Colored Pencils on Black Paper: BACK TO THE BASICS | Sandrine Curtiss | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Colored Pencils on Black Paper: BACK TO THE BASICS

teacher avatar Sandrine Curtiss, Artist, explorer.

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (56m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Sketch Transfer

    • 4. White Layer

    • 5. The Eye

    • 6. Final Touches

    • 7. Last Thoughts

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

This is the fourth class in the series where we'll combine class #1 and class #3 to draw the portrait of a black cat with colored pencils on black paper.

In class #1, we learned how to draw a crow on black paper with a white pencil. This time around, we'll do the same thing with the portrait of a black cat, and add a touch of color by drawing a simple eye, like we learned in class #3.

Each step is mostly in real time so that you can see the full process and speed when I apply the pencil on the paper.

Take your time and follow the step by step instructions to achieve a great result.

If you've struggled with black paper for a while, or if you're curious and want to know how to use it, join me in this easy to follow class.

If you're interested in taking this class and are not a Skillshare member yet, I'm happy to share with you my referral link, which will give you a free two months subscription. You will not only be able to take my class, but also thousands of other classes offered here. Have fun!

Click here to sign up.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sandrine Curtiss

Artist, explorer.


Hello, I'm Sandrine.

I'm a self-taught artist, always eager to explore new mediums and new techniques. As I learn more and more, I like to share my findings with other artists as a way to give back.
Until now I've shared my art on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, and I'm happy to be able to do it in a bit more details here, on Skillshare.
I invite you on an art journey where we'll explore all sorts of media, both well and not so well known. So pack a bottle of creative juice, and come along with me.


See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hi everyone. My name is Edward Curtis and I'll be your teacher today. I've been drawing with colored pencils on black paper for 15 years. And it's time for me to share what I've learned in the techniques that I use. If you're brand new here, welcome. But if you've watched the previous classes, you'll see that today's class is a combination of two of them. The first one was a basic class where we drew a crow with a white pencil. Class number 3. The previous class was about drawing cats eyes and built upon our class number two, where we learned how to layer the colors. Today we are going back to the basics and we'll draw a black cat with a white pencil. And we'll be adding a touch of color for the eye. It will be a simple, easy I to draw, not like one of the detailed ones we drew in the previous class. This class mostly includes real-time step-by-step videos so that you can see the full process and speed when I applied the pencil on the paper. I hope you'll join me in this class where you can follow the easy step-by-step instructions at your own pace and please feel free to share your progress with the other students and ask questions whenever you need to. I'll see you in class. 2. Supplies: For this class we're going to use some colored pencils. I use prismacolor premier colored pencils. If you don't have those, use whatever you have. And then we're going to pick one of these. Whatever you have. I'll be using the dollar went drawing pencil in ivory black. But instead of that, if you do not have one, you can use either a black soft pastel or a black pen pesto. For the paper. We have a five by seven piece of black Stonehenge paper. This is my favorite paper for colored pencils because it's nice and thick. And also, even though it's smooth, it has enough teeth to take a lot of layers. To transfer our sketch onto our black paper. We will need some tracing paper. You can also use some white transfer paper, few months. And then to keep everything nice and clean. Either a kneaded eraser or some posts your body. And do not erase the conventional way by rubbing just dab on your paper to remove the pigments. Can also use a soft brush. I have a drafting brush to just remove the pigment site that you can just use a new watercolor soft brush or any brush you have. I will put a list of all the colors that we need with the class materials along with the reference photo. All right, let's get started. 3. Sketch Transfer: As I've mentioned in my previous classes, I do not like to sketch straight on the black paper when I'm gonna do a final drying. Because if I need to erase the lines, if I make mistake, then it might damage the surface of the paper. So always transfer my line drawing onto my black paper, there are different ways of doing it, and I found the most efficient one for me is to use a white pencil to trace either my sketch or trace the photo, whichever one you're more comfortable with. And once those white lines are done, I flip it over against my black paper and I use either mechanical pencil or a regular graphite pencil. And I go over those lines on the other side of the paper and I try not to apply too much pressure. I want to apply just enough so that the white pigments transfer onto the black paper. If the pencil I uses too hard or if I push too hard on it, then I might create some grooves on my paper. And later on when I draw over those grooves, the pigments from my pencils will not go in the grooves and they will leave some marks and it will show that the paper was damaged. So use some firm but gentle strokes to transfer the drawing. You can tape your paper down if you want to make sure that you do not move your tracing paper. I'm so used to it and there's so few lines for this particular drawing that I think it's okay for me to just hold onto it. But from time to time, I make sure that I lived the tracing paper to make sure that the transfer is done properly. Once this is done, I removed my tracing paper and with a soft brush, I removed the residue from the paper. 4. White Layer: Once I'm done transferring the line drawing on the black paper, I pick up my white pencil again and make sure it's nice and sharp. And it's time to add the first layer. And that first layer is essentially to establish all the details of the drawing. I start with the eyes and I look at where the lightest lights are. And I go very gently on the paper blocking in all those light areas. So you see that there are reflections on the eyes themselves, those very, very bright white, but there's also some lighter areas within the color is. So I'm coloring those spots as well. I take my time and I always keep my eyes on the reference photo to make sure that I applied the pencil in the right place. Then I start working on the firm. And I always try to go in the direction of that. I see on the reference photo. And I add lightly some wispy hair. When I see little pieces of pencil on my paper, I take my poster potty and lightly dab on them to remove them because I don't want my hand to crush them and end up making unwanted marks on the paper. So keep on working around the eyes. When trying to establish the hair. It's an area that's pretty light because of where the light's coming from. All right. Then I start working around the right ear. And on the reference photo, you see that the hair that sticks out against the background is black. However, our background here is as black. And if we left that hair black, we wouldn't see it or there's not really a way to show it. So what I usually do is I draw that hair white as if the light was shining on it. Now we need to keep in mind that we are not drawing a white cat. The fur is black and the white hair that we're drawing is actually black. We're only showing the reflection of the light on the hair. So we don't want that hair to be super white. We don't want to make it seem like the black cat has some white spots on its fur. And that's another reason why we need to be light on our pencil. We need the black paper to show through the white. From this particular photo of the edges of the ears are pretty wide because it catches the light for a lot. So I am going to make sure that at some point those edges really show why, especially outside of the year. So on the neck, I'm doing the same as on the ear, where the third that's showing against the background will be white, not too bright. On that little piece of fold there, I see that it's almost a solid color and we'll add colors to it later on. But for now, I'm only coloring it with the white and I'm hardly pushing at all on my pencil. I'm only adding a very light wash. Why? Trying to keep it even so that there is no pencil marks showing. I'm gonna do the same on the inside of the year as well, trying to avoid the shadowy areas only coloring the brightest areas. So make sure that I keep on looking at the reference picture all the time. I know I've said it many times already, but it's very important so that I know where to add the pigment. Once again, I tried to keep the paper clean when the residue and the papers him pretty loose then I use my soft brush when they seem to be sticking a little bit more to the paper, I use my poster. On the forehead, I'm doing the exact same thing as I did on the neck and the edge of the ears by adding some hair against the dark background that is white as if the light is shining on it. And then you don't see it very much on the photo. But if you look closely, you can't really see the left eye, but you see the hair. I think it's probably the cheekbone or something, but you can see some white hair struck by the light sticking out quite a lot. The nose is one of the widest areas. So we can push on the pencil a little bit more, not too much because we'll add another layer of white later on. But we don't need to be as light on the pencil as we are in other areas. The fur on the nose is quite tricky. It goes in different directions. So make sure you observe the reference photo. Also when you draw the hair, make sure that the lines aren't all the same. Make sure that the overlap, make sure that they're not the same length, that there are not strictly parallel to each other. Otherwise it will not look natural. On the tip of the nose. The hair is so short that you don't really see each individual hair. So you can get by with just coloring it rather than adding lines. In some area, the work is quite minute, so make sure that you keep your pencil nice and sharp. You can get by with not sharpening it as often if you rotate your pencil from time to time so that you draw on all different sides of your tip. Any kind of sharpens by itself in a way, but it doesn't last very long. So make sure you keep on sharpening it. Around the mouth. There's also a lot of whiskers, a lot more than we think, especially if you look at the black catch, you don't always see all the whiskers. I have a black cat and I never noticed that they have those tiny whiskers on their chins, but also have a tuxedo cat with white whiskers. And on her we can see very well all those little whiskers on the chin. So make sure you observe the reference photo well and don't miss all those little whiskers all over. You don't have to draw them all, of course, but it's going to make it look more natural if you do draw some sticking out of the chin. On the cheek there, on the side of the nose also goes in quite a few directions. So make sure use a variety of strokes that your hair looks natural. And then for those long whiskers, it can be tricky at first to draw them. Maybe you can practice on a separate piece of paper. It's a long flick basically. And you just do it with your wrist. If you go too slow and you hesitate, your lines will be crooked. So don't be shy. Maybe can also practice over your drawing without putting your pencil down. Transit, just flick your wrist and then once you're comfortable, you've shown me your hand which direction to go, then put your pencil down and just go for it. It's now going to be perfect right away, but as you keep on doing it, it'll get better and better. Also, your whiskers do not have to be exactly at the same spot as on your reference photo. It's not going to distort the cat's face. So don't be too hard on yourself when you draw the West cares and some cats have crooked whiskers as well. One of my cats do. So this part is one of the most important part of the drawing. Now we're going to start working on the eye. 5. The Eye: Now we're going to work on the eye, hits the most colorful area of this drawing, which is not saying much better picked this reference photo, particularly because the I was not very detailed. And to make it easier is just a reminder from the previous lesson, my class that cat is I showed you different ways to draw eyes. Some are very detailed and take quite awhile to draw and some on very detailed. But it's not because you don't add all the little lines inside the eyes that they don't look pretty good too. So this one is not very detailed and we're gonna just basically block all the colors we see and pay attention to the values because it's the values that will help us make the eye stand out as we build the layers, we're gonna go from the lightest color to the darkest one. We're not going to add too much pressure on the pencils, will be able to add more colors on top in, we should be able to add some lighter colors on top of the darker ones. But for now we're just going to go from light to dark. And we'll start with a cream and apply a light wash over the iris. We could have used the white, but I just wanted to start adding a hint of color with the cream. In the brightest areas, we can actually push a little harder on the pencil, but not too much. Then we're going to use the bronze and this will stay in the darker areas. So that's the base for our shadows. Again, we're applying a light wash where the shadows are. Now what? We're going to go back onto the lighter areas. And we could apply a light wash over the cream layer, blending between the edge of the cream and the bronze to make a nice transition between the two. So that we don't lose the shape of the pupil. As we keep on adding the layers, we can just define it right now with a black pencil. With a white pencil, I went over in the lighter areas again to make sure that I didn't lose those also. Okay. And then with a black pencil, I'm going to start working on the shadows again. I use a very, very light pressure. I'm barely touching the paper, just grazing it to add a tint of black because I want the color underneath to show through. There is a distinct shadow line right across the eye. So we're going to blend it. We're going to make sure that it stays nice and straight like that. With my pencil, I go over the lighter areas again. And at this point, and notice that I added too much black at that border between the light and the black, that particular line that crosses the eye, It's too much. So I used my poster and I dabbed to try to remove. As much of the pigments as I could, and that's how you can erase your mistakes on black paper. You can do that on, on white paper as well. It's not always easy to erase colored pencils, but with postal, you can dab on it and it really helps removing those pigments. Once that's done, then you can add more layers in that area without damaging the paper at all. I worked on my shadow again with the bronze pencil. And I also added some at the bottom of the pupil. And then with the yellow ocher, edit another wash on top of my lighter area. And really just building the color is where I see them on the reference photo. Again with the white, I am re-establishing the highlights. I wanted to make sure that I do not lose them with all the layers of colors that I keep on adding. At this point, I can start pushing a little bit harder on my pencil because I won't be adding too many more layers. And it's time to just push and pull really and adjust the color is according to what I see on my reference photo. All the details. Very sharp black pencil. I tried to define the contour of the eye as well as to the pupil. Okay. And once my work on my highlights and December, I'm really pushing hard on my pencil. I'm adding more color with the yellow ocher. And this is, you can see is not the most colorful because it's such kind of washed out for just wanted to give it some color. And the brightest color is that she'll be using will be the bronze for the shadow and the yellow ocher for the actual color of the eye. Once you satisfied with it, and it's time to add more details to the rest of the head. 6. Final Touches: Now that we're done with the I, and by the way, if you want to, you can just draw the eye with a white pencil just to keep the drawing black and white. It's up to you. I thought that adding a touch of color was pretty nice with anyway. Now that we're done with the eye, we're going to add another layer of white. We're going to define the details a bit more and make that white pop more. So it's basically the exact same thing that we did for the first layer, the white layer, except that now we can push harder on our pencil. When we draw an animal with colors, with colored fur, we have to be careful and really build all the colors, kind of like what we did with the eye. So we start with very light pressure on the pencil and slowly build the layers. But for our cat, we are only using a couple of layers with a white pencil. So the first layer was to establish where everything was. The second layer that we're doing now is to really work more on our values. And we can apply more pressure on the pencil. So the wash on the inner ear right now is kind of a gradient. There's one side that's a little bit brighter than the others. So I pushed a little bit harder on that side and I made it fade towards the inside of the ear is going to be in color and we'll add it in a little while. Same with the folds of the year. We're just establishing a barrier with that white against the black paper. It's kind of like putting just saw on a canvas to be able to use it with acrylic. For instance, if we don't put that white on the paper, we want to have that opaque to prevent the black of the paper to the colors. Now for the long hair again was long, wispy lines and more pressure on the pencil. And as I said earlier, that area of the nose and the left cheek there, some of the brightest. So the white really, even though it's not white far, the white really needs to stand out right there. So don't hesitate to push harder on your pencil. Now on the edge of the nose, you don't need to show any line, but on the bridge of the nose, draw some hair. I'm defining the hair a little bit more around the eyes, but it's not very bright there. So don't push too much on the pencil. And on the cheek, which is the busiest area. I make sure that I follow the direction of the hair that I keep my eyes on the reference photo. And it's another chance for me to make sure that I get it right if I made some mistakes earlier than I can correct it now, the edge of the mouth and the chin are also areas that catch the light a lot. So I pushed hard on my pencil. At some point on the Chen, I realized that I put some white where it shouldn't have. So I use my black pencil to draw black hair back into the highlights. If that makes sense. The black pencil is very useful to help correct mistakes. Now for the whiskers, I noticed that they catch the light in some areas and they're a bit darker and some other areas, I found their tips, so I'm only adding highlights or the cash to light the most. Now it's time for the final details with my black pencil. And I really need to keep it nice and sharp. Some basically pushing the black hair back into the highlight. Some drawing again, some wispy lines, but going into the white area that I drew and that creates a nice gradation between the all black area and the highlighted the hair. I hope this makes sense. In any case, it just, it shows some black lines like here, then you can see better maybe with the year. I'm also defining the shadow areas a little bit more. Added too much of a glaze, the white inside the air. I'm covering it a little bit very, very lightly with a black. And I'm going through my whole drawing trying to make sure that my highlights are nice and bright. The details were defined with my black pencil. Alright, so now it's time to add some slight color to the inside of the ear. I started with the clay rose and add a very light wash over the white layer that I already put down. And I'm only trying to tint it to color it. So it's a very, very light touch. I'm adding this color on the inside of the ear as well as on the phones. Now with the French gray, 50 percent, I'm going over the clay rose lightly just to mix the colors together because I do not want the ear to be too pink. I want to tone it down a little bit. And again, I use a very light pressure with my life umber pencil. I did the exact same thing but only on the folds, So only on the outside of the ear still with light pressure. With my French gray 50 percent, I go over the light amber to turn it down again. I just want the inside and the outside of the ears to be a slightly different color. Now this time I wanted to try something new, but before I get started, I just realized that there were a few details that I forgot to add with my regular black pencil. So once again, I made sure that it was nice and sharp. And I added the black hair over the colors that I just added on the inside of the ear. Now with the HDR want lag drawing pencil, instead of using it directly on my drawing, I decided to apply it on a sheet of paper and I'm only using printer paper right now. A Rabbet with the paper towel so that the pigments would transfer onto the paper towel and I could transfer it onto my drawing. And by doing that, I can actually add some softer shadow effects in some areas of my drawing and soften, soften the edges of the highlights. Now at some point I realized that printer paper was not very good. It's just to smooth. So I use a scrap piece of Stonehenge paper and I scribbled on it again with my black drawing pencil. And this time I was able to lift a lot more pigments. So apply that on the edges of the highlights and it really gives a much softer look. But because it's not very accurate and precise, I ended up using my white pencil again. Add more highlights the exact same way as I've been doing since the beginning of the drawing. If you don't have a HDR went like drawing pencil, you can always use charcoal or what would work really nicely actually would be a black soft pastel, either a stick, if you have a pen tester would be awesome. If you don't want just a regular stick, you can just rub your paper towel on this ticket itself and then apply that pigment on your paper. I think it would look very good. Just don't overdo it because you don't want to cover all your white lines. So now it's time to simply work on those last highlights on the eye around the eye to the tear duct and those areas that I covered a bit with the pigments from the drawing pencil. Now you might notice that especially the long hair inside the ER, by covering some of it with the black pigment, you've created a midtone that where you have some black lines that you did with your black pencil earlier, you have some white lines, the original white lines that were covered with the black pigment, they're more like grayish now. And then you have your brand new white lines over it. So you have three different colors. And that gives it a lot of dimension, a lot of volume, and it makes it look a lot more realistic. Now I'm using my prismacolor, black pencil very lightly to soften the tip of the line at the base of the ear so that it doesn't stop abruptly. And the same for the whisker on the side of their head. It can have shoes that whiskers coming from the black fur. So you don't see the root of it because it's softened by the black of the fur. Here I realized that adding those white highlights, the shape of the skull was not quite right. So I added a little bit more of the black pigment to shape it, and then a few white lines to round it a little bit more, a little bit of cleaning up with the soft brush and maybe a little bit of dabbing with the poster buddy in our drawing is all done. 7. Last Thoughts: This was our fourth class of colored pencils on black paper. I hope you enjoyed combining two classes together to experiment on a full drawing. It's been a lot of fun seeing your progress with the previous classes and thank you all for sharing your drawing so far. You guys are doing a fantastic job and I can't wait to see the artwork you create with this class as usual, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate. I'm here to help. Thank you very much for joining me again today and I'll see you soon with another class.