Colored pencil technique 101: leaves with shadows

Cluster of leaves with shadows

Brace yourselves: I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of YouTube colored pencil tutorials.  Whoa, there is SO much awesome stuff to learn about drawing and coloring with colored pencils!  My innocent adult coloring book obsession has turned in a full-blown fascination with the big, bad world of art technique.  Who knew there was so much to learn??

I made the sketch above using my Prismacolor pencils after watching this delightful video from expert colorist Peta Hewitt (warning: it’s 43 minutes long).  The sketch took me about 2 hours (!!) to complete.

Two mind-blowing things that I learned in the making of this sketch:

  1. You can blend colored pencils on paper just like you would with paints.  The key is using a white pencil or a colorless blender pencil.  The effect is pretty startling.  The colors blend together pretty fluidly, and the colorless blender brightens the color significantly.
  2. To create a rich shadow, use a color complimentary to the original color.  For the green leaves above, I created the shadows using bright red.  Cover up the red with more green, blend, and enjoy your beautiful shadows.

Did you ever stumble upon an entire world that you never knew existed, and then voraciously learn everything you can like a rabid beast?  That pretty much describes my week.  I may have visited my local art supply store three times this week.

If you’re looking for me this weekend, I’ll be glued to more YouTube videos with my pencils and new sketchbook in hand.  So much to learn!  🙂

2 thoughts on “Colored pencil technique 101: leaves with shadows

  1. Yes! I discovered watercolor pencils about two years ago. But I find the mindblowing amount of knowledge and technique intimidating, along with the infinite time it takes to complete each sketch – I take it as a “proof” for my ameture low level and I get frustrated that I’m unable to improve in all my hobbies (sewing, knitting, drawing and real job!). So at least with drawing – I try to keep it stress free. My solution is to give all of them to someone I love who actually thinks they are the best series of drawings ever 🙂


    • Haha, well said Roni! I agree on all fronts. 🙂 My partner recently asked me why all my hobbies take forever, and why they take even longer as I learn more about them. I responded that I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t mastered colored pencil drawing after 2 days of practice. Ha. 🙂


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