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COLOURED PENCIL TOPICS
STEP BY STEP EXERCISES 1 :  Basics
There are two exercises on this page. First of all, a very simple set of shapes worked in wax pencil on cartridge paper. Secondly a more involved exercise of a bowl of fruit, using some very similar techniques, but producing a more finished picture. You can use any coloured pencil to do these exercises.  iI it is a wax based one, you will find the layering and blending of colour easier and an artist quality pencil will produce a better result than a cheap store pencil collection. Watercolour pencils ( aquarelles) will also work here, used without water,  but many times the soluble pencils have a less smooth feel on the paper than wax pencils when used dry . You can use any colour combination on the first (shapes) exercise, but obviously the fruit will look better using the suggested colour range.
Basic Shapes This tutorial introduces you to the basic techniques for using wax type coloured pencil. This is what I sometimes term ‘Dry Point’ as the colour is not soluble in water and the build up of colour on the paper depends entirely on laying down successive layers of thin pigment from a sharp pencil point. You should have read the pages on wax type pencil techniques before starting this exercise. You will need 2 shades each of three colours - I used blue green and red - together with white and a brown.  I used blue for the rear ball as this colour naturally sits in the background, and red for the front ball as red naturally comes to the front in any picture.  You can select any colours you wish, of course. You will also need a dark grey or black for the shadows KEEP YOUR PENCIL TOUCH LIGHT at all times, KEEP YOUR POINT SHARP SHADE YOUR LAYERS in the direction in which the surface goes LEAVE HIGHLIGHTS to help shapes look solid REMEMBER WHICH DIRECTION THE LIGHT COMES FROM First  draw out your outline of the background block and the three circles in front of it.  It doesn’t have to look exactly like mine, but if you do copy my shapes you may find following the tutorial easier. Use a cartridge paper, or one with a smooth surface but some grain to it to so that the pigment comes off the pencil easily. Start with the rectangular block in the background. SHADE THE FRONT SIDE  WHITE with vertical strokes. Leave the shadowed side for the moment.  Once you have covered the area with up and down strokes, shade across from side to side to even out the colour.  You may find it hard to see where you have been with the white pencil on white paper, but if you hold the paper sideways to the light you may find it easier to see where you have been.   NOW ADD your BROWN over the whole of the block area in vertical strokes.   It will become pale brown where it goes over the white and darker brown where it goes on the side which had no first coat of white.
NOW GO ON TO YOUR LIGHT BLUE and start on the rear ball. Use scribbly strokes and ensure that you leave the highlight area uncoloured. It is best to work around the edges first  and also to ensure that you work UP TO AN EDGE from within the shape if you can, as this gives you a better chance of avoiding going over an edge. YOU SHOULD FINISH UP WITH A DIMPLED EFFECT from the overlapping scribbles.   NOW APPLY WHITE to the highlight to protect it from going too dark. And start to apply the darker blue, keeping away from the highlight and being sparing along the top edge. If you have other shades of blue, you can make the bottom edges even darker. Tidy up the edges with a long curving stroke and then move on to the green ball
I have followed exactly the same process with the two greens, using a light olive green for the first coat and  a bright green for the second coat. If you have a strong darker green as well, you might like to add a third layer as I have done
SURPRISE ! SURPRISE ! We follow exactly the same process again with the front ball, and start off with an orange as a base colour. This is followed by a scarlet and a darker red ( if you have one), for the under shadow. Make sure that you work right up to the edges with a final curved stroke to ensure a smooth edge to the balls.
NOW YOU NEED TO ADD SHADOWS to show that your still life is set on a flat surface.  With light coming from the top left, all your shadows should be to the right. If you try this exercise with water soluble pencils, you can use a damp brush to merge and blend your colours and make them much more vibrant. Be careful though that your brush is only damp otherwise the colour may bunch up and leave you with a mottled and much less satisfactory picture. Have Fun !
Secoond Basic Exercise  -  Bowl of Fruit worked in wax types pencils on Cartridge paper
The exercise here took  approximately 2 hours to reach the point shown.   You could take much longer and produce a more ‘finished’ picture, but this example shows you a range of basic techniques in a short time.
You can use any brand of artists coloured pencil for this exercise. In the demonstration Caran D’Ache Pablo was used, but a different brand will produce slightly different colours and result.  Students on workshop sessions have used  Faber Castell Polychromos or Derwent Coloursoft dry point colour pencils for this but you could equally well use Staedtler Karat, Derwent  or Caran D’Ache Supracolor watercolour pencils.  There is a PDF file for the drawing if you wish to use it, and also a PDF of these notes. Please note the exercise is Copyright to Peter Weatherill  2007  If you do use Watercolour pencils, they should be used dry for this exercise.         12 basic colours are needed, We start with the ORANGE  and first use a Cream or Pale Yellow . This gives the warm under-colour.
Using small circular strokes, scribble lightly and work your way around the inside of the circle you have drawn for the orange. I have left the highlight, but you can lift this later with the eraser if you wish. Add a middle Yellow on top, and then a light Orange on the darkest areas. Introduce a middle Green to the area around the base and the stalk and then burnish all over with the light yellow. You ‘burnish’ by applying a light polishing layer over the top of previous colur layers. This merges and beds down the colour.  Use a lighter shade of the colours for burnishing or even Ivory or White Repeat the whole process again with the same colours, this time with more pressure, and then introduce a darker Orange into the appropriate areas. All the layers should be laid down with circular strokes and the burnishing should carefully follow the line of the fruit skin. Your hand naturally draws a curve with the wrist at the centre, remember this and ensure that, as you work up to a rounded edge, work from inside the curve. APPLE To complete the apple we need to use a totally different pencil stroke. In this case we follow the direction of the apple skin at all times and shade with a series of curved lines. Starting with pale yellow/cream as the undercoat, we work around the shape Using first the cream and then the light Red. (You will see a blueish red has been used). We build up layers progressively adding some light Orange to the Yellow and some Green into the Red to darken the shadow areas.  The whole fruit is burnished with the cream and then the previous colours are re-applied which will result in much stronger colour all round. A darker Red is then introduced to the red areas and Sepia or Bistre is used for the stalk area and the darkest shadows.
Make sure you clean up the highlights with the eraser, and then apply a final burnish on the apple with a mid yellow. The banana is pretty straightforward and just needs an initial layer of the cream to start everything off, followed by a mid yellow to intensify the colour.
The yellow of the banana is very close to that of the apple in the photo so we need at adjust the colours a little in our image. Green is added and the darker areas are taken back with a warm brown - brown ochre was used in this case with sepia to intensify the really dark areas. The spots and blemishes are up to your artistic nature.   Keep all your shading strokes going lengthwise on the Banana. You should be able to burnish with the mid yellow over the edges of the three fruits to remove any trace of white paper at the edges. The final burnish will be cream. I have finally sketched in the cloth background using a light blue and a cool grey but have not spent any great time on it. The essential is to define the plate edge and the shadows under it, and then either go for a dark background to highlight the fruit (as in the photo) or a lighter background which takes more of a back seat. The choice is yours. YOU HAVE LEARNED that layers build colour, The early layers define the main colour and later layers shift the colour without radically changing it ALSO that the type of pencil stroke makes a lot of difference to the final result