Colored pencil technique 101: more leaf sketches

Colored pencil amateur hour continues here at Allspice Abounds.  I think the key to learning something new is to not take yourself too seriously.  I’m trying to give myself the freedom to just try things and not worry about perfection (which is really hard for a perfectionist).  🙂  Below are my latest sketches, and what I learned from them.

Blue and orange leaves with shadows

Colored pencil sketches - blue and orange leaf cluster

My objective here was to experiment more with using complimentary colors to create rich shadows.  Last time I used green and red, and here I tried orange and blue.

What I learned: (1) It works, but you have to be really restrained when using blue over orange.  I think I pressed too hard with the blue.  (2) I have to pay attention to which direction the shadows are supposed go.  Art 101, right?  Here I added a shadow every time the leaves overlapped, but I don’t think I did it right.

Blending between orange and blue: trial 1
Colored pencil sketches - shark fin

Continuing on the orange and blue theme, I wondered how to blend seamlessly between two colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel.  Blending between 2 shades of blue is easy, but how do you go from blue to orange?  Here I left a white space between the blue and orange, and I blended the colors together with a colorless blender pencil.  It created kind of a yellow-green.

What I learned: Perhaps you need to transition using the colors between blue and orange on the color wheel.  Here I seemed to have passed through yellow and green territory.  What if I went the opposite way, through the reds and purples?

Blending between orange and blue: trial 2

Colored pencil sketches - leaves blending from orange to blue

Here I purposely used various shades of red, pink, and purple to blend between the orange at the bottom and the blue at the top.  I also tried different levels of burnishing with the colorless blender: light on the left leaf, heavy on the right leaf.  Finally, I tried incorporating a white highlight on the right leaf, which I had seen in YouTube videos about how to color an apple.  The white area contains no colored pencil at all.

What I learned: (1) The blending technique worked.  So, I think my theory about using the color wheel to blend between two pretty different colors is legit.  You can go in either direction on the color wheel – it just depends what effect you want.  (2) The blending is not as easy as I thought it would be.  The left leaf (more subtle color transitions) came out much better than the right (harsher transitions).  You also have to choose your in-between colors wisely, which I didn’t go a great job of.  (3) I think all the levels of burnishing look fine; they just give a different look.  (4) The white highlight should (a) only be used for very curved surfaces (like an apple, not a leaf!), and (b) should be placed opposite of the shadows (not randomly in the middle of the object).

Lots of lessons learned here!

Making objects pop off the page

Colored pencil sketches - autumn leaves

I’ve been watching a lot of coloring videos, and I really like the effect created when you color lightly in the middle and darker around the edges.  Combined with some shadows, I think this really makes the objects pop off the page.  So, I tried it.  Here, I traced the leaves out of my Secret Garden coloring book.

What I learned: (1) I think the key to this technique is a very dark but thin outline.  I did a better job of this on some leaves than others.  (2) I drew a “sun” on the top right of the sketch to remind me where the light should be coming from, and I drew the shadows accordingly.  They’re not perfect, but I think I improved over my previous attempts.  (3) Don’t burnish too much!  I think I overdid it on the leaf in the lower left.

I always have a lot of fun learning something brand new, and this is no exception.  Since I have no artistic training whatsoever, the only place to go is up.  🙂

4 thoughts on “Colored pencil technique 101: more leaf sketches

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