured pencil. So let me know if you’d be interested in
that! My 7th tip is to take full advantage of the
benefits of coloured pencil. This medium offers a fantastic level of control
over colours and details. Layering- and adding lots of layers- can create
incredible depth and saturation in a piece. By carefully choosing colours and working
lightly you can achieve subtleties in your colouring that can really give life to a piece. Work from light to dark and increase the saturation
and darkness with further layering. Many coloured pencils have a slightly transparent
laydown and when working on white paper, you can retain a lot of the luminosity and vibrancy
in the paper by working with light layers. You can also keep your result bright and unmuddied
by reserving your whites- that is using the white of the paper to create white and pale
areas in your drawing- rather than using a white pencil for details or mixing. Personally, I don’t often work on white surfaces
with coloured pencil though- you may have noticed that I really enjoy toned paper- but
in this respect I find that I get much more use out of my white pencil. Pencils also work fantastically for creating
fine, sharp details. I personally find a sharp pencil a lot easier
to control than a fine brush. So moving on to number 8- maintain a sharp
point to your pencils. Using a sharp point increases the amount of
control you have over the medium- not only are you able to accomplish even finer details
and accuracy with a sharp point, but you’ll also be able to obtain smoother areas of colour
as the pencil tip will be able to get into the nooks and crannies of the paper grain
instead of just grazing the top of the peaks of the tooth. In order to fill the paper grain with a comparably
blunt pencil, you’ll have to push firmly- which is also known as burnishing. This means you’ll flatten out the paper
grain which will limit the amount of layers you can produce later on, but also means that
you won’t be able to control the level of colour saturation to the same degree. Having a fine point also will help to control
and maintain the amount of pressure that you apply to the pencil as well, meaning that
you can have an even better command of the amount of pigment that you put down. I use a good sharpener to keep my pencil points
sharp- I can recommend the KUM automatic longpoint handheld sharpener and the Derwent Superpoint
Mini crank sharpener, although there are certainly other good sharpeners out there- these are
just the two that I’ve had positive personal experiences with. Rotating your pencil as you work will also
help to keep the point of the pencil even. If you don’t want to sharpen your pencils
to a fine point each time, you can also use sandpaper to help shape your pencil tip. There are even blocks of sandpaper designed
specifically for this purpose, known as pencil pointers. I used to be very conservative with my pencils
and feared that sharpening to a point would waste the colour. No doubt that sharpening the pencils get worn
through quicker this way, but I have now experienced that it isn’t a waste of my pencils- I’d
even say that it’s the opposite as I can now get so much more out of them- that is,
in terms of control and result. Tip number 9 is to pay attention to the direction
of your strokes as you apply your pencils to paper. It can be quite difficult to mask firm and
angular strokes that might distract from and flatten the form you’re trying to portray
or describe in your drawing. When you want to achieve flat colour, try
applying your pencil strokes in small circular motions with a very light hand. This means that the start, end and edges of
your pencil strokes are masked by the next. You can also use the direction of your pencil
strokes to your benefit, like I do on this piece, in order to help describe fur direction
and length. Last but certainly not least- piece of advice
number 10: take breaks and maintain a good working environment. Taking breaks isn’t just important for your
creative health and patience like discussed earlier, but it’s also vital for your physical
health. Make sure that you take breaks to stretch
your hands and wrists. I recommend looking up stretching exercises
for artists. Having a good posture whilst working, along
with correct desk and chair height, is a great idea too as it will help prevent things like
sore back, headaches and strain injuries. Having your area well-lit with natural or
neutral coloured lighting will keep your eyes in check but also make it easier to discern
colour. Working on an angled surface makes drawing
for long periods easier too. The last thing you want is your time being
creative being eaten away by pain and illness that’s been caused by your creativity. These tips are important for any medium really,
but because coloured pencil is such a time intensive medium and holding pencils requires
a firmer and more controlled grip than a brush, it’s beneficial to perhaps be a little more
aware of these things that could cause complications. So that summarises my top 10 tips for using
coloured pencils! I’d love to hear your tips if you think
I’ve missed anything out, or if you found them helpful! I’ll also leave a link in the cards and
description for a similar video I made about tips on how to draw realistically because
I think that these two videos go hand in hand. So here’s my finished piece! I’m really pleased with the outcome. Using a toned paper that was similar in colour
to the tiger’s fur really helped me push for the subtleties in value and hue in the
tiger’s fur. As I said earlier- this piece along, along
with my red panda and a load of fun art supplies- are up for grabs in my 2,000 subscriber giveaway
announced in my previous video. The giveaway ends on the 3rd of March 2018. I hope you enjoyed this video, leave it a
like if you did! Thank you very much for watching, don’t
forget to subscribe if you’d like to see more arty videos: reviews, tutorials, challenges
and art advice videos. Hope you have a lovely week and I’ll see
you in the next video!


  • vontiamyj vontiamyj


  • Yow Giao Art

    Amazing 😉

  • Nephtalie Albert

    Can you do a video on you using watercolors as a base for colored pencils?

  • adyphillipsart

    Lovely Tiger!

  • SuperXrunner

    Please do a video on the bases that you use with colored pencils. Thanks

  • debbiedew1

    Thank you for so much useful information!

  • Judith A Rowland

    Yes, I am very interested in learning more techniques. I'm in awe of the way you have developed this pieces. No wonder your work is stunning. I need to understand more about the blending mediums and the brush you use. I also have no idea what a Zest-it pencil blend is. Thank you, Claudia. This was very interesting.

  • Parasol Mushroom Art

    Such a lovely tiger, great work! Good tips too! :3

  • Pam CeeCee

    Enjoyed your tips. Your tiger is beautiful!!

  • Guru Jad

    Very important 10 Tips.
    I have personally experienced most of these mistakes, so the pieces of advice are precious and a time-consuming.
    Unfortunately, we have no Zest here or even touch-up texture. I am intending to travel to Ireland and England soon, so if I was successful in my trial, I am definitely going to purchase materials that are not found here.

    The tiger is so lovely. Five hours and a half is a long time. You surely have the patience to execute such things. I suppose that patience plays a great role. Most failed art pieces come from the fact that the artist is less patient or stopped continuing his/her piece.

    This reminds me of 2 important tips that I suffer from them:
    11- Don't call your work "Done" too Fast. Sometimes we like a painting after stage 1 is done. We fear that if we continued, we might spoil what we had accomplished. In fact, aiming realism might include some ugly stages. So, we need to be brave enough to go through all the process to attain the best result.

    12- Don't over-do your painting. It might sometimes help to know when to Stop, as well. The stopping time is related directly to the needed result set ahead. Some techniques and mediums call for quick strokes. Others might need a detailed approach. This tip might be helpful for mediums like Watercolor or for abstract and impressionistic paintings. I believe Coloured Pencil drawings aim for realism more than other mediums so this tip would not suit it.

    Thank you for always illuminating some of the darkness that we face.

  • mark brown

    Thank you, for another great video 🙂

  • Jane Metcalfe

    Wow, you are so talented Claudia, I'm impressed by how patient you are. Your tiger looks like he's having a rest in the hot sun and that paper colour helps I think. I've never drawn on coloured paper before but I am seriously thinking about it!

  • sambeawesome

    Ahh this is so gorgeous 😀 Great tips too, I especially love the last one! Seeing more artists talking about health makes me smile 🙂

  • EifosArt

    I used to not sharpen my pencils as often like you, but it makes a huge difference! Great video 😀

  • Gina ́sArtCorner

    Wow this looks wonderful! I love tigers and seing you drawing one so good is really pleasent to the eye 🙂 Also great tips!
    Oh my now I´m a bit nervous because I will have a similiar video like this up soon 😀
    Mine is a bit more about what I wished I knew when I started coloring pencils.

  • Taco Stacks

    Awesome vid love it!

  • michael mc ewan

    Fantastic work again, looks great, excellent tutorial

  • Kimbearlys Original

    Excellent video! Really learned a lot. Thank you so much. Love ALL your videos.

  • Sarah Swanson

    Love this! You are so talented. I would love to start using colour pencils but I’m nervous about it. I have no idea where to start to be honest! Do you have or could you do a real time tutorial that I could follow along with?

  • Dora Carrington

    I really enjoy watching all of your videos and am grateful for all the hints and tips that you have given. I feel that with help like yours, I have progressed so much and just want to say a big thank you!

  • YumenoArtTV

    Awesome 👏✨✨ l sub👍

  • SoulReaver27

    Very cool video. I usually go with a 2b pencil when outlining. I use a light hand but some papers show the line witch kills me.

  • DeeJay28

    Gorgeous and so realistic! I am aiming for this, but still having a ways to go! Your work is BEAUTIFUL!

  • Alexis Cassandra Art

    “Pain and illness caused by your creativity” 😂

  • Tj Voelker

    Thank you for this video. It was very informative and I loved watching you build the color! Have you done a video on the process of drawing on pastelmat? I’ve never used it but I e ordered some and have no real idea how to use it. I’ve previously only used hot press watercolor paper. Thanks for any pointers on how to draw on pastelmat.

  • S H

    Are you using solvent or water? I notice you use a paint brush?

  • Moonspiritart ByCindyHill


  • Christina May Art

    This turned out so amazing!


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