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!