Getting my own reference pictures

So, I admit… I have been somewhat lazy in the past when it comes to reference images for my artwork. I am a huge fan of photo sharing sites like Paint my photo. com  and I certainly don’t mind paying for the super high quality of the photos found on wildlife reference I often turn to sites like these when I’m looking for inspiration.. or when I have a “Great idea” which i need to research further.

However, relying on outside sources for reference photos can be very limiting. When I have a great composition in mind, and no one has taken a photo that fits what is in my mind…  ugh!! well it can be extremely frustrating, and I can waste hours searching for the right image.

I recently purchased a DSLR camera, which I intended to use mostly as a video camera for YouTube. Although the camera is doing a fabulous job so far, it does seem like a waste of a rather nice (and reasonably expensive!) camera to relegate it solely to this task.

Small problem… the last SLR camera I used took film, and I only used it for a few months with  black and white film for a photography class. This new camera came with a thick booklet, and WAY too many buttons; and once again I leave myself in a position of having no idea what I’m doing.

So I have been watching videos and reading magazines and trying to get my head around this thing so I can get out and document some of the things that inspire me. My daughter and I went for an early morning trip to my local beach to see what we could do. A local bushfire gave the morning light a strange red cast, but we both got some great shots to add to my big book (file)  of reference photos.

That afternoon I set up a still life with a wine bottle, glass and some fairy lights and fired away. It took some efforts to get the look I wanted. My black glass table stared again, and with the help of a stereo speaker, my iPhone torch and a bottle of ajax to prop things up, I had some great successes (and many, many, many failures) getting the right reference for my next colour pencil piece.

Ooooh, the opportunities this opens up for me! I can’t wait to get out and take as many photos as I can!


Looking back and what’s next?

Sometimes it can feel like you’re not making any progress as an artist. Practice is slow and improvements can seem to take forever, if at all. So it can nice to look back occasionally and see just how far you have come. So this New Year, I  am taking a few moments to look back on my progress and achievements and putting some thought into what I would like to see happen in the year to come.

"All the blues"" colour pencil on paper 41x29cm

“All the blues”” colour pencil on paper 41x29cm

My year started in chaos. We moved house and my precious pencils were packed away and left untouched for a month! I felt incredibly anxious to get back to the drawing table. I suppose some part of me was afraid I would lose momentum and neglect my art for another 10 years! But I shouldn’t have worried. “All the blues” was my first full piece for 2016, and I loved it! This piece went on to become my profile picture for my burgeoning social media pages and was the first piece I uploaded to my Redbubble page to be made available as prints.


I picked up a paintbrush! After many failed attempts in the past, I took just one more shot. I hurt my wallet and bought some quality oil paints and started painting fruit on cheap canvas pads. For the first time in my life the paint did what I wanted. Each painting has been a bit better than the last and I am keen to paint more.

In March, I saw one of my pieces published in the gallery section of Colour pencil magazine. This was huge for me! I made sure I bought a paper copy of that month’s issue, you can’t just download something like that!

spilled bouquet 29x41 colour pencil

spilled bouquet 29×41 colour pencil

In November, I saw one of my drawings voted to be the banner for the Colored Pencils, Graphite & Pastels Facebook group. I see so many amazing works of art posted to that page, I was humbled to see my piece gracing the top of their page for a month!



In May, I took a massive leap of faith, strapped my iPhone to a plank of wood and uploaded my first YouTube video. I have since upgraded to adding voice overs and I am constantly learning new editing techniques. With 15 videos now created, I have managed to consistently upload videos fortnightly and I am really enjoying the process.

And finally, in March I opened up my own little corner of the internet and started this humble blog. Although it is a little neglected, I have thoroughly enjoyed taking the time to write about my journey.

Looking back, this year has seen some HUGE leaps for me. I am quite proud of many of the colour pencil pieces I produced and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how much progress would be made. It would seem that all the time and efforts have made quite an impact and this is very reassuring for the future.

So whats next?

Well, I am very excited to keep working on that YouTube channel. Recording my work is hard work and time-consuming, but it is so much fun and I really hope that I can inspire others to create through it.

I have purchased Scott Christensens Paint the ocean course. I live so close to the water, but I have had no success in painting it. I cant wait to use some of those scenic photos on my phone for reference, and apply some of his techniques to create my own water filled landscapes

I hope to learn to be a better salesperson. The more art I can sell, the more time I can dedicate to my passion ( instead of dedicating time to that dreary retail job!) While I have that redbubble site, I feel very self conscious in letting people know it is there. I need to learn how to feel comfortable in marketing myself.

On the topic of sales, I will soon be setting up shop for original artwork. While I do occasionally sell pieces through Facebook, I have not set up a dedicated platform for sales. I have no idea how to do this…. but like so many things this past year,  I will learn.

I am so excited to see what opprtunites 2017 will bring. I hope I to create even better art and more and more of it. Bring it on!


what will be the first piece of 2017




Beginners Colour Pencil Tutorial 4 – Drawing Baubles

Its been a long time in the works, but I finally have a new beginners tutorial for you! This drawing has a few more steps than the first tutorials, but I promise if you have completed those first drawings, this one is just as simple! Just a quick note, If you are very new to colour pencils, then I do recommend going back over my first 2 tutorials,where I talk more specifically about how to get the pencil down onto the paper and blending techniques.

For this tutorial you will need the following colours:




phthalo blue

mid phthalo blue


cool grey III




indigo blue

china blue ( in place of the Phthalo blue)

true blue ( in place of the mid phthalo blue)

cool grey 30%

I will be creating my piece on Arches Hot press watercolor paper, although this is a rather expensive option. If you don’t want to break the bank with the arches paper, any brand of hot press watercolour paper should do, just look for paper that is nice and sturdy and has a little bit of tooth to the surface
I used odorless mineral spirits to blend out my pencils with a 3/10 oval taklon bristled brush. I also found my kneaded eraser very handy to have on hand, to quickly clean up any blue pigment dust that might get smudged on our nice white background.

Here is our reference photo

and our line drawing

Step 1.

The first step is to get a base layer of white for our highlights. This can be a little tricky as our first step because it can hard to see where the pencil needs to be placed, but getting this base layer down will help prevent us from making this area too dark later. we’re going to build up a good coverage of white inside the brightest part of the highlight, and add a much lighter layer of colour around the edges to help blur our edges.

Step 2.

With our lightest areas now mapped out, we can have a look for our darkest areas. Using the indigo pencil, build up a layer where you can see dark areas on our bauble. This bauble is going to have a nice satin finish, so feather the edges of this indigo into the areas of white. We want the light and dark areas to have a very soft transition on this bauble, so want to try to keep this layer nice and and light handed with soft edges so we will be able to blend out our colours later on

Step 3.

Now add a layer of phthalo blue over the bauble, trying to avoid just the brightest highlights. You will add the phthalo over the top of the indigo you have placed down to allow the colours to blend. The bauble has to stay nice and round for this piece to work, but it may feel a little difficult to keep those edges rounded properly. Feel free to move your paper around to give your hand the most comfortable position to follow the edge. Don’t forget to add a little blue in the areas under the cap!

Step 4.

Use your middle phthalo to very lightly add a layer to just tint the brightest highlights. this is really just the barest hint of colour to tone down the white a little.

Step 5.

Finally we can bring these layers together with some odorless mineral spirits. Dip your brush in the OMS, then remove the excess on a piece of scrap paper until the brush is mostly dry. work around the bauble to push the pencil pigment together and down into the valleys of the paper.

Be careful not to push any of the darker pigments over the highlights. This is best avoided by cleaning the excess pigment off your brush regularly, by dipping into the OMS and brushing off on a scrap piece of paper. If you do accidentally push the dark colours over the highlights, that layer of white we put down first should save the day! the white pencil should save your paper from being stained by the blue, so you can just wet your brush in OMS and use it to lift off the darker pigment

When you are happy that you have blended the entire surface, allow the OMS to dry completely.

Step 6.

while we wait for the OMS to dry on the first bauble, we can start work on the second more shiny ball. Just like the first bauble we are going to start by mapping out our highlights, However this time we are not going to feather out our edges. To make this ball look shiny we are going to need to keep a strong definition between our light and dark areas, so when we lay down our whites, we are going to stay well within the defined areas. except for the slight transition we have on the curve of the base

Step 7.

Now with our lightest areas in place, we are going to go back in with our indigo. This time we are going to keep a nice defined edge between the lights and darks. Because this is a beginners tutorial, we wont be drawing in every reflection on this surface. However we will be using that indigo pencil to imply some of the shapes we can see reflected in the surface

Step 8

Now with our lights and darks placed, we can go in with our phthalo blue again. Putting down a good layer over the surface of the bauble, but being careful not the colour over the very brightest highlights. Once again, don’t forget to colour under the cap.

Step 9.

Take a quick moment to add a very light layer on mid phthalo blue to ever so slightly tone down the white of the brightest highlights

Step 10.

Now that we have a good few layers of colour down, we can use our OMS to blend out the shiny bauble. We have to be a little more careful on this side however, because we don’t want to lose that lovely contrast. So do take care not to smudge the edges too much with your OMS. The best way to do this is to only use a careful up and down dabbing motion as your brush touches the paper, this way you stand less chance of accidentally blurring your boundaries as you push the pigment down into the paper.

when you are satisfied that all of the colour had been blended leave to dry.

Step 11.

At this point we have a pretty good idea of how this drawing is going to come together, but the colour is still patchy and we need to refine a few things. So we are going to add a few more layers of colouor

First we are going to go back in with the white. This will be much easier this time around because we will be better able to see where we are placing down the pencil. Build up the top highlights just like the first time. Build up a good layer of colour in the centre part of the highlight, and then add a few light touches of white around the edges to blur the transition.

when colouring the bottom area with white, try to only colour the very central area of the lighter area. This will help sell the illusion that the bauble is a sphere.

remember to keep your edges soft and feathered out, no sharp edges on this bauble!

Step 12.

Go back in with the indigo pencil and reestablish those very darkest areas. we have lost some of the intensity of the darks when we blended out and we want them back! build up a good layer of indigo just as you did in the first few steps, keeping the edges feathered and soft and overlapping slightly into the lighter areas

Step 13.

Just as we did with the first layers, we can add a layer of Phthalo blue over the surface of the bauble, while avoiding the highlights. During my testing for this tutorial I varied how dark I made the bottom portion of this bauble…sometimes using the phthalo over this entire section, and sometimes only adding the darker blue to the bottom and colouring the lighter area with the mid phthalo. I’m not sure which version I prefer, so I will leave that up to your personal taste. In this test I kept the darker blue just to the bottom of the sphere, and kept the central portion lighter.

Step 14.

Going back in with the mid phthalo blue, this time instead of colouring over the whole highlight, I’m just going to keep the light blue to the edges of the highlights. This will soften the transition between light and dark even further than before. I also added a touch of the mid phthalo to the bottom highlight to soften the blend between light and dark in his area.

Step 15.

Blend!! this time we already have a decent amount of pigment on our paper, so we only need to use a very dry brush. Too much thinner at this point will only start to lift colour off our paper, so make sure to really dry off the tip of your brush until it is barely holding any OMS. Blend your colours together again, but save those brightest highlights! we want everything here to have a nice soft transition, so push that pigment around, lights into darks and vice versa.

If you accidentally lift too much colour it is not a problem, wait for the OMS to dry then touch up with a little more colour. Blend until everything is smooth and your pigments have melted into each other. While we wait for this to dry , we can move back to our shiny bauble.

Step 16.

Add another layer of white to the highlights on our second bauble. Remember to keep our edges crisp and unblended.

Step 17.

Go back in with the indigo pencil and re-establish the darkest areas on our second bauble with the indigo pencil, following the guidelines you already have down on the paper. This second layer is just to strengthen our colour and really get some pigment down on the paper, the hard work of deciding where to put your colours has already been done at this point!

Step 18.

Just like before we will add a layer of phthalo blue over the majority of he surface of this second bauble. This time avoiding the brightest highlights and the bottom lighter section.

Step 19.

Use the Mid phthalo blue to colour the bottom lighter portion of the shiny Bauble, and deepen the tone of the brightest highlights if you feel it is required.

Step 20.

Last blend! As before, blend using a dry brush,it will not need much to move the pigment at this point. Blend out your pencils being careful not to blur the sharp edges. Once you are done, sharpen a black pencil while you wait for the OMS to dry.

Step 21.

Going in with the black pencil add the very darkest details around the piece. There is a small dark shadows at the very base of each bauble, a shadow where the baubles overlap and the very darkest underneath the cap

Step 22

While we have our black pencil in hand, lets add the very darkest details in the cap.I am simplifying the colours in the cap down to just white black and grey to keep it easy. take a moment to look for the very darkest areas in this cap and add them in with the black pencil. Once again, I did this several different ways as I tested this tutorial , and no matter where I placed these colours, the end result looked like a shiny silver cap. The main thing here is to make sure you keep the contrast between the lights and darks. The photo below shows where I added my black pencil

Step 23.

Now for the whites, Grab a sharp white pencil and map in the very brightest areas of the cap. Feel free to press a little hard in this area, we aren’t going t go over this area very much in this piece. Below is a map of where I put my whites

Step 24.

Now for everything in between. We are going to use our Cool grey III to fill in all the colours i between.Try to keep the separation between the lightest and darkest areas obvious here, that’s what is going to make this look silver

when this area has been coloured, you may take a brush to blend out these colours, but make sure it a very dry brush and do NOT lose the contrast by blending the tones together. Just lightly press the pigments down into the paper so they don’t mix together and cause you to lose your contrast.

Step 25.

Last step! Add in a small amount of indigo in the circle at the very base of both bauble. The blueish colour of the indigo will give the impression that some of the colour of these baubles is being reflected onto the table surface.

Fill the indigo in thicker at the very base of the baubles and feather it out to a lighter layer of colour as you move away from the darkest shadow at the bottom of the balls. When that is complete, fill in the larger circle with a very light layer of cool grey III, also feathering out the colour as you move towards the edge of the shadow, we want this colour to fade out as naturally as possible

when you are happy with the coverage of your pencil use a little OMS to push the colour down into the paper and blend out the edges as much as you can…

and you are done!

I hope by working through this piece you have had a chance to experiment with what makes a surface look shiny, satin or matte. Both of these baubles have been created using the same colours and techniques, but it is the amount of contrast in each bauble which changes the appearance of the surface texture.

If you have enjoyed creating these baubles, maybe it is work seeing if you can extend upon this exercise. Can you make these baubles look even matter, or shinier? perhaps you could try to draw something like a shiny gift ribbon using these techniques?

No matter what you do, I would love to see the end result. Please feel free to tag me on instagram, or send me a message showing me your work, Honestly seeing the drawings you guys create really makes me ridiculously happy. I really hope you have fun with this :

Colouring a Red Rose -Beginners Colour pencil tutorial

In my last post I talked about how to draw the outlines for this piece; today we are going to add the colour. In my previous tutorials, I covered how to apply the pencil to the paper and how to smoothly blend your colours. In today’s tutorial, we are going to focus on building a nice deep color saturation with some darker colours, including black, by continually building light layers of colour.

Once again, here is the reference photo we will be using:

and a traceable line drawing if you just want to get to the fun stuff.

I used my polychromos in the colours:

  • Deep Scarlett
  • Dark Red
  • Walnut Brown
  • Black
  • Chrome Oxide Green
  • Earth Green Yellowish
  • Fuchsia (optional)

For prismacolors I used:

  • Permanent Red
  • Crimson Red
  • Tuscan Red (dark and warm it makes a decent substitute for Walnut Brown in this piece)
  • Black
  • Olive Green
  • Lime Peel
  • Process Red (optional)

I have used odorless mineral spirits (OMS) to blend my colour pencils in this tutorial, and used  a 3/10 oval, and a 1/8 oval taklon brushes to blend.

I used an A5 piece of Arches Hot press in my video demo, and fabriano accademia for my practice runs, which are extremes of an expensive and a budget paper!  When choosing your paper, look for a nice sturdy paper with a slight tooth to the surface.

Once you have you line drawing on your paper it’s time to start the colouring!


Step 1.

Have a good long look at the reference photo and try to identify the darkest ares of the rose. These are mostly seen in places where the petals are curling in and casting shadows towards the centre of the rose. The petals on roses are often tightly packed and you can often identify some really nice dark shadows even on a lighter coloured flower. In this photo the rose is quite a simple shape, so the darkest areas are easy to identify. Lay down a light layer of Walnut Brown (or Tuscan Red) in these areas.

Step 2.

Now that you have identified the darkest areas, it is time to look for the lightest ones. Unlike my previous tutorials, where we coloured in small circles, today we are going to add a little texture to the solid red by lightly colouring in the direction of the veins of the petals.  Look closely at each petal before colouring, you will notice that the direction of these veins changes on each petal, and they help show the roundness and fullness of the rose.  Using these as a guide, use your lightest red to colour the lightest areas of the rose.

Step 3.

Colour the remaining area of the rose with your dark red pencil. Once again, applying your pencil in the direction of the petal textures. Colour over the top of your Brown/Tuscan Red areas, these colours will blend together to create a really nice deep red colour.

Step 4.

It is time to blend our pencils for the first time. Dip your brush in the OMS, then remove the excess on a piece of scrap paper until the brush is mostly dry. Start blending your pencil, being careful not to accidentally spread that dark red onto the surrounding white paper, as it will be impossible to remove! The smaller brush comes in very handy for those tight spots. We want to take every opportunity to build upon the texture of those petals, so wherever possible, blend your pencil in the direction of the petal veins. Paying close attention to these textures will really prevet your drawing from looking flat when we are finished.

When you are happy that you have blended the entire surface, allow the OMS to dry completely.

Step 5.

With the first layer down, we have established where our lightest and darkest areas are in the drawing, but the coverage is still very patchy and light. We will fix that by adding additional layers of colour. Start by adding another layer of dark brown to the deepest shadows.

Step 6.

Use the dark red pencil to cover the mid tones, once again, going over the brown areas to create a deep rich shadow colour. Remember to work in the direction of the veins wherever you see them.

Step 7. 

Use the lightest red over most of the rose (except for the very darkest areas) this will help to bring all the colours together and help the rose look like it is just gradients of a single colour. Make sure you are still only colouring in light layers at this point, while it looks like there is a lot of pigment going down onto the paper in the video at this point, it is just because the pigments are starting to build up on the page. The point of this tutorial is to build our depth of colour slowly and we really don’t want to be pressing hard at any point of this piece.

Step 8. 

Using a very dry brush, we will be blending out the pencil again. Remember that as the colour builds up on the surface of the paper, the drier our brush needs to be. A wet brush will start to lift colour off the paper, which is the opposite of what we want to see. Once you are satisfied with the blending allow the thinners to dry before moving onto the next step.

Step 9 (optional)

At this point we can take a moment to add a little touch of that pinky tone to the base of the center petal. It is a small detail, but adding some different tones to the piece can help add to the realism and interest of the drawing. Adding some slightly different tones to our rose along with adding  the petal texture will help this piece be more life-like and less flat and solid.

Step 10. 

With our colours building up nicely, we can start to add a little touch of black to our shadows. I have held off from adding the black until this point. because I didn’t want to overshadow that vibrant red by mixing it with a straight black. Black itself can be too dominating to most colours to use directly as a shadow colour, so I used the Walnut Brown (or Tuscan Red) as a bridge between or red and black. The shadows of this rose however are very dark, so we can add just a little hint of black in the deepest shadows to add contrast to our rose. Be sparing, but brave in this step! If you feel you have put down too much black, you should have enough pigment on your paper to be able to lift off some of the colour with your brush wet with OMS. Usually you don’t want to lift colour off your page, but occasionally it can be a helpful trick if you have gone too far and need to take pigment back off. As long as you haven’t squashed the tooth of your paper, you can always wait for the thinner to dry and re-build any colour lifted off later. 

Step 11.

The piece is almost done. At this point go over your colours once more to make sure the paper is completely covered. Add the Walnut Brown to the shadows, then add more of the darkest red and top it off with a final few layers of the lightest red. At this point you should have a lovely strong red colour and some nice dark shadows on your paper. And its all been done with nice light layers.

Once you feel like you have a good amount of colour down, blend the rose with OMS for the last time.
(If you reach this point and you still don’t feel like you have a strong enough coverage, feel free to add more layers, as long as you have kept a light hand, you should be able to keep adding layers of pencil until you reach a nice saturation.)

Step 12.

While you wait for the rose to dry. Add a layer of your lightest green to the entire stem and leaf section of the rose, once again following the direction of any textures you can see on the stem. Then you can add some of the darkest green in the areas of shadow, such as, under the leaves, where one of the leaves are curling over and down the right hand side of the stem. Look closely at the reference photo to find these shadows. Finally you can add a touch of Walnut Brown or Tuscan Red ( remember that red and green are complimentary colours, so they will blend to a darker and less saturated colour, perfect for a shadow!) to the very darkest shadow on the stem.

Step 13.

Blend out the stem with OMS on the smaller brush, some of those tight little curls may be a little tricky, so take your time! Luckily the green pencils don’t seem to spread as easily as the red, so you are at less risk of accidentally pushing them too far outside the area you want to see them. Allow the thinners to dry.

Step 14.

Repeat the colouring process with the stem. Even though this is a much lighter colour that the red of the rose, the stem should have the same saturation of colour as the rose, so you will need to add multiple layers in this area too. Go over the stem in the same manner as step 12, and blend once again.

Step 15.

The final touches! Using your dark red pencil, carefully add a few of the veins on the surface of the petals. You have been following their shape throughout this piece, so a few light lines should finish this off nicely. Be careful to only add these lines very lightly, they will look too artificial if you press down to hard. Just use a light touch.

Then, if you wish you can use your dark red to add a little red to the tips of the rose leaves and use your darkest green to add in a few of the little spurs on those leaves as well. And your all done!!

I hope you find this tutorial helpful and you give this a go!! If you do I would love to see how you go! feel free to tag me on Instagram or post to my Facebook page. You guys have done some wonderful work with the pear and mango tutorials, I am sure I will see some beautiful roses too.




How I draw a Rose – Preparing the Line work for a Colour Pencil Piece

Recently I have been working on a new beginners colour pencil tutorial featuring a simple red rose. ( It should be really fun!) As I was drawing up the outlines it occurred to me that this is a much more complicated shape than the pear and mango tutorials that I have already created, and it may be a little tricky for beginners who do not wish to trace the base image.

So here is my attempt at teaching you how to draw a very simple rose. This tutorial has been a little tricky to create, as I have never really considered my “methods” when I am drawing. So I have spent the last week drawing, and re-drawing this rose to break my process down as simply as possible. No doubt there are better tutorials out there, but this is how I approach drawing a simple rose. Hopefully It helps you too!


  • a sketchbook – I use a cheap, student grade sketchbook from the local newsagent, nothing fancy
  • A soft graphite pencil. I like to use an 8b which is very soft. I like to be able to really move the graphite around on the paper, but this may be a little too soft and messy for some, a 4 or 6b will certainly do the trick
  • A kneadable eraser.
  • A blending stump or tortillion  (or the tip of you finger will do in a pinch, just don’t blend graphite with fingers for “finished” pieces as the oils in your fingers will case you issues)
  • Tracing paper. ( or kitchen wrapping paper – Its see through, cheap and it works!) to get a clean tracing of your final image ready to be used on your final paper.

Reference photo

Here is the reference image for our rose, A very simple rose, with only a few petals and only a few curls… you can do this!!

Step 1.

The first step is to define the size of the rose we wish to draw. Sometimes when drawing, it can be very easy to find one area getting much larger or smaller than intended, or perhaps you start at the wrong place on your paper, meaning you run out of space later. I find it helpful to lay down a circle to define the area in which I intend to work. In this case I have circled the area I want the petals to fill.

Step 2. 

I Find the center structure of the rose and start there. In nearly every rose, there is an area in the center of the flower which is more densely packed than the petals around the outside. I always start with this piece, as I find that I can use this core area as a good place mark against which I can measure the rest of the flower.

In this photo, the tightly coiled core makes up the majority of the rose. This makes for a much simpler drawing.






But no matter how complicated, or how many petals, I always look to draw that central structure first


Using the circle as a guide I start drawing in the shape of the center petals. I draw these lines in a very light, sketchy manner. I am using a very dark, soft pencil, and If I press too hard, I may create lines which I cannot erase easily. Much like when using colour pencil, a light hand it best!!





As I work, I try to imagine the other side of that shape which is hidden underneath the overlaying petal. Thinking about how this rose is constructed helps me to better understand the shapes I am seeing.

This also allows me to draw in the next petal more accurately, as the second petal lays over the top of this core petal and will follow its shape pretty closely. You can draw this is if you wish and erase it later, but personally I find too many guide lines distracting.


Step 3.

Keeping that underlying structure in mind, I then draw the first petal wrapping the flower. I make soft sketchy lines so that i can easily erase and/or smudge out any lines that go astray.

I continuously check with my reference photo, and compare to what I have on my page. Some things you may need to keep an eye on are: is the top of you petal tall enough in comparison to  the top of the center petal ? does the petal wrap over enough of the center petal? Are your curves correct with a nice rounded curve to the inner side of the petal, and a reasonably gentle curve to the outside?

Keep comparing and checking, you will be surprised how much information your brain will *think* it sees and if you don’t take the time to look and compare, you will find you have drawn some very different shapes!

Step 4.

Drawing in the first outer petal. I start by drawing the basic rectangular like shape of the outside of the petal.

Then I study the values on the petal and draw myself a guide line for where the petal goes from the shadowed area into a much lighter one. This change of value will be very important when colouring or shading to show the 3 dimensional shape of the petal, so I want to make sure I have it down to guide me.

Lastly I draw in the curve of the underside of the petal

Step 5.

Next I draw in the larger petal to the left. Using the circle as a guide to how large this petal needs to be. Once again, I draw in a small guide line to show me where the petal curves at the very top. While I am drawing these petals, I am ignoring any of the smaller details, such as bumps and ridges along the edge. I want to get the placement of these petals down first before I worry about adding the details.


Step 6 .

I then draw in the somewhat misshapen petal between the outer petal and the core petal. Much of this petal quite heavily shadowed, so It can be a little tricky to see the details. Just take your time and keep checking your work against the reference photo.

I then draw in the stem and leaves at the base of the rose. I did not like the way the leaf on the right covered up my flower, nor how long it extends away from the rose, so in my version I have left out one of the curls in the leaf and shortened it overall

 Step 7.

I start my shading by finding the darkest areas of the rose. In this drawing they are closest to the central structure and underneath the misshapen petal. I find shading much easier if I define my darkest values first. The super soft 8b pencil means that this will blend out very easily, and I will have to deepen these shadows further as I work


Step 8.

I work on adding shading to the rest of the rose. This is almost always where I find all my mistakes- when the shadows don’t fit as they should, I know my line work is wrong!! I study my reference photo and using a blending stump and a kneadable eraser, I add the rest of my values to the rose.

I Use my blending stump to smooth out the transitions between areas of light and dark, and my eraser to pull graphite back off areas that need to be lighter. Take your time and really look at that reference! Where is the light hitting the most? which areas are in the deepest shadow? Are there areas which blend together in the darkness? Is there a shadow under the curl of a petal? Studying values like this can be very surprising, and you may find highlights and shadows in places you never expected.

This gives me an excellent opportunity to study the lights and darks (or more correctly, the values) in my rose, before I start with my colour pencils.

Sometimes when drawing in these changes in value you will see where the line work is incorrect and this is a good time to make any final changes to the overall shape of those petals. The soft pencil and sketchbook paper generally make the graphite very easy to move around at this point, so as long as you don’t press to hard with your pencil, you can shade and blend and erase until you get it looking right. If you are find it difficult to see the values, you may find it easier to switch the reference photo to black and white.

I have added in a couple of lines to show myself the direction of the veins on the petals and how they wrap around the flower. As this is a guideline, and not a finished graphite drawing, I can add in any details that I feel may help me when creating the final colour pencil drawing. This is a road map! so feel free to make notes however you wish!!


Step 9.

I add shading to the leaves at the base. You can see it this point I have also changed the direction of that left hand leaf, as I feel it was sticking out at an awkward angle.





Step 10.

The final touches! Now that I am happy with the overall shape, I go over the edges of my petals, adding in any of those small bumps and imperfections that I deliberately ignored earlier. I find that If you try to draw in those details first it is very easy to misjudge the overall shape of the object you are drawing.  It is much easier to get an accurate drawing when you get the major shapes in first and THEN add the small details.


Step 11.

When I am happy with my drawing, I use tracing paper ( or kitchen paper) to trace over the outlines of the piece. This gives me a nice clean drawing that I can transfer onto my rather precious water-color paper, ready for me to begin the colouring process!

Creating my line drawing in this manner allows me the freedom to make mistakes and make any changes that I wish long before I ever set pencil onto my delicate ( and rather expensive) water-colour paper. All of my mistakes have been made and erased without damaging the tooth of that fancy paper with my eraser or stray graphite lines, and I can start my final work with a nice, clean slate.

Perhaps because I was a graphite and charcoal artist long before I picked up the colour pencils, I find that having already made a small tonal study like this  can help greatly when it comes time to colour, as sometimes determining changes in value can be difficult in when working in colour.

I hope this helps! Of course I will be providing a traceable line drawing in my next tutorial, where we bring this rose to life with colour pencil but I encourage you to give drawing it yourself a try! Much like the mango and the pear, all roses are different, and yours doesn’t have to be perfect! (I can assure you mine isn’t!! ) I would love to see what you can do!







Mounting my colour pencil drawings to a board

I love my colour pencils dearly, they are now easily my favorite medium to work with… but they have one glaring failure! No matter how good the work is, generally it is created on flimsy, easy to damage paper. I hate the thought of putting in hours of work, to then have to worry about the chance of creases or tears in my hard work! I also think this fragility really holds colour pencil artworks from being taken very seriously by potential collectors.

Over the past few months I have had many discussions with local art shops and framers about the best method of mounting my colour pencil pieces to board, to give my work stability and a much longer life expectancy!!

If you are interested in trying this out, the following is a run through of my method so far

Note: this method can be used to mount paper BEFORE creating the artwork!! you will just have to be extra careful not to accidentally get any of the gel on the working surface of the paper.

*** WARNING!!!!**** This is a fiddly process and it does have the potential to ruin the artwork you wish to mount!! I HIGHLY, HIGHLY!!! recommend practicing the process a few times on less valuable pieces before attempting to mount something precious!!


    • A sturdy archival board – I have been using picture matting board from a local framer, as it is sturdy but still lightweight. However, you could use a much firmer surface like Ampersand clayboard, ( or for Aussies  ) or wooden boards or for Aussies ( please note, amazon associate links are for your visual reference, there are many other brands selling similar products and it’s always worth shopping around!). Whatever you choose should be archival as it would be a terrible shame to damage your piece instead of protecting it! It will help if the board you choose is slightly smaller than the artwork. You will get a better finish if you can  trim the artwork to be completely flush to the board
    • An Archival binder gel.  I use Atelier heavy gel (gloss) (  or for Aussies attach my drawing to the board. It is an acrylic medium that creates an extremely strong bond when dry.
    • The artwork you wish to mount
    • A brush
    • A brayer (optional) or for Aussies  to roll your artwork down onto the board. A brayer will give you a nice smooth, even rolling action to press the artwork down onto the board. This would be very useful with larger artworks
    • A sharp blade to trim any excess
    • Wax paper 
    • A flat, heavy weight to press your work down overnight


Step 1.  Clean your surfaces!

Ensure that your work surface, hands, brush, brayer, the board, and the artwork are free from dust and debris. The mounting process must be done quite quickly and can be a little nerve racking… Should you find a hair or crumb stuck somewhere it doesn’t belong during the process, you will find it difficult to keep the process flowing. And any particles that get trapped between your artwork and the board will be there forever!!! It is worth taking the time to clean and inspect everything so you don’t run into trouble later

Step 2. Protect your surface

I use a layer of wax paper under my board while I apply the gel. This stops excess gel from getting on my work surface, so I don’t accidentally “glue” my artwork to the table

Step 3. Apply the gel

Using a wide soft brush, apply the gel to the board. Ensure that the gel covers the board completely to the edges and is in a nice even layer. The Heavy gel is an impasto medium and will hold any peaks or clumps when it dries, so take the time to smooth it out so no clumps form under your artwork. When you are happy with your coverage, it is worth taking the time to clean up any excess gel from the side of your board, removing the protective wax paper and cleaning any gel off your hands. Taking the time to clean the excess off will ensure you accidentally get the gel on your work or stick your work to the work surface!

Step 4. Attach the artwork.

Take a deep breath! take a moment to visualise how you will place the artwork on the board and how you want things to line up. Bend your artwork slightly and allow the middle of the piece to make contact to the board first, then lay the piece down LIGHTLY onto the board. getting that middle section down first will prevent any air bubbles from forming underneath your piece. The gel grabs quickly, So only lay your piece down lightly, and quickly make any final adjustments to the position of your work. This is where having your artwork slightly larger than the board is incredibly helpful!!! It is better to have a slight overhang that you can cut off later than to have an exact fit that can be difficult to line up under time pressure!! (like I did in the video!)

Step 5. Smoothing the piece down!

Once you are completely satisfied with the position of your piece on the board. Add another layer of wax paper on top of your artwork. This will protect your piece from accidental smudging. Use the brayer or a flat hand, to smooth the artwork down onto the board, working from the middle out towards the edges and ensuring you get a good bond on the edges. keep smoothing it out until you are satisfied that the piece is completely bonded to the board. Now is a good time to clean up the edges of any excess gel that may have been squeezed out in the smoothing process. and cleaning excess gel off your work surface.

Step 6. Weighting down and drying.

The gel forms a bond very quickly, and the piece should already be firmly attached to the board. But as the gel is wet, the paper and thinner matting boards can bend as the gel dries. So at this point, using wax paper to protect your work, lay some flat, heavy weights down to ensure the artwork remains flat as it dries. Allow to dry overnight.

Step 7. Trimming the excess

When everything is completely dry you may take a very sharp blade and trim off any paper hanging over the side of the board. This will give a nice flush finish to the mounting process. I recommend doing this with the artwork facing down on a smooth clean surface, and using the edge of the board to guide the blade.

And you’re done!!!

Your gorgeous colour pencil work is now firmly supported by a solid surface, and worrying about creases and tears is no longer a major problem! With a nice solid board you can now take this a step further and varnish your piece for another layer of protection and to even out the sheen of the image. ( I will explain how I do this in my next blog!)





Making hundreds of colours from only 12 pencils

When you start using colour pencils as a medium, those giant, rainbow coloured packs of 120 pencils can seem like a must-have item…

until you see the price tag!!

I don’t know about you, but it sure is hard to justify spending such a huge amount of money on a medium you are not yet familiar with. Colour pencils can be a tricky medium to master, they take a lot of time and practice and at first you don’t even know if you will enjoy the process!

We can start practicing with colour pencils without destroying our bank balance though. The first option is to start off with student grade pencils. These can be a great introduction to the medium, and I started my own collection of pencils with a $17 set of Monte Marte colour pencils. Unfortunately, Student grade pencils are just not as pigmented, can blend unevenly or unpredictably,  and are not as lightfast as the artist grade pencils. Most serious art students will find they “grow out” of these sets very quickly.

The second beginners option can be to go whole hog and start off with the artist grade pencils… just not the whole collection! Most brands offer sets starting with as few as 12 pencils, which is a much more affordable option, especially if you can get a good sale price or manage to wrangle them as a gift!! *wink wink santa claus!!* 

To a beginner artist, it may seem that 12 pencils could not possibly be enough, but I assure you it can be. Colour pencils are just like paint, they can be mixed and blended to create endless combinations, the only difference is with the pencils we mix our colours directly on the paper instead of on the palette. Let me show you how many combinations we can create with just a basic 12 pencil set.

Here are some links to purchase the packs I have used for these charts.

polychromos 12 pack: or for Aussies
prismacolor 12 pack: or for the  Aussies

Polychromos 12 pack

In this grid I have blended each of the Polychromos pencils. Each square is a 50-50 mix of each pencil.

  • White
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Dark Cadmium Orange
  • Deep Scarlet Red
  • Magenta
  • Light Ultramarine
  • Pthalo Blue
  • Emerald Green
  • Light Green
  • Burnt Ochre
  • Walnut brown
  • Black




Prismacolor 12 pack

This grid shows the same 50-50 blend of the 12 pack Prismacolor premier pencils

  • White
  • Canary Yellow
  • Orange
  • Crimson Red
  • Violet
  • Violet Blue
  • True blue
  • Emerald Green
  • Apple Green
  • Sienna Brown
  • Dark Brown
  • Black



The colours in these charts are just the very tip of the iceberg! These are the colours than can be achieved by simple 50-50 blending of each colour, and doesn’t even start to take into account all the blends than can be created in different ratios or by adding a 3rd or 4th pencil to each blend. The possibilities are endless… which can be a little bit daunting.

Generally when I am mixing my pencils I choose the colour closest to my goal as possible, then use the colours I have available to warm up, or cool down, Lift or desaturate the colour as necessary. A lot of this is done through trial and error, so I find it is always best to have a piece of scrap paper on hand as I work, to test out how the colours will mix together before I use them together on the final product. Luckily the more experience you have, the easier it becomes to predict how the colours will react together. Unfortunately for the beginner there is no “recipe” book I can give you to create the colours you wish to achieve. The list of possible hues is endless, and most colours can be achieved by combining pencils in more than one way! Learning to mix your own colours Is best achieved through experimentation and practice, lots and lots of practice.




Beginners color pencil tutorial. Blending colors on a Mango

Here is another tutorial for beginner colour pencil artists. I have chosen this mango, as the shape is very easy to draw and the different colours will give us a chance to practice blending our pencils together to get a smooth gradient.

Reference Picture 

I used Polychromos pencils:

  • White
  • Cadmium yellow
  • Pompeian red
  • Indian red
  • May green
  • Green gold
  • Cinnamon
  • Payne’s grey
  • Cold grey III

Equivalent Prismacolor pencils,  (I find them to be a little more difficult to control with the solvent, they will spread VERY easily…  but will give a slightly more vibrant result.)

  • White
  • Canary yellow
  • Carmine red ( makes the blush a little more pink, but quite pretty)
  • Henna
  • Lime peel
  • Artichoke
  • Nectar
  • Warm grey 90%
  • Cool grey 30%

I used Arches Hot pressed watercolour paper for this example, however this is quite extravagant. My favorite budget-friendly paper is Fabriano accademia paper. I like a sturdy paper with a medium tooth for colour pencil work.

Step 1. Transfer the image to your paper.  If you feel confident, you can use a light graphite pencil to draw out the outline directly onto your paper, but be careful not to erase too heavily! We need to take care of the paper surface and excessive erasing can damage the tooth of the paper, or leave unsightly marks. Extra care needs to be taken to keep the graphite outline very light along the top of the mango, as it will show through the yellow in the final product.

This is quite a simple shape to draw out. I have provided a line drawing to trace if you wish, but there are many varieties and shapes in fruit and perfection is not required!

Step 2. Use the white pencil to lightly colour the area of highlight. While I am not looking for a brilliant white highlight this time, it can be helpful to protect this area a little, and this layer of white will mean we will be able to lift any colour that we may decide is too dark later on.

Step 3. Very lightly plot your lines for where you wish the colours to blend. You can change the size and shape of this area if you wish, but I recommend using the reference photo and trying to get as close as possible for practice. Once you have a clear idea where you wish you colours to be,  lightly start colouring the yellow area of the mango with the cadmium yellow pencil. When you get to the boundaries where the colours are to blend together, allow the yellow to drift slightly into the next colour area, this will be where our pencils will mix together.

Step 4. Next we will add our first layers of the Pompeian red to the blushed area. Start by working at the edge of the fruit and work towards the yellow. As you reach the transition, lightly colour the red pencil over the top of the existing yellow pencil. Remember to keep your hand very light; if you are pressing to hard it will be difficult to get a nice soft blend. Small light circular movements are best to allow you to fade one colour into another effectively.  When you are happy with coverage of the red pencil, you can go back over the blended are again with the cadmium yellow to blend even further.

Step 5. With the blushed end of the mango coloured, you can now move on to the greenish tip of the mango. Use the may green pencil in the same manner as you did with the red, blending the green slightly into the yellow and bring some of that yellow back over the green to let the pencils blend seamlessly together

Step 6. At this point you can add more areas of reds or greens if you wish, however I caution you not to allow the red and the green to touch or blend at any point on the mango. The red and the green are complimentary colours , which means that blending between these hues will create a darker, muddy color, which is not the goal for this brightly coloured piece!

Step 7. You should now have a reasonably solid coverage of pencil on your paper. While you will still be able to see small areas of white showing through, the overall coverage of the mango should be fairly even. Now it is time to use the Odorless mineral spirits. Use a soft brush, and blot most of the thinners off your brush before starting to blend, make small circular motions to push the pigment into the pits of the paper. **Warning!!** The yellow will be very easy to accidentally stain with red or green at this point, so be careful to clean off your brush before blending each area! Move slowly and soon you should have a nice solid base for your piece. Allow the thinners to dry completely before moving on the next layer.

Step 8. With the base colours established we can start applying some shadows to the fruit. Using the green gold pencil, add a light layer across the bottom of the mango. It is important to look closely at the reference image at this point as changes to the shape of this shadow can drastically change the overall form of the fruit. When you are happy with the placement of this main shadow, you can move on to adding the Indian red to the blushed area of the fruit. This will be darkest along the base and along the crease in the fruit.

Step 9. At this point, add a little bit of the cinnamon pencil along the inside crease of the fruit. This is a small step, but it makes a big difference to the overall look of the piece. This little touch of reflected light really helps to bring the shape to life!

Step 10. When you are satisfied with the form and coverage of the shadows, add another layer of each of the base colours (cad yellow, Pompeian red and may green)  to the whole piece, and blend out, using only a very small amount of thinners on your brush.

Step 11. While waiting for the thinners to dry, you can move on to the stem and shadow on the table. The stem is very simply completed by drawing a few darker lines using the Payne’s grey pencil and colouring over the top with the green gold. The stem takes surprisingly little work, needing only just a hint of detail to come together. Before drawing in the main shadow take time again to study the reference photo. Carefully add a strong area of Payne’s grey just underneath the fruit where it touches the table. Then use the cold grey III and with a feather light touch, add the rest of the shadow as it fades out to the white. Blend this area carefully with Odorless thinners on a dry brush.

Step 12. Now is a good time to step back and asses how your piece looks to you. Are there any areas of shadow that need darkening? Is there any area colour you would like to see stronger or more blended? Go over the whole piece again, adding your base and shadow colours, making any adjustments you feel necessary. These last layers should make your piece completely solid and bring the whole thing together.

Step 13. Before blending out these last layers, take the time to add a few marks or blemishes with your Payne’s grey pencil.  Only tiny dots of the pencil are necessary here, but they add just an extra element of realism to the drawing. Try to keep these blemishes as random as you can; it can be easy to accidental create unintentional patterns, so pay attention as you work.

Step 14. The last step is to take your brush and lightly blend the blemishes into the top layers of colour, just knocking them back slightly so they are not too stark against the bright fruit. I cannot stress enough how little thinner needs to be on your brush to achieve this, just the softest touch will be enough to do the job.

Finally! Assess your piece. Check shadows and sharpen a few  blemishes. Now is the time to step back a little and look for ways in which you think your piece can be improved. When you feel you have done all you can, you’re all done!









Beginner’s Colour Pencil Tutorial – Pear

This is an excellent project for a beginner colour pencil artist. The simple shape is very forgiving,  and the shading and texture does not need to be perfect to make a good-looking final product.  This drawing only uses 7 pencils and uses odorless mineral spirit to blend.

Reference Photo.


I used Polychromos pencils:

  • May Green
  • Permanent Green Olive
  • Van Dyke Brown
  • Nougat
  • Payne’s grey
  • Warm Grey II
  • White

If you wish to use Prismacolor pencils ( I find them to be a little more difficult to control with the solvent, they will spread VERY easily…  but will give a slightly more vibrant result. )

  • Lime Peel
  • Olive Green
  • Light Umber
  • Sepia
  • Warm Grey 90%
  • Warm Grey 30%
  • White

Step 1.

Transfer the image to your paper.  If you feel confident, you can use a light graphite pencil to draw out the outline directly onto your paper, but be careful not to erase too heavily! We need to take care of the paper surface and excessive erasing can damage the tooth of the paper, or leave unsightly marks.

I like to draw out my pieces on sketchbook paper, then use transfer paper to put my final drawing onto my good paper. However, if you are not as confident in your drawing skills and you just want to get to the good stuff, you can use this line drawing to trace. Whichever method you choose, try to keep your line work as light as possible, so you don’t see the graphite in your final image.

Don’t worry too much about the line drawing. The pear is a simple shape that does not need to be perfectly drawn to create a good finished drawing. All pears are different, no one will know if yours is a little wonky! 


Step 2. Use the white pencil to lightly colour the area of highlight. This will keep your highlight nice and bright , and safe from accidental colouring with your greens.

Step 3. Give the pear a light layer of May Green. With a sharpened pencil and holding the pencil away from the tip, create a light layer over the main area, avoiding the highlighted areas. When complete this area will look patchy and there will be patches of white paper showing through. We will use the thinners to fill in these areas later.

Step 4.  Define the areas of shadow with Permanent Olive green. Following the reference photo carefully, use the darker green pencil to start to define the shadows. The darkest areas are at the base of the pear, and to the right hand side.

Switching a reference photo to B&W can sometimes make it easier to see subtle differences is value and makes identifying these shadowed areas easier.



Step 5. Add the major brown blemishes, especially around the stem.

Step 6Blend colours using Odorless mineral spirits. Use a soft brush, and blot some of the thinners off your brush before starting to blend, make small circular motions to push the pigment into the pits of the paper

Step 7. Add shadow to the base while waiting for the thinners to dry. The lighter area of the shadow is created by using a feather light touch of the light grey pencil on the paper

Step 8 When Thinners are dry, add another layer of the greens all over the pear, this time you can start to blend into the white highlight a little, so it is not too separate from the rest of the pear. The White pencil you used on the first step should protect your highlight from being darkened too much.

Step 9 Blend, but this time using much less thinner on your brush, the brush must be quite dry, as too much thinner now will start to lift colour from your paper!! You only need the slightest bit of moisture in the brush. Since we already covered the paper with a base layer, we only need to move the top layer of pencil, and it takes very little solvent to achieve this.

Step 10. Colour the Lights and shadows on stem, colouring in the direction of the texture of the stem. and blend using thinners

Step 11. Deepen shadows and start to add textures to the skin. Try to keep the small brown blemishes as random as you can; it can be easy to accidental create unintentional patterns, so pay attention as you work. Areas in shadow can be marked with darker spots, highlighted areas should only have very small/light spots.

Step 12. Add a slight halo around your blemishes using the darker green. Then  lightly blend the blemishes into the skin with very dry brush. This is simply to soften the look of the blemishes, so only a very light touch with the brush is needed.

Step 13. Assess your piece. Check shadows and sharpen a few  blemishes. Now is the time to step back a little and look for ways in which you think your piece can be improved. When you feel you have done all you can, You’re all done!!


“Midnight Crow” Tutorial

My goal for this piece was to draw a black bird, using as little black pencil as possible. I wanted to find all the gloss and shimmer in the feathers and draw those brighter colours and leave the black just for the very deepest shadows. 

Materials used:

  • Fabriano Academia 200gsm paper 29x41cm
  • Faber-castell polychromos pencils: Black, Indigo, Prussian blue, Smalt (sky) blue, red-violet, burnt carmine, walnut, cool grey VI, cool grey II and my trusty white Prismacolor.
  • Odourless mineral spirits and a small, soft synthetic brush
  • tiny touch of white gel pen (optional)

My reference photo was from Steve Lyddon at . you do need to be a member to view the photograph as you are required to agree to some terms and conditions of use, however I highly recommend the site.

The process

I never start my drawing directly on my paper, especially where I intend to leave the background naked white. Every little eraser mark and smudge damages the surface of the paper. So I draw out my pieces into a cheap sketchbook first, then when I am happy I will use graphite transfer paper to get the outlines onto my watercolour paper without any mess or mistakes.

The Eye

I always start with the eye. It is the one place in a drawing that I absolutely do not want to make a mistake. If I mess this up I will ditch the whole piece and start again!

crow eye

eye, close up

I picked up my black pencil first and drew in the areas I knew would be the darkest, which in this piece is the lining around the eyes, the join between feathers and beak and the iris of the eye.I then drew in the “sparkle”of the eye with my white to protect the paper from my darker colours.

I chose the walnut pencil as the eye colour as I knew the rest of the piece was going to be in mainly cool colours and a wanted there to be a hint of warmth in the eye. I blended the area between the walnut and blue with my prussian blue to reflect the birds overall colour. As this is a very small area (about 1.5cm²), I do this with a sharp pencil and a steady hand

The Head and Neck

Next I move on to the fine feathers on the head and upper neck. With a very light hand, and with strokes that follow the form and size of the feathers,  I start with the sky blue pencil and lightly layout the area of highlight on the top of the head. I then do the same thing with my darkest shade of blue (indigo) to establish the areas in shadow. Once I have plotted the structures of the head with the darks and lights, I use my prussian blue pencil as a mid tone to bring the areas together. bringing the prussian blue down into the indigo to blend.

At this point I use my odourless mineral spirits (OMS) to blend the tones onto the paper. I want to use a fair amount of the spirits at this stage, as i am looking to stain the colours deeper into the paper, and i have not yet established any details that could be lost with too much blending. As I blend, I am conscious to keep blending in the direction of the feathers. This first layer establishes the foundation of the whole piece, so it is worth taking the time to get it right. You can see the difference the OMS makes between pictures 1 and 2 on the image below.

**WARNING!** I found that the prussian blue pencil was very easily soluble in the OMS! A little bit of pencil went a long way and it was very easy to spread the pigment too far into areas i did not want, and my dish containing the OMS was very quickly tinted blue by the pigment.

When the OMS is completely dried. I place another layer of colour using the same technique as the first. Light strokes on the direction and size of the feathers to build up the depth of the colour. When I am satisfied,  I repeat again with the OMS. However this time I blot most of the OMS out of my brush on a piece of paper before touching it to my paper. A saturated brush at this point will start to lift colour off my piece and start to push it into undesired places.

I keep repeating this process of pencil and OMS. When I am happy with the colour saturation, i move onto the last layers , where  I start to add my red-violet pencil in areas where I want to show a glossy colour shift to feathers. I also start to introduce some flecks of my sky blue down into the darker areas to suggest more individuality to the feathers.

The area under the beak is completed in the same manner, but in this area i also use my black pencil to create areas of the deepest shadows.

head feather collage

Showing how I build up layers of colour. Using light strokes, carefully following the direction and size of the feathers in the reference

Back feathers

With the neck area complete I move onto the tiny triangular feathers above the wings. The reference photo  showed a very defined pattern and central ridge on these feathers. I Followed the reference very closely on the placement and direction of these feathers, as the direction changes as they follow the form of the bird. I used my Sky blue pencil to draw the central lines in first. I press quite hard and go over the line with my white prismacolor. This established the pattern of the feathers and also protected that line of paper from my darker colours.  I was then able to build up the colour in those feathers with alternating layers of pencil and OMS. In some shadow areas I add some of the red-violet and burnt carmine to bring in some more shimmer colour. On my final pass on each feather, I draw in a line of shadow along the ridge a and go over the ridge once again with my white to make it pop!

neck feather collage

showing the general form of the back feathers

Wing and Tail Feathers 

The wing and tail feathers of this bird are very well-defined. There are very strong highlights and shadows on the reference pic which made his one of the easier, but most time consuming areas to complete. I study my reference picture  very closely to understand which areas are in shadow and which are reflecting the light. I use my sky blue pencil in the same manner as above to draw in and protect the exposed feather ridges.  I also use my sky blue to plan out the highlighted areas on the left side of the birds and the small highlight on the right above the leg. The lighting on the left hand side of the bird is very bright, so in this area I also put a layer of white and a hint burnt carmine before I set to work with my darker colours.

I go through the wings feathers in sections. Using the same technique of alternating pencil and OMS to build up depth. I am mindful to keep my pencil strokes following the general pattern of the individual strands in the feathers. In the final layers I am using my indigo pencil to strengthen the chevron like pattern in the wing feathers and to create a shadow along the ridge of the feather.

When I am satisfied with the wing feathers, I use my black pencil to draw in the shadows underneath the feathers. These shadows are strongest in the centre of the bird, where the two wings meet, and where the wing feathers overlap the tail feathers. I do this last, as I do not wish to  accidentally spread the black beyond the very darkest shadows with the OMS.

wing feather collage

Showing to progression of the wing feathers, including black shadow.

Leg and foot.

I used my prussian blue pencil to draw in the highlights on the right side of the leg, I then used my indigo and my black pencil to draw in the leg feathers. This was done using short downwards strokes and blended with the OMS.

I use my white  to draw in the highlights on the foot and claws, I then lightly used the black pencil to draw in the shadows. Once I had these landmarked, I used cool grey II and cool grey VI in a somewhat random manner to create the gnarled effect to the skin. instead of using the OMS in this area, I used my White prismacolor as a blender. I strengthened the shadow that I liked with the black pencil, and finished it off sky blue as a highlight on the top of the toes and back claw.

crow foot

leg and foot detail

To complete the piece I use a very light layer cool grey II and VI, sky blue and red-violet to create the shadow under the bird. I decided I wanted a little more brightness to the little white feathers beneath the eye, so I hit them with a few strokes of my white gel pen as a finishing touch.