Want to learn how to draw using colored pencils? Who else better to show you than Natalie Dark of IG: @nataliedarkart! We have her on our blog today to teach us how to draw this lovely floral bouquet artwork.
Get to know more of this talented artist and check out her step-by-step process below! Take it away, Natalie!
Hiya! I'm Natalie, a NYC based fine-artist working primarily in colored pencils. I choose to work in this medium for several reasons, including the ease of use (there's very little, if any, prep or clean up time!) and how perfectly it lends itself to creating mindful works of art.
Living in NYC can be very exciting, but also very stressful. Life is always “on” & it can be difficult to relax. I gravitate towards working in colored pencils because it is a medium that cannot be rushed. Every line has to be deliberately made, meaning each piece you create takes a lot of time & is very deliberate. My life is fast enough when I am not creating, so I like to use the time I spend making art to appreciate the finer details and just enjoy the process of creating something unique.
Below I describe my process for creating a colored pencil drawing with step-by-step tips on how you can create a similar piece, and would love for you to give it a try yourself!
CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BELOW:
I prefer to use 300 lb (640 gsm), hot-pressed paper. Usually Arches or Fabriano Artistico. This is my personal preference, but you can certainly use whatever you are comfortable with/have access to. My only suggestion is to make sure there is not too much tooth (texture) on your paper & that it is thick enough that it will hold up to lots of pressure/layers!
Regular pencil (I like to use mechanical to help keep a sharp point while sketching)
Any colored pencil brand of your choice. I like to use these: - Prismacolor Premier 72 count - Caran d'Ache
Standard Pink Rubber Eraser (good for removing very dark marks made with regular pencil during sketching, but don’t over use as it can ruin paper texture/tear your paper)
Gum Eraser (good for removing most marks made with regular pencil during sketching, this is my go-to!)
Kneaded Eraser (I use this when I just want to lighten a sketch up without removing it completely)
1.5” wide Artists Tape. This is a type of tape (like masking or washi tapes), and I use any brand I can find at my art supply store. Artist tape is more expensive than masking or washi tapes, but adheres much better (help you get those clean straight lines because it won’t move around as much when you draw near it), is less likely to damage your paper when it is removed carefully, and is less likely to leave a tacky residue.
You can use any manual or electric sharpener, but electric will help you get a more fine point (and is quicker!). I use an Xacto brand electric sharpener.
This is a brush used for getting rid of “fall out” from pencils & helps to get rid of it without making marks on your paper. If you use your hands or rag you will have more issues with pigment transfer. For those of you that don’t want to invest in a drafting brush (its only like $7, but I feel you!), then I suggest using a large, soft bristled, clean paint brush.
I use tracing paper under my drawing hand to help keep body oils from rubbing onto my drawing & to help keep me from rubbing off my sketch! You can use any clean paper you have on hand, like printer paper. It will also be useful for protecting your deckle edge from the tape (you’ll see more on this below in step 2).
This will seal your piece once you are done to protect it from UV rays that can change the colors in your piece over time. Be sure to only use professional grade fixative that will not yellow (because what is the point of using a fixative to protect the integrity of your colors if the fixative yellows anyway!).
HOW TO CREATE A FLORAL BOUQUET DRAWING:
For this piece I used 300 lb (640 gsm), hot-pressed watercolor paper by Arches. I tear the paper to my desired size (11"x11" for this piece), as it creates a nice deckle edge effect, but you can certainly cut it with a blade or scissors to get a straight edge.
Tape the paper to a smooth surface that is not likely to bend. This will help keep your piece flat & avoid warping. Tape is also very helpful when trying to achieve those perfect straight lines & even border, so I use 1.5" tape along my borders to ensure symmetry.
*Pro-Tip: If you have deckle edges, the tape is very likely to tear your paper during removal. Use a barrier, like strips of tracing paper between the tape and the paper you’re drawing on, to avoid those ugly tears when you remove the tape.
Use the ruler to create a grid before you start sketching. I find the vertical and horizontal mid-points & create a cross for a drawing of this size. By doing this, you will be able to more easily visualize where things should go & it will take a lot of the guess work out of your sketch!
Sketch out your image! You may find it helpful to print out a paper version of your image & draw the grid on that paper to help guide you. I don’t do this, but mainly because I don’t have a printer in my studio, but do as I say, not as I do!
Stand back. Walk away. Leave it alone. You need some time to make sure this sketch is right, because once you start adding color, there is no going back & making changes! I usually take at least a day between sketching & starting to add color to my drawings, and I’ve even gone several weeks before when stuff didn’t feel 100% right, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong!
Time to color! As a right-handed artist, I always start at the top left of a drawing & work from left to right. This ensures that my hand/arm is not rubbing against finished parts of the drawing. If you are left-handed, I would suggest doing the opposite.
Since I have taken the time to sketch out my drawing & did all the planning at the start, I approach the rest of the drawing somewhat as a coloring book page. I am just filling in the pieces (it also makes it feel less scary to think of it this way!). For instance, when I get to a leaf, I block out where the basic highlights & shadows are. Then I begin to layer and layer and layer until the colors seem right to me (layering is how you mix custom colors with colored pencils).
Pressure will allow you to not only add the desired amount of pigment, but it will also allow you to mix colors better than if you just layer using the same pressure the whole time. Once you have built up enough wax on the paper (wax is what is binding the pigment in your colored pencils), you will be able to move that pigment around to a degree & this can create a pretty cool “painterly” effect!
My biggest piece of advice is to LAYER EVERYTHING. The colors you see in real life are rarely, if ever, in your colored pencil set. And real life colors very often flow into and out of each other, they do not start and stop abruptly. So just be patient & layer like your life depends on it ;)
Once you have finished “coloring in” your sketch, STEP AWAY. Leave it alone. Give yourself time to decide if you are done, or if you need to add more detail. I usually wait about 3 days (and often avoid looking at my work for that time period so I can come back with fresh eyes & see it again like new!)
When you reunite with your piece, give it a gut check. At this point you’ll be able to easily tell if something isn’t right. However, I bet it’s perfect & you are ready to move on to the final step!
Peel that tape! This is my favorite part! So satisfying! Then add your signature, the date, and fixative to seal it from those harmful UV rays. And that is it! You did it! Be excited!
CHECK OUT THE FINISHED PIECE BELOW:
Have a question about this process? Comment below and we'll do our best to answer you!
To see more of Natalie's work, visit or contact her on the following channels: