how to draw a portrait in colored pencil

How to draw a person in colored pencil step by step

Here you’ll find the information how to draw a person in colored pencil step by step. Over the years I’ve drawn various subjects, but drawing people is becoming my passion. I love to draw stories and emotions though the human form. Before we start, please consider the following drawing tips that will help you find, or set up the subject for your project.

Before you start drawing

  • Pick the person to draw that will keep you interested and motivated to take your artwork to the finish line.
  • Always consider and study the lighting on your model. Most colored pencil artists work from pictures. Learn to take good pictures as your reference material. To begin you may look at portrait photography online to understand how the light changes the form.
  • Keep track of some professional artists working in the field, and study their artwork for composition, design, and the use of a color.
  • If you just start out pick the image with a face looking straight at you. Eliminate the head’s rotation for now that complicates things.

Step by step demonstration

I had a photo shoot with my model, positioning her under a single light to give me definite shadows.

In this demonstration I use a very light grey, smooth, printmaking paper, the surface of which is similar to Stonehenge paper pad. I also draw with the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils and Luminance. I use Gamsol solvent with a synthetic brush and Caran d’Ache full blender for blending.

how to draw a person step by step

 

  1. I work on the outline of my drawing on a sketch paper, and then transfer it to my high-quality drawing paper. It’s crucial to get the anatomy right at this step. Therefore I take my time and check for mistakes by looking at my drawing in the mirror. I keep fixing the outlines until the portrait looks good to me. Next I create the underpainting by working from dark to light in one dominant color that I see in my photo. Here I use dark brown to complete the initial shading. I focus on shadows only to block them in with the consistency needed to develop a sense of light and shade.
  2. In the second step I carefully introduce the second color and slightly overlap it over the first one to create softer transition into the light.
  3. In the third step I focus on the face and add warmer colors (yellows and pinks) in the middle tones.
  4. In this step I throw the same colors I’ve used in the face into her neck, arms and even hair. This is important to do for color unity, so that everything ties together visually. This is the main reason why I work from general to specific, and don’t draw one area from start to finish, ignoring the rest of the picture.
  5. I introduce the blues and lilacs into her shirt that creates a play between the warm skin tones and cool hues of the clothing. As usual I work from dark to light, so I shade the darkest folds first, then add the middle tones and finish up with the lights. Please see below how I approach drawing highlights on colored paper.
  6. In my last step I work on the background that compliments my subject. Here I’ve experimented quite a bit. I added silver acrylic paint to paint the seahorses, so they change their color slightly, depending on the viewer’s position to the drawing. I din’t use any Gamsol on the face because it would make the darks appear too harsh. I fixed the drawing with a final fixative for dry media, spraying it twice outside.

Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf

 

Blending & background:

Blending

There are two basic colored pencil blending techniques. One requires blending with a solvent and another with a colorless blender that looks like a pencil. Sometimes one technique is better than the other. While the solvent dissolves the pigment and moves it around fast, making the color look darker and blended, some colors may look too harsh after the application. The pencil full blender ( I recommend the one by Caran d’Ache) blends all the colors equally, but the process is very time-consuming especially if you work large, and requires a very heavy pencil application to achieve even blending.

Background

Background is important. Never draw your subject without considering the color and value of the background behind it as the background determines contrast and edges. You must have enough color on the page to do the blending with Gamsol. Otherwise, there is not enough pigment to dissolve the colors. Be conservative in your application, and never allow your solvent to run like water. Use a small brush to have a controlled application. Let the first layer dry completely.

In my drawing I painted the seahorses with the acrylic paint after the blending. You need to have a good brush for this that keeps a fine point. I didn’t use any water to spread the paint around, but used it for cleaning up the brush periodically, because the acrylic paints dry super fast.

In my second layer I shaded with the same colors with a much heavier pencil pressure.

In my third layer I added light grays and blues to make softer transitions and to achieve a different effect of “soft fuzziness”. I also shaded with grays to neutralize the brightness of the colors so that the background doesn’t “compete” with the figure.

Drawing of white fabric and highlights:

I use pure white colored pencil only over some previously applied color underneath it, reason being white by itself is a cool, dull color that needs a punch. I shade with white with the heaviest pencil pressure over the previously applied light color. I consider the color temperature of the highlight (warm or cool) as well.

What tutorial would you like to see on my website? Post your comments below. 🙂

Listening to the voice within, 15×20 inches, lightfast colored pencils on paper

“Finding the voice within” is the artwork about understanding and trusting yourself to navigate in this world. It’s inspired by the healing energy and colors of the ocean that’s symbolized in the female form.

 

These are some of the tutorials available for download. They teach the basics of color theory, layering and blending in colored pencil.

 

 

 

 

 

how to draw highlights

How to draw realistic highlights in graphite, colored pencil and oil paint

When we look at realist paintings, we try to figure out how an artist manages to achieve such level of realism in his or her art.

There are three elements that make drawings and paintings look three-dimensional on a flat surface:

  • the drawing accuracy of shapes
  • clear understanding how the light turns the form
  • and the correct placement of highlights on objects, fabric and people.

In this post I cover how to see and place highlights, using various media.

 What is highlight and how do you find it?

Highlights are the lightest lights or the whitest spots you find on your objects. Always analyze the light direction and the light source. Is it coming from the left or right, top or bottom? You’d find the lightest areas on all objects being the closest to that light source.

The distribution of light on objects

 

The placement of highlights on your object is often logical. Analyze the light direction. If it comes from the left corner, then your highlights would be on the object’s left hand side. If the light comes from above, then the highlights accumulate on the object’s top.

If it’s a vase, a cup or a bottle directional highlights would appear on the object’s surface where the object usually curves or changes direction.

You may see secondary lights in your set up as well. Usually they’re light but not as strong as the highlights. Make sure they remain secondary and don’t compete with your major few highlights. This way you create a hierarchy of the light and shadow.

Aphrodite plaster cast | Here the light comes from the left, illuminating half of the face. Therefore all highlights remain on the left side of the face.

 

How to place highlights in graphite drawing

To draw the highlights on your objects, shade over the area lightly with a hard pencil (2H) and then use the kneaded eraser to pull the highlights with it. This eraser doesn’t leave any residue and gives a perfect soft edge around the highlights. Therefore, the highlights look natural, rather than outlined.

A study of the David’s eye, 9×12″ graphite on white Strathmore drawing paper. The highlights’re pulled with the kneaded eraser to make the whitest areas.

 

portrait drawing in pencil
Believing that the impossible is possible, graphite on paper, 11×14.

The highlights’re pulled with the kneaded eraser on her cheek, neck, ear and in and around the eye.

 

How to place highlights in colored pencil drawing

On white paper:

In colored pencil drawing on white paper, I preserve the highlights by carefully reserving the white space around each highlight with a light colored pencil, using light peach or cream color. So, the whiteness of the paper is the highlight itself.

Highlights always stay free of any shading. Don’t use white colored pencil to color your highlights! You will lose the luminosity. This technique is similar to watercolor painting where you paint around your highlights. However, there are times when I shade with the white colored pencil around the highlight itself to soften the edges, and to transition into the light.

Still life with a vase, 9×12 inches, lightfast colored pencils on paper, available for purchase.

This drawing was done on white, Bristol smooth paper with the lightest areas remaining free of any shading to preserve luminosity.

On colored paper:

If I draw on colored paper, I place the highlight by mixing two colored pencils together. The first one gives me either warm or cool undertone and the second one is the white colored pencil itself. Usually I use a very heavy pencil pressure  to shade over the space with white.

white-fabric-
A study of fabric, 9×12 inches, lightfast colored pencils on Stonehenge paper. Here the light comes from the left. Therefore the lightest part of the fabric with its highlights remains on the left side.

 

This is a drawing detail completed on orange paper. It has the white highlights placed over the light yellow and light blue colors.

How to place highlights in oil or acrylic painting

Even the brightest highlights have a little bit of color in them. Analyse the light to see if they are warm (yellowish-orange) or cool (bluish-greenish), and add a touch of color to your white paint. Titanium white is a cool, dull color by itself. That’s why the beginner paintings have a lot of white in them, but no sense of the light, which is created with glazes, scumbling, and layering rather than with lots of chalky, white paint.

David’s eye with sea shells and white fabric, 16×20″, oil on canvas, available for purchase

To learn more about the distribution of light, reflections and reflective surfaces, you can buy my digital book here: http://veronicasart.com/product/creative-techniques-colored-pencil-graphite-oil-painting-digital-art-book/

 

Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf
Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration!