Drawing With Color 1.1

This is the perfect companion practice to painting, because it provides education in transitioning black and white drawing into working with color. Each lesson is a combination of  technical and observation exercises.

Probably the most interesting aspect of working with color is its’ relative and changing nature. The way to harness that potential power and allure comes first with understanding how to manipulate value.

Discerning value: from the 12 colors on the wheel, we identify and diagram, in a scale that is 1 x 12″, placing yellow as close to the center as possible.

Yellow is the lightest value in the spectrum, and the rest of the hues span out, increasing in relative value. For the technical exercise we’ll draw a black/grey/white scale that compares the relative values.


The top two rows are a black and white copy of the bottom two rows, just to compare relative light and dark of the colored rows.

ImageSome student’s work drawing scales.


Here are some of my notes describing how we are going to proceed with our observation exercise:

ImageBelow are the renderings using a tennis ball, and identifying the dominant color as yellow-green.

ImageThe first four balls are as follows: b/w in graphite; saturation of one color; complements (yellow-green/red-violet); analogous (yellow, yellow-green, green). Then shades using 70 % grey with: yellow-green, complements, analogous (yellow-green, green, blue-green).

Brave students tackling this assignment:





And finally, a similar exercise and rendering of mine, using a tangerine as subject matter instead of the tennis ball:



15 thoughts on “Drawing With Color 1.1

  1. Want to make a book of your lessons, with your Permission.
    What Sketchbook would you recommend?
    I still have a hard time choosing my colors, say a Cat’s eye.(Golden) with green.
    A lot of colors,what do pick for layering?
    So thought if I actually did the lessons, it would help…

    1. Hi Lois, yes, do you mean you would like to do the excercises in the blog? I recommend a Strathmore sketchbook, 11 x 14 inches. Get a color wheel that has 12 colors. Choose your color pencils as they relate to the outer band of the wheel. For alternate or homework exercises use Strathmore tinted charcoal paper, about the same size. Let me know how you progress!

      1. Thank you so very much Betina…
        I really appreciate it, as I kind of self-teaching myself.
        Know one teaches color pencil, in my town.
        I will let you know, but I forgot to ask.
        The Black Scale, is Black color pencil or Graphite,
        Thanks again.

  2. Hi Betina,
    On to lesson 2
    the 50/50, is that layer?
    So far so good I guess.
    Thank you so much for letting me do the exercises.
    Learning a lot…

      1. Thanks Betina. I thought that,so that’s what I did.
        I’m doing lesson 3, now. I’m sure learning a lot of mixing, the
        way you have the little charts… so, so glad I found your site;
        and Thanks for letting me use the exercises.
        Taking my time with the exercises.
        Hoping I’m doing them correct, kind of comparing or using
        the Students examples…
        Thanks again, too for the replies, really appreciate it.

  3. Betina, I was reading the Article on Gridding.
    After you Grid, and your looking at the Subject, like the Cup; Pitcher, Rooster etc. How and where doyou start the drawing on the Grid.
    This technique is new to me..
    Thanks, if you care to share.

    1. Hi Lois, I usually use something called a “viewfinder” that is a small window shape made out of cardboard or even an old slide holder – but it should be the same proportions as the grid. When you look through the viewfinder you can fill the view with the image by moving your arm forward or back. I can see where the image is in the whole area, and start from one corner and cover as much of the rest of the area as possible from there.

      1. I have used the viewfinder, The Article of drawing the Bottle
        with the Grid, where it’s a half way point, and finding the
        halfway point on the Bottle, I got lost.
        I appreciate all your replies. I feel I should send you Something,
        for a Lunch or something!
        Thanks, I will Practice.

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