Color Techniques for Drawing


Lesson Info

Color Style #3: Brushpen

So let's try another technique. It's kind of fun just messing around, trying all these different ways. This is gonna be a brush pen. Now, you can do this with your paintbrush, but you can also do it with this, because it's so much more convenient just to carry that around. So the whole trick to doing this one is you either just pull up and do it very, very lightly, or you press down hard and you get a really dark, thick line. So see how thin you can get your line? That's pretty thin. It's kind of nice and wiggly, and then, when you come to a spot you think might have some shadow, press down really hard. And if you, you can turn it, then you can get it really wide, too. And then, if you have an area to fill in, this is a great, quick filling in. Remember, the last fine point marker, we had to do all that scribbling back and forth to fill it in? This one is just, push it on its side, and push it really hard down in there, and totally fills it in. So I also tend to hold this a lot more st...

raight up and down instead of that way. I only put it on the angle when I'm for sure I wanna do that thick line. So get kind of wiggly, and anywhere you see something that you think is gonna be a shadow, press hard, like that. Anywhere you think is gonna be a highlight or a very light area, do it really thin. Okay. Also, anything, this is kind of my shaded side. So I'm gonna make sure my lines on the bottom and on that side that are in shade are darker and heavier. And this is really great for calligraphy when we come to this spot. So when you're doing any kind of lettering, kind of the basic starter rule is if you're doing a downstroke, press harder. If you're doing an upstroke, lift up. So here I'm going down, pressing harder. I'm going up, lifting. Pressing harder because I'm going down. Going up, lifting until I get to the top. Pressing harder on the way down. Really experiment with this one, seeing how thick and how thin you can get it. And then, I also like to get really unusual shapes, because with the other pen, it's very much like this is the width of the pen, and it's always gonna be that way. It's very designer-y, and this one is just, use it for all it's worth here, as far as getting all the different textures. It kind of makes the paper look, the plastic look really crinkly and wrinkly. I don't know if they have an apple candy. This is another one I also made up. Feel free, when you're drawing something, to make it any flavor you want it to be. Okay. So that's kind of the basics of pen drawing. Lettering, on this tiny lettering, it's gonna be so messy I usually just do it at the lightest pressure I possibly can, and it comes out looking wiggly even if I'm not trying. This. Cleo, one of our online students is asking about the type of paper that you're using at the moment. Yes, this is my Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper. Great, thank you. If I'm using this pen, it's great on Bristol, that's kind of what Bristol's made for, but since I'm doing this kind of painting round up, I just decided to do 'em all on the watercolor paper. Great. But yeah, if I knew I was only gonna use this pen, I would probably start out with the Bristol. And do you have any tips or tricks for thinking about black as a color and using that in general in your drawings? Yeah, I use black as outlines, and I use black when I'm maybe coloring something that is a wrapper that I know the printing is black. If I'm painting a tree and one side is in shadow, I'm never gonna use black. Basically I only use it as a little spot color when I really want it black. All the other times, when I'm just trying to paint something dark, I will try and mix together a bunch of my darkest colors on the palette, because adding black, the pigment itself is a really charcoal-y, it's as if you took a charcoal briquette and just ground it up. It's very velvety, thick color, and it kind of makes all the other colors grayish green when you're using it. So all your pure color's gonna go away. So I try to avoid it for mixing, unless it's just a very graphic look like this. Okay, and then you can fill these in with as many lines as you want. I decided to try these horizontal lines in here 'cause I thought this pen lent well to looking a little bit like an old engraving where they have kind of like a crosshatch, but it's really like an across hatch. So that's another technique.

Are you ready to work with color on your drawing but overwhelmed by all the possible options? In this class, professional painter & illustrator Cleo Papanikolas shares fun, beginner-friendly color application techniques that can turn anyone’s drawings into vibrant finished pieces.

In this class Cleo will teach you 8 different color styles ranging from spot color techniques to using metallics with illustrations.

You'll also learn how to:
  • Load and Apply color with your brush 
  • Use different mediums: watercolor, gouache, brush pens and colored pencil 
  • Create harmonious color palettes
With your finished color pieces, Cleo will show you how to move your drawings out of your sketchbook and out into the world. Learn how to display your drawings on gallery walls and onto physical products, from iPhone cases to large scale tapestries, with sites like Society6.  



  • A great student for this class is someone who is newer to art and just wants to try a bunch of different mediums. The course is not the right fit for me personally. It's more of a "here's an interesting medium" class than a technique class. It scratches the surface but doesn't have the depth I'd like to see. One way I'd suggest improving the class would be letting students see the process from start to finish using slightly sped-up frames with narration in the background. I'd like more information about the technical parts -- just more depth. I'd like variations for more advanced students including color mixing or other more difficult techniques. I wish I could rate this with stars instead of just thumbs-up or thumbs-down. It's not just one or the other.
  • So sad to say this, but I was expecting MUCH more. Cleo is really fun and creative but I thought I was going to learn some new and exquisit artistic technics but instead I saw things I could discover by myself on Youtube :( I´m very disappointed. Thanks, Carmen
  • I'm so disappointed in this class, it's really not even worth the sale price of $18.00 her presentation skills are NOT good, and the content is a true beginning level, but they will be very confused!! This is the first Creative Live class I've taken that I didn't appreciate. This is NOT up to your level of professionalism. You should remove it from your line up of offerings.