Techniques of Soft Pastel
Please print both images.
Please print both images.
How to continue the tonal paper studies from class.
If you don’t have tonal paper, you can tone down your white watercolor paper with tempera. Create an earthy color mixed with some white. Just be sure to let it dry completely before drawing on it.
You will create two studies of each photo (four studies in all). Cut one 9x12in yellow tonal paper into fourths. For each photo, one study will be a muted color palette, and one study will be a saturated palette, as seen in Figure 1. No matter what color harmony you are drawing, reserve the color of the tonal paper for the appropriate areas that coincide with your photo reference.
- Draw the outline of your subject on your tonal paper. I recommend using negative shapes to get your proportions.
- Color all the areas around the shape that you’re keeping the color of your paper, as seen in Figure 2.
- Add the details, textures, shadows, and highlights. Remember to preserve some of the colors of the tonal paper as a color in your drawing.
It can be tempting to color everything in – but the point of this exercise is to see how effective the color of the substrate can be as a color of your drawing. When you view the works of the great masters who worked in soft pastels, you can see how you’re getting close to their method.
How to continue the color mixing studies from class.
Continue making swatches if you didn’t finish in class. There’s a reason why some cases come with 10 different yellows – they’re all slightly different! You want to know the difference, whether it’s a difference in color or in softness.
You will practice different applications and ways of color mixing in each row.
- Blending between two colors (smudge side to side or in small circles between the two colors to blend them.)
- Yellow and red
- Magenta and blue
- Yellow and blue
- Yellow and black
- Orange and violet
- Layering 2+ colors AKA Optical Color Mixing TIP: Keep in mind what pastel you’re using (soft versus nupastel) – soft pastel is usually best for top layers, nupastel is usually best for bottom layers)
- Red, yellow, green, blue
- Green base, brown, light blue, white
- Blue base, red, dark green, white, pink
- Black base, pink, blue, yellow
- Orange base, green, magenta, green, light yellow
- 3D Blended* (make your circle look three-dimensional by adding white for the illuminated areas and the complementary color for the shadows – complementary colors are any colors opposite to each other on the color wheel)
- Red base, add white to the top left, blend it out, leaving the middle and bottom right red. Add red’s complementary color (green) to the shadow, blend it out.
- Green base, add white to the top left, blend it out, leaving the middle and bottom right green. Add green’s complementary color (red) to the shadow, blend it out.
- Yellow base, add white to the top left, blend it out, leaving the middle and bottom right yellow. Add yellow’s complementary color (violet/purple) to the shadow, blend it out.
- Blue base, add white to the top left, blend it out, leaving the middle and bottom right blue. Add blue’s complementary color (orange) to the shadow, blend it out.
- Orange base, add white to the top left, blend it out, leaving the middle and bottom right red. Add orange’s complementary color (blue) to the shadow, blend it out.
- 3D Layered** (make your circle look three-dimensional by adding light warmer colors (yellow, orange, different reds, and whites) to the top left area to express illumination, use dark colder colors for the bottom right area (greens, blues, dark browns, black) to express the shadows.
- Red base
- Green base
- Yellow base
- Blue base
- Orange base
*If you’re blending you blend the light color or the dark color too far, add more of the base color to the center of your sphere. This will help you control how far blending things are.
**The nice thing with layering is that you can’t really go wrong. And if you do go wrong, just put another layer of color to override what you previously put down. Color Mixing is learned through theory AND application. You have to practice in order to get better. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok if your colors get muddy or messy or dark or dirty. It’s all a part of the learning experience. You have to make muddy colors in order to know what pure colors look like! Make “bad” mixtures to know what “good” mixtures are. Whatever you do, it will inform you about how to work with pastels.
Remember – we’re PLAYING with color. Enjoy this wonderful opportunity to mess around with these amazingly bright colors.
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