Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let's Draw a Pear!

colored pencil on Rising Museum Board
5 x 7 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I am trying something new on my blog. I have put together a tutorial for doing a colored pencil drawing of a pear and will be posting the steps throughout the next week. I invite you all to not only follow along, but if you would like to give the drawing a try yourself, please let me know in the comments with a link to where you are posting your results. I would love to follow along with your progress too!

Also, if you would prefer to work from a paper copy of the tutorial you can visit my Tutorial page here on this blog and follow the links to a free PDF file that you may download for yourself.

Today I will begin with the Introduction and steps 1 and 2, just to get you started. Have fun!

 There are as many different ways to draw with colored pencil as there are colored pencil artists. Drawing still life objects is always a popular subject and one which lends itself well to the medium of colored pencil.

In this tutorial you will see the process that I follow for drawing a still life subject in colored pencil, from setting up and photographing the subject to the finished drawing.

The steps outlined here for drawing this pear are
  •   Taking a good photo reference of the pear 
  •   Adjusting the photo and creating the composition in Photoshop
  •  A list of materials used to make this drawing
  • Transferring the image to the drawing surface
  • Applying colored pencil in layers to create form and depth of color
  • Using a kneaded eraser as a drawing tool to create texture
  • Putting the final touches on the drawing
Step One : Taking a good photo reference of the pear
Here is my usual set up for photographing still life objects. I use indirect, natural light coming in through our back door with a white painting board balanced on top of a small pedestal table. I place my still life object on the white board and photograph from many angles with the object(s) in various positions. I never use a flash for these photos as a flash will wash out the light and shadow. 

I have used black denim fabric when I want a dark background for my object but my preferred surface is this white laminate board. It reflects a bit of light and nicely catches the shadows from the objects.

Though I do have to be careful that my “assistant” doesn’t confuse my still life set up for his snack!

Step Two :  Adjusting the photo and creating the composition in Photoshop
This is how the photo I chose to use for my reference appeared straight out of the camera. I liked the position of the singular pear including the turn of the stem. I also saw that it had a good value range from light to dark, a nice distribution of color and interesting highlights and shadow.
Next,  I made my adjustments to the photo in Photoshop. First I cropped the photo to my desired 5 x 7 inch size, centering the pear within the format. I then used the auto levels and auto color functions.  I increased the saturation by 15, the brightness by 30, and the contrast by 15. I applied the unsharp mask with a setting of 50%, radius 1.0 and threshold 0. 

I printed out a copy to check the result. Because pictures always seem to print a little dark on my printer,  I went back and increased the brightness setting by 12 and printed out my reference again.  If all of these settings and numbers are unfamiliar or confusing, don’t worry. Basically, I cropped the image to its desired size, adjusted for contrast, increased the brightness and color saturation, and sharpened the image. All of that took my okay picture and created a very acceptable reference photo.

Below is the final reference photograph ready for you to print out and use for your drawing of the pear.
 Click on the photo to open a larger size. Hopefully it will print as a 5 x 7 inch photo for you!

Friday I will post steps 3 and 4. Stay tuned!


Jennifer Rose said...

good thing its only pears on that table and not a steak ;p

Unknown said...

Ann, thanks for providing this tut and the reference pic. I've never used coloured pencils as serious art media tools and it's about time I tried them.

Jennifer, if Ann's dog is anything like one of mine, fruit would beat a steak as the snack of choice anytime.

Anonymous said...

Great idea Ann - look forward to seeing the next steps. And so does your dog evidently ;)


Ann said...

Thanks all! And with this dog, it really doesn't matter what the food is, he still wants it!

Sandra said...

Thanks for this tutorial. Since I so admire your work, it will be fun to see the process.

Timaree said...

What perfect timing! I've been looking for something to help me develop a way of working with colored pencils. I've always liked your work so although I know no one can work exactly alike, it will be good to see one way of achieving a realistic drawing. Yay! Thanks a bunch. I'll post on my blog then as I go which is at Freebird Drawing (I hope I got the link right here).

Karen said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I will be working through this one. I will be posting it on my blog at

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Ann
Your pear is the first thing I have printed on my new laser jet printer. Came out great!!

nanke's stuff said...

What a great and generous idea! I'll definitely be following along to learn more about colored pencils. Thank you so much! nancy

Cathy Holtom said...

I'm enjoying it already! I love seeing how other people work.

Alex said...

Beautifully drawn Ann. It's ultra realistic! The dog is just too adorable =)

K said...

What a great idea, Ann, to offer a tutorial. Will this be a regular thing? Nice touch to have the PDF to follow along with too. Thanks for posting how you re-work the image in Photoshop. I'm just learning PSE9 myself, for pre-planning in painting.

Ann said...

I am so glad that you all are following along!

Krista, I thought I would give this a try and see how folks liked it. I may do another one at some point if the response to this one is good and if there seems to be enough interest for another.

Connie said...

Thanks for posting the tutorial as a PDF. The timing is perfect for me, too. I've been working with three books on colored pencil and watercolor pencil and was ready to try some of the exercises, with at least one being a pear drawing. I like your drawing style in particular, so will be paying close attention to what you did and how. I bought a pear yesterday so I can work from life - but I love the info on doing the reference photo and may try that at the same time. I'll be using the Prismacolor pencils I got on freecycle, but have Faber-Castell watercolor pencils on order, so I'll be able to see many of the F-C colors that correspond.

I loved seeing your first Waves painting today! Having discovered your blog and your work (via mail from EDM, which I've just joined) I'll be keeping an eye on your progress - and learning from you at the same time.

There was supposedly a pear from someone who tried your tutorial, but I did not see it, or a link. Did I just miss it? Thanks again!

Ann said...

Thanks Connie! Make sure you send me a link to your pear drawing - I would love to see! To follow the link just click on the name "Freebird Drawing" in the post and it should take you right there.

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