Drawing Process

Drawing Process

A year or two ago at a craft store, I bought a pad of brown-toned paper on a whim.  In my acrylic paintings, I’ve always really enjoyed the process of playing with lighting – especially with glowing faery-orbs providing the illumination – but I wanted a way to sketch the lighting & experiment with it a bit before committing paintbrush to canvas/board.  The toned paper I bought worked perfectly for that, since it allowed me to start with a mid-tone and then shade and highlight from that base.

Soon enough, I found my sketches on toned paper (mostly just using ink and white pencil) evolving more and more toward finished colored drawings rather than staying as lighting studies for other work.  I fell head over heels with that medium, and now it’s one of my favorite ways to create!

I thought I’d share some process photos with you here – drawing on toned paper has been a trial-and-error experience for me…so this isn’t a tutorial but rather a glimpse at the process that tends to click with me after lots of experimenting. 🙂


This particular creation is one of my Vignettes – a little mugwort-crowned Midsummer bobcat, with the drawing space measuring about 3.5 x 2.5 inches.  (Please pardon the variable lighting of all the pictures!)

I use graphite, ink, colored pencil, and gel pen on Kona Classic Premium Toned Artist Paper (100% recycled).

I always start with a pencil drawing and then ink over the drawing/erase the graphite underneath…but it seems I didn’t save a photo of that first part, so let’s move on to part 2. 😉

‘Illuminating’ the drawing is one of my first steps – I use a white pencil to draw faery lights or some other source of light (candles, etc.), and then I contour the creatures & plants in the drawing based on that light source:


Next, I add yellow:


…followed by magenta.  This layering of white/yellow/magenta is the way I begin virtually every drawing I do, no matter what the subject or color scheme…it was a method I started using after experimenting with it to make glowing faery lights:


Next, I start adding in some other colors:


…blocking in some layers of color for the stripes & spots:


…followed by a tawny coat:


I like to start shading using purples and blues – the way they interact with each other when layered creates some rich depth:


…darkening the stripes & spots, adding more shading:


Once I have the colored pencil base to where I want it, I switch gears – I use a white gel pen to highlight the contours & light sources.  Depending on the drawing, I may use an iridescent gold gel pen or bronze gel pen, too (though I’m just using white gel here):


After the gel has dried, I soften it by adding more layers of white pencil and colored pencil – especially yellow & magenta:


And, lastly, I ink portions of the line-work again, since it has been covered by a fair amount of colored pencil & gel pen:


After the drawing is finished, I spray it with a fixative, let it dry, and then cut it out & place it in a miniature frame.  As you can see, especially for a tiny 3.5 x 2.5 inch drawing, a lot of layers are involved!

I also keep sketchbooks of white paper for experimenting with watercolor, sketching out ideas, and compiling research & reflection for drawings & paintings…but that’s for another blog post. 🙂  Thanks so much for letting me share a bit of my process with you!

4 responses to “Drawing Process”

  1. This was so fascinating! I love seeing your art on IG, and always wonder how you do it. I sketch my doll ideas on brown paper, but they never quite look right (Not that anyone but me will ever see them anyway, haha!) I’m amazed at all the layers and processes. They’re beautiful!


    • Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words! ❤ I always loved working with thin layers of acrylic paint, and once I started experimenting with that in colored pencil, it opened up lots of doors for me – I love the way the colors interact. (And I feel like they've been more forgiving than paint…which tends to get too muddy for me if I keep fussing with it!)

      I LOVE your work on IG, by the way – it's so whimsical and enchanting! Thank you again for your lovely comment…I'm so glad you enjoyed reading.


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