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.


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.