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Getting Started with Colored and Graphite Pencils

Lesson 8 of 9

Demo: Gradients With Colored Pencils

Mary Jane Begin

Getting Started with Colored and Graphite Pencils

Mary Jane Begin

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Lesson Info

8. Demo: Gradients With Colored Pencils

Lesson Info

Demo: Gradients With Colored Pencils

So now I wanna shift gears to just testing the colored pencil and doing a little bit of a demo here to create a gradient. And so, and also to show some textures with the different colored pencils, and we can do water based, we can use the wax based, but if I were doing, let's choose a color for the ball. Okay, let's go back to orange. Okay, so if we're using the orange, I'm gonna start with what is one of my favorites, is the water based pencils, and the reason why I like them just for straight on colored pencil work is that they don't have wax buildup, and I like to work fairly lightly, but if I got heavy at all, that wax buildup could be a little bit of an issue. It only really happens when the color's really thick, so just keep that in mind when you're drawing. Now you know, the only issue with demonstrating pencil drawings or colored pencil is it's like watching a snail move across a surface, it's really, really slow, especially the way I work. This materially, really, you can ...

use it in a very expressive, fast way, but most people who, as you've seen in the examples I showed, most people who work with pencil of this type, their marks are fairly small, it's fairly controlled. And this is a great medium for people who want a certain amount of control over their color, but I'm just gonna create a slight gradient, and I'm gonna try to start with these bigger marks, but I'm gonna try to reduce my mark making so you don't see any really big spots, and I'm gonna also try to show a color blended with this orange. And I think I'm gonna use a warm tone and make it just a little more yellowy, it's a little bit dull to my eye. Now here I'm using a broad stroke, I could also change this direction, use circular marks, straight marks, I can make hash marks if I want to, there's no right or wrong way to use it, you just kinda wanna be consistent about your mark making so that you don't have 10 different types of marks across the surface, you want it to cohease. So all I'm doing here is I'm making a little gradation, and I'm not doing a very heavy color gradation yet, I'm just kind of building the tone. And I feel like that's the best way to do it is to kinda build slowly, don't just try to lay on the thickest tonality, because then you can't really get it off either. You can erase the pencils, oh I was gonna talk about erasers. So here we have four different types of erasers, and I'm gonna open this one up because this one has a lot of charcoal on it, I want a fresh piece for our colored pencil. So this is kneaded eraser, and if I wanna erase any of that orange, this stuff is super fun because it's rubber, and you can pinch it into different sizes and shapes, and you can get into a little narrow spot if you pinch it into a little point, or a rounded edge. It's a great tool for large areas, and it picks that colored pencil up pretty well, as you can see. Al that hard work and I'm erasing it. The other thing, I'll do it with something over here, let's test it on this surface. The next one is a pink pearl, now this one's full of color so I'm just gonna graze it on the edge to clean it, that's just a great way to clean it is get rid of the dark edge that I had there. I can erase back pretty easily any of these colors. The water based colored pencils erase a little more easily than your wax based. If I do this wax based color, oh wait, let me use, this is the Blick. Let's try to erase it. It comes up, but I really, really have to push pretty hard to get that color up. So the water based color lifts a little more easily than the wax based, and I think it's just 'cause the wax kind of holds on to the paper. But what I'm gonna do is also show you this tool, which is the really firm, unlike the kneaded eraser, this is a very firm Staedtler Mars eraser, comes with a hard end, the blue end, the white's slightly less hard. And this is for getting into corners and crevices. If you're trying to create the cube, I would tend to use this clean edged tool, and it erases quite nicely. But let's do a little more layering with this color, now I'm just gonna build this up to be more orange, more yellowy-orange. Now the one thing about colored pencil, if you work on a white piece of paper, the white does actually show through the color until you start really building that tonality up a lot. So I personally prefer working on even a light toned paper that has some sort of color to it, that's my own personal preference, but if you really haven't tried it before and you've only done, if you've tested colored pencils and you've only worked on white, try working on a toned piece of paper. If you don't like the texture, flip to the smooth side, the smooth side's actually the back side of the paper, but it's my favorite side because I like smooth mark making. Kenna, do we have any questions right now I can answer while I draw? We do have a question from Shoney that came back a bit ago, who was wondering how to clean the stumps. I think you said that you use one with a particular color and you keep it that way, but can you clean them? You cannot clean them. They're paper. If you really wanna work at tearing off, but then you're ruining the tip. They're so cheap that I try to just say, okay this is for my warm red, I'm gonna keep that around, this one's for my blue, I almost treat them like they're colored pencils, or if it's pastels, they're pastel pencils. I don't try to mix the different stumps with a different color, because the tip will then reflect that. So I save them, an then when they seem a little worn out, I buy new ones. So no, they're not meant to be saved, at least I wouldn't know how you would save these. I suppose if you had a tool to bevel off the edge, and maybe sandpaper, you could come back to a clean point, but it's a fair amount of work, and like I said, they are very inexpensive. When I've used a stump up, I throw it away. Almost like I think of it like a piece of paper towel or something like that. So I'm building up this ball, again, it's really, really light, but I'm starting light, and I can always build up more color. I'm sort of making slightly more circular marks as I move along here. And I'm gonna build a slightly darker toned object, I think I'm gonna push this to be a little bit more colorful by using a little bit of the red. And again, if I want a finer point, I'll just carefully sharpen it, keep your pencil super vertical. If you go too fast or you're impatient, you'll break your tip, so I'm trying not to be impatient. But look at that, it's like a needle point. Now it doesn't mean that you have to draw with a pencil point that's that fine, but because this tool can do that, unlike a pastel stick, even a pastel pencil, you can only get so fine with it because the tip of it is thick, even when it's sharp, it's never this fine. I love this for detailed, tiny work, and I really think this is a matter of taste. If you're a person who likes miniaturized things or small marks, your colored pencils and your graphite pencils are beautifully designed for that. You can use them for larger works, but look at the physical size of that point, it's not very big. Now I'm gonna go back in, bring a little orange, these are all the water based pencils. I'm just tryin' to make a kind of a soft gradient, and again, this takes time. I could work on this for another hour and build up this color, there's nothing speedy about this at all. But I wanna start on, you can see the kind of gradiation, it's almost like the sun. I'm gonna erase that over here. Try to keep my surface clean. And my pencil line is almost too heavy for this surface, what I might do, if I were really trying to create contrast is I might take a color and contrast something else around it to create a color contrast, maybe use a thicker mark versus the fine mark, go in a different direction, just to be able to see that ball more carefully, 'cause it's pretty light. And again, for me to fill this whole surface would take, it takes time. I'll show you, if I were pressing a lot harder what's gonna happen here, and this might be good for this, is a little bit harder to get that texture. That texture is going to be pretty significant, and if you've done a really fine mark and then you have a really big texture around it, that might draw a lot of attention to the exterior color tonality. So I try to keep some variation in the textures, but I don't want them to be wildly different so that your eye is going in the wrong spot, I want the eye on the ball. Always keep the eye on the ball. But they're pretty close now, they're not too bad, I'm not gonna go really heavy like a crayon, A, because I don't think that's the most sophisticated way to be able to use this stuff, it's okay, but then you might as well just use a crayon. And I'm trying to keep this mark direction pretty consistent. I could make a gradiation if I press a little bit harder, but I'm not gonna press it too, too hard. You can see that. Oh the other thing that I have not mentioned is, and I think I'm gonna take the tape off these because this is painter's tape, and I did it sort of just to block off the two sides, but the painter's tape is also really dark, it's really blue, and it's almost too hard to look at these drawings with this dark contrasting edge. So I'm just gonna pull that right off of the surface so you can see where the line of the edge of these two compositions are, and you can really look at this without having to stare at this big, dark color. Colored pencils tend to be more delicate, so I'm of the mind that if they're gonna be more delicate, why would you put such a hard material around it. I usually cover my blue tape with white tape, it's called artist's tape, but here I left it on. I was thinking that I might add watercolor to this, but we're not doing mixed media, I'm just trying to introduce you to, if there's any mixed media, it's just adding water to the colored pencils, the water based colored pencils. Finally I'll take this off here. Now this is a painter's tape, it's great for if you are watercoloring, if you use the watercolor pencils with a lot of water, this tape keeps the water from seeping under the edge so you have a clean edge for your composition.

Class Description

Are you interested in drawing with color or graphite pencils but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to color or graphite pencils. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a drawing practice. By the end of this course, you will be equipped with the know-how to start experimenting and drawing with color or graphite pencils!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about the different types of color or graphite pencils and how they work
  • Which supplies and papers to use when working with color or graphite pencils
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium

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