5 + Tips for using Coloured Pencils

Bunny Bouquet 2017 by ellaquaint

In a past life, I was a teacher of Art. I loved the students (well most of them) and the teaching aspect of the job; it was the politics and paper work that sent me running for the hills. As they say, once a teacher . . . always a teacher. Here are some handy hints for expanding your colouring / drawing techniques. At the end is a glossary of art terms that I have used throughout this article that you might or might not be familiar with.

1) Work from a photo / similar source image

Photo by Paul Murphy

Here is the image that I used as my inspiration for the rabbit in this illustration. If you are wanting your colouring to look slightly realistic, then you want to look to nature for ideas as to the different colours that occur in the object as well as how the different light tones and dark tones work together to make it look 3-dimensional. However if you don’t worry about realism and are happy to have fun with it, ignore this step completely.

2) Decide what technique you want to use to colour


a) is an example of just moving the pencil across the paper and gradually applying more pressure to it as you move down the page. It is a lovely way to show lighter tones changing into darker.

b) demonstrates a drawing technique called ‘hatching’. It involves diagonal lines, often they will be parallel to each other. It is good to make sure you have a super sharp pencil for this style of rendering. Again here I have changed the pressure I have applied to the pencil, starting from just moving the pencil across the page to then gradually pressing harder as I moved down the page.

c) here I have layered up hatching that is at different angles, this is called ‘cross hatching’. I have used  dark indigo and burnt umber, these two colours when blended or layered up together create a lovey black alternative for shading or creating dark tones. The pencils could have been sharper but hey, I was on a roll.

d) again here are dark indigo and burnt umber applied on top of each other. This time I have gone back to using the same style of colouring as I did in a) moving the pencils across the page without applying pressure then ever so gradually pressing harder.

3) Creating richness and depth to your colour workbunny-step-1-and-2-flat

For the purpose of this tutorial, I have exaggerated the colours just a bit so it is easier to see what I am doing. The idea behind this is to layer up colours so that the final product is not just different tones of the same hue. By gradually working up colours into and on top of each other, you can achieve a lovely rich effect that adds vibrancy to your pencil work.

For this demonstration I have used my own design ‘Bunny Bouquet’. Should you find it appealing, you can purchase and download it via my etsy store ellacute. The pencils I love to use are Faber Castell Polychromos. They have an amazing spectrum of hues and layer up beautifully. The colours I have used for colouring the rabbit are;

burnt ochre
raw umber
venetian red
burnt sienna
walnut brown
burnt umber
dark indigo

a) here I have picked out some key colours for base areas starting with the rabbit’s ears. I looked carefully to see what shapes the different areas of colour were. The aim is to gradually layer up colours, not to go hard out straight away. You can always go darker or layer up addional colours later.
Consider carefully too what colours can you see in different parts of an object? The venetian red was delicately added into the inside of the ears where the skin shows through. I also applied it where I saw there was a very subtle rufus tinge to the rabbit’s fur. On the inside edges of the ears I added in walnut brown and dark indigo. Other hues I started layering were burnt ochre and raw umber as they were ideal base colours.

b) this stage shows how I started to precisely layer up different hues into the ears to add detail and tone. The dark indigo, walnut brown and burnt sienna worked wonderfully to create richness and depth into the creases of the ears. Get the form (3-d shape) of the object / area established first, then add the details last.

4) Blending the colours together and adding detail


c) here you can see that I continued to layer up different hues onto each other. I aimed to keep the colour usage consistent across the rabbit so that it read together as a cohesive whole. To help that effect, I also very gently layered up colours like the burnt ochre and raw umber over the lighter areas so that they were blended and linked together. Burnt sienna and burnt umber were the key colours that were used to link the darker areas.

d) last but not least, I added in some gestural marks, loose hatching, that went in the same direction as the rabbit’s fur. Look to see what direction it goes in different parts of it’s body. This helped to further the form of the animal, added detail and created the sense that it was indeed furry.

5) Practice and enjoy!

Like developing confidence with anything, practicing is the best way to further your development in using coloured pencils. The mentioned techniques can be applied to drawing from scratch and in some cases painting.


Why there are more scans than photographs in this article. My little familiar decided that he needed to be the center of attention and that the pencil made an excellent snack.

Do you prefer instructibles / tutorials that are in static form like this or videos?


Shape – the 2 dimensional space an object takes up.

Form – the 3 dimensional ‘shape’ of an object. It is usually defined by light tints and dark shadows.

Blending – making the change between one area of colour or tone more subtle. This can be done by rubbing, (with some coloured pencils baby oil). In this tutorial I have suggested doing it by subtly layering up colours and working similar hues on top of each other.

Hatching – a drawing technique that consists of lines that are parallel to each other. When marks like that are overlapped in different directions it is called cross hatching.

Gestural – vigorous application of media, in this case coloured pencil. Gestural pencil / paint work can give a sense of energy and life to an object / art work.

Tone – the lightness or darkness of something. Tone describes form.

Tint – a light version of a colour / hue. Usually white or another super light colour is added to it or it can be achieved by letting the white of the paper show through.

Shadow – the dark version of a colour / hue. Usually black or another darker colour is added to the base colour.

Hue – pure colour. One that does not have white or black added to it. I have used it in a slightly looser sense in this article.


Crow 2017

Crow 2017 ellaquaint x the paper rain project

Crow is my first completed painting of 2017 and I have to say that I am pretty chuffed with how he has turned out. Skate decks provide a gusty format that force you to think outside of the square (or rectangle as is mostly the case), to utilize the space effectively. This work is a collaborative work with the lovely folk at The Paper Rain Project.

The Paper Rain Project is a wonderful venture based in Picton, New Zealand. Their ethos is founded upon beautifully made quality products that are either ethically produced, whether that is employing disadvantaged women in India and or environmentally friendly, for example; up-cycling old skateboards or wine barrels into aesthetically pleasing art works or functional long boards.


Fawn Bouquet – a colouring page.


Fawn Bouquet is a downloadable (savable) image that is my first colouring page design. For a limited time you can save it for free to print off at your leisure, the link is attached to the photograph or here.

Colouring is an activity associated with relaxation and mindfulness, things that many of us need to focus on as a counterpoint to our hectic, multi-tasking lifestyles. I tried to apply similar principles when illustrating this little cutie, aiming to have fun with the process and not striving for perfection with the rendering or composition. Admittedly drawing like that was really hard!

Please read the page on my website that the illustration appears on, that way you can print if off to scale because for some reason the file size was reduced, stupid website! Should you like it a lot and feel that you would be happy to purchase it, it is listed on my Etsy store ellacute. I am aiming to add to that collection over the next couple of weeks.

What do you think that my next animal subject should be?

2017 . . . there’s no pressure.

‘You know those days when things keep getting worse faster than you can lower your standards?’ Carrie Fisher

Well, we are very close to the end of a rather significant year. So many treasured icons have passed and it really did seem like we were thrust into another dimension with the passing of David Bowie. Ridiculous people gained copious amounts of power. I don’t think I have ever been more happy to be living in New Zealand, distance from the rest of the world can at times be frustrating, but in this sense it is such a good thing. Environmental disasters plagued the world like the fires in Indonesia. Humanitarian tragedies occurred, ones that seem like they have no feasible end as the influences upon the whole Syrian situation are so convoluted. Indigenous rights continue to be flouted to meet the needs of multi-national conglomerates and militarized forces being used despite the peaceful resistance that the water protectors are maintaining. Some of us also had some rather trying times in personal arenas. Frankly 2016 you weren’t the best. However there were times that you were pretty damn amazing. 2017 please look to those positive moments as the source of your inspiration so you can be ridiculously good.



Ooops . . . Broke my Blog


Bear 2016 by ellaquaint



This guy sums up the astonishment I felt at realizing that I could no longer log in and contribute to my old blog site. Blogger you suck! Admittedly it had been a while. The last post had been about Bears so I thought it was only fitting that the first post on my new blog featured a Bear also.

Welcome! Hopefully this space will evolve into an interesting collection to peruse. I have many wonderful ideas and great intentions that will hopefully manifest. Art, adventures, nature . . . maybe the odd art tutorial . . . these are just some of the notions rattling around in my head. Anyhow, it has begun.