Graphic Leaf Illustrations using the New Derwent Coloursoft and Metallic Box

I was so pleased to be asked to design this collection as it was my first time experimenting with Derwent Metallic Pencils, and also my first time working on black paper with Coloursoft.

Step 1

I started this project like most of my pieces – outside, with a sketchbook and a few graphite pencils. I’m so lucky to live right beside the beautiful Glasgow Botanic Gardens so am never short for inspiration with its ever changing foliage. I walked around on a sunny afternoon with my family and collected a small selection of fallen leaves – it’s such a nice way to involve my daughter in my work, she loves to help me find interesting ones and of course draw along. I then sat down in a quiet patch and began loosely sketching. The final selection and composition came directly from this relaxed exercise.

Step 2

Once back at my desk I sketched up two outline compositions, inspired by a spread from my notebook, one on black paper, one on white.

Adding colour on white paper

Step 3

Now it was time to start the colour. I worked firstly on the white paper, using mostly Coloursoft and Metallic tones for highlights. My process is observationally fueled: I focus on light and colour to create form. I had each of the leaves pinned to my drawing board as reference. I start at one point and work my way out, using a mix of every colour you can imagine.

I often struggle to explain my colour choices, my work is vivid and often described as abstract. I prefer to think of it as heightened colour and as I said, I focus mainly on light and shadow, really looking at what I’m drawing, how the light is hitting it, and where the shadows are forming. I get totally lost in whatever I’m drawing and never know what the image is going to look like until it’s done. That’s the real joy, the process is often more rewarding than the outcome.

Adding colour on black paper

Step 4

Next I began working on the black paper, this is the image you see on the Coloursoft and Metallic Set box packaging. I took a slightly more graphic approach to this using more lines and solid colours, but still blending the Coloursoft and Metallic tones together at certain points.

Working on black paper isn’t something I do often but I really enjoyed using embracing the paper as a midtone rather than a highlight. Both the Coloursoft and Metallic range really hold their vibrancy on the black base which is really important to me as colour is such a huge element of my work. I definitely recommend trying them out on different paper types as working away from white forces you to change your approach to midtones, highlights and shadows in an interesting way.

Purchase your own Coloursoft & Metallic 24 Box here.

Claudine O’Sullivan, Artist & Illustrator