Learning to work in colored pencil is challenging as learning any new thing can be

Colored pencil is possibly one of the slowest mediums to work in, and comes with a good learning curve as well. While not easy, it is possible to learn this medium without setting foot in a classroom, made easier in today’s world of Youtube. I will be adding my own botanical lessons one Youtube and Patreon to share what I have learned.

Watch the time lapse or skip down for more.


I have been teaching myself how to work in colored pencil, mostly from a couple of poorly written books, and some very well done Youtube videos. Without trial and error, patience, and those few wonderfully helpful videos, I likely would have just taken up adult coloring books and been done with it. As it was, there is quite a learning curve to working in colored pencil and determining when enough is enough.

Hand’s on

tulip-1I tend to be a hand’s on learner, I need to see and do in order to learn.I’m also an art and craft oriented person. Drawing and working in colored pencil seemed like a perfect fit with my life and the small bits of time I am able to carve out. I dove right in; expensive pencils, check; expensive paper, check; long list of little items, check. I was ready to go and had no idea what I was doing. I started on Bristol Vellum, a paper that didn’t work well for me and the techniques I was learning. I switched to an even more expensive paper, and muddled my way through another, much smaller piece. I tried again, each time feeling like I was missing something.

Missing pieces

tulip-2It turns out I really was missing something. Layers, I was missing layers. While I had built up what I thought were enough layers, it turns out it wasn’t. I wasn’t even close. Now, while I feel I can do even more layers still, I have hit a happier point in my work where I feel the tooth of the paper is filling in as it should and I have a depth to the color. All this was only possible with trial and error, asking for advice, lots of patience and a ton or layers, more layers than I thought I needed. And honestly, I still need to add more layers.

The Tulip

tulip-3This tulip is a great example of getting to that stage. I worked the stem first, I shaded the stem as I would a cylinder. I kept working in more and more layers, blending every 3-4 layers and continued layering. Even when I moved onto the flower itself, I went back and added even more layers to the stem. The petals took many layers too. I worked each petal one at a time, building in layers, dimension, and depth on the paper to create a picture with a rich color. All this can only be achieved with so many layers and careful blending with solvent. I will be carrying this lesson forward with me. It is through those initial mistakes that I learned what I needed to make my work better, and I can make it better still.

Supplies Used

  • Fabriano Artistico hot press 140# watercolor paper
  • Faber Castell polychromos
  • Caran D’arche luminance

What is next?

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. I’m currently working on another apple, this one will become a full lesson, a series of videos from start to finish with me walking you through everything. I will be providing a reference photo, line art, and color list. Let me know in the comments what new thing you want to try first or next.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s