The “Devil is in the Details” as they say.

Your piece should look pretty good at this point but now you need to work on those details and for each artist that may be something different. Only you can decide, how much detail you want to invest or how much it needs, depending also on what you want to portray. For example, if you want a photorealistic piece, then you may want to have some very sharp, crisp lines and details, so you will need to go in with a very sharp pencil and tighten things up. If you want a soft focus background for example you will want to go in and soften some of your lines or details by using the technique we used on the petals, overlapping some dots and strokes to create the illusion of the blur. If you want your highlights to pop, you may have to add some white or any color that is lighter than it’s surrounding to bring it forward or deepen your shadows with soft darks in the core of the shadow. This all takes the keen eye I mentioned and practice.

For the center of the flower, if you left the yellow pistil portion free then you should be able to go in now varying the reds and do some negative painting, that is coloring the spaces between with a sharp pencil, making the lightest and mid-tone yellows pop to produce the look of pistils and stamens.  Touch up any shadows/highlights that need some more work.

Leaves and the Background

For the background on this piece, you can do any number of things. One would be to leave the background white or fill in a suggestion of color around the flower to suit what looks good to you. You could also use colored paper to begin with. If you’re using a paper that can withstand a wash, such as a heavier watercolor paper, you could do a watercolor background or use watercolor pencils and water manipulating the color to your liking. For this exercise I have laid in a simple halo of Sky Blue (complimentary color to the yellow) around the subject. For the leaves, as they appear soft focus in the reference image, you can use the blending technique we used on the petals and put down some of the Light Yellow Glaze first for the under painting to have that warm glow come through.   Then fill in lightly the veins of the leaves with Pine Green and darken as need be to keep their location evident. Then using layers of Leaf Green, Emerald Green, Pine Green and Chrome Oxide Green build the look of the leaves, varying the saturation and colors slightly from one leaf to another, remembering to leave out the highlighted edges of the leaves. Soften the yellow edges with a little leaf green. As with the petals, now go in and darken you shadows and veins to suit. Again, the detailing is up to you.


  • Remember that you cannot go in with a sharp pencil at the end and hope to repair what you did or didn’t do early on. Always work as if whatever stage you’re working on is critical to the next.  I know that some individuals will try to use their colorless blender to burnish the heck out of their piece, hoping that if they just “smush” all their colors really well, it will look soft but unfortunately it only winds up looking like a coloring book rendition.

Using a Colorless Blender or Burnisher

I’m personally not a big fan of “Burnishing”, mostly because I see that it is often used incorrectly. For me, this tool is awesome when used properly.  In this instance, I would go in at the end and using a sharp blender, using outward moving strokes that ease up on the pressure as you lift off, blend the red/orange lines in the flower petals, soften some of the shadows etc. I would do the same on the leaves just to soften any harsh edges that I don’t want.


Step 6 – Final look, Adjustments, Signature and Sealer

Take some time and in the case of an actual painting your doing, a few days and place your piece where you can see it daily.  Don’t create more work for yourself if you feel it’s essentially done, but keep your eye out for those little things that may need some adjustment. Make the changes you feel are necessary, sign your work and spray your final piece with a quality fixative designed for colored pencil (follow the directions on the label)

I realize that a lot of details, due to time and space constraints could not be printed here but I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial and found it easy enough to follow.  I would love to have your comments and suggestions on other Colored Pencil topics you’d like to know more about.




  • PRACTICE! And have fun doing it!


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