Color Techniques for Drawing


Lesson Info

Color Style #6: Add Color with Your Background

This one, there's really not a lot of technique to it. But I just wanted to give you the idea that you can mix more striking pencil drawing with your watercolor, or with your gouaches because from here, we've just been doing this tiny little sketch and maybe the pen has been the dominant thing, or maybe the color has been the dominant thing but you can actually do a pencil drawing with just a tiny bit of color or in our case, some bright color. So as you can see, I had my sketch, and I did it just like in our sketching class. I'm just gonna finish drawing in my blueberries, just a little bit. So I'm using watercolor paper and it's uncoated, and I'm just drawing it as I would have done a regular pencil sketch, finish drawing that in. And then just to give you the idea of, again, looking at the negative space. Before we were looking at negative colors, the highlights were different when we were trying to paint in the highlights instead of the shadows. Here, we're gonna paint in the backg...

round and not the object itself. So maybe that's just what you need when you're looking at it and you're like, I really like my sketch. I kinda don't wanna ruin it but I kinda wanna make it colorful. This also tells you, you don't have to be quite so literal when you're thinking about how to apply color. So blueberries are blue but you don't have to paint the blueberries blue. You can paint the background blue. So I just mix up a nice blue color and just paint around it. And this, it's kind of thinking much more figurative about how to apply color or not be quite so literal with where you place it and what color you make things. The last one we did, it was like, let's be really straightforward. Let's put the color on the little section that is provided for that color. This one, we're gonna paint blue, everyone's gonna think of blueberries but it's not gonna be on the blueberry. So basically that's what you do, just paint the background in and as you can see you end up with something that looks like that. You can go in a little bit more with your pencil, go over the blue for a shadow if you want. But it kind of gives you a big pop of blue without having to be so literal about how to paint a blueberry. Another way of, just kinda shaking up your brain and breaking out of the box on where to put the color.

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.