Step by Step – Tulip on Polydraw Drafting Film

Art, Color pencil, Colored Pencil, Colour pencil, coloured pencil, Drafting Film, Polychromos

I must start by clarifying that this isn’t really a proper step by step as I hadn’t intended to blog this until I was asked to. I worked in Polychromos but as any pencils can be used I am not really specifying colours although am mentioning a few when they have been used to mix.

Apologies for the changing colours especially of the background which is all to do with light quality when I took the photos. I really hadn’t been intending to share in this way so only took them for my own use as I worked. I always do this as it really helps me see what I need to do next and anything that looks ‘wrong’.


I began by drawing my tulip lightly using a light coloured pencil. As you can work on both sides of drafting film on the reverse I lightly shaded in the lightest areas and dark stamen to create some depth. All the way through I only used the pencils themselves to blend.

The first petal shows the stages of very light layering and the way colour is used to build up contour and depth.



Here you can the completed petal and again the light layers on the second one. It really is a question of slowly building up the colour. The lilac colour on the edge is a mix of pale pink and sky blue. Towards the centre I have laid in white and then started to overlay colour. I have also deepened the light layers on the stamen working on the front this time.



Working gradually to build up the layers in the second petal and layering indigo and mauve on top of the pinks on the outer edge to create the shape.




I am now beginning to lightly layer the third petal which as you can see is much lighter than the first two. Although white will go over other colours on the drafting film I did try to maintain the white wherever possible.


This shows the completed third petal and the light layers at the start of the fourth (lower) and fifth (upper) petals.


In order not to lay on the work already completed I decided to focus on the fourth petal, still building up layers slowly.


I then continued using light layers and colour to show the contours of the petal until I was happy with the depth of colour and tone.




Out of all the petals it was this, the fifth petal that gave me most grief. I am not sure if it was the markings on it or the shape of it but all I could do was persevere laying down the light layers of colour and looking closely at the markings.




Here  you can see the finished fifth petal and the beginning of the final one.



As the final stage is complete I checked to see if my darkest darks and lightest lights were ok. If needed I could have now gone to the reverse of the drafting film and worked there deepening and lightening to create the depth I wanted.

If I had reached saturation point on the front of the film or had managed to strip away or polish the surface of the film so it wouldn’t take any colour I could have also used the back of the film to fill in any gaps.


For those who wonder why drafting film let me share with you the one I did on the tracing type paper use to separate layers of drafting film. I hasten to say I did this in error not deliberately. img_7519

Same colours and make of pencil used but as you can see the vibrancy and translucency that drafting film gave me is absent.



Art, Color pencil, Colored Pencil, Colour pencil, coloured pencil, Luminance, Polychromos, Portraits



‘Serenity’ is my latest coloured pencil painting and is of a Maiko I was fortunate to meet whilst in Japan last year.

Throughout Japan I had lots of opportunity to see people, men, women and children in traditional costume and to take photographs but it was in Kyoto that I had the pleasure of meeting the Maiko who became the subject of ‘Serenity’.

A Maiko is a young woman who is training to be a Geisha, a journey which is both long and gruelling. As part of their training Maiko learn to become accomplished musicians, singers, dancers and conversationalists.  When travelling in a group, as I was, it is sometimes possible to attend as dinner where a Maiko performs for the group, otherwise attendance at such a performance would be by invitation only.

The Maiko who performed for us was very young, graceful and unusually happy to talk with us, answering our questions and allowing us to take photographs. Many such photographs are carefully posed, with hands and head held in specific positions but with such amazing access it was possible to catch off guard moments too. It was such photographs that I chose to use for this work.

Having met the Maiko it was important for me not just to capture her likeness but something of her essence, the way she held herself and the sense of peace she carried with her.

The following work in progress pictures show how the image came to life, as usual by slowly building up layers of colour to create depth and texture. Clicking on the photos will bring up larger images.

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Luminance and Polychromos

Art, artwork, Color pencil, Colored Pencil, Colour pencil, coloured pencil, Luminance, Polychromos, Portraits, Work In Progress

My struggle the last couple of weeks has been not to use one or the other but to work out how Luminance and Polychromos work together and to understand the similarities and differences.

Before I purchased Luminance pencils I sought information online from others who used them. Apart from one person who sold theirs on because they couldn’t get on with them, everyone else seemed to love them. I read reviews as well as comparisons but really the only way is to try them for yourself.

If I had made my mind up last week I’d have been all set to box them back up but two weeks in I am beginning to appreciate Luminance. They are though very different to Polychromos and its taken me this long to work out why, apart from one being wax and the other oil that is.

Where Polychromos are translucent, like to be layered gently, building up the colour to something vibrant and glowing, Luminance are opaque, soft, mute almost and don’t like being layered as much. When you use a light coloured Polychromos over other Polys it blends, when you do the same with a light colour Luminance it can blend but equally it can shift the lower layers around, I’ve yet to find the tipping point but I am sure I will.

Last blog post I thought I’d been using Polys on top of Luminance but this time I tried on top, underneath and in the middle. Effects are different but they work all ways now I understand them a bit more 🙂

This is still a WIP but with every little bit I do, as with everything, I am learning a little more.

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