The festive season is upon us and with it the time to create my annual Christmas card. I’ve used a variety of media for previous cards but this year I got my hands on a lovely set of Derwent Lightfast 24 Pencils which I couldn’t wait to try out.
The latter part of this year has seen me move away from my favourite subject of urban landscapes towards sketching the native creatures that inhabit our islands. I’ve been particularly drawn to the pheasant and so it seemed the obvious choice for this year’s jolly festive greeting.
As I wanted to feature snow in my picture, I decided to use a dark background as contrast so experimented with grey and brown paper before settling on Derwent black paper. It is a good quality paper to work on and as I’ve used it in the past with other coloured pencils I was keen to see if the Lightfast range would pop against the black paper or be changed tonally as other coloured pencils often are.
After first sketching out the pencil outline I started layering the colour. I found that by putting a white base down first, the layers of colour on top really shone and were wonderfully vibrant. The rich creaminess of the pencil core allowed the layers to blend creating a seamless gradient of colour throughout the body of the pheasant giving a lovely softness to its feathers.
Once the base layers were laid down, it was time to add shading and highlights to the body. I was concerned that the lighter highlights wouldn’t appear opaque over the darker tones but I needn’t have worried as they overlaid beautifully and appeared lovely and bright against the darker pencil layer underneath. By contrast, the darker tones for the shadows melted into the brighter reds and yellows and gave fullness to the pheasant. By overlaying Derwent Lightfast Mid Ultramarine over the white of the snow, I was able to create subtle shadows and ground the pheasant into the snowy scene.
The final touch was to add the snowflakes. The rich creaminess of the pencils allowed me to lightly brush the tip over the paper to create soft semi-transparent flakes, perfect to represent the falling snow. And Freda the festive pheasant was complete.