7 Colored Pencil Tips: Getting the Right Color

In my colored pencil artwork, I try to render colors that don’t look too bright or too lifeless. Here are some pointers for how to render color variations that make the most of your color choices:

1 For more realistic rendering, use bright colors in a very measured manner to indicate the focal point, accents or areas of interest. In this way, neighboring dull colors will emphasize the appearance of the bright color.

2 To dull a color, add white, gray, black or the complementary color. White will dull the color and lighten the value. Black will dull the color and darken the value.

3 Sometimes using white or black shifts the color and creates a different hue (as in the case of yellow + black).

4 Adding gray to a dark value lightens it (though not as much as adding white).

5 Adding gray to a light value darkens it (though not as much as adding black).

6 We can also dull a color by adding its complement. The correct choice of complementary hue will be based on color theory, according to color wheel relationships. (Complementary colors are located in direct opposition to each other on the color wheel. The actual colored pencil corresponding to a selected hue is usually approximate due to the specificity of manufacturing as well as the lack of a universal color standard in colored pencil products.)

7 Also, when working with complements in colored pencil painting, remember that it’s easier to dull the color than to brighten it, and easier to darken the value than to lighten it—if you want to preserve the layering.


Alyona Nickelsen is an award-winning artist whose work has been featured in numerous art magazines and national and international exhibitions. A signature member of the Colored Pencil Society of America, the International Guild of Realism and the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, she’s the author of Colored Pencil Painting Bible: Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultrarealistic Effects and the founder of Online Colored Pencil Painting School. For more information please visit her website, www.brushandpencil.com.

 



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