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This tutorial introduces you to the basic techniques for using wax type coloured pencil. This is what I term ‘Dry Point’ as the colour is not soluble in water and the build up of colour on the paper depends entirely on laying down successive layers of thin pigment from a sharp pencil point.

You should have read the pages on dry point techniques before starting this exercise.

You will need 2 shades each of three colours - I used blue green and red - together with white and a brown.  I used blue for the rear ball as this colour naturally sits in the background, and red for the front ball as red naturally comes to the front in any picture.  You can select any colours you wish, of course.

You will also need a dark grey or black for the shadows



SHADE YOUR LAYERS in the direction in which the surface goes ( or grows )

LEAVE HIGHLIGHTS to help shapes look solid


First  draw out your outline of the background block and the three circles in front of it.  It doesn’t have to look exactly like mine, but if you do copy my shapes you may find following the tutorial easier.

Use a cartridge paper or one with a smooth surface but some grain to it to so that the pigment comes off the pencil easily.

Start with the rectangular block in the background.

SHADE THE FRONT SIDE  WHITE with vertical strokes. Leave the shadowed side for the moment.  Once you have covered the area with up and down strokes, shade across from side to side to even out the colour.  You may find it hard to see where you have been with the white pencil on white paper, but if you hold the paper sideways to the light you may find it easier to see where you have been.  

NOW ADD your BROWN over the whole of the block area in vertical strokes.  

It will become pale brown where it goes over the white and darker brown where it goes on the side which had no first coat of white.

NOW GO ON TO YOUR LIGHT BLUE and start on the rear ball.

Use scribbly strokes and ensure that you leave the highlight area uncoloured.

It is best to work around the edges first  and also to ensure that you work

UP TO AN EDGE from within the shape if you can, as this gives you a better chance of avoiding going over an edge.

YOU SHOULD FINISH UP WITH A DIMPLED EFFECT from the overlapping scribbles.  

NOW APPLY WHITE to the highlight to protect it from going too dark.

And start to apply the darker blue, keeping away from the highlight and being sparing along the top edge.

If you have other shades of blue, you can make the bottom edges even darker.

Tidy up the edges with a long curving stroke and then move on to the green ball

I have followed exactly the same process with the two greens, using a light olive green for the first coat and  a bright green for the second coat.

If you have a strong darker green as well, you might like to add a third layer as I have done.


We follow exactly the same process again with the front ball, and start off with an orange as a base colour.

This is followed by a scarlet and a darker red ( if you have one), for the under shadow.

Make sure that you work right up to the edges with a final curved stroke to ensure a smooth edge to the balls.

NOW YOU NEED TO ADD SHADOWS to show that your still life is set on a flat surface.  With light coming from the top left, all your shadows should be to the right.

If you try this exercise with water soluble pencils, you can use a damp brush to merge and blend your colours and make them much more vibrant.

Be careful though that your brush is only damp otherwise the colour may bunch up and leave you with a mottled and much less satisfactory picture.

Have Fun !

Shapes Exercise is Copyright  Peter Weatherill © 2007-2009

BASIC DRY POINT EXERCISE  1   BASIC SHAPES AND STROKES Introducing step by steps    Next Page