Build And Burnish The Colors

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Finish the drawing by building up the colors until they burnish together. Create the patterns of the water's ripples by drawing elliptical shapes that mimic the movement of the water. In the water, use four different shades of green—Limepeel, Apple Green, Grass Green and Dark Green—using the lightest tone at the top of the drawing.

Add White to the reflections and streaks of Non-Photo Blue. Add White to the duck's highlighted areas and soften the Greyed Lavender and shadows. Using Black, continue to deepen the ripples of the water. Use elliptical shapes to create the illusion of water movement.

skies and clouds


Skies and clouds are one of the most beautiful things to draw. You can use a variety of approaches when creating skies and clouds because each one is different. Thick, white clouds can be burnished to make them appear light and

Sky Drawing Colored Pencil

fluffy, and wispy clouds can be layered to help them fade into the sky, especially if they are darker in color than the sky. Here are some examples that show you the different techniques for skies and clouds.

Clouds Add Depth to Any Drawing

Clouds are like snowflakes—no two are alike. Burnishing is what makes clouds look fluffy and dimensional. The subtle tonal changes give them depth. I love the colors and shapes they create. This little drawing has a lot of depth because of the colors and the layers of the clouds. Although it is all in blue tones, it is very rich in hue. You can create the same drawing and turn it into an entirely different look by simply adding or changing colors. You could also take this and use it as a background, adding some trees in the foreground. Or you could add a horizon line and create a lake or ocean below it.

Colos Used

Sky Blue Light, True Blue, Cloud Blue, Imperial Violet, Ultramarine Blue, White


Clouds and atmosphere always move side to side, not up and down. All pencil lines associated with a sky should be placed horizontally. Always study your subject or reference photo and note the direction of the sunlight. In the example at right, the sunshine is centrally located and peeks through the clouds a little off center and to the right. It streaks through the sky in a horizontal fashion.

Colored Pencil Clouds

Create a Subtle Sunset With Complementary Colors

This example shows what can be done with very few colors and the layering approach. Layering gives the drawing a gentle appearance, while the use of opposite colors adds punch. Study your reference photos carefully before you begin to draw, so you know which technique is required to obtain the look you want.

Colored Pencil Techniques Burnishing

Use the White of the Paper to Create Rays of Light

This sky is a beautiful example of how intense the sky can be when drawn in colored pencil. Use the white of the paper to create contrast with bright, sunlit areas. See how the rays of light overlap the dark clouds below? Burnish the colors surrounding the white paper to create this intense separation.

This drawing is dedicated to my dear friend, Kelly McBride.

Rays of Hope

Stonehenge paper 8" x 10" (20cm x 25cm)

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