Colored Pencil Tutorial – Step By Step Demonstration of A Still Life

In this colored pencil tutorial, I will demonstrate the process of creating a simple still life using all the colored pencil techniques. I took a shot of a white bowl containing a tomato and two limes, resting on a patterned dinner plate by the window. I took into consideration the lighting, as well as the variety of textures, patterns and values.

A good composition is the first thing I conceived when preparing the piece.

The supplies I use for this colored pencil tutorial are the following-

  • Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils: 48 Color Set
  • Graphite Pencil
  • Acid free Canson Medium Weight Drawing Paper: white
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Turpenoid
  • Bristle Brush No.6
  1. The Layout

    Using a graphite pencil, I lay out the outlines of the still life lightly, drawing the shadow lines and the circles around the highlights. I keep the drawing accurate and clean early on to prevent a mess later.

  2. The foundation

    Using the pencils lightly with and with gentle pressure, I covered the paper, keeping the whiteness still visible. I got about two major values on the focal point: the fruits down for contrast, while the background and foreground remained flat with only one color.

    Note that I shaded slightly deeper on the tomato. I used shades of red, yellow, and orange on the tomato and added the violet blue into the shadow. Later on I used the same violet blue in the shadow of the limes and the plates for a unifying look.

    I mostly hatched my lines, following the contours of the fruit.

  3. Modeling of the Focal Point And Underpainting

    I keep hatching more in-between tones on the fruits by adding yellow and oranges to them respectively. Following their contours and varying the angles of linear strokes, I gradually covered the white paper in that particular area.

    I use a bristle brush moistened with turpenoid to go over the dark blue spot in the lower left corner of the painting. I dragged the same brush over the back of the plate.

    I accidentally did the same thing in the lower right corner and darkened that area unintentionally. When something like this is done, I can't do anything about it to lighten it up again. This is a lesson you probably should remember in the future.

  4. Burnishing

    With the background softened and then darkened, I started to burnish the tomato by mixing the white pencil all over in linear strokes. Then I repeated the initial layering by using the already used palette of red, orange, yellow and indigo. The result was a deeper and more luminous tomato.

    I repeated the burnishing process once again until I achieved the desirable luminosity on the tomato.

  5. More Burnishing and Refining

    The burnishing process might get tedious, but when I kept all the colored pencils used for one area together, I could grab them immediately and get to work after I burnished the area with a white colored pencil. Now it was time to move on to the limes. I also repeated the same process in the limes' cast shadows.

    I added red and green to the indigo shadow in the upper right corner. Then I moved on to the background behind the fruit, adding more reds into the brown and orange hue to darken the value.

  6. Finishing UP

    Now is a good time to sharpen the painting by adding patterns, textures through lines, curves, and heavy dots. In the final product you can see the wood grains in the background, the grooves in the foreground dinner mat, and the waves in the cast shadows of the limes on the plate. I kept the pencils consistently sharpened at this point to ensure crispy lines.

    More pressure was exerted as I lay down the details on the fairly saturated tooth of the paper. As for the finishing highlights, I went around the circle using round lines with the adjacent colors; to fuzz out the highlight outline, and to soften it up.


    The burnishing part is all done.



    This small painting is about 9 inches by 12 inches (23cm by 30.5cm). It takes about less than one hour for me to get this far. I could have sharpened my pencils more often and controlled my strokes more to achieve a smoother and tighter look.

    But I like the painterly looks like in other artworks of mine I have created with pastels, oils, or oil pastels

    For this simple colored pencil tutorial, I have come to a good stop point, so viola! Colored pencils are not that forgiving as other mediums I mentioned previously. So, when I feel like having had enough fun, it is time to let go.

    I hope you find this colored pencil tutorial helpful. So, grab your colored pencil supplies and give it a try!


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