Working on a color saturated orange and yellow tulip in colored pencil.

This tulip, held in an inverted position was a unique perspective and one I wanted to work on. I loved the colors and the angle. I also was able to finally get my colors and contrast a little darker, more to my liking. It took time and going darker than I was initially comfortable with but once I did it, I was very happy with the results.

Watch the time lapse or skip down for more.


One of the iconic flowers of spring, coming in multitudes of varieties and colors, the tulip symbolizes imagination, and a declaration of love. When I saw this tulip with its large showy leaves, I wanted to work on it. The fine lines of detail and the colors combined with the unique angle piqued my interest. Although I had already done a tulip, I wanted to do another. I have another one sitting in my wish list. Head on over to my patreon page to grab the line art, and reference photo so you can follow along. I also have a longer video up on patreon if you want more detail.


I worked the stem first, blocking in the colors and building up the layers. The stem is cylindrical in shape, darker on one side and lighter on the other. I built up the shadows with dark sepia and the lights with yellow lemon. Building a smooth gradient between the two in green gave me the illusion of a cylinder. I worked the leaf and the stem together as they were both small, and had some overlap in color. It also gave me a chance to build many layers in a short amount of time due to the small area I was working on.


I build up the color slowly on each petal as I wanted to make sure I had a solid layer of color filling in the tooth of the paper and to ensure I didn’t go to dark from the beginning. It is easier to go darker but harder to go lighter. I missed a few highlights and had a hard time bringing them back out even with a luminance white. Once I had my foundation down, I built up the oranges and reds, bringing in the sepia to darken up the markings on each petal as I came to it. I finally added in a little magenta to create deeper shadows.

What is next?

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Patreon. I’m currently working on a serrano pepper. Let me know in the comments if you followed along and how it turned out.

Equipment (amazon affiliate links):

You can substitute almost any paint brush for the filbert, just make sure it doesn’t have stiff plastic bristles. Have at least one eraser of some type. Masking tape will work but stick it to your pants a couple times to reduce the tackiness so it doesn’t rip your paper. Paper is rather important, try to go with something of quality, Canson Mi Tientes will work and in a pinch, Cachet 101 mixed media paper. You can buy a large sheet and cut it down to size. If you work on a block or pad, you may be able to skip the easel and art board.

Colors used:

  • *Buff Titanium 801
  • Cadmium Yellow Lemon 205
  • Cadmium Yellow 107
  • Dark Chrome Yellow 109
  • Cadmium Orange 111
  • Orange Glaze 113
  • Light Cadmium Red 117
  • *Crimson Alizarin 589
  • Dark Red 225
  • Magenta 133
  • May Green 170
  • Earth Green Yellowish 168
  • Earth Green 172
  • Chrome Oxide Green 278
  • Juniper Green 165
  • Dark Sepia 175

An asterisk indicates a luminance color.


2 thoughts on “Art Lesson in Colored Pencil: An orange tulip

  1. Kathryn, this tulip is so real looking and beautiful. I loved seeing some details of how you work. You are so knowledgeable and expert at explaining. So proud of your great talent.


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