Experimenting, practising with small areas of color, 'playing' with the medium, is the artist's equivalent of a musician's playing scales and improvising. Try this exercise to find out what you can do with colored pencil. You don't need a huge box of pencils - you can start off with whatever you have.
For color pencil drawing, a good, firm, fine-toothed paper is essential. The examples above were drawn on Arches Aquarelle (watercolor) hot-pressed paper, which took many more layers of color, and gave much better results when blending, without the patchiness evident on cheap sketch paper. A heavily sized paper, such as the watercolor paper, will give different results to a more velvety 'Velours' paper. Try these experiments on a variety of paper types to see what results you can achieve.
Shading - Make a series of shaded areas, solid and graduated. How much variation can you achieve? How smoothly can you blend two overlaid colors? Make sure you use a light touch and gradually build up the color.
Hatching - hatch a large area with straight marks - avoid making hatches that curve in an arc created by your wrist or arm movement. Try stopping a series of hatch marks along a line, to create an edge.
Cross-hatching - lay down an area of regular hatching, then hatch across it at right angles. Create areas of fine hatching and coarse. How does it look when you use similar colors? Complementary colors? Try overlaying multiple layers and colors.
Scumbling - create fine and coarse areas of scumbling. Use regular even circles and random irregular circles. Try scumbling over a smoothly shaded area. Use a variety of color combinations.
Burnishing - go over and over the same area, starting lightly and building pressure, until you have a smooth, solid block of color. Try alternating colors or shades, laying light over dark and vice-versa.
Incising - Lay down two thick layers of contrasting color. Try using a variety of implements to scratch away the top layer - a knife-blade, a knitting needle or chopstick, a comb.
- Keep your pencil sharp
- Use good quality drawing paper
- Note what colors you use for future reference
- Have fun!
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