Unit 5: Coloured Pencil Techniques and Colour Theory

Learn to choose the right colours and apply coloured pencil effectively.
Follow along with DrawPj student Sheila Russell Perry as she creates gorgeous, painterly coloured pencil artworks.

Unit 1 Outline Drawing

This course is the fifth in a series of six units which together form the Complete Drawing Certificate Course.

Professional quality coloured pencils have come a long way in recent years and are now considered a fine art medium. However, to get the most out of them there are certain secrets that you must know.

The secrets of drawing with coloured pencil

Here you will see DrawPj student Sheila Russell Perry progress from learning very simple coloured pencil techniques right through to creating gorgeous realistic artworks. As you can see, the fruit drawings created in the exercises look so juicy they are almost good enough to eat. This illusion is only possible with quality pencils and great technique.

In depth instructor support and guidance

Sheila is guided and coached by instructor Tannis Trydal for this unit, who provides in depth advice and support, mainly through recorded video screencast. Its this level of personal attention that really helps DrawPj students to achieve amazing results.

The coloured pencil lessons begin…

Assignment Unit 5: Week 1 – 12 coloured pencil techniques


Hi Tannis! Here’s my week 1 of unit 5. So happy to be using colored pencils!

Swatch containing 12 coloured pencil techniques


Hi Sheila… Beautiful work! Congratulations to an awesome start to CP! Please see your video comment.
Have fun with your week 2 exercises!

Assignment Unit 5: Week 2 – Colour swatch in hue families


Here is my Week 2! Have a great weekend.

Coloured pencil swatch


Fantastic color swatch! You are applying your cp pigment beautifully 🙂 keep going!

Assignment Unit 5: Week 3
– Draw a colour temperature scale
– Draw a red or green coloured ball


Hi Tannis! Here’s my next exercise. This was harder than I thought it was going to be. This is my 5th sphere that I have worked on. I’m thinking my Saunders paper isn’t quite suited to color pencils even though it was recommended in the art supply list. I see that Cindy has recommended Stonehenge paper in this unit, but that type of paper wasn’t in the original supply listing. I will try and get some of that paper. I think my technique is good, but I’m fighting the paper. Anyway, I hope you’re having a great weekend.

Red ball drawn in coloured pencil with temperature scale


Hi Sheila, overall your red ball is awesome! I’m not sure that it is your paper that is the problem. Your technique is great though, perhaps you are just pressing a little too hard to begin with. Press very lightly and gently when applying the first layers otherwise the dips in the paper fill too quickly. The Saunders paper is what Cindy is currently recommending for artist quality. There are many papers that will work (stonehenge, bristol) and it is really a matter of preference and also subject as different papers will give a different texture. I use Rising Museum Board mainly and also Arches hot press and Bristol too.

Please see the video below for a few small suggestions:


Assignment Unit 5: Week 4 – ‘Apple Glorious Apple’ in coloured pencil

Hi Tannis! Here’s my apple. This was fun to do. I love how 3-D it looks. I look forward to your feedback.

Coloured pencil drawing exercise of a juicy red apple


This is gorgeous! What paper did you use?


I did use the Saunders paper for this!


Looks awesome! I’ll comment tomorrow for you


Hi Sheila, Congratulations on an awesome apple! You’ve given it a rounded appearance, it looks good enough to eat:)
I just have a few small suggestions for you..


Assignment Unit 5: Week 5 – African Daisy flower draw in coloured pencil


Hi Tannis! Here is my week 5. This little guy took a long time to do. I look forward to your feedback!

Coloured pencil drawing of an african daisy


Wow, Sheila! This is absolutely stunning! The time that you spent to draw this is apparent in the end result:) Your application is excellent…. you’ve positioned the tones beautifully so that the petals gently round out; I love the dark tone at the base of the petals and then the gentle gradation out to the lighter tones. The attention to detail in each petal is outstanding! Congratulations… I am so excited for you! You are achieving EXCELLENT results! I can hardly wait to see your strawberry! Have fun with it!

Final Project Unit 5: Weeks 6 and 7 – ‘Luscious Strawberry’ in coloured pencil


Hi Tannis! Oh my it’s been a busy time for me! Well I have the strawberry completed. It took me so long because I did 2 of them! I hope you’re doing well.

Coloured pencil drawing of a luscious strawberry


Hi Sheila, Well done, your strawberry looks delicious! Your colored pencil application is outstanding:) In particular I love the seeds and the beautiful pinky tones near the bottom. Overall, this is a great drawing but there is one small thing that you can do to significantly improve your strawberry; the yellow and orange tones are missing. You could erase the highlight area and then add the yellow gradating to the orange tones…try to copy the shape of the highlight. Squint while you are looking at the original image. Also, there is one leaf that looks like it has only one layer applied.You can add some darker tones and lighter tones in certain places to make it look like it gracefully curves and then curls up at the tip. Consider adding more colors into the cast shadow below the strawberry. Would you like to have a go at some of these suggestions and then resubmit? It is up to you:)
Just let me know what you would like to do:)


Hi Sheila, I was just thinking a little bit more about your image… I think you’ve used the line painter to create the white highlighter and you won’t be able to erase it but you can shade around it. There looks like there is plenty of the white of the paper still left behind so you can go right in over the top with gentle circular motions and a very sharp tip – First go over top of the outer areas of red beginning with the oranges (#C070 (Orange) #C080 (Bright Orange) #C090 (Blood Orange) then ease into the full light area with yellow oranges #C030 (Lemon Yellow) and #C060 (Pale Orange.) in the full light area. Compare the shape and color of the full light area to the image in your notes. I hope this helps 🙂 Again, it is you decision whether you wish to make any changes 🙂 Please let me know if you have any questions:)


You know I will check on that. Actually I do see those colors but I’m wondering if my scanning took out them. It looks different than the actual drawing. When I get home I will investigate further and resubmit! Thanks Tannis.


Awesome, thanks


Hi Tannis! Thanks for allowing me to touch up my strawberry a little bit. But I do think my scanner washes out some of the color. I’m sending you one from my camera. I think the one from my camera looks more accurate. Adding more yellow and orange helped to add more warmth to the picture. Thanks again Tannis! Sheila

Adjusted coloured pencil drawing of a luscious strawberry


Congratulations! Tada!! Awesome, Those warm tones make a big difference! now on to your final unit… so amazing what you’ve accomplished in just a few weeks, really:)

Extract from graded document

At the end of each instructor supported unit, the instructor grades the final project, provides a written critique and issues a certificate. Below is an extract from the graded document for Sheila’s coloured pencil drawing of the ‘Luscious Strawberry’.


Congratulations Sheila on the creation of this gorgeous strawberry! You should be very proud of what you have accomplished; this is lovely drawing! Overall, your coloured pencil technique is outstanding and you’ve used your knowledge of the theory of light and shade as well as the properties of colour to make your strawberry look rounded.

Instructor critique of coloured pencil drawing of a luscious strawberry

Here are a few things that you can do to make your strawberry look even more 3 dimensional …

A – Well done on adding these warmer colors to create the highlight area. Your original was very good but adding more yellow very gently into the highlight area and then creating a subtle slower gradation from a light yellow to more orange as you moved towards the red areas, helped to make the area look more rounded.

B – Try creating a smooth gradation here to out to the lighter tones instead of a soft edge.

C – Gradate the tones more slowly from dark to light to make this area appear even more rounded.

D- Study this leaf even more. Look for the variety of colors used to make it seem to dip in and out.

E- Consider adding red into this shadow at the base of the stem

F- Darken the cast shadow and gradate more slowly out to the lighter tones.

The little seeds and indentations are spectacular. The white highlights created with the line painter look good, perhaps they could be blended just a little bit more to soften them. I love the little highlights that you used to create the ripple effect on the skin of the strawberry. Excellent work!

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