Monday, August 11, 2014

Coloured pencil portrait

If there is one medium that I find both beautiful and extremely challenging it's coloured pencil. From time to time I dabble in mastering them a little more. While working on the collages in the previous posts I used some coloured pencil for the background and it reminded me how much I like the feel of them in my hand.

I think when it comes to actual coloured pencil art what is most intimidating to me is the type of artist that does coloured pencil paintings, where he or she uses layer upon layer, and often solvents too, to achieve a very realistic result. Obviously that is not my thing. It just takes way to much time (and way to much skill too, haha) and in the end I'm more the kind of person who likes to colour in stuff. Stuff like my own line drawings.

That doesn't mean I don't want a little depth in those drawings. And that requires practice, especially in a medium like this. In the past weekend I decided to practice by doing a portrait after a photograph in a magazine. I made a line drawing first. It started with a mechanical pencil and when I was happy I redid the thing with a black felt tip pen.

In the above picture I had already started on the first colour layer on the face, but it gives you a bit of an impression of how the drawing looked before I coloured it in. I actually really liked it. That of course made it even more scary to colour it in, one migh after all totally ruin it, haha.

But with a bit of patience I think I did okay... see:

I should say that the contrast in these pictures is a bit higher than in real life. The actual drawing is a bit more subtle, which I like better, but I still think it looks pretty good. I really liked the process of this portrait, taking my time with things and really working at it to get it right enough to my liking.

Here's the portrait next to the original photo:

I really like how I managed to get the light in the hair by using an eraser on some parts of it. For a very realistic drawing I would have to add about a gazillion more layers, but I must say I kind of like the fact that you can still see it's coloured pencil and not paint or anything. I like that you can see the lines.

I think I must do more of these to really get a bit of skill with coloured pencils. I'd like to be more confident with them and the only way is (as always) practice, practice, practice! ;-)

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy week!


  1. I agree that it takes a lot of skill to use colored pencils well. I like your idea of starting with a photo to practice shading, etc. I'll give it a try.

    1. Hope you enjoy the process Claudia! I like the treasure trove of models at the tip of my finger with magazines and mail order catalogues. It really helps with practicing.

  2. I love how you used the pencils for the cheek shading...impressive!

  3. lol i used work almost exclusively w/ coloured pencils.. for years. I agree they are REALLY a challenge. o.O

    1. Well, I tip my hat to you in respect, I absolutely love them, but I also am absolutely humbled by them as well, haha.

  4. It depends what you want to do with them. I am turned cold by photo realistic art and many use coloured pencils for this. Pencil drawings used to be soft and pretty, where you could see colours blended and melded in together with say cross hatching or soft shading. The texture of the paper came through. Modern artists have ruined all that though, and now everyone thinks you have to cake on the pencil so no paper can be seen and get it all to look just like a photo. Why would I want to do that? There are lovely children's book illustration that use pencils. The snowman for instance. Those pictures are lovely.

    1. I like seeing the lines of coloured pencils, I don't need them to look like paintings. I like the medium I use to show in the artwork. When someone would say "I had no idea that was coloured pencil, I thought it was paint" I'm not sure I would be happy about that, haha. That being said, when I talk about skill I simply mean getting the pencils to do what you want (whatever that is), having a thorough knowledge of the material. I think that is important. I'd like to be better at shading and portraying hair for instance. Somehow it doesn't come out the way I want it to and I practice in order to learn.
      I do have a great admiration for people who can (and want to) do photorealism. Whether you like it or not, there's no denying the skill there and I do like people who master their craft in a way they want to.


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