Skip to Content

Color Pencil Drawing Ideas for Beginners: Easy Guide

Colored pencil drawings in your journal can range from utilizing basic colored pencil techniques to incorporating more complex pencil strokes with color theory and interesting textures. And of course, coloured pencil artists can do a lot of experimenting with watercolor pencils, pastel pencils, oil-based colored pencils, prismacolor colored pencils, and more!

But when you’re first getting started with coloured pencils? It can all feel pretty overwhelming!

That’s why we’ve created this post chockful of color pencil drawing ideas for beginners. Because we believe that with some solid beginners colored pencil instruction, you can not only bring the pages of your journals to life…you might even find a new calling as a colored pencil artist!

Getting Started with Colored Pencils

Starting with coloured pencils can be fun and rewarding. 

You’ll need the right materials, an understanding of color theory, and some basic techniques to begin your artistic journey.

Choosing Your Materials

The first step is picking the right coloured pencils and the best paper. 

There are different types of colored pencils, like wax-based colored pencils, oil-based colored pencils, and watercolor pencils. 

Wax-based colored pencils, like Prismacolor colored pencils, offer soft and vibrant colors. Oil-based colored pencils are harder and blend differently.

Watercolor pencils can be used dry or with water for a watercolor effect. The pigment in pastel pencils has a weaker hold on paper that can be shaken, smudged, or blown off.

You also need good-quality drawing paper!

Thick drawing paper with a bit of texture is the best paper for most colored pencil drawings.

Look for different papers that are acid-free to prevent your art from yellowing over time. Strathmore, Canson, and Bellofy are a few favorite brand options, touting some of the best paper for coloured pencil artists.

A good sharpener and a colorless blender can also be helpful tools.

Understanding Color Theory

Understanding color theory is one of the best things you can do to improve your colored pencil drawings.

The color wheel is a handy tool for this. It shows primary colors (red, yellow, blue), secondary colors (green, orange, purple), and how they mix.

Complementary colors, like red and green, are opposite each other on the color wheel. Using them together offers a great way to create more vibrant colors.

Analogous colors, next to each other on the color wheel, blend well and create harmony.

Learning about hue, value, and saturation helps, too. Hue is the color itself, value is how light or dark it is, and saturation is its intensity.

Basic Colored Pencil Techniques

To start drawing with colored pencils, the next step is to learn some basic colored pencil techniques. 

Colored pencil shading is essential for adding depth. Use a light touch for lighter areas and a harder touch for darker areas. 

Blending is another key skill. You can use your pencils to blend directly, or use a colorless blender for smooth blends and softer transitions.

Layering colors adds richness. Start with light layers and build up. 

Cross-hatching involves drawing intersecting lines for texture and shading. Burnishing is pressing hard with a light-colored pencil to blend layers smoothly. 

Click the links above for detailed colored pencil instruction tutorials for each of the basic colored pencil techniques mentioned.

Practicing these techniques is one of the best things you can do to get better at creating detailed and vibrant colored pencil drawings. Experiment with different papers and pencils to find what works best for you.

Creating Your First Masterpiece

Starting your first colored pencil drawing can feel exciting. Focusing on a simple subject matter and learning how to use light and shadows will help your final result look more realistic.

Simple Subjects for Practice

Begin with an easy subject matter like fruit, leaves, or simple shapes. These subjects allow you to practice basic colored pencil techniques without feeling overwhelmed.

Use soft pencil strokes and a light touch to build up color slowly. This method helps you control the intensity of the colors and avoid mistakes.

Incorporating a white pencil into your art can add highlights and make your drawing pop.

Making a habit of sketching simple objects every day is one of the best things you can do to help improve your skills.

Implementing Light and Shadows

Once you’ve mastered the subject matter itself, the next step is to understand how light affects your subject. Observe the way light touches your object and where the shadows fall.

Start by lightly shading the area where you see the shadow. Use gentle, fine details to blend shadows smoothly into the lit areas. 

Using varied pencil strokes helps to create a more realistic texture.

Experiment with layering colors to represent different types of light and shadow. For deep shadows, lightly layer dark colors, and for lighter areas, use a white pencil or light-colored pencil to blend and soften the edges.

Enhancing Texture and Depth

Creating texture and depth in your colored pencil drawings can make your artwork more realistic and engaging. That’s why your next step is to learn about achieving depth and adding interesting textures with simple techniques and tools.

Achieving Depth in Your Drawings

To make your drawings appear three-dimensional, learning to layer colors is a crucial next step.

Start with lighter shades for the base and gradually add darker tones. This helps to build depth without creating harsh lines.

Lightly overlapping your pencil strokes can also add a sense of depth. By using a hatching technique, you can create smooth transitions between shades.

Of couse, you’ll want to continue keeping light source top of mind in your drawing, as shadows and highlights play a crucial role in creating depth. 

Use a white pencil to create highlights and a dark pencil for the shadows. Small details, like the direction of your strokes, can significantly affect the realism of your final result.

Interesting Textures with Colored Pencils

Adding interesting textures can bring your colored pencil drawings to life.

To create texture, experiment with different types of strokes: cross-hatching, stippling, and circular motions are some examples. Each technique produces a different effect, helping to mimic various textures.

For a rough surface, use a harder pencil and apply heavy pencil pressure. This makes the texture stand out more on white paper. 

Smooth textures can be achieved with softer pencils and a light touch. Use blending tools like cotton swabs or tissue to soften edges and create subtle transitions. 

Sharpen your pencils frequently to maintain precise lines and details. This will help you to add more intricate textures, making your drawing more compelling.

Developing Your Art Style

Creating your own unique art style with colored pencils involves exploring different techniques and blending methods. Combining colored pencil techniques with other media can also help.

Experimenting with Blending Techniques

Blending is key to making your colored pencil drawings look smooth and professional. There are lots of different methods to mix colors.

Using a colorless blender can help you smooth out edges and blend shades without adding more color. A good sharpener keeps your pencils in top shape for detailed blending.

Try layering colors slowly. Lightly layer one color, then add another on top to see how they look when mixed. 

Try using solvents like rubbing alcohol to merge colors more smoothly. This can create a soft, painted effect.

You might also blend colors by using pastel pencils alongside your colored pencils. The soft brush texture of pastel pencils adds to the blending capabilities of colored pencils.

Incorporating Mixed Media

Enhancing your drawings and overall art style by incorporating mixed media can give your artwork more depth and dimension.

Adding watercolor can create a vibrant background or wash. Make sure the watercolor is dry before drawing over it with colored pencils. 

Ink can be used for outlining. It makes details pop and adds a sharp contrast to the soft blends of colored pencils.

You can also use charcoal for darker areas or shadows.

It creates intense blacks that colored pencils can’t achieve alone. However, it’s important to note that charcoal can be messy and may require more control.

Make sure you use fixative sprays to set your mixed media artwork and prevent smudging.

Advanced Tips and Continuing Your Journey

Taking your colored pencil skills to the next level involves mastering advanced techniques and building a portfolio that showcases your unique art style. By refining your skills and sharing your work, you can continue growing as a coloured pencil artist and connecting with other coloured pencils enthusiasts.

Advanced Colored Pencil Drawing Tips

As mentioned above, one great way to improve your colored pencil drawings is to experiment with layering and blending techniques. Try using a colorless blender pencil or a blending stump to smooth out transitions between colors.

Another tip is to focus on creating realistic textures.

Use small, light strokes to mimic textures like fur, fabric, or wood. This adds depth and realism to your artwork.

Invest in high-quality coloured pencils, as they generally offer richer pigments and smoother application. And keep sharpening your pencils to maintain fine points for detailed areas.

Observational drawing is a great way to enhance your skills both with color and shape. 

Spend time drawing from real life sources like landscapes, still lifes, or even portraits. This practice helps you notice details and improve your overall technique.

Building a Portfolio and Sharing Your Work

Creating a portfolio offers a great way to help showcase your progress and define your artistic style.

Start by selecting a variety of your best works.

Include pieces that demonstrate different techniques and subject matter. Then, organize them in a way that tells a story about your growth as a coloured pencil artist.

Consider starting a blog or creating an online gallery to share your work. Many websites offer a free trial for portfolio hosting, making it easy to get started.

Engaging with an online community can provide feedback, support, and inspiration.

Social media platforms are also great for reaching a wider audience.

Share your drawings alongside personal favorites from other coloured pencil artists. Don’t hesitate to join art groups or forums to connect with peers.

Remember, building a portfolio is a continuous process. Keep adding new pieces and refining your collection to reflect your evolving skills and interests.

Color Pencil Drawing Ideas for Beginners: Easy Guide

So…now that we’ve covered color pencil drawing ideas for beginners, there’s just one step left…starting! Whatever you draw, and whatever type of pencil or technique you use, we just know you’re going to create incredible art.

You’ve got this!

Disclosure: While all opinions are our own, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs, designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites, at no additional cost to you.

Sharing is caring!