Colored Pencil Techniques for Beginners

Drawing a Leaf With Colored Pencil Techniques
Drawing a leaf with colored pencils. Getty Images

There are many colored pencil techniques that you, as an artist, can use to bring out your creativity. However, you need to be quite skillful to use some of them comfortably.

But this is not to say that just because you are a beginner, you can't create some amazing artwork. You can, and I'm going to teach you some of the most fundamental techniques to use right here.

Very few things in this world bring as much satisfaction as creating something from pure imagination. Therefore, irrespective of whether you are a naturally talented artist or you have the interest to become one, when you put pencil to paper, the result should be a masterpiece. What do you have to do with your current level of skill vs that of creating a masterpiece? Practice, plus know where your weaknesses and strengths are!

Colored pencils may seem like the past time of a child, but they are an excellent tool for beginning and professional artists alike. They are compact enough to fit into a backpack making it possible for you to sketch a scene anywhere, any place, any time. That surely sounds like fun. All you need is a sheet of paper, your colored pencils, a sharpener, and eraser--and you're ready to go!


Stippling is also called Pointillism, but this is a term you don't need to use – unless of course you want your nerd friends to think you are a pro artist. Simply put, stippling is creating a series of dots or small blobs on paper. The dots can be placed close together or far apart depending on the look and feel you are going for. Use this technique when you want to add some interesting texture to your drawings.

However, finding the right spacing could be difficult at first, so you will need to experiment with the distances between the dots. Also, try using a sharp, medium or dull pencil point to see possible results. You can also mix colors you use when stippling so that when the viewer moves further away, the colors blend together creating a new color. When done by a skilled artist, stifling can create a sweet optical illusion.


This technique involves drawing a series of parallel lines going in one direction. Each line is independent because you lift the pencil from the paper and place it down to begin another line. Like stippling, you can experiment on the distance between the lines to bring out the effect you want. It is your world, remember? Lines drawn close together will give a thicker, more concentrated look while widely spaced lines will be lighter.


If you don't know this yet, cross-hatching is one of the most popular and powerful techniques for colored pencil drawing. It is simply performing the hatching technique twice.

You first draw a series of parallel lines one way, and then on top of these, draw another set of parallel lines going across your previous line at 90 degrees—more or less. Why is this one of the best colored pencil techniques you ask? Well, for starters, you can use it to mix colors, say blue and yellow to make green, mix the primary colors or tertiaries to create subtle effects. It is also a great way of creating shades (light and dark colors) in your drawings.

This technique provides unlimited options. So learn it well! You only need to tap into your creativity to come up with some great ideas.

Back and Forth Strokes

This is definitely one of the most common techniques. Give a kid a pencil and watch them use the back and forth stroke--never mind that most of the time, they have no idea what they are doing. To perform this technique, just place your pencil on the paper and draw back and forth without lifting the pencil. If sections of your drawing need a lot of solid color, then this is the technique to use.


Scumbling is usually used in paintings to create subtle effects so you can spot sometimes the color and form underneath. It involves drawing in a continuous circular motion without lifting the pencil or drawing media from the paper. Like the back and forth stroke technique, it is good for areas that require lots of solid color.

One of the biggest advantages that this technique has over the others is that you can create smooth drawings that show no strokes at all because it blends so well. As you are scumbling, make sure to turn your pencil often to keep the point sharp (you should keep most of your pencil sharp at all times.)

Also, use small circular motions spaced closely together for a smooth finish. One thing you should note, though, is that this technique is for the patient artist. It is very, very slow process.

Remember, practice is the only thing that will get you where you want to be. So out with your colored pencils and paper and let's start drawing. That masterpiece will have to wait just a little while!