Sunday, July 24, 2011

Newborn Portrait - New Pencils!

Here, the arm is partway finished. I started rendering it with Coloursoft pencils and, then, decided to purchase a set of Prismacolors. I'm so excited about these pencils - they really suit my technique. They allow me to create fine textures without losing any intensity of colour. Some pencils are too hard to create a smooth, deep colour and others are so soft that they crumble, leaving dark, crayon-like flecks over the picture. I find this is especially problematic with some of the darker colours.

I'm still experimenting with these pencils so I'm not yet sure whether I will interchange with the Derwent Studio and Artists pencils when rendering particularly fine details. I'm anticipating that the Derwent Coloursoft pencils will be ideal for soft, rough textures, while the Prismacolors will be invaluable for skin tones and, probably, much more.

As you can see, I'm still working on the arm. The change of pencils slowed me down somewhat but I'm finding that progress has speeded up with the new pencils. At this stage, I have applied light washes of cream, pale pink and pale peach, followed by modelling with pigments of increasing value. The colours I have used so far have been Jasmine, Salmon Pink and Pink Rose. Prismacolor pencils don't have a pale pink (in the 120 set - the 12 new colours may contain this shade), so I will probably use one of the Derwent pinks as I move up the tones. Again, I will be experimenting between the Coloursoft and the Artist pencils to achieve the right texture.

I am using more orange and yellow colours for the adult skin and, once again, I am moving up the value chart from light to darker tones to create a smooth blend of colours. This will make the skin appear more realistic.


  1. How many pencils are in the Prismacolors set you bought, Vicky? Did you say there is a set available with 120 colours, or have I misunderstood? Think of all the creative possibilities of 120 colours!! How many different colours would you use in an average portrait?

  2. Hi Mum.
    I like the picture. 120 pencils is a lot I only have 36 pencils.
    Love from Melanie xo xo

  3. I bought a set of 120 colours and, yes, they dramatically increase the creative possibilities! There are 12 new colours available but I'm not sure what they are, yet.

    For years I used a very limited palette and that was a really good lesson in blending colours and focusing on value, etc. But, now, with such a huge range of different colours and brands, I am finding the possibilities opening up and I am more able to achieve exactly the effect that I'm after.

    I guess I would use about 20 or so colours in building up the skin tones - a few of those would vary, depending upon the type and colour of the skin that I am rendering.

    Thank you for commenting, Sue - it's great to have feedback!:)

  4. Thank you, Melanie. 36 pencils is a good number to start with. You'll learn more about colours if you don't have too much choice and you still have enough to make a really pretty picture!:)

  5. Wow! Its really coming along! Looks really good.

  6. Thank you for your comment, Autumn! I really appreciate your feedback:)

  7. Vicky,
    This portrait has changed a lot since the last time I saw it. It's lovely :) You obviously have an extensive pencil collection. I have Derwent Pastels and General's Mixed drawing media. I have only recently started sketching again because I could not use my hands well when I had Myasthenia Gravis. Soon after my healing I went out and purchased some charcoal pencils and later went back and bought the DP's and the mixed. I'm having a great time with them. Unfortunately, I don't have your gift but I still love drawing! Anyway, I'm learning quite a lot from your site and your technique explanations. Thank you :) Plus, as I've said, I love watching the portrait emerge - it fascinates me.

  8. I'm really glad that the posts are useful, Mary. It's been a long time since I used pastels but I love the soft, realistic effect they produce. It must be so good to be able to draw, again, after your healing - God is so good:) I've only had such a good range of pencils, for a short while, and I'm enjoying them so much. For years, I used a very limited range of Derwent Artists and Studio pencils and, probably, used less than 10 colours most of the time. It was useful as I learnt a lot about the different colour groups, without being overwhelmed and confused by all the colour possibilities.
    Thank you for your comment, Mary - it's lovely to be able to share the interest:)

  9. Now that the arm is in the picture, even though it's only partly finished, the picture looks so much more complete. I can even see where the blanket(?) is going to be. I love watching your pictures emerge like this.

    Sorry I took so long about getting round to commenting. My piano exam is coming up fast, and I'm nowhere near ready! Help!

  10. Oh Immy, you don't have to be sorry - I'm just pleased to hear your thoughts when you have time:)

    The picture starts to come alive at a certain stage. I'll post the finished (or nearly finished) arm today and see how much difference it makes.

    Thank you for your comment, Immy - I really appreciate it!


Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your comments and feedback. Vicky