Shell Dragon in Colored Pencil
Jack Of All Trades
News for April
Working With Gold Leaf (Or, Wombats Don't Poop Gold)
Shell Dragon in Colored PencilBehind the Art
by Melissa Acker
Since our theme of the month is shells, I thought Iíd demonstrate how I render a shell texture with colored pencils. This piece was done on Strathmore Bristol paper, with Prismacolor pencils.
Like pretty much any piece, I started by sketching the creature. This step is pretty straight-forward.
Since I really hate to stop working to scan when Iím working with colored pencils, you can see three different steps in the shell: the upper portion is the first step, the middle adds the second step, and the bottom portion shows all three steps.
First I applied an even layer of a cream colored pencil over the whole shell. Once that was done I used a terra-cotta colored pencil and started drawing the texture and shadows of the shell, keeping the lines near where the spirals join darkest.
The next step used quite a few different colors, but which ones in particular arenít very important. For all the colors, I used a medium pressure and kept the lines going in the direction of the texture of the shell. A cloud blue pencil went over the whole shell. Afterwards I used pale green, a dark green, and a red color to add the base colors of the shell. Then a sharp dark brown pencil went into all of the shadows and evened out some of the red.
Once all the colors were down, it was time to burnish. Burnishing is when you take a pencil and use it with a constant, heavy pressure over colored pencil that youíve already applied. The pressure evens out the texture, pushing the pigment into the nooks and crannies of the paper, as well as blending the colors. For this step, I burnished the area with a cold grey 10% pencil.
I also did a few quick layers on the dragon, using a very warm orange pencil to apply an even tone to the whole dragon, and a reddish-brown pencil for the shadows. A very light pink pencil was used for the opening of the shell.
In this next step, you can see the rest of the shell completed to the level of the bottom part in the last step. I also worked on the dragon more, using a few different colors to add value and form, including a light blue (which showed up fairly green), and a darker brown. Another reddish brown pencil added a few darks to the opening of the shell.
Now that the shell had all the necessary local color, I needed to add some color back into the shell that was lost when I burnished. I used the same green and brown pencils, but kept the pencils very sharp, and focused on adding value. For the dragon and the shell opening, I added reflected colors, added some colors for the beak and eye, and then burnished the dragon with a colorless blender. A colorless blender is a colored pencil that doesnít have any pigment in it. The shell opening was burnished with a white pencil.
Once again, the places that have been burnished need to have color and value added back into them, and I used a few different very sharp pencils to darken the shadow. I made some touch-ups all over the shell as well. And I used a white pencil with a lot of pressure to add a shiny highlight to the dragon.
I used two strips of tape on the lower left corner of the piece to frame the piece. Then I used a couple different pink and red colors, letting them fade out. The darker color near the dragonís head helps draw your attention to it, as does the rougher texture.
And weíre all done! Hope everyone learned something new or got an idea for a new technique. See you next month!
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