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’.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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

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

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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

 
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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.

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Drafting Film – What it is and a few tips for coloured pencil use

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


The drafting film we use for coloured pencil work is the same as that used by draftsmen and architects. There are several makes of drafting film suitable for coloured pencil work and it comes in both packs cut to size or in rolls. It comes in gloss and matt surfaces but the most useful form for coloured pencil work is Double Matt which means it is matt on both sides. The best known make of drafting film is Dura-lar, but the only one I have used is Polydraw.


Working in drafting film is quite different to working on paper. The biggest differences I noticed were that some of my colours looked quite different on the drafting film and they appeared to blend together differently. This means you do need to pay attention to what you are getting on the support and adjust colours accordingly. Colours though do appear brighter, more vibrant and more translucent.

Before I go any further I do have to say that I have only used drafting film once, and then only with Polychromos. So from this great wealth of experience these are some of the other things I have discovered so far:

1. Make sure you have the actual film and not the tissue type paper that separates the sheets. I promise I will show you the difference in a later blog as I made this exact mistake.

2. There is much more pencil dust from working on drafting film than there is when working on paper so make sure you have a soft brush to brush away any coloured dust.

3. Light layers are the way to go, it will take lots of these as long as they are really light.

4. If you press too hard any marks you make will show. Some can be blended out, depends on how hard you have pressed.

5. Do NOT use a battery eraser. It leaves the surface too shiny to take any colour.

6. Do NOT use a Derwent blender pencil as it takes off any colour you have laid down. This is the only one I have so I don’t know how any other blenders work.

7. Blend with paper stumps or even better with the pencils themselves.

8. Don’t worry if the front of the film stops taking colour as you can use the back of the film to fill any gaps.

9. You can work on both the front and back of the film. This adds depth to colour or can be used to create depth in terms of distance.

10. Do keep your pencils as sharp as possible at all times. The sharper they are the easier it is to work.

One artist who has worked extensively with drafting film is Karen Hull and she has a great piece on it here which also includes links to her tutorials.

 

Serenity

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

Serenity

 

‘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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Colour Pencil Certificate

Art, artwork, Color pencil, Colored Pencil, Colour pencil, coloured pencil, Portraits

I recently finished a Colour Pencil Certificate with the London Art College. It’s distance learning but with a tutor to whom you submit assignments and in return receive useful and constructive teaching/feedback. In the blurb it said that the course work takes around 6 months but that students have up to two years to finish which was just as well as I took 23 months. I’m not sure whether it’s that I work slowly, if I miscalculated the time,or if I took lots of breaks, but it was suggested to take  8-10 hrs for each piece of work whereas they took me anything from 25hrs to 60hrs +!

Anyway, I am now all done and very happy to have received a Distinction 🙂

I was also asked to write a blog post about my assignments for the college and if you are interested you can click here to read my blog and see my course work in its entirety.

In the blog I include my current WIP which is in fact now finished and so I will include the completed work here, slipped behind a mount so it gives some idea of how it will look when its ready to be framed.

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Fabric in Coloured Pencil

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

The last two pieces I have worked on have involved fabric. The next piece I do I am hoping to take a break from it although as I have so many lovely photos from our last trip which was to Japan, many of which involve kimonos that might be easier said than done.

Having said that I have learnt so much about making fabric look like fabric that it has all been good practice. For me the secret has been not to look just at the colour but at the flow of the fabric, the lines that it takes and to make my strokes follow them. Now I am writing about it I realise that it is a bit like doing animal fur, making the lines follow the direction that something lies in rather than doing mown thing.

It’s not finished yet, it’s still a work in progress but I am getting there 🙂

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Work in progress – still

Color pencil, Colored Pencil, Colour pencil, coloured pencil, Portraits, Work In Progress

I always like to see how a piece of work develops over time especially with coloured pencil paintings. I think we all go though the stage of thinking the work is ugly and that it’s probably not working only for it then to begin to take shape and become something reasonable (most of us amateur artists would never use the work ‘good’ about our work). This is one of the reasons that I take photos each time I stop working on a piece. Plus it is also always good to look back and see exactly how a piece has taken shape.

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The other reason I take photos is that it is only by looking at a photo that I can really see what is wrong with a piece and what is working. All too often I fail to see something when working on top of it, only to see it clearly in a photo. Others use a mirror or turn a piece upside down, me, I take photos.

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The light in some of these is not particularly good as they were taken with my phone due to a broken iPad and a flat camera battery but they serve the purpose for me anyway and provide a record of how the piece has grown so far.

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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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Getting used to my new pencils

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

I hadn’t anticipated how difficult it would be to introduce some new coloured pencils in to the mix. After all I had worked reasonably successfully with two different types, mixed oil and wax based ones and managed to blend them with a Derwent blender as well as simply by using the pencils themselves. I had worked on several different types of paper, adapted and not run into problems so why now?

I’d like to be able to answer that but really I have no idea. Nor do I have any idea why having reverted to using Bristol Board, which has been my go to paper recently, and having decided to stick to just the Luminance pencils I should find myself picking up a Polychromos pencil and then working quite happily with both types with none of the previous problems.

Looking back at the last couple of days I have worked, I wish now I had paid more attention to what I was doing. I do think though that, as far as I can recall, I have mainly used Polychromos on top of Luminance. Whatever I I have been doing though it seems to have worked and not a solvent or blender in sight 🙂

From now on I will try and be more aware of how I am working to see if I can shed some light on this, both for my own satisfaction and also to help anyone else in the same position.

This though is my progress so far, not as clear as it might be as it was taken with my phone and then cropped. I will try and do better next time 🙂

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New work in progress and new Luminance pencils

Color pencil, Colored Pencil, Colour pencil, coloured pencil, Portraits, Work In Progress

My newest piece of art is of a young boy I saw while on holiday in Japan and gives me chance to try out my newly purchased Caran D’Ache Luminance pencils.

It took me a long time to convince myself to buy these pencils as they are the most expensive artists coloured pencils manufactured at present. They are wax, like my Derwent Coloursoft but seem harder, and softer and quite different from my oil Faber Castell Polychromos. Between the three sets I have a range of colours and consistency of leads. My challenge now is to find a way to make all these pencils work together.

I started this WIP on a Pastelmat paper that I had never used before. New pencils and new paper are not a good idea! I gave up and reverted to some Bockingford HP which I have used many times but I managed to damage the surface of the paper. My go to paper for recent work has been smooth Bristol Board and this became the support for my third attempt.

I decided I would only work with Luminance so that I could get to know them a little. I quickly discovered I needed to use my Polychromos for the detail, i.e. eyes, mouth and ears and also to bring in a slightly deeper strength of colour in places. I was relieved as I did this, to discover first hand what I had perviously heard, that Luminance and Polychromos can be used together 🙂

At the moment I am working on building up skin tones, trying to hang on to the translucence and smoothness of blemish free young skin as I do.

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Developing a painting in coloured pencil

Art, artwork, Color pencil, Colored Pencil, Colour pencil, coloured pencil, Uncategorized, Work In Progress

It’s some time since I posted any updates of my latest work in progress but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working. I’ve been busy developing and building up the layers to make the work come to life. I’ve still some way to go but thought I’d share the stages that have got me as far as I presently am.

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I hope that if anyone reading this is just starting out with coloured pencils these images will give them some idea of how much layering is needed at every stage. I know I certainly didn’t appreciate this when I began using the medium.