Information, Choices, Techniques and Advice on all things Coloured Pencil
Over 100 detailed pages of information for beginners and improvers to help you develop your skills
VENICE GRAND CANAL Step by Step
Latest update of page -
EACH OF THESE LINKS
Takes you to
A PDF file of one of the reference images
You won’t need
all of them,
but they are all provided here so that you can review the options
PDF of original photo -
PDF of original photo -
PDF of amalgamated reference photos A4
PDF of Gondolier
PDF of reference Left pencil Drawing
PDF of reference Right pencil Drawing
PDF of reference Left Fine line image
PDF of reference Right Fine line image
PDF of original sketch of new centre input
PDF of tonal scale cards
All images are A4 sized on the PDF
To work with larger images you will need to print off the matching pairs and cut and paste the sheets to get a full sized reference.
For information on the use of the tonal scale cards, either see the notes on page 3 of the Allerford Step by Step
or wait for the details to be published in the working papers for this exercise at a future point
DECEMBER 29th 2016
We have over 45 registered on the Facebook Topics Talk Group and my guess is that around half of you will actually be working along with the picture. That is fine -
Some of you are very skilled artists in CP ( wax type pencils for those not familiar with the Coloured Pencil world ) and I do know that quite a few of you are total beginners. I also guess that a majority of you have watercolour pencils which have been rarely -
This means that the floor is open to anyone to ask what are sometimes called ‘silly questions’.
NO QUESTIONS ARE SILLY QUESTIONS.
Even the most skilled artists are always learning and there is no RIGHT way of doing anything, just many other ways…
It will help me a great deal to know who among you is actually planning to work the picture along with me.
I ONLY need a response from those of you who are working the picture. Observers are welcome to observe and comment but you don’t need to tell me in advance.
If you plan to START the picture with me, can you please email me now at email@example.com
I would like to have first name and surname ( I haven’t got first names for everyone)
The paper you plan to use
The main brand of watercolour pencils you plan to use
and whether you aim to work a small ( approx 10 inches x 6 inches ) or larger picture ( approx 20 x 12 )
…………….or something in between.
Having this data will enable me to target the step by step information
and also to save me from discussing paper and pencil brands and colours no one is using
IF you haven’t decided yet on all of these points, it doesn’t matter,
just tell me who you are and that you plan to work along.
I will repeat this message on the Facebook group threads.
AT THE VERY BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE you will find links to the various PDF files which I have made available.
You won’t need them all yet, but they are lodged there for when you do. I will at some point bring copies of the links up into the body of the text so that they are easier to find.
AS WE TAKE EACH STEP
I WILL PAUSE FOR A FEW DAYS, SO THAT MEMBERS OF THE WORKING GROUP CAN ASK QUESTIONS AND ALSO CONTRIBUTE IDEAS. WHAT IS SUGGESTED AND ASKED WILL HAVE AN EFFECT ON HOW WE MOVE FORWARD.
IF YOU ARE A BEGINNER WITH THIS MEDIUM, PLEASE ASK FOR CLARIFICATION
OR ASK FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, IF YOU ARE IN ANY DOUBT .
JUST BECAUSE SOME MEMBERS OF THE GROUP ARE SKILLED ARTISTS
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO WAVE -
If you are just following this on the website and you are not in the working group, you will not have the benefit of the discussions. Membership is free, but you do have to register with Pencil Topics and you also have to be registered on Facebook first, for us to add you to the group. The sooner you register with Topics, the sooner your voice can be heard. Details of registration are on the Intro page for this tutorial
WE WILL BE USING WATERCOLOUR PENCILS
What is so different about this art medium ?
I have met many people who have a box of unused watercolour pencils tucked away in a cupboard.
They either bought to set or were given it, and after a short experimental tryout decided that they were going to be too complicated to use. YES, they are different to the traditional wax type of coloured pencils and they need understanding. They are not really difficult and they do have a lot of advantages once you understand them.
Firstly, Aquarelles are simply watercolour pencils -
1. Colour becomes more intense when water is added
Water washes the pigment into the paper surface and eliminates those specks of white. The pigment also shows up better against the white paper -
2. A drawn line on the paper will often remain after water is added
When we press the pencil point on to the paper, we embed some of the pigment down into the paper surface and washing a brush over the top still leaves some of the line behind. If we wish to have an even colour on the paper we need to SHADE the colour with the side of the pencil point
3. Some brands have some darker colours that can change the tint of the colour when they are wetted
It is a question of getting to know your colours. Some brands have little variation between wet and dry colour, some have quite major shifts in some darker colours
4. Because we are dealing with water, we need to understand how paper reacts to water
Paper expands when it is wet and contracts when it dries. If we do not take this into account and prepare for it, we can get a distorted paper surface which will spoil the end picture
SO WHAT ARE THE GOOD POINTS ?
1. There is virtually no limit to the amount of colour we can apply to the paper ( unlike wax type pencils)
Each layer of colour can be bedded down into the paper and as a result we can get very strong colours quite easily
2. We can use the solubility of the pencils to easily achieve effects which would be difficult with dry pencils
Because we add the dry pigment to the paper and then manage the colours ON the paper, we can blend and adjust the colour with a damp brush. NOTE THAT WORD….. ‘DAMP’. When we work the colour on the paper, the brush is just moist to the feel on the back of your hand. We can use more water when it is needed, but mostly we use only a very little water and a low cost brush with a good point, which is our working tool
3. We can still use the coloured pencils dry in exactly the same way as wax type pencils
Or even use way type coloured pencils on the top
4. We can speed up the whole art making process using watercolour pencils to work the foundation of our picture either as a simple underpainting to tint the paper or as a major part of the artwork
BUT we do need to be cautious in using watercolour pencils if we intend to exhibit the finished picture in a coloured pencil society exhibition which designates anything with watercolour pencils as Mixed Media.
HOWEVER If we are working to commission, or for our own enjoyment, or possibly for sale at a local art society show, rules that relate to competitive entry for exhibitions do not always apply.
I will not repeat here the topics that go into the handling of watercolour pencils as they are already carefully written out in the topics earlier in this section of the website. If you haven’t read them, I suggest that you spend a little time looking at the earlier pages linked here:
A brush with W/C pencils
By the time you have scanned these pages, you should have a better idea what we are talking about
For this exercise we will be using the following
Any good brand of watercolour pencils
a set of 60 or more would be ideal. They don’t have to be all the same make or variety.
Some are more suitable for this exercise than others……
I will be using mainly Derwent Watercolour Pencils and possibly dip into some of the other sets I have here, but we will not be working with a huge range of colours. The lower cost brands may have low pigment levels and be harder to get strong colour from. The main brands dissolve well with water.
Given a choice, I would go for any of the following…..
Derwent Watercolour -
Derwent Inktense are very strongly pigmented and permanent on the paper after wetting so are less easy for a beginner to use. There are a number of watercolour pencil brands on sale, manufactured in Asia, and coming into Europe at low prices. I have no experience with these but I am told some are good. We may get more feedback from group members as we progress.
Whilst I will be working the main picture with Derwent W/C pencils, I will work a second
example of the picture using Faber Castell Albrecht Durer pencils
Either a sharp bladed knife for sharpening, a sharpener with a spiral cutter, or an old fashioned bladed sharpener with a new blade in it.
A low priced brush I have three synthetic bristled brushes on my worktop all with good points.
There is a No 2, a No 4 and a No 6. The No 4 is probably the most useful.
I doubt if we will use anything bigger
Cold pressed watercolour paper with a moderate grain ( i.e. not too rough)
I will be using Clairfontaine Etival fine grain cold pressed paper, 300gsm (140lb)
This is not a rough as many brands, but any good brand of Cold Pressed paper will work
A number of the working group will be using Arches Cold Pressed 300gsm paper
I will do the parallel example on this paper as a comparison
An HB graphite pencil and eraser ( for drawing out our sketch )
A smooth board for fixing the paper to, and working on
unless you are working from a pad of watercolour paper which ideally should be sold secured on all four sides to a backing board.
If you are using paper on a sealed down block rather than a loose paper pad, I suggest you remove the top sheet before you start so that you can use it for testing and experimentation.
mark that top sheet you have removed with a small pencil ‘T’ on the top side
so you know which side is the same as the sheet you are working on
ADMINISTRATION NOTICES WILL ALL BE ENCLOSED IN A YELLOW TEXT BOX LIKE THIS
TUTORIAL ITEMS WILL BE IN A WHITE BOX
SO WE ARE NEARLY READY TO START
Before we do
ANY QUESTIONS ?
Please raise any questions on the Facebook Group thread
and they will be answered there
A METHOD OF PLOTTING POINTS TO TRANSFER THE IMAGE FROM A REFERENCE
TO THE WORKING PAPER
I use this system to transfer images when teaching courses and workshops, and students seem to manage it very well. It has the advantage of being quick and fairly accurate
OBVIOUSLY, YOU WILL USE THE METHOD YOU ARE MOST COMFORTABLE WITH
As you can see the image I am using here as a reference, is too big to go on 2 sheets of A4 paper so I have joined 3 sheets together. You will have a reference that fits 16 x 12 on two sheets or a single sheet A4 sized reference. For those with odd shaped or sized paper there is a JPEG image as well
I am right handed, so I have taped my reference down on the left hand side. I always keep a sheet of protective paper taped to the top of my board so that the working surface has protection in transit
Taping the reference on the left side means that I can have access to both sides of the reference paper and work across it progressively
My right hand holds the graphite pencil with a sharp point and my left forefinger can feel the point through the paper
In this way I can plot as many vital points as I wish from the reference on to my working surface.
Accuracy is good but not vital, as I shall be
I work steadily across the image feeling the point of the pencil as I go. The process is very quick -
If you are fortunate enough to have good light and your reference is printed out on thin paper, you may be able to see the image you are plotting from the underside of the top sheet
You will now have a working surface covered in little dots which you should be able to use to draw your opening sketch.
Your sketch will have the same distortions as the original photo and some of the lines that you have drawn will need correction with a ruler. Those arches need adjusting and the windows on the right hand side all need lining up
Here on the right, you can see where I finished up.
I wanted to test out my idea of including the gondolier on the left foreground and also to include some older style boats at the rear centre.
Working on the sketch in this way we can refine the composition by including items and possibly even excluding items seen in the original photo.
For the purpose of explaining the process, I have cropped this image
( now seen on the right). I think we need more water and more sky in our picture and the eventual picture will fit more readily into a standard frame shape
A pause here gives us a chance to discuss whether I am right in my composition
and decide how/where we are going to start -
If the sky, then we need to consider the ways in which we can complete a sky in Watercolour pencil.
It is relatively easy to do a sky using traditional watercolour techniques on stretched paper, but I don’t want to stretch the paper. Any ideas ?
LET’S LOOK AT A SELECTION OF METHODS we can use to get our image down on to the drawing surface
. There are many, many, options and some may be well known to you.
1. Free hand drawing It is quick and flexible, but prone to distortion and the need for lots of correction
This is best attempted by those who are very comfortable with their drawing skills
When I did the trial for this exercise, I did a quick pen sketch freehand (with the aid of a ruler),
and ran into a number of problems with errors in distances allowed for the building widths.
Because I was using fineliner pen, I had little opportunity to correct errors, so just went with the flow.
2. Grid system A familiar method that I will not elaborate on, save than to say that it depends on drawing a fine line grid over the reference and an identical grid -
‘box A1’ on the reference can then be drawn into ‘box A1’ on the working surface. After the basic details have been transferred, the grid needs to be erased.
3. Flag system Same as the grid. Except that guidelines are drawn from a centre point like rays of the sun, taking the first lines from corner to corner and the second set vertical and horizontal through the plotted centre point. Further lines are plotted as needed and then the details are transferred across area by area. The ‘flag still needs to be erased afterwards.
4. Mechanical -
Projection is an alternative, but I found that my drawing hand obscured the projected image and the whole business got very complicated. I sold the projector.
5. Tracing A simple system that depends on using thin tracing paper to carry a copy of the image across.
I find tracing invaluable for taking a final copy of the sketch drawing as a record to go back to should things go astray with the artwork.
There are variations of the system. One is to apply an even layer of graphite or soft colour pencil (or even pastel pencil) to the back of the trace and re-
An alternative to this is to re-
6. Plotting points This system relies on measurement and angles.
The reference should be either the same size as your worked picture or a simple arithmetic variation ( twice the size etc ). You draw a frame of the correct size on your working surface,
You measure a point where a main feature crosses the reference frame and make a suitable mark on your working frame. By measuring angles and distances you can transfer enough detail across to enable you to do a satisfactory freehand drawing between the plotted points
THERE IS AN OLD EXPLANATION OF THESE TECHNIQUES ON ANOTHER PAGE OF THIS SITE
and that page gives some illustrations of the methods.
7. An alternative Plotting method
This was touched on in the page described above but is covered in much more detail below, as it was the system I used to transfer my reference across for this exercise.
I SUGGEST THAT MEMBERS OF THIS GROUP EITHER USE A SYSTEM THEY KNOW AND TRUST,
OR USE THE PLOTTING POINTS SYSTEM SHOWN BELOW
What do you mean ‘ I can’t draw’ ?
For centuries, artists and would-
For centuries people have been inventing solutions
……… we have seen
The Camera Lucida, a prism or mirror arrangement that transfers an image of the 3D object so that it appears to be on the drawing page. There is a version for the 21st century as shown below
The Pantograph -
Transparent grid systems for plotting the position of points on the reference or scene to enable them to be drawn accurately into position
A modern art projector will take a 2D image on paper, and using mirrors and strong light, throw the picture on to a surface ( vertical or horizontal ).
The snag is that the drawing hand can get in the way of the projected image
BUT IT ALL COMES DOWN TO PRACTICE IN THE END………………
The more you practice, the better you get. HOWEVER, There are simple techniques for transferring an image
which we will now look at. Some of the methods are variations on the systems shown above.
A REFERENCE PHOTO MAY WELL HAVE CAMERA DISTORTIONS ( ours has ! )
WE MAY WISH TO MAKE ADDITIONS OR ALTERATIONS TO THE SCENE
AS WE TRANSFER THE REFERENCE ACROSS, WE MAY DECIDE TO OMIT PARTS OF THE PICTURE
NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO PLAN FOR THIS !
I am thinking of making some changes to the picture.
I have already suggested the addition of a gondolier in the water in front of the main building of the Fish Market on the left hand side.
I have considered the addition of a small boat loading at the Fish Market quay.
Changing the boats on the right hand side
Including some smaller boats in front of the centre quay by the bridge, instead of the actual ones.
IF WE ARE GOING TO MAKE CHANGES, it would be good to omit elements we don’t need when we transfer the image
WE CAN CORRECT DISTORTIONS in the camera image after we have plotted the transfer, but we need to ensure that all our original transfer lines are erasable
Look at the photo image above. Look at the guide lines I have drawn over it on screen and see how the width of view and combination of photos has given us some major distortions of lines that should all be vertical
Where we are dealing with a picture like this with a letterbox shape, we need to take care with our perspectives -
A Light Box A strong light under a translucent surface throws an image through the working paper to be drawn from above
Modern light boxes can be very slim and use high powered LED lights for an even display
OUR FIRST STEP
IS TO GET THE DRAWN IMAGE DOWN ON THE PAPER
THERE IS A SET OF PDF FILES AT THE FOOT OF THIS PAGE WHICH GIVE YOU A SELECTION OF IMAGES -
DEPENDING ON YOUR PAPER SIZE YOU MAY NEED TO DO SOME ADJUSTMENT BEFORE YOU USE ONE. THERE IS ALSO A JPEG IMAGE OF THE PHOTO.
JPEG IMAGE FILE OF ORIGINAL PHOTO
Fish Market Step by Step
ADMINISTRATION AND DRAWING OUT OF THE IMAGE
WHEN LAYING OUT YOUR DRAWING YOU WILL HAVE SEVERAL OPTIONS
One factor that needs consideration is the boat moored up agaist the side of the Main Fish Market building.
This does not appear in the reference photographs and the way you include it is very much up to you.
I have drawn it out several times and all three of the examples of the picture I will complete will show the boat differently.
One of my original drawings had the boat placed in wrong perspective with the front ( nearest ) part of the boat too low down and the stern of the boat too high. You should make sure that your drawing has the boat with the waterline in line with the quay.
The boat here is tilted upwards too much at the far end
This is a better line… the adjustment is small, but you will see I have raised the bow of the boat a bit more and lowered the stern as well. There are a number of references for boats in this position, later in the exercise when we get to putting in detail