Thomas Thayer: The Need for Speed

Trilogy (colored pencil, 30×20)

I work primarily in colored pencil and am drawn to scenes of high contrast. My mind operates on a 24-hour creative clock, picking up ideas for my artwork from songs, dreams or just walking down the street. To solve the problem of too little time and too many ideas, I’ve developed some timesaving techniques that can help you increase your production.

1. Work on colored paper. Instead of white paper, I usually choose black or whatever the predominant color in the scene is. Basically, you’re just using the paper as one of your colors. This shortcut saves me up to 75 percent of my time per drawing.

2. Select the proper tooth. You want to choose a surface—rough or smooth—that gets you closer to the final effect you’re after. The rougher the surface, the more the paper will show through the layers of pencil.

3. Sketch in color. I’ll often freehand my preliminary sketch onto the dark paper using the same color pencil that the final image will be. For example, if my model is wearing a green shirt, I’ll draw that part in green. It’s easier to blend the outline away as I complete the drawing.

Sweetest Taboo (colored pencil, 30×20)

4. Forget the fine details. You don’t have to draw every hair on a cat to show that it has fur. You can fool the viewer’s eye into seeing more than what’s actually there. I rarely do much fine detail anymore; now I suggest surfaces and textures and let your eye fill in the rest.

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