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Old Monday 5th May 2014, 16:10   #1
Andy Hurley
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Sketching birds and integrating colour/shadow

Hi,
Since the new year I have been attempting to sketch birds from photos I have taken and recently I have tried to use colour in the form of pastel pencils. ("Pitt" series from Faber Castell) either to add a touch of colour or complete colour sketches
I realise I can't use blacklead pencils to draw outlines when doing a colour sketch, which makes it more tricky, but can I still use, say a B4 to shade over colour to incorporate shadow? Up till this year I have had no experience in any form of sketching birds, or indeed anything. Any pointers would be great.

Sorry if this is the wrong forum, Mods please move if that's the case
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Old Monday 5th May 2014, 22:00   #2
Barred Wobbler
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The very first pastel pencil drawing I did was a tufted duck, almost a monochrome with a few blues. I'd been given some pastel pencils, without a black, and a pack of drawing pencils (and some watercolour pencils that I've never used).

I drew the ducks on grey pastel paper, but lacking a black pastel I used a 4B pencil where I felt it needed it. It looks good at first glance, but in certain lights the graphite in the pencil reflects the light and gives a gloss where none is wanted.

When I'm doing a drawing with the pastel pencils (which I'm ashamed to say I don't get around to often enough, I'm too busy playing with my camera), I achieve shade and colour blending by smudging with my finger. If you're moving into a shade area, eg a bird's breast or belly, put some dark colour down first and follow with the hue.

Regarding outlines, I use the lightest possible touch with an HB, almost invisible, or maybe even a slight outline with a pale grey pastel. I try to just give an incomplete guide with the outline and not a firm boundary, so that there is no hint of outline in the finished article.


Hope this is useful.

Last edited by Barred Wobbler : Monday 5th May 2014 at 22:04.
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Old Monday 5th May 2014, 22:04   #3
KC Foggin
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Hi Andy

I've moved it to the art section and subscribed you to the thread so you don't lose track of it
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Old Monday 5th May 2014, 22:09   #4
Andy Hurley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barred Wobbler View Post
The very first pastel pencil drawing I did was a tufted duck, almost a monochrome with a few blues. I'd been given some pastel pencils, without a black, and a pack of drawing pencils (and some watercolour pencils that I've never used).

I drew the ducks on grey pastel paper, but lacking a black pastel I used a 4B pencil where I felt it needed it. It looks good at first glance, but in certain lights the graphite in the pencil reflects the light and gives a gloss where none is wanted.

When I'm doing a drawing with the pastel pencils (which I'm ashamed to say I don't get around to often enough, I'm too busy playing with my camera), I achieve shade and colour blending by smudging with my finger. If you're moving into a shade area, eg a bird's breast or belly, put some dark colour down first and follow with the hue.

Hope this is useful.
Thank's for that, BW. That makes sense as well. I tried it with a B4 and it doesn't work, so I'll try your suggestion next time. I suppose I'll have to do "Drawing Birds 101" some time


ps the black pitt pastell from faber-castell is no 1122-199
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Old Monday 5th May 2014, 22:13   #5
Andy Hurley
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Originally Posted by KCFoggin View Post
Hi Andy

I've moved it to the art section and subscribed you to the thread so you don't lose track of it
Thanks KC
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Old Tuesday 13th May 2014, 11:27   #6
Jackie Garner
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Hi Andy, it's fine to use a graphite pencil for the under-drawing before using pastel. Or you could use charcoal - dust off the excess and you'll be left with a grey outline that won't affect the subsequent pastel colours. Or you could use a pastel pencil, that is a very similar colour to the paper, to draw in the outlines first. The lines won't show when the pastel work is finished.

As for darkening colours, aim to put down the darkest colours first and get lighter as the work progresses. Colours can be modified by applying further layers as you go. Probably best to use pastels rather than pencil to modify colours. Must admit though, I'm not a purist, so if you find pencil works and you're happy with the result, then stick with it.

It's a good idea to experiment with your art materials sometimes, rather than feeling you have to produce a painting every session. Take a piece of pastel paper and a couple of colours and try layering one over the other. See what happens if you smudge the two colours together or leave them unblended. Try starting with the dark and modifying with the light, then try again using the light one first. See what happens of you use the point of the pastel vs the side. Try stippling or using short or long strokes. In short - play! Have some fun and you'll learn a lot that you can apply to your paintings later. Oh, and write down what you've done each time, as a reminder. Over time, your experiment sketchbook will become a fantastic resource.

Happy painting.
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Old Tuesday 13th May 2014, 16:08   #7
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Thanks very much your good advice, Jackie. I'm a absolute beginner and chose pastel pencils to bring colour into my pencil sketches. Due to limited range that I can get hold of for pastel pencils, I bought some polychronos pencils, which I think are oil based, so I'm mixing the two where needed. I suppose by mixing the pastels I could increase the range of colours, but before I know which ones I'll take your advice and just practice mixing for different colours and darkening for shadows etc.
I was talking to my doctor at my last visit and she told me that to help get a feel for proportion, I could cut out a photo of the bird I wanted to draw, then cut it in half, lay it against the paper and draw the missing half. Then do the same with the other half. She learned this a US school. I've yet to try it, but its on my list of things to do.
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