Thursday, June 11, 2009

Carol and her horse

I've had requests that I do a step by step demonstration of how I create a colored pencil portrait and think this would be a fun one! It's of my new friend Carol, and her beloved horse. I'm going to do this "real time", I've done demos before for artists websites but this will be the first one that is truly done as I do it, unedited, so, mistakes and all we'll see together how this progresses!

The size is around 16" x 20". I left a lot of space on the borders to migrate to because I have found that I sometimes wish I had 1/8" more on the left or whatever, so have learned to leave myself some cropping room.

I know this drawing is hard to see, I even photoshopped it to make it a little easier. But it's important at this stage that I use a pencil that's close to the color of the paper, because I will be refining this drawing as I go, and colored pencil is a bit translucent.

I am using Canson's Mi Teintes paper in a peachy/apricot shade. It's just dark enough for me to see my lights but not too dark, and I love the warm shade.

I started out using a pinkish nupastel, a hardish soft pastel, to sketch in my basic shapes of horse and girl. Lots of brushing off at this phase, and lots of standing back and looking...

Then, when I'm pretty happy with my sketch, I use a white plastic eraser to remove error lines. Then, I use a paper towel and just wipe off the excess of the pastel on the "good" lines.

Today I finished that up with a peach prismacolor colored pencil right over the pastel lines. This is still erasable, but not as easy as pastel. You can see I'm still unhappy with Carol's arms, and realized after I took this photo that part of my problem with her arms is that I made Carol way too skinny!

Composition wise, I'm nudging the whole thing over an inch from the photo and will have to just create what's not there. In the photo, Carol's right hand is just about at the margin and I think it looks better with a bit more. I'm also adding a teeny bit more on the right side of the paper. And I think I know where I'm cutting it off on the bottom, but am not making any commitment to that yet!

I have a lot more work to do on this basic drawing, mostly on Carol. In the beginning, the eraser is my best friend. I frankly think that if you don't erase a lot in the beginning, you're just accepting "not perfect". I try to make it as good I can in the beginning because that's what I'm going to be building on all the way through.

Next time, I'm going to be blocking in my darkest darks and my lightest lights to get a feel for where I'm going on this and make sure I'm on track.

I hope you'll follow along with me! In the end, we'll have a full color portrait, but the journey will be fun, too! Invite your friends, the more the merrier!! Robin

I'm artist, Robin Zebley. My pet portrait website is HERE If you'd like to follow along, click "follow" to your right. If you've happened upon this particular page, and would like to see my whole blog, click on the banner at the top. If you'd liek to order a custom portrait, just shoot me an email at Thanks for visiting, I do appreciate it!! Robin


Jennifer Rose said...

*sits down and makes popcorn*

nice start to it, looking forward to seeing it progress :D

twincedar said...

This is great! Looking forward to seeing more!

Carol said...

Maddie looks terrific. I like the crop it is better than the pic. Great start Robin.