Painting with Colored Pencils: A Beginner's Guide | Kendyll Hillegas | Skillshare

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Painting with Colored Pencils: A Beginner's Guide

teacher avatar Kendyll Hillegas, Artist & Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Types of Colored Pencils


    • 3.

      Paper for Colored Pencils


    • 4.

      Other Materials: Sharpeners, blenders and brushes


    • 5.

      Mark Making: Your Colored Pencil Handwriting


    • 6.

      Building a Palette With Colored Pencils


    • 7.

      Making an Underpainting with Watercolor Pencils


    • 8.

      Working in Layers


    • 9.

      Starting with Midtones


    • 10.

      Adding Darkest Darks and Lightest Lights


    • 11.

      Blend with Odorless Mineral Spirits


    • 12.

      Layer, blend, repeat


    • 13.

      Burnishing: Another Way to Blend Once You’re Done Adding Layers


    • 14.

      Adding Highlights


    • 15.

      Final Thoughts


    • 16.

      Bonus: Full Process Demo


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About This Class

Colored pencils are a versatile addition to your creative repertoire, and can be used to create beautiful paintings. Working in layers with various blending techniques, you can transcend the medium of paper and pencil and create artwork that moves beyond the realm of drawing and illustration. In this 50 minute class, you’ll learn how artist Kendyll Hillegas works with colored pencils to create vibrant, realistic artwork, using techniques borrowed from classical oil painting.


  1. To build a palette with colored pencils
  2. To identify your unique colored pencil handwriting
  3. To create an underpainting using watercolor pencils
  4. To layer colored pencils 
  5. To blend using solvents and burnishing
  6. To create vibrant color, interesting texture and detail

This class is perfect for artists, illustrators or anyone who wants to learn how to use their colored pencils to their fullest potential. No prior experience necessary. After completing this course, you’ll be familiar with the foundational principles for using colored pencils, and will be able to confidently translate those to create your own beautiful paintings.

Meet Your Teacher

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Kendyll Hillegas

Artist & Illustrator


My name is Kendyll, and I’m an artist and commercial illustrator working in traditional media. My background is in classical oil painting, but I’ve been working as an illustrator for the past 5 years, completing assignments for Real Simple, Vanity Fair France and The Wall Street Journal. 

My illustration is used commercially in packaging, on paper goods and clothing, and in editorial applications, as well as displayed in private and corporate collections worldwide. My work has been featured in Supersonic Art, Anthology Magazine, Creative Boom, DPI Art Quarter and BuzzFeed.

I try to create work that is realistic, but still full of vibrancy and feeling. I'm probably best known for my food and botanical illustration, but I lov... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hello. My name is Kendyll, and I'm an illustrator and artist working primarily in mixed media with an emphasis in colored pencil. My background is in classical oil painting, but I've been working full-time as an illustrator for the last five years completing assignments for Real Simple, Vanity Fair France, and Milk Street Magazine among many others. I'm probably best known for my food illustration, which has appeared on everything from clothing, to packaging, to large-scale art prints. For the past two years, I've also been making videos on YouTube sharing industry knowledge, and insight, and things I've learned along the way as a working artist and illustrator. Passing on what I've learned to others has become a really fulfilling part of my job, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to do it in a new way here on Skillshare. In this class, we'll go over colored pencil varieties, and learning how to build a palette with colored pencils. You'll also identify your own unique colored pencil handwriting, and expertly blend and layered to create interesting texture and rich hues. Throughout this class, there will also be lots of demonstrations showing exactly how I'm using the mediums, and the techniques, and I'll also be creating a piece from start to finish using all these techniques, so that you can see not only the individual skills on their own, but see how they work once they're all put together, and use to create a piece from start to finish. No prior knowledge is necessary, but we will be going quite in-depth to different techniques and practices, so this class should be interesting for people from total beginners, hobby artists, to those who are working professionally in the field, and just want to add a new medium or skill to their repertoire. After completing this class, you'll be familiar with a variety of foundational colored pencil techniques, and will be able to confidently translate those to create your own beautiful colored pencil paintings. Let's get started. 2. Types of Colored Pencils: Okay. So, before we get into colored pencil techniques. Let's go over a few different varieties and types of colored pencils. So there are literally dozens of brands of color pencils on the market. Some are very affordable costing 10 to 20 cents per pencil. Ranging all the way up to the higher end costing $5 a pencil or more. But for the purposes of this class, we're mainly going to divide colored pencils into two groups. The first group is soft core, and these are colored pencils that have pigment in them and the pigment is held together by either a wax or oil based binder. These will be things like Crayola, or Prismacolor, or Artisa. Pretty much anything that you would find at the Arts to Play store that's just called colored pencil, would fall into the category of soft core colored pencil or what we're calling a soft core colored pencil for this class. Then the other category are water soluble colored pencil. These are sometimes called watercolor colored pencils, watercolor colored pencil. That's mouthful, but we use both of those terms in this class and these are pencils that have pigment again, but this time instead of being held together by a wax or oil based binder, they're held together by a water soluble binder. So you can use water to wet it and break it down and move the pigment around just the same as you would with watercolor. Now, you can use really any kind of colored pencil that you want to in this class. If you already have something on hand you can go ahead and use that but my recommended pencils, if you're buying something new or you want to get another set, for the lower end would be Prismacolor and for the higher end would be the Caran d'Ache luminance. These are both really creamy pigment dense, nice pencils that have a lot of color and intensity and are just really great to work with. For water soluble pencils, again, I would recommend Prismacolor for the lower end, and for the higher end, I would recommend the Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils. The Faber-Castell has a much wider range of colors. The Prismacolor has a smaller range. But they're both really nice pencils. Easy to work with a good amount of pigment, et cetera. So, as I mentioned, you can really use any kind of colored pencil or watercolor pencil for the techniques that we're going to go over in this class and that includes, very low end and inexpensive colored pencils like Crayola. The one thing to keep in mind if you do decide to go that route is that, the less expensive a colored pencil, generally that means the less pigment that colored pencil will have. So, the ingredients in the colored pencil are pigment and some kind of a binder and sometimes filler ingredients as well. So, if you're using a less expensive colored pencil. Usually it has more binder, more filler ingredients, and less pigment. And if you're concerned about the price, I generally do recommend going for a smaller set of higher quality colored pencils as opposed to a really large set of lower quality ones. So, up next we are going to dive into paper types, and what kinds of paper work best when using watercolor pencil and colored pencil. 3. Paper for Colored Pencils: Okay. So, it is time to talk about paper. In this lesson, we are going to review and go over the types and varieties of paper that work best with watercolor pencil and colored pencil and particularly, the combination of those two. So, most color pencil and watercolor artist decide to work on paper and that is because in order to work well, these mediums really need a porous surface that can soak up and hold on to all of the pigment that you're going to be laying down. So, even though they can work on other substrates, on other services, for this class we are really going to be focusing on paper. Now, when you're choosing a paper, the first thing you want to consider are the weight and the texture of the paper. Generally, you want to have your weight paper. This is a paper that will be sturdier, will hold up to our layering and being wet and then having dry media put on top of that. This isn't always the case, but generally, if it's a heavy weight paper like above 300 GSM, it's going to be sturdier, higher quality and going to be able to really withstand all that you're going to put it through in a cupboard in the making of a colored pencil painting. After working with this kind of media, the combination of watercolor pencil and colored pencil, you can use either a smoother paper or a rougher paper. It really just depends ultimately on the look you're going for. A smoother paper which would generally be either a hot press watercolor paper or maybe a color paper that has been made for print making. Those papers will allow you to develop quite a bit more detail and you can also work at a smaller scale while still preserving a large amount of detail. Now, if you want to work on a rougher paper or something like a cold pressed watercolor paper, that paper has a lot more texture to it, sometimes you'll hear artists refer to the texture in the paper as the tooth of the paper and you can picture that as these little teeth that are rising up out of the paper and as you rub your pigment back and forth that goes down into the teeth in the paper. So, as you can imagine, a paper that has a deeper tooth is going to be able to hold more pigment than a paper that has a shallow tooth. So, a rougher paper like a cold pressed paper, you're going to be able to get more pigment in there and probably work even more layers. The other side of that, the flip side, the more challenging side is that it can sometimes be harder to get really fine levels of detail in a cold pressed paper, a rough paper, unless you're working really large. Also, good to keep in mind is what you like is the really smooth look that doesn't have any evidence of marks or texture then, you're probably are going to want a smoother paper. So, the more texture the paper starts out with in the beginning, the more texture your piece will have in the end, if that makes sense. Now, some color pencil artists do work on things like pastel mat or bristol board, surfaces that are smoother but those generally don't work as well for a combination of wet and dry media. So, since we're going to be talking about how to incorporate watercolor pencils into the process of creating a cohesive colored pencil painting, you generally want to make sure to stick with papers that will work well for both wet and dry media. So, avoiding bristol board, avoiding mylar, avoiding pastel mat, even though those are all my services that can work well, they're just not great for this combination of media. So, for recommended papers, if you want to work on a smoother service, I would suggest the Reves BFK. This is a printmaking paper. It's really nice and absorbant, really sturdy, it has a very buttery smooth surface. It's definitely my favorite smooth paper to work on. Arches also makes a beautiful, very smooth, hot press watercolor paper that you're not going to be able to get quite as many layers on but it's really a nice paper. If you want to work on a rougher paper, a more textured paper on the higher end, I would recommend the Fabriano Artistico. Again, make sure you're getting the heavier weight as opposed to the really lightweight one. This is a really nice paper, has a really beautiful organic texture to it and allows for a lot of layering. If you want to go on the more budget end, I would recommend Strathmore cold pressed watercolor paper. Next, we'll have a quick review of some other supplies and materials you will need if you're creating color pencil painting. Then, we will dive right into the technique. 4. Other Materials: Sharpeners, blenders and brushes: Welcome back to this very quick little lesson in which we're just going to go over a few final things that you will need to create a beautiful color pencil painting. So, the first is a pencil sharpener and you can really use any kind of pencil sharpener that works well with your colored pencils, that fits your color pencils. Just try to choose one that you don't mind using, because if you're creating an entire color pencil painting, you spend quite a bit of time sharpening colored pencils. So for this reason, some color pencil artists really like to use electric pencil sharpeners and I have used those at times in the past. The only problem that I have with them is that they can tend to waste quite a bit of the lead. So, I recommend, my favorite sharpener is the Alvin Brass Bullet and it's a really tiny hand-held sharpener, but the reason I like it so much is that it doesn't waste that much of the lead and also you can change the blade really easy and the replacement blades are inexpensive. So, if you're having trouble sharpening and your leads keep breaking, replacing the blade is often a really good choice. So, I recommend the Alvin Brass Bullet. We'll also need a couple of brushes because we are going to use brushes both for blending the watercolor pencil and for blending a soft-core pencil in later stages. You could have a whole big range of brushes. You can use lots of different sizes depending on the piece that you're working on and the area that you're blending, but the two kind of baseline brushes that I would recommend getting, would be a number two round brush that was made either for oil or acrylic. So, you want it to have nice stiff bristles and the other brush would be a number four Filbert and this one could be for watercolor or for acrylic. You want it still to have a little bit of stiffness but definitely to be softer than the number two round brush. Now, you also need some kind of a solvent, a solvent is what we use to break down the binder in the soft-core pencil so that we can move the pigment around and blend it out and make it nice and smooth, almost like you're working with watercolor or even oil paint and I would recommend using Gamsol, which is made by Gamblin. We will talk more about why that's my recommendation when we get to the blending lesson later on in the class. You also need a cup for holding your water for when we blend with the watercolor pencils, some kind of a rag or paper towel for blotting and then last but not least is, Sharpie or a Posca marker. Now, this is optional, but it's what we're going to use to add opaque highlights on top at the very end. So, you could use a gel pen, really any kind of opaque white pigment. You could even use just squash paint, but I'm going to recommend either a Sharpie paint marker or a Posca paint marker just because they're easy to use and I know from experience, that they do work really well over the top of colored pencils. All right. Up next we have mark making and determining you're unique colored pencil handwriting. 5. Mark Making: Your Colored Pencil Handwriting: Welcome back. We are finally going to get into the fun part, the actual technique of using colored pencils, and our first piece of technique we're going to discuss is Mark Making. Now, just like your handwriting, the way that you lay down colored pencil will be unique and after some time, after practice, after many hours of doing it, it will eventually also just like your handwriting become something that you don't even think about. It's just the way that you do it, the way that you naturally approach the subject. Now because it's so unique, there are lots and lots of different ways that you could approach it. But generally, mark making style falls into one of four categories or you might see an artist using a few different versions at once. But the four main categories of marking we are going to talk about are unidirectional hatching, and this is just going back and forth with a colored pencil in the same direction lots and lots of times; cross hatching which is where you go back and forth in one direction for a little while and then go back and forth in another direction over the top of the hatch; even circular strokes, and wild circular strokes. Now, all of these strokes can be done either on a large scale, making them more prominent and loud, drawing lots of attention to themselves, or on a smaller scale, making them more quiet and soft and leaving the attention focused on the subject at that point. So, as you test out these different strokes styles, these different mark making styles, you may find right away that you gravitate towards one, the one feels the most comfortable for you. Mine tends to be some combination of the even circular strokes paired with the crazy wild circular strokes, but if one doesn't jump out to you right away. Try creating an entire piece in each of the strokes dials and see which one really pulls you the most, which one feels the most natural for your hand. Or another way to choose would be, if one doesn't feel any better than the others, you could decide just based on the end look that you like the best. If you really like a pronounced geometric look, you might end up going for the unidirectional hatching or the cross hatching. If you like a softer, more painterly look, you might go for the rounder stroke. So, test out a few and see what kind initially calls you and just remember again, like your handwriting, this isn't something that you can just say all right, this is the way that I'm going to do it today, I'm going to always have this kind of stroke style. This is my unique stroke style. You may have one that calls to you initially or that you like the best but the way that you make marks is going to emerge over time. So, don't worry too much about choosing the right one or approaching it in the correct way. There really isn't a best one to do. It's whichever one works the best for you, both in terms of the actual process of doing it, what feels natural, what feels enjoyable and also the end result, what looks good and what you feel satisfied with. So, another thing to keep in mind is that your stroke style, your mark making style will also be impacted by how much pressure you apply when you're putting the colored pencil onto the paper. So, if you are someone who has, we might call the heavy hand, or an expressive hand and you press really hard when you lay down the pigment, you're going to have darker, older marks than somebody who has a really soft, delicate hand, who might have to work in more layers to build up to the same effect. So again, neither one is right or wrong and whichever one seems to be more comfortable for you or achieve the look that you like in the end, that's the direction that you should go in. All right. Up next, we are going to talk about how to build a palette using colored pencils. 6. Building a Palette With Colored Pencils: So, when preparing to work with colored pencil, either with watercolor pencil or soft core pencil, you're going to want to put together a palette just the same way you would if you were working with acrylic or oil or watercolor Peets. Now unlike acrylic oil or a tube watercolor, most of the colors that you'll be using with watercolor pencils and soft core pencils are mixes or blends. This means that they are made with a few different types of pigments. So, building your palette is going to look slightly different than it would if you were building it for say, classical oil painting. Where you'd be picking out warm yellow and cool yellow and a warm blue and a cold blue. Rather than doing that, essentially what you're going to do is look at your subject and make your best guess for which colors you're going to use throughout the course of the painting. So, for example, in this strawberry reference image which I'm going to use to paint this simple painting for this class we can see there's quite a range of reds including a true cherry red, a deeper darker red and even more of an orangy golden color in some of the lighter areas of the strawberry. Then for the green we have a range of a sage cool green, a warmer apple green and some deeper darker greens in the shadows. Then some additional colors we'll need are the creamy eggshell color, a pale muted lavender and probably some true white as well to get this really pale cream color. So, after looking at your subject and taking your best guess and evaluating, go to your box of colored pencils, pull out those colors and set them aside either in another container or on your workspace. Having them set aside like this is helpful because you're going to spend less time digging through a big box of colored pencils especially, if you have a huge set or if you just keep them in a tray and not all that organized the way that I do. It will also help you keep the color consistent throughout the course of your piece. So, if you're sitting down and able to finish a piece in one day or in one sitting, and this may not be as much of a concern for you. But if a painting takes you several hours or days and you're going to have to do more than one sitting, you want to make sure that you're using the same colors for the same things throughout the course of the painting to keep the color story cohesive and keep the colors from getting muddy. Up next, we're going to talk about how to make an underpainting using watercolor pencils. 7. Making an Underpainting with Watercolor Pencils: Welcome back. In this lesson, we are going to talk about how to use water soluble colored pencils or watercolor pencils to develop an underpainting for your soft core pencils. An underpainting is basically a less detailed version of your final painting. You could think of it like a colored sketch or a color outline for your painting, and because it focuses mainly on the big picture with an underpainting, your goal is to get down the big areas of color and value which is light and dark and not focus too much on any of the details. The reason I recommend creating an underpainting when you're working with softcore colored pencils is that especially if you are working on a textured paper, just going right in with the softcore pencils is going to take a long time to build up enough color and pigment to fully cover the white show through of the paper that comes from working with a textured paper. In addition to taking a long time to get that all filled in, it will eat up a lot of your pigment and If you're working with a colored pencil like a Prisma color which is more affordable but still about $1 a pencil, that can go pretty fast and it's nice to have a way to cut around that. Watercolor pencils are great for doing the underpainting for a couple of reasons. Number one, you can lay down the pigment and it's going to blend out really easily with water and you're going to get more coverage of a larger surface area than you would if you were doing the same thing with softcore colored pencils and a solvent. Okay. So, now we're going to dive into how to actually use watercolor pencils. Now, working with watercolor pencils or water soluble pencils can take some getting used to especially if you are used to traditional watercolor or softcore pencils. The first thing to remember about them is that the binder that holds together the pigment is water soluble, so you can use water to blend them, you don't have to use any sort of a solvent. Because of that, there are so many different techniques that you can use with watercolor pencils. We could have an entire video just on watercolor pencils and you could certainly create a piece from start to finish just with that medium. But since we're using them primarily as an underpainting for the purposes of this class, we are going to focus in on one main method and that is the dry on dry method with wet blending. So, to use watercolor pencils in this way, you just take the dry pencil and lay it down right on the dry paper. The harder you press, the more pigment will end up on the paper, which means that, that area will be darker and more saturated once it's blended out. So, if you're new to watercolor pencil, I recommend that you try to have a little bit of a lighter hand initially until you know your pencils really well. That is because with both watercolor pencil and softcore pencil, you can always go back in later and add more layers and make it darker and deeper and more saturated, but if you go too dark, too saturated, too early, it's really hard to dial it back. So, unlike acrylic paint or oil paint where you can scrape it off and add more just so or you can wait for it to dry and just do more layers on top, that doesn't really work as well with watercolor pencils and softcore pencils because they're pretty translucent and transparent, they don't have the same opacity that oil and acrylic do. So, once you have your watercolor pencils all laid down on your dry paper, it's time to blend using water and your number two round brush and you can blend either the same way that you laid your strokes down. So, if you did unidirectional hatching, you can blend with unidirectional hatching, or you can blend in a different stroke pattern. Now keep in mind that this is still going to get covered up with more layers of softcore pencil, so any texture you put down here or any smoothness you work really hard to achieve, isn't really going to matter too much in the end result of the piece because there will still be so many other layers coming on top. So, two things to keep in mind when working with this combination of watercolor pencil and softcore pencil, and the first thing is that you always want the watercolor pencil to be the base layer the underpainting, you're not going to want to use watercolor pencil on top of softcore pencil. The reason this is the case is because the soft core pencils have a wax or oil base binder. So, if you can imagine that's going to go over the top of the paper almost like a sealant to the paper. So, if you try to use something that's water based like water color or watercolor pencils to soak into the paper afterwards, it's not going to be able to get into that paper because it will be covered up by the oil or wax binder that's in your colored pencils. So, watercolor pencil first, softcore colored pencils second. The other thing to remember is that the watercolor pencil may look different once it's wetted down than it did when it was dry. So, for this reason, I strongly recommend that especially if you've got a new set of watercolor pencils or you're new to the medium, you're not really used to the ones that you have, I recommend that you create swatches for yourself before you start using the watercolor pencils. This way you can become familiar with how the colored pencil looks when it's dry and how it looks when it's been blended out with water. This is really simple to do, just take a watercolor paper or whatever kind of paper you're going to be using and do little swatches of all of your color pencils, your watercolor pencils and mark down the number of the colored pencil or the name of the colored pencil underneath, and then blend out an area of it so that you can get a sense of what it looks like once it's dry versus when it's wet. Now once that under painting it's completely dry, you can either add more layers of watercolor pencil or even water color if you want to, or if you're reading you can move right in with the softcore pencils, which is what we're going to talk about in the next lesson. 8. Working in Layers: All right. So, in this lesson we are going to dive into soft core colored pencils, we are going to cover some basics and also talk about working in layers. So, just like working in oil or acrylic, many color pencil artists myself included like to work in layers. I prefer this method because it helps keep me focused on the piece as a whole rather than getting too fixated on one specific area of detail, and helps me keep a cohesive color story and just develop the piece consistently throughout. It's also a bit more of a conservative approach. So, rather than going right in, really bold, really intense, with lots of saturation or darkness, gradually building up the detail and the depth and the form as you're working on the piece as a whole is a nice way to avoid making mistakes or getting an area either too dark or too light really early on in the piece, which as we have discussed in other lessons can be really challenging to fix. So, when you're working in layers with soft or color pencil, just like with a watercolor pencil you want to go in with a light hand initially. So, you're going to try to have those first layers that you put down be the thinnest lightest layers possible. Now, if you are familiar with classical oil painting or even painting with acrylic I suppose, this method is called fat overly. So, what that means is we're putting down our lean thin layers first and saving the thicker, heavier layers until the end. This technique is great because it allows you to blend as you go without creating any muddiness. It also helps keep you from flattening out the tooth of your paper too early. Do keep in mind that when you're working with color pencils, if an area of your piece or the piece as a whole gets overworked either too dark, too saturated, too light, too much pigment, that is a really challenging mistake to fix. So, unlike with oil or acrylic, you can't scrape it off and add more just so on top. The opacity just isn't there with the colored pencils to cover up those kinds of mistakes. So, working in layers is a really great way to help keep yourself from making those kinds of mistakes and to minimize those kinds of mistakes. It's great for both beginning artists and more experienced artists as well. All right. Up next, we're going to talk about starting your piece with midterms and why that is the best approach when you're working in layers with colored pencils. 9. Starting with Midtones: All right. So, when you are working with your soft color pencils on top of your under painting, and you're getting ready to start this fad over lean method, you're going to be working in layers, I generally recommend that you start with mid-tones. So, when you're working with color pencils and layers, I strongly recommend starting with the mid tones. Now mid-tones are colors that are not too dark, and not too light when compared to the other colors that are around them in the subject. So, this is a good approach to have when you are working with your watercolor pencils to create your under painting, and when you're coming in with your very first layers of the color pencils, the soft color pencils on top of the under painting. Approaching the mid tones first, will help you better determine the overall shape and form of your subject. Try and think of it the way that a sculptor would. Imagine a sculptor who's working in a big block of marble or wood, they start with something that is just the basic shape and dimensions of their subject and they gradually carve away adding more and more detail. So, working in an under painting and getting down your first layers of mid-tones, helps you to really kind of carve out the overall broad shape of the subject and then you can go in later and carve more and more detail with your really darks and your really lights. Starting with the mid-tones also gives you a better sense for comparing darks and lights in your piece. So, unless you're working on a piece that has a subject rather that has a really dramatic light source, so it has a very very dark areas and very very light areas, most subjects that are naturally lit are going to have, mostly mid-tones throughout the subject. So, having the mid-tones down pretty accurately, first will help you compare areas where there are shadow and areas where there is light, so you can see, ''oh this is actually really a dark area, this is actually really a light area.'' The reason this is the case, is that hue which is color and value, which is dark and light don't happen in a vacuum. So, the way you see and perceive colors and darkness or lightness is influenced and impacted by all of the colors and all of the shades and values around it in the subject. So, for example, take this subject that has a lot of light and it is overall a very light subject, but this little area is one of the darkest areas in this subject. Now, if you take that color and you compare it to this subject that has some very very dark areas, it actually looks like a light or maybe a mid-tone depending on how you're perceiving it. So, getting down those mid tones early is going to help you be able to really pick out and discern the light areas and the dark areas in your subject. So, when you're working on your under painting and when you're going in with your first layers of soft core pencil with the mid-tones, you can either, leave the very dark areas, the areas that you think are going to be the darkest shadows in your subject. You can either leave those unworked or you can put the mid-tone right over the top, adding darker on top of mid-tones, works pretty well generally as long as your mid-tone isn't the color that has a lot of white in it. Now on the other hand if you think an area of your subject is going to be really light, lighter than the mid-tones, lighter than the rest of the piece, you probably are going to want to try to leave it untouched by the mid-tones, the same way you would if you were working with watercolor. This is because adding a white colored pencil or light colored pencil on top of a mid-tone can line an area, can provide some brightness. But it's never going to get as light or as bright as it would if that paper was untouched from the beginning. So, especially if you're working on an overall light subject where the highlights are light areas look almost white, you want to try to steer clear of them with the mid-tones. All right, so once you have your overall mid-tones down, you have a pretty good sense for the color story of your subject, the overall form and dimension and you should be starting to see, ''all right this is where I think the darks are going to go, this is where I think the lights are going to go,'' and that is what we are going to discuss in the next lesson. 10. Adding Darkest Darks and Lightest Lights : Welcome back. So, now that you have the midtones down, we can talk about adding the darkest darks and the lightest lights with soft core pencil. So, once you've identified the darkest areas of your subject and you're getting ready to add and develop those shadows, rather than going right in with black, ask yourself how dark is that area really when compared to the midtones. So, is it truly black or is it just a bit darker, several shades darker, than what I have down from the midtones. Try to start with a bit more of a tentative hand so rather than reaching for the darkest thing that you can, when you're developing your shadow areas, start out with maybe things that are a shade or two darker than your mid tones. I do want to make a note here that personally, I very rarely use black in any of my colored pencil paintings, and that's because most shadows, even if they're quite dark, still do have some color in them. It's really only the deepest darkest shadows that are completely without color. So, really try to think carefully and save that pure black colored pencil only for areas that really should truly be black. Rather than using black for the darkest shadows in your subject, try to use the complimentary color. So, if you are working on a painting of a strawberry for example, the darkest areas of the red, and you could use greens, since green is the complimentary color of red. You could use green to add some depth and some shadow, and the darkest areas of the green, you could add red to add some depth and some shadow. Now, when you're working with soft core color pencils, or any color pencil really as we talked about in the earlier lesson, pretty much all of these colors are blends. So they're really dark red, and they're really dark green, probably do have a little bit of black in them, black pigment in them already. So, using those colors, the complementary colors together, is going to just heighten the contrast, it's going to make for a darker color, but it's still going to have more liveliness and vibrancy than it would if you just went right in with a pure black colored pencil. So, once you've done a few layers of the shadows and you've developed those to the point where you feel like they're pretty much what they should be when compared to your reference, you can go on to developing the highlights. Now, the light areas are not necessarily highlights, they're just the areas that are lighter than the midtones when compared to the overall color story of your subject. At this stage, it is safe to begin using colored pencils that have a lot of white in them or that are very light. Using those colors will help you to describe and form the lighter areas of your subject. So, at this point, you should have your under painting finished, several layers of the soft core pencil on top with your midtones, and your darks, and your lights. You'll have the overall form of your subject but not necessarily tons of detail. Now at this stage, if you want to do some blending, this is a great time to start some blending, which is what we're going to talk about in the next lesson. 11. Blend with Odorless Mineral Spirits: All right. So, now that we have our underpainting done and we have our initial layers of mid-tone darks and lights using soft colored pencils, we are ready to talk about blending. Now, working in layers, as we have been, we have already given you the opportunity to blend a bit as you go, using the friction of your colored pencil to work over top in layers, and create some amount of smoothness. But if you like a really smooth creamy look that has a bit more of a painterly feel, you may want to try blending with some kind of a solvent. Now, the solvent that I recommend is Gamsol, which is a type of an Odorless Mineral Spirit. It's made by Gamblin. Essentially what it does, is break down the binder that holds together the pigment in the colored pencil, so that you can freely move around the pigment. Now, you might want to do this through out an entire piece, have your entire piece blended, or you might want to just minimize the texture in some areas, like a shadow. Having very little texture in the shadow will help it to sink back a little bit more, and look a little bit even darker and richer than it would have without any blending. So, you can do either blending of the whole piece, or spot blending. Working with a solvent to blend colored pencils can create an effect almost like glazing with oil paint. So, once it's dry, once the solvent is completely dry, you can layer on more color pencils on top. So, using any solvent, whether it's Gamsol, or another kind of Odorless Mineral Spirit, you always want to be really careful to use plenty of ventilation and to follow all of the manufacturer's safety instructions. All right. So, to blend your colored pencils using Gamsol, just like when we were blending the watercolor pencils with water, you want to start out using the absolute tiniest amount possible, and swish it around either in a back and forth or little circular movements with your brush. Now, when you're blending the earlier layers, depending on how much pigment is on the paper, it might end up looking a little bit washed out or patchy initially. There may also be a faint yellowish tinge to the paper, the area that has been welded with the Odorless Mineral Spirit while it's still wet. This tinge, this color will go away once it's dry. When I'm using Gamsol with the blend colored pencils, I do usually prefer to use a softer brush, that number four filbert that I mentioned at the beginning of the class, but you can use whatever kind of brush you like best. It's also smart to work in small areas, working your way. If you're right-handed, working your way from left to right across your piece, rather than from right to left. That helps you avoid laying your hand over any of the wet areas, because once you do, it can smudge just the same as if you're working with paint. So, try to remember this. Since the binder has been dissolved a bit with the solvent, that pigment can move all around and can get smudged really easily. So, while you're working, try to work from left to right if you're right-handed, or right to left if you're left-handed just to avoid that happening. If your brush gets dirty when you're using an Odorless Mineral Spirit, or if you're changing from a dark area to a light area, or from a blue to an orange, something like that, you can just use the Odorless Mineral Spirit to clean off your brush. So, just pop it in the container of OMS, the same as you would if you were working with water and watercolor pencils. When using this method, you want to make sure that the Gamsol is completely dry before adding any more colored pencil on top. You can tell if it's dry by turning over your paper and seeing if there are any kind of translucent areas. It might look dry from the top, and it's not going to feel wet the same way it would with water and watercolor. So, yeah, just flip your paper over and look and see if there are any of those on translucent areas. If there are, that means it's still wet. It's still drying. So, you want to leave it to dry thoroughly in a well-ventilated area before adding additional layers. So, up next, we will talk about adding more layers, why you might want to do that, and how to do it. 12. Layer, blend, repeat: All right. So now, after having made your first pass at the mids, the darks and the lights and doing a little bit of blending with odorless mineral spirit, you should have at least two layers down. You have your underpainting and then the layer of your soft core pencils down. At this point, the overall form and shape of your subject should be pretty clear. Most of the areas of color should match your subject pretty well if you're aiming for some kind of realism. So, now is a great point to take a step back and look at your piece, your painting and compare it to your either reference or model depending on what you're working from and ask yourself, okay are there dark areas that need to be darker? Are there light areas that need to be lighter? Is it overall matching up pretty well with my subject? Now, depending on how much detail you want in your piece and how developed you want to get it, you might want to add more layers at this point. I usually have anywhere from three to five layers in one of my colored pencil paintings. Sometimes even more than that especially, if I'm working on a really textured paper. You can use additional layers to add more darkness, add more lightness to increase and further describe the form of your subject, the three dimensionality of your subject or you can use them to add more detail. Now when I say a layer, I don't necessarily mean going over the entire painting, the entire piece with colored pencil. Additional layers on top might just actually be small areas where you're adding detail and focusing on those little things that make the piece really pop out and look real. As you're doing this, as you're adding these additional layers, you can stop and blend in between each layer using gamsol or burnishing which is what we're going to talk about in the next lesson. Or, if you want to preserve more texture because you like the texture look, you can do that as well. Also, keep in mind that blending always is going to obscure a little bit of the detail. So, if you've worked in an area and you are really happy with how it looks and really happy with the amount of detail, there's no reason that you have to blend more. So, blending and layering are always optional. They're techniques that you can use to get the piece to look more at the way that you want it to look but you don't have to blend any specific area if you like that more texture look or you're happy with the amount of detail that you have. So generally, my process is something like underpainting, colored pencil layer, blending, colored pencil layer, blending and then leaving out any blending in those final few layers just to preserve interesting moments of texture and detail. If I do opt to do any blending in the very final layers, it'll usually just be spot bonding with a technique called burnishing which is what we are going to talk about in the next lesson. 13. Burnishing: Another Way to Blend Once You’re Done Adding Layers: All right, in this lesson, we are going to discuss either an alternative or additional form of blending to blending with odorless mineral spirit and that is called burnishing. Burnishing is essentially using the friction and pressure of your colored pencil, whether you're using an actual colored pencil or a colorless blender, to move and push that pigment further down into the tooth of the paper. Doing that makes the color appear darker, richer, smoother, the same as it would if you were blending with odorless mineral spirit. Now, you can use burnishing instead of blending with Gamsol or, in addition to, on the later layers of the piece which is what I tend to do. So, to burnish, what you have to do is press really hard with your pencil. Just imagine you're pushing that pigment way down to the tooth of the paper. Sometimes it's helpful to hold your pencil in a bit more of an upright position as opposed to angled to the side, just since it lets you put more pressure directly onto the paper. Again, you can work either in uniform strokes and unidirectional hatching, or cross hatching, or some kind of a circular stroke. You can really do any sort of strokes or marks that you want. A few things to keep in mind when using burnishing to blend is that the texture, the shape of your mark will be more visible than it would if you were using Gamsol or an odorless mineral spirit. Unlike Gamsol blending, you want to make sure to save burnishing for the very end of your piece. So, once you have burnished an area, you really can't add anything more on top because what you've essentially done is pushed all the pigment as far down into the paper as it will go and then flattened out the tooth of the paper. So, there really isn't anywhere else for pigment to go once you've done that. You'll also want to use care when you are burnishing, either on a smooth paper or especially on a less expensive paper, just because it can actually be a bit tough on the paper. So, you need to have a really sturdy substrate in order to hold up to burnishing. If you burnish a paper that really wasn't meant for it, that doesn't have much tooth or texture to begin with, you can end up tearing the paper or making it kind of pill, and it just ends up with not a very nice look. My preferred method for burnishing is, again, to save it to the very end using it just on really small, very dark or very light areas. All right, up next we are going to talk about adding highlights and finishing your painting. 14. Adding Highlights: Welcome back to the second to last lesson in this class. In this lesson, we are going to talk about highlighting. So highlights are the little tiny areas that are really bright. Maybe they appear as white depending on how light your subject is or how dry or wet your subject is. But generally, it's best to save that kind of thing, especially in a color pencil painting until the very end. So once your piece is 99 percent all the way down, you can start thinking about highlights. So to add highlights, you can use either a white Soft Core Colored Pencil. A very specific note, this is just my personal taste, I think that the Prismacolor white colored pencil is the absolute best for adding highlights even though the Korinda Ash Color pencil is higher and a much more expensive than the Prismacolor one. I think the white Korinda Ash is just not as good as the white Prismacolor. So, I recommend using the white Prismacolor for adding highlights, and if you have another brand that you prefer, you can also just go and buy only the white Prismacolor at most art or craft stores. So, yeah, you can use the white Prismacolor for adding kind of softer, creamier highlights, or if you have a really hard, super bright opaque highlight, you can use the Sharpie paint pen or the Posca paint marker. Both of those worked really well for adding little tiny areas of super bright highlights. So, certain subjects like a really juicy piece of fruit in very dramatic lighting will have a lot of these little white highlights. But in general, this is something that you want to use judiciously and be careful to not overdo, especially if you're trying to create realism in your piece. If on the other hand you're working with a more stylized approach, you can really use the white highlights however you like. Just keep in mind that more of these really bright opaque highlights will generally create a less realistic look because most subjects that are naturally lit, just think of a face for example, only have a few little tiny areas that actually really have that kind of a highlight, like it might appear in the eyes or on the lips. But for the rest of the face, even though there are light areas, they are not actually truly white. So, the same as you did when you were thinking about the really dark shadows, take a look and ask yourself, "Is that really white? Is that really a true white opaque highlight or is it just a lighter color?" Doing that will help you achieve more of a look of realism in your piece, if that's what you're after. All right, so up next, final thoughts and wrap up. 15. Final Thoughts: Well done. You have made it through the entire class and are now ready to put all these principles together to make your very own colored pencil painting. Remember, like any artistic medium, the best way to learn is to do hands on practice. So, I really encourage you to do at least one or two or even all of the class projects provided below to exercise the different skills that we have learned throughout this course. Please do share those with the community, so that everybody can see what you're working on. Thank you so much for taking this class. I cannot wait to see what you make. 16. Bonus: Full Process Demo: Hello, and welcome back to this little bonus demo of me painting the entire strawberry example from start to finish. As you can see, I'm starting out with the first layer of watercolor pencils to create an underpainting just as we talked about in the class. Again, like we talked about in the class, I am using primarily mid tones to get started here, and this will help keep my painting from getting too dark or too light too early. Just a quick side note, you're going to see my head popping in and out here a few times, sorry about that. All right, now that I've gotten the watercolor pencils completely laid down, it's time to blend. I'm just using regular old tap water and a cup with my number two acrylic round brush working my way across the painting to blend it out. You'll notice I am going area by area so that I don't have to mix the color or rinse my brush too much. So, I did the green first and now I'm working on the red, and just like we talked about in the class, I am using very little water just enough to help me get the pigment wet and move it around a bit, but I'm not getting my paper to saturate it. All right, now that the watercolor pencil has dried, I am getting ready to go in my soft core pencils. Again, I'm starting out with the mid tones and this is a little bit of a kind of vermilion orange color. You'll see me popping in and out with the camera. I took some process pictures as well. Now, something you may notice as I'm working on this, I do go back and forth between the mid tones and the very darks a little bit. That's because I'm really comfortable with this process, so I haven't strictly separated it into the process that we talked about in the class, the mid tones, then the darks, then the lights. There's a little bit of going back and forth but overall, I do pretty much stick to that principle of primarily staying in the mid tones and then saving the very darks and very lights until the end. But because I've been doing this process for so long, it's been years and years now, I am pretty comfortable with it, so I'm feel a bit more able to go in with dark shadows and light areas sooner than I would recommend if you are beginner. I have the colors that I used all listed out in- I think it will be in the class description, maybe in the class project section. This is my first Skillshare class so I'm not sure exactly where all the information should go, but it will be down in the class notes somewhere. So, if you want to see the exact colors that I used in this piece so that you can use them too, do take a look and they'll be listed out below. Just a very specific little side note to this subject, to the color in this subject in particular, is that you'll see that I'm using kind of a neon orange colored pencil and that comes in and out a few times. But that color will be listed along with all the other colors, but it's particularly a helpful one to have if you're working on red subjects. Red is just a tricky pigment in general and a lot of the time, it's difficult to get that true kind of luminous red that you would have in something like a strawberry or a watermelon. So, having that neon orange to blend and layer in with your reds can really help make them vibrant and pop. All right, now that I have the initial under painting done and the first layers of soft core pencil, I am ready to start blending with gamsol and my number four Filbert brush. I'm just working my way across the piece from left to right since I'm right handed which helps me avoid any smudges, and just makes the blending process simpler. My main goal with the blending at this point is to bring everything all together and get rid of some of the texture and some of the brush stroke, excuse me, not brush stroke, pencil strokes, just to give the piece a cohesive look. Once the gamsol has dried, I am going back in with more layers of colored pencils just like I talked about in the class. I tend to do at least three layers including underpaintings, sometimes more like four or five or even more if it's a complicated subject. So, at this point, I'm just going in with the very darks and with very lights and with the mid tones, just working across the subject as a whole to get everything just the way that I want it. You can see that I'm using some pure white here in the white area of the strawberry. That still isn't really functioning as a highlight because even though I'm using the white colored pencil, I'm blending it with other colors so it's not really a pure, pure white. That highlight will be saved until the very end, but it is helping me get this overall light area to the right value. Now, it's time for some additional blending with the gamsol. Again, going and trying to bring everything together and you'll see it's toning down that white area quite a bit so that it doesn't take over the whole piece and get too loud and too bright too early. All right, so now, I'm going in with another layer of colored pencils, soft core colored pencil and just kind of trying to redescribe these details and get everything just as I want it. Since this will be the final layer before the highlights, it's important to get the details right and have everything looking the way that I want it to look in the finished painting. At this point, since I won't do any more blending, I'm also trying to be pretty careful with my marks to knock it to not get too wild because I won't have any other opportunity to blend them out. All right, once I'm done adding the last details with the soft core pencil, I'm going to go in with a sharpie paint pen. As you can see, I'm doing this in just little tiny areas, mostly like little spots and dots just to give the strawberry that nice juicy look. Since the strawberry is actually a really juicy piece of fruit, it has more of these and many more of these little opaque white highlights than many subjects do. But still, I'm trying to be careful to not go overboard and like in the white area of the strawberry, that's just a really light area, but isn't actually a true highlight. I'm not using any of the sharpie paint pen to describe the little kind of fronds or the little white lines that shoot out from the center of the strawberry. I'm really only using it for those really bright opaque white highlights that are truly light reflecting off of a wet surface. All right, I'm pretty much wrapping up here, getting close to the end of the piece. I'll have a scan here so that you can see what it looks like once it's completely finished and scanned in. There it is. All right, thank you very much for watching the demo and thank you again for taking this class. If you want to follow along and create your own version of this strawberry colored pencil painting, there's a downloadable sketch in the class materials and that is listed as one of the class projects. As I mentioned in the final wrap up video, I do recommend that you try as many of the class projects as possible and especially if you're a beginner with colored pencil, it might be good to try some of the other class projects before attempting the painting, but all of the material is listed in the class notes, and I do hope you take the opportunity and make something of your own and share it with the class. Thank you again and I am looking forward to seeing what you make.