Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Creating marks....how do you create different textures with coloured pencils?

Last week I was lucky enough to be asked by another teacher at school to take in some of my artwork and share with the children how I go about creating a picture.  It really got me thinking how do I actually do it?!  After years of drawing I don't think about how I create marks it just seems to come naturally and I don't really think about it!  I often get asked by people how do you produce such realistic work with coloured pencils?  So for this blog I thought I'd share with you some of the techniques I use.

Once I have decided what it is I want to draw and have planned it (that's a whole other blog!) I start by looking at the colours that I'm going to need.  With coloured pencils it's not just a case of finding that one colour for a section.  To produce the colour that I want, I build up layers of colours to create depth and interesting effects.  So for example, when drawing the black marks on the clouded leopard I have been doing, I didn't just use black.  When the light shines on the fur you can see other colours within the black and building up layers of colours helps to produce a deeper black where needed.  If you look at the pictures below you can see what I mean.  

How to produce a deep black with coloured pencils

When building up layers of colour, I find the method that works best for me is to press gently with a sharp pencil in small circles to ensure that I fill the pits in the paper and to produce a smooth layer of colours.  To keep my pencil sharp I keep turning it as I draw and make sure I use a good sharpener often.  If you use a blunt pencil it is more difficult to fill the pits in the rough paper and you end up with white flecks (of course this can sometimes be a very useful effect!) If I am working on the fur of an animal I will stroke the pencil in the direction of the fur, rather than the small circles, almost as if I imagine myself stroking the animal.  I still work in the same way building up the layers of colours.  

You can create all sorts of marks using coloured pencils, and the best thing to do is to experiment different ways to see what happens!  So for example, if drawing tree bark, you want to make it look rough and not smooth and flat.  For this I use small jagged strokes in different directions varying the pressure of my pencil marks, but again building up the layers.  

Creating texture on tree bark using coloured pencils 

Another little trick that I use to help produce marks within my drawing, is to use an electric eraser.  This is great for creating effects within layers of pencil, as it allows the underneath colours to shine through.  It's also great for producing little highlights if they are not bright enough.  I used this strategy to help create the texture of the bark within my coloured leopard price of work.  

Sometimes, if I want to create a smoother effect, or a more blended effect, I use a Prismacolor  colourless blender.  I find this also makes the colours brighter and stronger and stand out more.  The only thing to watch if using a blending pencil, or if you have pressed hard with prismacolor pencils is the build up of wax bloom, which takes the shine and brightness away from the picture.  To help remove this, I gently use ear buds to wipe the wax away, and or I use a fixative.  (Personally I really like Lascaux with coloured pencils) 

The effects of a coloured pencil blender

Although I use more colours if producing a picture with coloured pencils than if I was doing an oil painting for example, I try to keep to the same colours within the picture as much as possible to help keep that unified feeling within the picture.  So for example, if I have used indigo blue within the black fur on an animal I will use that same shade of blue within the background trees, or if I have used a few shades of grey within an animal, and I need grey within the background I will try and incorporate some of the same shades of grey.  

There are many ways of creating marks with coloured pencils.  The only way you can really see whats going to work best is to create different textures is to experiment and not be afraid to try things out!

Have you tried using coloured pencils?

What techniques do you use to create different textures?