Working in Layers, Colored Pencils


by Lora S. Irish

Working in Layers with Colored PencilsTo develop even blending, rich shadows, and fine detailing colored pencil works are worked in thin multiple layers of application.  Early layer work may be so pale as to be barely visible and allow you to fully cover the area, working the color into the tooth or texture of your paper.

Each sample stage of this work shows multiple layer work, up to twelve or more very light coatings of color.

Because these colors are translucent, allowing some light to show through, shading can be established by using dark toned pencil colors first. Over this value drawing the brighter flower color pencils are layered. Highlights can be added to an area with the use of top layers of light colors and white. New colors can be created by this layering technique, a light yellow pencil color laid over a bright red will tint the red area to a shade of orange.

A colored pencil drawing can easily have twenty to forty layers of color applied. Because of the translucent qualities of this media the colored papers can be used. The coloring of the paper not only provides a colored background it can become part of the shading and color mixing of the drawing.

Colored pencils work excellently on paper mache, pottery, and wood burnings as well as on heavy weight art paper.

Working in Colored Pencil LayersStage 1

Because this drawing was to contain a wide range of colors the under-painting was created in dark tones of the color that would be used in each element of the work. Red browns were worked over the foreground jar, gray purples in the background jars, and golden browns for the sunflower petals.



Working in Colored Pencil LayerStage 2

The second stage adds light layers of the final coloration into each element.  Here oranges have been added to the foreground jar, light browns and rust to the background jars, and medium yellows and oranges for the Sunflower petals.



Working in Colored Pencil LayerStage 3

By the third layer of work deeper tonal values of the main colors are added to the shadows in the design.  Dark reds and deep oranges have been worked into the foreground pottery, purples and dark blues to the background jars, hints of orange and medium rust now add small shading in the sunflower petals.



Working in Colored Pencil Layer Stage 4

By level four I am ready to re-enforce the shadows in the design.  You may either rework the coloring from the first background stage or use a dark blending color as black cherry for green elements, indigo blue or yellow and orange elements, or deep forest green for the brown, rust and red areas.



Working in Colored Pencil LayerStage 5

This step focuses on small area of the final  colors of each element.  Begin working the smallest color changes using a wide variety of color tones.  One sunflower petal may have a range of small pencil strokes from deep rust to pale bright yellow.

A blending pencil, a pencil that has only the wax base without color pigment, is used lightly over the entire work.  Blenders move small amounts of color, removing any harsh pencil lines in the work.



Working in Colored Pencil LayerStage 6

The final stages shows were the reds have been used to complete the foreground jar, whites were added to the petals to create highlights and to the background jars to show a frosted look to the jar’s glazes.



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