Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Step by step coloured pencil portrait

I love coloured pencils! They are both beautiful and versatile and...incredibly challenging. I envy people who really master them, but I know that anybody who masters anything has put in hours and hours (and years and years) of practice.

I'm too much of a generalist in the arts to ever become a true master at anything. I just love too many different things and I kind of like it that way. But it does not keep me from practicing with media that intrigues me from time to time.

One way for me to practice with coloured pencil is to do portraits after pictures from magazines or (in this case) mail order catalogues. I thought it might be nice to show you how such a portrait develops over a few hours time, so I decided to do a step by step progress shoot of one.

Please understand, this is not a tutorial, I just wanted to show you how the different layers turn into a portrait that I consider finished. Also understand I'm not a coloured pencil painter. There are people who do ultra realistic work where you can't even see it was done with pencil anymore, and looks more like a painting. First of all I just don't have the patience for this, second I don't have the skill and third...I just kindof like the fact that you can actually see what medium was used. By that I mean that I like that you can see the pencil strokes and the texture of the paper.

Anyway, here's how it went:

The black background was obviously not done with coloured pencil, but with a brush marker to set off the portrait better. 

I'm moderately happy with the result. I love how the texture and shading of her shirt turned out, but am not too crazy about the hair and some of the shading on the neck. I'm also not sure if next time I will be doing over the drawing with a drawing pen. I might want to leave it in pencil. It's worth a try. I do think the likeness to the original was best in the original pencil drawing in the first picture.

Anyway, that's what practice is all about. You try a little here and there and you learn and some things turn out great and some things turn out okay and some things turn out rubbish. Well, I don't think this one turned out rubbish, haha, I rather like it. But I do see flaws and things I want to improve on. That's okay, I had another good practice session!

Hope you liked watching the process and wishing you a wonderful and artsy day.


  1. Very impressive and beautiful pencil work.

  2. Wow, I think you did a wonderful job on this ... thanks so much for sharing the process with us in the different pics.

  3. I draw portraits professionally, if I could give you a little advice to make them more realistic, just remember that there are no continuous lines around shapes, it is called the lost and found... where the light hits, lines disappear and reappear in the shade. I know it is difficult to see but with practice you will achieve it, also try using shadows more it makes the face more 3 dimensional, I know it is difficult to see it in Photos, but if you have a mall, I don't know if you do but go in any public places and observes faces you will see the wonderful play of light and shadow on them and this is what gives life to portrait, try this also on lips, no continuous line around them.. hope you find this useful

    Annie v.

    1. You are right, it's one of the reasons I want to try next time without a line drawing in ink. Then again I'm very much a line drawing kind of girl and am not looking for too realistic anyway. I'm always going back and forth between what I want and what I also want, haha. I must say that the photofilter does take away a bit of the shading that is there, but I can definitely improve. Thanks for the pointers, I will keep practicing. I'd love to see some of your portraits, do you have them somewhere online?
      PS I did have to snort at the idea of a mall on our little island. ;-)

  4. Thanks for showing your process, Caatje. The black really sets off the portrait beautifully, and her shirt came out really, really well!


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