Coloured Pencils: 3 Techniques You Should Know | Mel Unger | Skillshare

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Coloured Pencils: 3 Techniques You Should Know

teacher avatar Mel Unger, Coloured Pencil Birds & Nature

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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 (39m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Layering

    • 3. Strokes

    • 4. Embossing

    • 5. Putting it Together

    • 6. Mountain timelapse

    • 7. Summary

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About This Class

Welcome to my second SkillShare class! 

This is a theory-into-practice styled class. After sitting down and compiling a list of topics to cover, I felt it was important to go over some basic techniques that you can apply to any style of art form you like. I also felt this class could be a piece to a larger puzzle when creating bold illustrations in coloured pencils.

Class layout: I give little tips throughout the videos, followed by a time-lapse of a recent work, and then a quick summary. (Also take a peak under "Class Project" for some notes I've made.)

The 3 basic techniques covered:

1) Layering: What order to layer your colours in, when to burnish, and how to pull undertones through instead of just layering from above.

2) Stroke Direction: How to give the illusion of different shapes or textures based on which way you are colouring.

3) Embossing Textures: Using your Polychromos White (or another embossing tool if you have one) to lay down a foundation for easy texture-creations.

I hope you find today's class helpful! I tried to provide as much relevant information as I could, but the rest of your art journey will be through practice and observation. With all the colour combination options, your colouring world is an endless rainbow!

If you'd like more support or if you have feedback for me (I'm still very new to teaching), please message me on Instagram For more info on what I do, please visit my website

Also, make sure you're following my account so you don't miss future classes =)

Happy colouring!




Meet Your Teacher

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Mel Unger

Coloured Pencil Birds & Nature


I am so excited to teach on Skillshare!

Believing anyone can draw when given the right tools and information, my classes break down seemingly complex art into manageable steps. I will show you the skills on how to sketch free-hand and how to layer in the colours to create eye-capturing, vibrant, and detailed illustrations (especially bird art). Some of my classes may also be broken down into specifics, such as berries, branches, or flowers. My goal is to build you up to the point of being able to complete your own illustrations!

Art experience is not required. Desire and patience are a must...especially with coloured pencils.

Visit my website for more information about me and what I do:

Or follow me on Instagram for special an... See full profile

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1. Intro : time there. Thank you for joining me on my second skill share video. My name is Mel Hunger from Mellie Be dot art on instagram If you follow me there for tips, tricks and tutorials on for those of you returning thank you for coming and welcome back. Today we will be covering the topics of layering stroke directions stretching your pigments , which is also with burnishing as well as in Boston. Your page to create different textures. Then I will put it all together and step by step side by side. Show you how I could do a feather on branch work with those four simple techniques followed by time lapse video of some Arizona mountains and some afterthoughts. So let's get started. 2. Layering: So this first lesson isn't layering. I'm gonna show you how various pressures and layering combinations creates different looks . I'll press a little harder on the top and gently fade my way out down to the bottom. That is an ivory. And right now I'll add a green on top, and immediately you can see how the pigments react to the paper. So because the green is closest to the paper on this side, it's more rich and green. This one is mixed with ivory. Where it gets interesting is when you apply more pressure and you start to saturate pigments very R and legal lighter towards the bottom. And immediately you can see the undertone is being pulled through over here of the base of the ivory. Now, well, that out of the way, I'm gonna add a cat. Dark cadmium yellow in the center. Of course, when you mix the colors, you always get different shades. But with three different colored pencils, I'm able to create 12345678 different shades. And if I want to to bring ah, highlight out, watch what happens. This is the ivory amusing and because it's firm enough my edge, Even though colored pencils, they say light does not go over dark. Yes, you can. You can actually scratch the lightness bath out if you had protected your paper to begin with Over here, where green is on the paper directly, you can see No, it does not work as well. You do get something kind of interesting if that's the look you're going for. But it will not be as bright as what you have over here, where you've already protected your page with that ivory base. See the difference and hero scratching the yellow part in this part over here and for people who wonder how I get my birds so shiny and my highlights. Even though I use Pollock Ramos and they're not known for being the most opaque colored pencils out there, it's because I've learned to protect my paper and I've learned to protect it like that. I'll show you, um, something three different colors with blues, cause I love coloring in blues and greens. Here I will use white, a light cobalt blue as well as a darker bluish green, so I'll protect my paper. So in the future, as I upload a complete bird art. I will use my own lingo. I don't have art background. So when I say protect your paper, I mean take a light color. You can use someone's at the door. You can use a warm gray, white, cool grey, white, white or ivory, just anything really light. So I'm protecting my page over here. Then I will top it off with a light cobalt turquoise. Oh, no, sorry, a cobalt blue green and watch what happens where the white, where the blue sits on the white and where the loose it's on the paper immediately get to different effects and press a little harder. Now you're getting some richness showing through. Now we'll show you what happens when we add a light cobalt turquoise in the center and again, three colored pencils, and we can create eight different shades. Now I will do what I love doing, is using white and just scratch at it. There you go. This may not make sense at the moment, but when I do my feather in branch work, it will all come together. See how colleague Ramos White, even though it's not known for being a pig you can still get that very bright white by protecting your page in advance. So this suffers lesson and layering. The next lesson is direction of your strokes. 3. Strokes: So this next lesson his direction of strokes. Because if you're a type of person who colors all over the place and you're wondering why you you're not able to create something smooth or your textures looking a little flat, it could, and you're using a lot of colors. It could be that your stroke direction, whether you're going in circles or back and forth or on an art is the culprit. So here I'm doing very even swirls to create a smooth spear, and when you're swirling, it helps to hold your pencil on a bit of an angle. Your pencil is far too sharp. Then perhaps you can take a scrap piece of paper and dull it. I don't know what all that beeping is. I think my neighbor is constructing, and if you press firmer, get more richness. But you're still using the same in colored pencil. So even though this can give you a bit of a light and dark effect, it's it doesn't give you the dynamic colors. So for that I will apply a darker gray in the shadow area again, smooth circles. I'm not going to create a perfect sphere because the point of this lesson is taking the technique and applying it to whatever you're drawing. So you could be using the swirling technique to create a smooth texture for leather shoes or a car coloring a door. I like to work my way up into the light areas, swirl in some lighter grace, all the colors I'm using right now. I'm using white cool gray, one cool great to cool grey four as well as Payne's gray. And with the lighter colors, you can go back and furnish over the darker ones. And the more layers you add. And the more furnishing you do, the smoother the tone you will get when I color. I love to fill every tooth a tooth, toothless, these little bumps in the paper, these little white dots, the rougher the paper, the more texture, the tooth and the more pixelated. It'll eat a lot of pigment if you fill it well. Um, it will trap a lot of color. Okay, there we are, and I will swirl in some white. So if I kept at it and I kept adding layers and I kept furnishing in little circles, we will end up with a smooth smooth spear that takes some time and practice. I just have a few more things I'd like to teach you, so I won't be making a perfect, perfect, smooth spear. Here we are. I'll add a little bit more darker grey. So when I swirl to create a more even texture to do the finishing to emphasize the roundness of a ball, you can always around the edge and use your finishing strokes in the direction that you want to emphasize. Okay, because it's the illusion. People's eyes will be drawn to that direction of strokes, and they'll feel it is very round. Now. If you're someone who colors all over the place, look what happens if I start doing six eggs and I've seen people color all over the place, and they wonder why they're circles not looking very smooth. Immediately add texture when you go rough in the other directions. A lot of burnished so many layers here it's quite smooth. And then I have people buy some basket followers, emailing me, asking questions and their coloring all over the place. Like sometimes this direction and sometimes that direction, which is great if it's an artistic technique that you like, but you can see how texture makes a difference, because suddenly my circle looks more flat now that the lines are going in one direction. Where's before? When I was swirling in circles, it looked more rounded. Um, another way. Another flat thing I want to show you is coloring in one direction is, like, say, a cube color in this direction. My color in that direction and your eyes are immediately drawn to the flatness of it all and the hard edges of it. This is why it's important to know which direction you want to create when you're coloring , and that's what I do for my bird feathers. My father's curving one way. I take a lot of effort not to put my strokes going in the other way, even if it's really, really slow process. I can already feel the flatness of this square because of the line direction and again, this may not make sense to you at the moment, but when I do my father in branch, it will all tie together. So hang in there, see how this looks, see how the square looks flat because the lines are going this way and that way, And it's going that way And the circle waas smooth and round, but something that looks like a flat circle because I've colored in lines as opposed to swirls That would be one of your culprits. I'll show you a curve. And I like doing the curve because while doing s curve and this one, I will teach at a polar pigments, um, to create two different textures when you're burnishing. So let's do big as and I'm gonna pretend it's like a ribbon when a dark in this area here, it's nice and dark. I'm gonna lightened my pressure as I go out over here dark in this area and light my pressure as I go out that I'm gonna mix in some other shades of gray. No, When you layer and you choose to, the timing of furnishing does make a difference. If you want to mix your colors in a little bit better, I would burnish about third or fourth layer in Okay, cause once you burn, issue start to seal off what you have underneath and the rest goes on top. So the darker areas I burnished, but I like in my pressure towards the lighter areas lighter colored areas. So stroke direction Notice how this one was swirled and it looked smooth until I drew the lines across, not looks flat and this looks flat. This one looks like a ribbon because I am coloring in the direction of the stroke or I'm stroking in the direction of the ribbon. Sorry, I'm thinking of loud. Add a little bit of white here and I'll burnish it in and blended. Now where this can get interesting for texture is going to add lines and show you how to trap in those textures. Okay, All right. So grab my down here. I'm going to draw little lines across and appear with a draw lines across because I've already burnished a couple of layers with the light greys as well as the white. It's slippery as an ice rink. It will take color if you do it right or it can become one gray mess. So you see all those lines now the top I will. I will burnish in circles and look what happens because I'm going against the direction I've essentially lost the texture. If I wanted to keep it so your stroke direction on how you apply your colors is very important with colored pencils, because I've completely smooth this out now on the bottom. Look what happens if I burnish in line with There's other lines now that I've furnished in this direction is trapped. So should I go over top and swirl? The lines are still there, lightly in the background. If I felt like I was too sharp with those vertical lines, I can still take some of it out and swirls, but it's still a little trapped, whereas up here it's completely gone and for finishing touches when I do my feathers or any kind of work, I like to outline with a little bit of light and dark just to bring back the emphasis. And down here, I'll show you something else. That's quite interesting. That I like to do is when you draw these lines and make them listen short. You can take a different color, and if you can stretch the moat, I love stretching colors, just softens the edge while creating more layers, and you can only imagine if you use lots of colors, like purples and pinks and yellows and greens. And yet mix it all in there and you keep stretching it. It blends like this. Beautiful rainbow. All right, that's class infrastructure direction. 4. Embossing: So now we're going to talk about embossing, and I want to show you what happens if you take your your white. I always use white tomb boss, and you press hard in the direction of whatever you're trying to create. Usually I do this on areas where really want Ah, highlight. Because just like my other scratching technique, I've not protected those lines. And I can always dig him out later when I need it, And knowing when you layer the color that's close to the paper is the darkest and richest. The texture is there underneath. A lot of artists use this technique, um, for whiskers and stuff that they need to pull back up. Pull back through later. Can't you go? Mixes many colors is you need to use it for the veins on a leaf Rough branch work on a train and I even use a very sharp tip to do this on the feathers. For those highlights on, the texture is just there. So next lesson is tying all of this together. Andi, I will show you simultaneously a feather and a branch 5. Putting it Together: So now we're going to combine everything we've just learned and with the same steps side by side. I will create a very different texture and look for the feather as well as the branch. And again, this is not to create the perfect branch or feather. It's to show you how the techniques can work together to create, so you can make your own custom creations. So I'm just gonna add a little bit of color here and just kind of a random pattern. But generally we're I want a shadow to be, and same thing with a feather feathers you'll find one side is usually brighter than the other, and I like to color in somewhat open, irregular pattern because that's more realistic. So pretend the shade is on that side, and I'll still color in a little bit of shape because of feather turns. Noticed the stroke direction. The feathers like to grow from here to here if you've ever played with one, or if you just Google search and look at one and I'm going in that same direction as well, whereas the tree trunk it's more zigzagged up and down, and I'm going in that direction. So I've just laid down a basic coloring I'm gonna etch. So the feather that's pretend the site is the bright, sunny side. I was gonna etch a long the inside line as well as create some the highlight lines, because once these come through in the end, it will create a lot of depth. It's kind of how I start all my feathers. If you see my work on Instagram here, let's say I want to create some sharp highlights right along here, and the tree trunk usually has very rough texture. And there goes the sun moving right into my screen hanging there. Will I reset? Okay, I'm back. I am trying to renovate our garage into a little art studio. It's just taking some time, but hopefully I'll get much more consistent lighting and working space out that way. So the type of trees that you're going to etch in the pattern of just take a look and observe if it's a smooth branch or if it's a very rough branch for the bark. Okay, I'm just gonna drawn some lines just to give you an idea. So after him, bossing in a color now that we've in Boston, just gonna lightly add some color over top and layer it in. You can see where some parts pick up car differently. See the embossed lines now showing through Go not many trees or super uniform so you can color. It's here if it's their leave, bits out. And here's the blue and I'm going in the direction of the feather. Three. Go. You should be a dark blue, but darker on that end for very fine detail. I like to work with a very sharp tip for smoother detail for burnishing blending. I like to work with a more blunt tip. Now I'm gonna burnish thes colors to blend them in the direction I want them to go, and you can see pigment stretching, as I've mentioned before, where it's now blending into each other. But because I'm pulling in the direction line, I've created multiple shades with only three colored pencils, so I do have 120 kit on, and I highly recommend you buying the largest kit, um, of the brand of your choice, because it will. You will build to create a much more interesting colors and drawings. However, if you don't have all the colors under the rainbow at the moment. Theme. Simple technique can help create more color dynamic in your artwork until you can get that larger kit. So I slightly burnished the tree stump, and I've more heavily burnished the feather I'm gonna now go through. Now that I've gotten some highlights, some mid tones in there I'm gonna go through adds some depth to create contrast. And oftentimes, when I have students or followers on Instagram, email me and say, Hey, help me out here I'm not sure why my pictures flat and I reply, add more colors. Add more depth. It's because they're missing this step. They usually kind of stop here thinking they've added enough, but they're wondering why it's not popping, and I say at a darker color and add more and focus on the contrast the shadows. That's what I'm going to do here. And I was thought about fast forwarding this because color pencils is slow and it's like watching paint dry. However, if I don't show you in real time, I don't know if you're gonna be able to really benefit from my class because you may have unrealistic expectations that you can get it done within five seconds of my time. Lapse it. In reality, it's a very slow process. It's it's a very, uh, it's very, very much a love project when you choose colored pencils. But I can't imagine working with any other mediums because I'm one of those people who like to pick up things, and I feel I can pick stroke for stroke, hair by hair. So now still stroking in the direction of the feather grove. And let's say if the feathers down here curves up to catch the light, it dips back down on the other side. So I'll just very thin little black line or a darker blue line there. Feathers are often not flat. I don't know if I've ever seen a flat feather always catching the light on one side or the other, and then I'll just do very little bits of irregular shadow work and extend a few there immediately. You can already see a bit of pop in the feather, so let me go through and add a bit of pop in the branch work as well. So here I'm using burnt number, and I'm just gonna add a bit of the shadow. It helps to focus on where your son source your light source is coming from. If it is a very soft lighting, your shadows won't be as contrast ID. If it's a harsh daytime afternoon light, then you can work with more pressure and add deeper colors. Um, color I love to use to dark and brown's is a dark, dark navy blue because brown is actually a combination of red, yellow and blue. So the more blue you have in a brown, the cooler and darker it is. And the more yellow you have, the more it's yellow Brand is more towards the light red brown somewhere in the middle. I guess you can have a deep red brown as well. Brown's actually a very fun color to play with, because you can't really go wrong. All right, Andi, occasionally. Ever forget where my light source is? I like to put an object on my table or very light pencil mark. Draw a little circle with the arrows of where it spreads out from. So this one was becoming this way and that, and that just helps me keep in mind where everything is and here we go. We're gonna burnish again and blend these layers together. I love to burnish many, many times in a drawing because the end result. Now that we've had some colors, we're going to furnish a little bit more. I like to burnish more heavily where the light sources and burnish a little lighter where the shadows are. I'm very heavy handed with the way I color and for my riel drawings. I do use many more colors on what I'm showing you. I just don't want to bore you to death at the moment. However, when I do upload full birds, full images on I may even include florals. In the future, I will show you step by step of all the different colors I used to mix in there. So the blues wants you burnish in the direction of for the feather. Look at this beautiful, interesting texture you're able to create. Everything flows into each other. It looks like you spent hours combining all the colors when really, it's just knowing how to melt them together. Melting colors together is far more effective, then layering many colors one after the other. Of course, that helps and if you do it together, you'll have amazing results. But I find a lot of the times when a color it's the melting that really brings the extra pop. Okay, pull through and bring. Remember when I am boss the whites. Well, now I'm pushing a little harder and I'm pulling through and they're coming back. So after in bossing, quite often, the colors will look a bit flat and dull. And if that's the case, you just need to add more contrast. Such a great contrast. I've picked up my indigo blue and very delicately, just lonely edge, create some darker shadow lines and then coloring in little six eggs. And even though I do not use purples or pinks, you see a bit of a purple in here because one of the blues life chosen has a lot of red in , and it was a red blue, and when you mix it on, spread it, a bit of purple hue comes, it gets revealed, and it's quite pretty in a draw. Little dark line here were there. Deep down is, I do read all of the feedback I get, and I do try to incorporate it with me next videos, so please feel free to reach out. Let me know what you love to learn more of. Um, when I do get my little studio put together, the lighting will be a bit better. And the it would be a little less shaky if I'm talking to faster. Too slow. Please just message me. I love feedback because I want you to feel too gain as much as you can from my videos. I love to teach. I love sharing, and that's what my instagram is about. There we go. So this is the left. The last will not the last layer in my real drawings, but it's one of those last layers for depth that I find a few people can't seem to achieve because they're not doing it. They can achieve it. They just have to add in that dark color in a little bit more time and patience. And here pick a darker one here, pretenders shadow. Thankfully, with trees, they're very irregular, and there's no right or wrong unless you're trying to copy an exact replica, um, branch work here. I'm just kind of making the little abstract and not going off a photo random. And you know what's interesting with illusions? Watch this over here. It looks like a the end of a stump. Now, just by adding a few lines around it, suddenly it looks hollowed in. And then I'll add some more colors to that as well, so you can easily recreate, um, your eyes, You're not your eyes. You can easily redirect your eyes and the illusion of what you want to achieve. Okay, if I add a little what goes clean off the blue off that and a little bit of white along the top to catch the light, see what I just created? What I can add a little bit of Payne's gray just in the darkest of the darkest shadows, I had a little bit more brown that comes out and blended a little bit. I've suddenly created a very different look to the end of the stump. So even though this is not painting per se, ni can't quite go over and redo everything with the right technique and observation, you are able to redirect, um, your image. I don't know if that makes sense. There you go. It's brushed off. Suddenly, what looked like the end of a blunted tips stump now looks like a hollow stump. And just because it's fun for me to play with colors, um, I just want to show you what would happen if you layered in some turquoise. You can easily adjust the tone because that was kind of a peri winkle, dark navy, blue type of feather. And I've picked a plea with a bit of green and still calling the direction love the growth only very carefully going on the edges in the other way. Anyone at a bright green and this will give it a metallic pop. Watch this suddenly have a very different color. There are so many different ways to play with colored pencils, and if you're very artistic and you want Teoh, use all the neons out there, it's really fun. I tend to think of loud as I teach. So some things might not make sense if I sounded really confusing. Please just message me and I can't clarify, so thank you very much 6. Mountain timelapse: 7. Summary: until we see each other next time. Let's review all that we've learned blaring stroke direction on bossing with layering. Please remember to protect your page, especially using undertones that you might want to pull through later. And it could be pinks and purples. And that gets really fun stroke direction, whether you're going in circles or straight lines or a curve as well as I'm bossing to create those textures. And that's removed that and that. We tied it all together and we created a feather and the branch work side by side. So I will see you on instagram at Mellie be dot art and until next time, make sure you hit that follow button by.