Rendering Light: Compositions With Colored Pencil

Marco Mazzoni, Fine Artist, Italy

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5 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Introduction to the Medium

    • 2. History of Chiaroscuro

    • 3. Chiaroscuro Drawing

    • 4. Adding Color

    • 5. Color in Layers

18 students are watching this class

Project Description

Illustrate light in chiaroscuro style with colored pencils


  1. Choose your tools

    Choose the materials that work best for you. The kind of paper and colored pencil  you have determines the result for your work.


    Color: For these lessons it is better to use white paper because you can understand veils without the interference of a background color.

    Weight: I'd recommend a paper weight of 200 grams or more, its thickness allows us to work with them on several occasions and with more pressure.

    Surface: It is essential to select a smooth paper.

    Colored pencils

    You can decide what is best for your capacity, but I think it is appropriate to choose dark colors with brands that have very dry pencils.

    Use various hatches to understand what your favorite material is, pay attention to  when your hatch is creating a 3D dimension in your drawing.

Chiaroscuro (History)

  1. Sketch your final idea

    Create a sketch (in black and white, right now we don't need colors) of what you have in mind for your final project.

    Remember that the balance of space within the paper is essential. It gives you the opportunity  to make sure the work is harmonious. At this point, utilizing light and shadow is more important than the form of your portrait.

    Share your sketch on your project page.

Practical Chiaroscuro

  1. Start your chiaroscuro

    Bring your sketch to the final paper, then start to draw the chiaroscuro: select a maximum dark (better a black) and a medioscuro (an indigo blue or a dark sepia).

    Create two different chiaroscuros, one nuanced and one sharper. Only with practice will you be able to figure out what you prefer.

    Share your drawings on your project page. Explain why you chose one chiaroscuro over the other.


  1. Add color to your chiaroscuro

    Spray a thin layer of fixative to the chiaroscuro that best represents your style.

    To understand color, the most simple visual reference point is the circle of Itten. With this circle you can separate the various colors you need.

    Select two complementary base colors and select five other colors of the same shade.

    For example

    Blue: indigo blue, cobalt blue, cerulean, azure, turquoise

    Violet: magenta, fuchsia, plum, red violet, rose

    Take the chiaroscuro that you discarded from the previous lesson and use it as a an experiment.  Test the two colors you have chosen to see which areas you want to fill with color.


  1. Add veils of color

    When using colored pencils, you have to reason with layers. The palette is built on the paper, and you need to intervene several times with different colors to get the desired color (this is why it is very helpful to use only two basic colors with their ranges, to avoid creating messy or dirty colors).

    Start with light colors to build a foundation that will allow you to think better in volume. Work in layers with your colored pencils to arrive at the final portrait drawing.

    Share your final drawing on your project page.

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