Portrait Drawing Part 3

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In my previous 2 posts, I demonstrated how to map out the face and draw the eyes, nose, and mouth. Click here for the first post and here for the second post.  In this post, we’ll finish off our portrait.

We’ll start by adjusting the distance between her bottom lip and her chin. Measure…

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And mark…

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Now, we’ll continue to adjust the distance between various features and the side of her face.  Measure, measure, measure…

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And Adjust…

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Next, measure the distance between the brow line and Audrey’s hair.

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Begin to map out the hair line across her forehead.

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And map…

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I decided to go ahead and do a little more shading on this side of her face while I was mapping. It makes me feel better to have a little dimension. ;0)

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This would be a good time to add her left ear. The top of the ear lines up with the top of the eye brow and is roughly a cm from the side of her face.

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The bottom of the ear falls about a cm above the tip of the nose.

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Lightly sketch the outer edge of the ear.

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Now add the shadows inside the ear and the circle of her earring.

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Shade her earring. I also decided to sketch in a bit more of her hair before moving on. 🙂

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Now, a little more hair line measuring and mapping…

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And we’re ready to adjust the other side of her face and add the other ear. The top of the ear is about 3/4 of an inch from the arch of her brow. The side of her face is about a half inch from the arch of her brow.

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Map the ear…

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And fill in the shadows… I did a little more shading on the face and mapping on the hair too.

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I darkened her part.

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You’ll notice in the upcoming pics that I keep going back to darken various places in Audrey’s hair little by little.

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Now we’ll add Audrey’s neck. Measure…

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Her neck on this side is 3/8 of an inch, and it lines up with the inside of her pupil. Go ahead and add a slightly curved line for it.

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The other side of her neck is angled. It begins just under the jaw line and lines up roughly 1/4 inch from the end of her eyebrow.

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The other end of her neck is 2 1/2 inches below the end of her eyebrow.

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Connect the dots, then measure out her shoulders, noting where her shirt begins….

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Notice her right shoulder is a half inch farther out on the bottom of the ruler than on the top.

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You’ll also want to map out her arms and the little sliver of back on her left side (our right)…

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I just eyeballed the neckline.

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Once you have her neck and shoulders mapped out, you can begin adding shadows where you see them.

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If you get them too dark, you can dab them a bit with your eraser.

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Next, begin shading in her shirt.

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There are some faint highlights on her left side.

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At this point in my drawing, I realized that I had forgotten to add the dangling parts of her earrings. Oops!

The bottom of her left earring lines up with the corner of her mouth and is about 1/8 of an inch from her jaw line.


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Mark the bottom of the earring.

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Then sketch it in.

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Repeat those steps for the other earring.

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Shade both earrings.

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Now go back and add any missing shadows and darken any that are too light. You may want to use your soft pencil on the darkest darks.

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If you’re drawing on tinted paper, you may want to use a charcoal white pencil on the whites of the eyes and the brightest highlight on the mouth.

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And that’s it! I hope you found this helpful. 🙂

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Portrait Drawing Part 2

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In my first post, I showed you how to begin to map out the face and draw the eyes and eye brows. Click here to view that post. In this post, I’ll show you how to add the nose and mouth.

Roughly speaking, the end of the nose is usually halfway between the eyes and the chin, or 1 1/2 “eye lengths” down. I wanted to be a little more precise, so I measured the distance from the corner of the eye to the tip of the nose. It was about an inch.

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I added a light mark to my face map for the end of the nose. I actually did this before I finished my eyes, but it’s fine to do it after.

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Next, I measured the distance between the end of the nose and the central line of the mouth.

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This space is just shy of 1/2 inch, so I marked that on my drawing.

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Now, we can start drawing the nose. The nostrils will sit just above the nose line. Try to draw the shape of the darkest part of the nostrils first.

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Once you have the nostrils, you can erase the guide line going down the middle of the nose and begin “carving out” the nose with shading. There are actually very few hard lines on the nose. There is a line at the edge of each nostril, but most of the rest is just shading. You may want to go back and darken the nostrils with your soft pencil if you have one.

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Add in all of the shadows you see on either side and under the nose. Start light…

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Now we’re ready for the mouth. You’ll notice that the corners of the mouth line up roughly with the inside edges of Audrey’s Irises. Sorry, the pencil distorts this a bit in my photo.

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Go ahead and sketch out the basic shape of the center line of the mouth beginning with the “mouth” mark you made earlier.

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Now lightly add the shape of the lips above and below.

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Once the shape is mapped out, shade the lips in. Pay attention to where the highlights and deepest shadows go.

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That’s it for this blog post. I’ll show you how to define the rest of her face and draw her ears in my next post. 🙂


Portrait Drawing Part 1

My drawing class at co-op recently expressed an interest in learning to draw facial features, so I decided to find a fun model for them to practice on. It’s harder than you might think to find a good, straight-on portrait to draw from, but I finally came across this timeless photo of Audrey Hepburn.


The first step in drawing a portrait is to map out the basic shape of the head. You’ll want to start with an upside down egg shape. It doesn’t need to be perfect right now, just draw VERY lightly so that you can tweak the shape of your face to make it more exact as you go.  To keep things simple, I drew my portrait the same size as the original.

I used a ruler to measure the height and width of the head, but you could easily just hold your pencil up to it and use your thumb to mark where the edge is. Measuring will help you get your proportions right.

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Once you have a basic egg shape, you’ll want to measure off where the eyes and nose will fall. Draw a line across the middle of your egg for her eyes to fall on and another line up and down the center of your egg for her nose and mouth to center on. Audrey’s eyes angle up a bit in this photo, so I curved my line a bit. Think of a string laying across the egg. Draw these lines VERY lightly as well. You will erase them later. You may be thinking that this will put her eyes awfully low, but remember, a large part of her head is covered with hair.

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Audrey’s face is actually turned ever so slightly to the right (our left) in this photo, so I adjusted my lines accordingly by moving the nose line over about 1/8 of an inch to the left.

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Once you have your eye and nose lines drawn, you’ll want to measure an eye.

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Typically, a face is five “eye lengths” across: one eye length from the side of the face to the corner of the first eye, one eye length for the eye, one eye length between eyes, one eye length for the next eye, and one eye length from the corner of that eye to the side of the face. Once you have your eye length, go ahead and mark it off across the eye line. Audrey’s eye was about 3/4 of an inch for my drawing. Because Audrey’s face is turned slightly to the left in this photo, I measured the space from the corners of the eyes to the sides of the face separately, and adjusted my marks accordingly.

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Once your eye lengths are measured off, go ahead and LIGHTLY sketch in the eyes. Eyes are typically almond shaped. Once you have almond shapes, study the shape of the eyes in the photo and adjust your lines accordingly. Do this lightly.

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Next, add the iris. Try to pay attention to how much white is around the iris and where the edges of the iris fall on the upper eye line.

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Once you have your iris mapped out, add the pupil and highlights. If you are drawing on tinted paper, you can use a charcoal white pencil to add the highlights. If not, you’ll want to outline the highlights with pencil, so that you don’t accidentally fill in over them.

I’ve already added lines for my nose and mouth in this photo, but  you don’t need to. I’ll explain how to do that in my next post.

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Next, shade in the iris. Notice that parts of it are darker than others. Try to make your shading as similar to the photo as you can.

I like to do most of my drawing with a good ole No. 2 graphite, mechanical pencil. It will stay sharp and is able to do both very light and fairly dark lines. Then, I use a nice, soft (extra dark) graphite pencil to deepen the darkest darks, such as the pupil. Soft drawing pencils usually have a ‘B’ on them.

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Next, add the little tear duct in the corner of the eye.

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Now, begin to thicken up the top eyelid line to make lashes.

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Once you have the eyelashes shaped right, go ahead and add a line for the crease about 1/16 of an inch above the lash line. Pay attention to the shape of the crease in the photo and how it intersects the lashes.

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It’s amazing how much more realistic a few lines and a little shading can make your drawing, isn’t it?

Next, measure the space between the corner of the eye and the eyebrow. Notice that the beginning of the eyebrow lines up fairly well with the corner of the eye.

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The other end of the eyebrow is at about a 45 degree angle from the outer corner of the eye, and the highest part of the arch is almost directly over the outer corner…perhaps a little before it.

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Measure off where you want your brow to start.

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Lightly sketch out the basic shape of the brow, and line the end up on an angle with the corner of the eye.

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Now you’re ready to fill in the brow. Notice that it is darker in places and lighter in others. Try to match your shading to the photo. Also, remember that eyebrows are made up of little hairs, so use little strokes to mimic the hairs. Start light and work your way darker. I often come back and darken areas later, after moving on to other parts of my drawing.

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Short little strokes fill in the bottom lashes. There is a teeny, tiny space between the lashes and the bottom of the iris.

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Add a light shadow from the beginning of the brow angled down toward the nose, one just over the iris, and one from the outer corner to the end of the brow. Just draw the shadows you see in the photo. Start light.

We will add more shading to this eye later, but for now, go ahead and repeat this whole process to draw the eye on the other side.

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Et voila, eyes!

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If you’re drawing on colored paper, you may want to color the whites of her eyes lightly with a charcoal white pencil.

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That’s all I have time to post tonight.  I’ll show you how to do the nose and mouth in my next post. 🙂





Watercolor Easter Eggs

Hello Friends.  Sorry it’s been so long since my last post.  I’ve been diligently working on projects for my co-op students, many of which (like this one) will eventually make their way here.  I finally found a little time to blog though…and just in time for Easter. 🙂

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite Easter traditions is coloring Easter eggs.  I just love all of the beautiful bright colors, and the reminder of the new life that Jesus makes available to us.  The only problem with REAL Easter eggs, however, is that they eventually go bad.  So this year, I decided to let my art students paint their own Easter eggs with watercolor paints, and then decorate them with colored pencils and acrylic jewels.  I must say, I found this project very satisfying, and these eggs don’t have to be thrown out or eaten!  I hope you enjoy this project as much as I did.

By the way, I just set up a “student gallery” page, so I can display all of your lovely artwork.  If you would like to submit a photo of your art for display in the student gallery, just email it to be at theswansnestart@gmail.com.  Please include your first name, age (if you want), and general geographic location (i.e. Virginia).

Ok, here we go… We’ll begin our project by masking off a 10″x8″ area on our watercolor paper.  This will enable us to use a standard size matt and frame.   Start by subtracting 10 from the (landscape) width of your paper.  Then divide the answer by 2 to get the margin for each side.

For example, my watercolor paper was 12″x9″, so 12-10=2 and 2 divided by 2=1.  That means I need a 1″ margin on each SIDE of my painting (with my paper “landscape”).

Use your ruler to draw three (light) dots marking the margin on each side of your page.  Don’t do the top and bottom margin yet, just the sides.

My margin was 1″, so I used my ruler to draw dots 1″ from the edge in three places down both sides my paper.  I had to draw my dots kind of dark to make them show up in the photo, but it’s better to draw them very lightly.

Once you have your dots in place, you can put a strip of masking tape on each side of your paper, lining the inside edge up with each set of 3 dots. (Painter’s tape is actually better, since it is less likely to tear your paper than masking tape, but masking tape is cheaper and works fine as long as you are careful when removing it.)  Make sure that the dots are under the masking tape, so that you will be able to erase them later.  The masking tape will help you to keep your design and paint inside the 10″x8″ area.

Ok, ready for the top and bottom margins?  Here we go…  Subtract 8 from the (landscape) height of your paper.  Mine was 9″ high, so 9-8=1 and 1 divided by 2 is 1/2; therefore, my top and bottom margins each needed to be 1/2″.

Use your ruler to mark the top and bottom margins in three places.  You can see below that I used my ruler to put 3 dots 1/2″ from the top of the page and 3 dots 1/2″ from the bottom of the page.

Using the new dots as guides, put a strip of masking tape across the top and bottom of your paper.  In addition to keeping the paint from running out of your work area, the masking tape will also help keep the paper from buckling so bad once you get it wet.

Now we’re ready to add eggs!  As you can see above, I used an egg-shaped template to trace my eggs onto the paper.  I made this template myself by simply printing out an oval onto card stock from my computer.  You only need one template to trace over and over.  You could also just cut an oval out of a folded piece of paper to use as a template.  You can put as many eggs as you want, but I think it is easier with no more than 5 or 6.  DRAW YOUR EGGS LIGHTLY, so that you can erase if you need to.

If you draw any eggs overlapping, you’ll want to erase part of one of the overlapping eggs, to make it look like it is behind the other one as I have done below.

Once you are happy with your egg placement, gather your painting supplies: paints, brush, paper towel (to blot your brush when you get too much water), and 2 cups of water.  One cup of water will be “clean” water to paint with, and the other one will be “dirty” water for rinsing your brush between colors.  Be careful not to sling any water around when you rinse your brush, because it will leave spots on your painting if it lands on any painted areas.

Ok, we’re ready for the fun part!  Begin by wetting ONE EGG with clean water.  Wet the entire egg, but ONLY the egg.  If you have overlapping eggs, choose one of them to do first, so that it will have time to dry before you do the other one.

Once the egg is wet, you can add your first color.  Begin adding it at one end, and “float” the color over about half of your egg.  Then add a second color to the other half of the egg, and let them mix in the middle.

Be careful to keep the paint inside the egg as much as possible.

Now, you’ll want to let that egg dry before you paint the egg that is touching it, so move on and paint the eggs that aren’t touching first.

Once your first egg is dry, you can paint the one that is touching it.  Then you can move on to the background.  The background is painted in sections.  Begin by wetting the area around your DRIEST egg.

Once you have a small area wet, go ahead and apply your background color to the WET area.  Be careful to keep the water and the paint off of your eggs as much as possible.  Once you get one area painted, do another one until the entire background is filled in.

Once your background is complete and DRY, you’ll be ready to decorate your eggs.  I used regular colored pencils and acrylic jewels glued on with tacky glue.

IMPORTANT:  Your paint must be COMPLETELY dry before you add colored pencil.  Wet paper is weak paper, so if you try to draw on your painting with regular colored pencils before it is dry, you will probably tear your paper.

To decorate my eggs, I started by picking a color to outline them with.  I just picked a color I thought would look nice for the egg I was decorating at the time.

After outlining the egg, I drew my design using as many different pencils as I wanted. 🙂

You may find it easier to work if you CAREFULLY remove your masking tape at this point.

If you drew your guide dots too dark (like me), you may want to erase them now…

Ok, back to the eggs…keep going until you have them all decorated the way you want them.

Below is a photo with more designs on it.  I did the bottom painting first without measuring out the 10″x8″ area.  It’s pretty, but would be harder to fit in a standard frame.

Once you finish with the pencils, you can use a little tacky glue to add jewels, sequins, or beads if you’d like.  Try not to use too much glue, and stay away from anything too wet (like glitter glue), because it may make your watercolors run.

That’s it for now.  I can’t wait to see how you’ve done!  Don’t forget to submit a photo of your art work along with your first name, approximate age (optional), and general geographic location to theswansnestart@gmail.com for the student gallery.

Happy Easter…He is risen!

A Little Talk About Color

Happy New Year Everyone!  I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!  We here at The Swan’s Nest sure did.  I’m very excited to announce to you that my Color Studies for Kids curriculum will be on sale for 50% off during the “CurrClick Wishes Do Come True Sales Event,” Jan. 16-20, 2012!  Here’s how it works:

1. Put Color Studies for Kids in your wish list on CurrClick. (You can use the link on the right to get there.)

2. On January 16th, CurrClick will send an email providing access to the discount ONLY to customers with Color Study for Kids in their wish list.

In honor of this event, I thought I would talk a bit about color, and provide a small supplement to my curriculum.  In the curriculum, I mention that parents of young children, who don’t want to use paint, could try some of the projects with play dough.  Here is what a “Tertiary Color Wheel” would look like done with play dough.  Of course, you don’t have to use a worksheet for this activity.  A white paper plate with 12 quarter-sized circles drawn around it works great too!  The worksheet is great to put in a homeschool portfolio though, and I include lots of extra information on it too. ;0)

If you’re on a budget, you can make your own play dough, but I decided to use store-bought this time.  I found several good play dough recipes at http://www.momswhothink.com/preschool/playdough-recipe.html, if you need one.  You could also use paint.  You’ll need red, blue, and yellow (brighter is prettier).

We’ll start our color wheel by applying the 3 primary colors as shown above: red, blue, and yellow.  (These are known as the “Painter’s Primaries.”  They are the ones traditionally used by artists and taught in most art classes.  Modern color printers use magenta, cyan, and yellow instead, which combine a bit differently.  Maybe I’ll talk about those in a later post.)

Once the primary colors are in place, it’s time to mix the secondary colors.  Secondary colors are made by mixing 2 primary colors together.  My son decided to start by mixing red and yellow. Try to use equal amounts of each color as pictured above.

Here he is mushing the two colors together. 🙂

Here is the color wheel with the secondary colors (purple, green, and orange) added.

Now it’s time to mix the tertiary colors.  Tertiary Colors are made my mixing a primary color with the secondary color that is next to it, such as yellow and green (pictured above).  The 6 tertiary colors on this wheel are: red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange, and red-orange.

Here’s my son’s finished color wheel.  Looks like a few of his tertiary colors could use a bit more of one color or another, but overall he did a great job!  Obviously, play dough is not permanent.  I recommend either taking a picture, as I have done, or letting your child use colored pencils or crayons to fill in the appropriate circles on the wheel once the colors have been mixed with play dough.

That’s it for now.  Please use the link at the right to check out Color Studies for Kids on CurrClick, and let me know what you think! 🙂

Watercolor Fall Leaf

Hello All, this is the project I did with my 3rd-5th grade art class at co-op last Friday.  The kids really had fun painting theirs, I think, and they all did such a great job…I hope you’ll give it a try too!

Now, actual fall foliage is a little hard to come by down here in Florida, so I just printed out a photo of a colorful leaf to use as our “model”.  I printed the leaf on a 4″ x 5″ grid with 1″ squares, and then drew an 8″x 10″ grid with 2″ squares to do my sketch on.  I then began to copy only the OUTLINE of the leaf onto my sketch paper, SQUARE BY SQUARE, focusing solely on what was in each square as I worked on it.  (You could actually skip this step and just print the leaf the size you want it, but drawing on a grid is a good skill to learn.  It’s very handy when you need to re-size something and want to keep the proportions the same, AND it helps train your eyes to follow the actual contours of your subject instead of just drawing it the way you think it should be.)

Once my sketch was complete, I flipped it over and scribbled graphite from a #2 pencil over the back of the leaf’s outline, so that I could transfer it to my watercolor paper.  (You could skip this step in favor of graphite paper if you happen to have some, but #2 pencil is cheaper if you don’t.)

Watercolor painting can be messy, so I like to tape my watercolor paper down with painter’s tape.  The tape holds the paper in place, keeps it from warping (as bad), provides a bit of a barrier between my painting and my table, and is easy to remove.

With my watercolor paper secured, I positioned my leaf sketch over it and traced around the outline of the leaf.  (I like to use a colored pencil for this, so that I can tell where I have traced and where I haven’t.  You may also find it helpful to use a few pieces of painters tape to “tack” your sketch down, so that it won’t move while you trace it.)

Below is my painting setup.  Notice that you can just barely make out the outline of the leaf on my watercolor paper.  It doesn’t need to be very dark, because it is really just a “map” for my paint.  Also, I have two jars of water.  One will be “dirty water” for rinsing my brush between colors, and the other will be “clean” water for getting the paper wet before applying the paint.

With my paints all set out, I picked a starting place and applied water to a small section of my paper.  I got the paper nice and wet so that I could “float” my paint on.

I decided to paint my background blue, so that it would look like my leaf was just floating in the water.  I worked in small sections, so that the paper wouldn’t dry out before I added my paint.

Once I finished with my blue background, I started on my leaf.  I began by painting the whole thing yellow, again working in small sections.

Next, I added a few splashes of orange…

Then green…

Finally, I added some red and touched up the edges around the leaf with more blue to clean up some of the colors that bled off of the leaf.

That’s it…happy painting!

Pumpkin Drawing

Hi there, and welcome to my little nest!  A few of my homeschool friends expressed an interest in step by step instructions on how I drew a pumpkin that I recently posted on facebook, so here goes…  Please let me know if this is helpful or not!

Here is the original pumpkin that I posted on facebook:

The one I did for this post turned out slightly different, but I think you’ll get the basic idea.  I deliberately left the background out of both pieces, so that the focus would be solely on drawing a pumpkin, but you are more than welcome to add one to yours.  Are you ready?  Here we go!

First, pick out a nice medium blue pencil to draw with, and map out the basic shape of your pumpkin (in my case it was kind of a fat oval) VERY LIGHTLY.  (I actually started out lighter than this, but had to darken it a bit for the photo.)  I enjoy working with Prismacolor colored pencils the most, but any will work.  I did the example below using a random sampling of many different student grade pencils commonly found on the “school supply” aisle, because I wanted to make sure my students would be able to do the same thing with what ever brand of pencil they happened to have.

Next you’re going to use your blue to “carve out” the shape of the pumpkin a bit more by picking out and drawing the lines you see.  Include any lumps, bumps, grooves, ridges, and of course the stem.  Pay attention to how dark the lines you see really are.  They are probably NOT uniform.  They are probably darker in some places and lighter in others.  The contrast between dark and light is what makes an image interesting and gives it depth and form, so try to copy that onto your paper…lighter in some places…darker in others.  Also, be careful to keep your pencil strokes fairly light as we will be layering several colors on top of each other, and there is only so much pencil a sheet of paper can hold!  Here is what my basic outline looked like:

Now we’re going to add in the shadows.  The reason we are drawing with blue is that all shadows have blue in them.  Be careful to only shade in the shadowy areas.  Leave the lighter parts white.  You can always go back an add more blue later, but once you cover over the white, it’s GONE.  White pencils will not be enough to get it back, so be careful!  You may find it helpful to work from a color and/or gray scale photo like the ones below to get your shadows right.

Here I’ve started to shade by filling in the darkest shadows.  Once the darkest shadows are done, I’ll go back over and add in the medium and light shadows:

Here is my fully shaded pumpkin.  You can probably tell that I was not actually working from the photos above, so my lighting was a little different (and harder to see…I should have used a photo!).  This type of blue and white drawing is called a “value study”:

Now that our shadows are in place, it’s time to neutralize all that blue with a nice medium brown.  Again, be careful not to go too heavy, we still have more colors to add!

Now at long last, the FUN part…it’s time to start adding COLOR!  For this pumpkin, I began by adding dark green to the shaded areas on the stem:

Next, I added yellow to the highlights on the stem:

Now, the really fun part.  I took a good hard look at the stem of my pumpkin and added the other colors I saw hints of: Medium Green, Red, Dark Blue (in the deep shadows), more Brown, and even a little White on top…

Ok, time to start on the pumpkin… First, add orange all over:

Next, add red to the shadows, yellow to the highlights, and more orange as needed:

Almost there!  Now for the finishing touch…  We’re going to add a little black to only the DARKEST shadows.

Voila!  A Pumpkin!