Sketching methods for coloured pencil artists

Photo by Ray Piedra on

When it comes to sketching your image onto paper before you begin the colouring process can be tricky for some. It was certainly tricky for me when I first started out as an artist.

I don’t know an artist who can just draw anything from the top of their head without using a reference photo. If you are out there you are a genius.

So you have your reference image and your art paper all ready to go. What do you do next?

There a few ways that you can transfer the sketch outline of the reference to your paper and for the purpose of this blog post I will be covering the ways that I have used in the past and ones that I want to give a try.

1/ Freehand

The first and most important sketching method is to practise your drawing skills by doing it freehand. The more you practise this the better you will become. As they say “Practise makes perfect”.

2/ Tracing

It is not a sin to trace something. You are only tracing the outline because you are going to fill it in in your style with your coloured pencils. Tracing also gives you practise on your drawing skills.

When you have finished tracing, turn the paper over and shade the opposite side with dark graphite. I suggest using something like a 6b pencil. When you have done that flip the tracing paper back over and lay it graphite shading facing down and trace over the outline again. This will transfer the image to your paper.

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3/ Grid

The grid method is also a great way to practise your drawing skills. What I do is to print of two copies of my reference image. With one copy, I draw vertical and horizontal lines to create a grid (see image below). Now I can copy the sketch outline one grid at a time. The other copy of the reference image is used for colour matching and seeing where to add the details that the grid lines would otherwise cover up.

Grid outlines on a reference image of a Puffin

4/ Transfer paper

I have never used transfer paper but would love to give it a try in the near future. It is basically like the tracing method but instead of shading the back with graphite you just draw over the trace outline and it transfers it for you straight away.

5/ Light box

The lightbox is a great tool to get the outline sketch from a reference image. You place the reference image onto the lightbox, image facing upwards. You then place the paper that you will be using over the top. The light shines through the image and the Paper. It won’t work on super thick or dark paper though, so it depends what paper you are using.

If you haven’t got access to a lightbox you can use a window that brings in good light. You just tape the image and the paper onto the window and draw that way. Works just as good as a lightbox. (Sometimes)

6/ Practise

Practise, practise, practise. It is so much better and beneficial to you as an artist to practise your drawing skills. You will definitely get better and better with each drawing that you do.

If you liked this blog post and it helped you in any way then why not come over to Facebook and join my group: COLOURED PENCIL HELP AND COMMUNITY


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