During uncertain times it is important to keep busy and creative; inspiration can be difficult to find at home but why not draw your beloved pet or that of a friend and send it to them? Animal portraiture is sure to brighten up anyone’s day, so for this reason I’ve taken my Derwent Pastel Pencils and decided to draw a puppy, but with a seasonal twist.
- Derwent Pastel Pencils 72 Tin
- Derwent Pastel Sharpener
- Derwent Kneadable Eraser
- Dark Grey Pastel Paper
- Cotton Buds
- Scrap Paper (to stop your hand smudging the drawing)
Drawing the outline
To begin the portrait, I started by drawing an outline onto the paper using the Titanium White Pastel Pencil so that it’s very clear. But if you struggle with freehand drawing you can draw a grid on your reference and then the paper to get proportions accurate.
Drawing the eye
To draw the eye, I started by outlining it using the Carbon Black pencil, then around this I used a medium grey pencil at the bottom of the eye, blending it in by just overlapping the black outline. Working my way up, I used Indigo and blended this into the grey and also the black outline at the top. To create the highlight, I followed the outline and gradually changed to a lighter blue to form a gradient. I then blended Titanium White into this right at the bottom. To finish it off I added black underneath the highlight and a light grey highlight down the left side.
Realistic fur texture is very simple to achieve once you choose the right colours and follow the fur direction. The first step I did was to look at my reference and see what the darkest colour I can see in that section is; this should be used as the base colour. For fur it is important to layer colours dark to light, which will create dimension. It is also important to make sure that you are using a sharp pencil. The next thing I did was to layer the colours ranging from dark to light, adding the whitest highlights last right on top.
This process is very similar to the eye but I began by colouring the nose in using a dark grey and then added black into the darker nostrils. I then added black around the nose leaving the lighter colour underneath in areas of highlights. Next I used the Indigo pencil and blended this into the black and around the top of the nose. I then used a sharp light grey, light blue and light purple pencil to draw small dots onto the highlighted areas to show the nose texture. To finish it off I used Titanium White Pastel Pencil to add the final highlights.
Blending the flowers
I began by blocking in the shadows and darkest areas of the petals using Violet pencil. I then used Red Violet following around the darker purple in a gradient. In the gaps I blocked in Titanium White. It can be difficult to blend a white into another colour gradually so a method I use is to “draw” using a cotton bud between the Red Violet and Titanium White in circles which blends the two together. For the centre of the flower I used the same technique as with the highlights on the dogs nose; a base colour then adding spots dark to light.
Tips for using pastel pencils for animals
- For base colours shade with the side of the pencil to cover more area at a time.
- When drawing fur make sure to follow the direction that it is going in.
- Generally work dark to light but if you have to add a darker colour over make sure to add lighter colours over that.
- Use a kneadable eraser to lighten the outline when you begin to draw over it.
- Don’t use your fingers to blend the pastels as it can take lots of the colour off, instead use other pencils, cotton buds or colour shapers.
- Try to work left to right (if your right handed) to avoid smudging but use scrap paper or tracing paper under your hand to protect your work.
- When choosing paper, a toothed paper will work the most effectively as it will pick up lots of the pigment from the pastel pencils.
- Remember to add highlights that really contrast with the shadows as this will bring depth.
- When choosing a paper colour choose one that will contrast with the subject the most.
- Make sure to gradually layer the fur colours up pressing lightly but leave spaces between for shadows.
Thank you to Alice for providing us with this blog. To view more of Alice’s work, please visit her Instagram page here.
To purchase your own set of Pastel Pencils, buy here.