Soft Pastels: Jellyfish (demonstration)

Today I decided to test out my Art Spectrum soft pastels and some 600 grade UArt paper which I hadn’t used before. I decided it would be fun to draw some sort of marine image since I hadn’t done that before, so I went to WetCanvas’s Reference Image Library and found a picture of a jellyfish uploaded by DavidMunroeArt, which looked bright and interesting but not too challenging to draw. As I was working I took progress shots and decided to turn them into another art demonstration post. The colour names I’ve listed refer specifically to the Art Spectrum soft pastel range but you should be able to find the equivalent colours in whatever soft pastels you already have.

Soft Pastels
Art Spectrum soft pastels:
-Titanium White 500P
-Yellow Ochre 540X
-Golden Yellow 509P
-Coral 507P
-Crimson 512X
-Tasman Blue 523T
-Spectrum Blue 524T
-Ultramarine Blue 526X
-Ultramarine Blue 526P
-Ultramarine Blue 526N
-Flinders Red Violet 517V
-Flinders Red Violet 517P
-Bordeaux 513N
-Flinders Blue Violet 520V
-Raw Sienna 544P
-Burnt Sienna 548T
-Australian Red Gold 549P
-Pilbara Red 518N

-3/4 inch flat

-Sanded pastel paper (I used UArt 600)

Step 1
Draw the jellyfish’s body with Golden Yellow 509P and block in the colour. Block in the water in the background by using the blue pastels on their side, starting with Tasman Blue 523T, then blending into Spectrum Blue 524T, then Ultramarine Blue 526P and finally Ultramarine Blue 526N in the bottom left corner. Leave some blank paper where the jellyfish’s oral arm goes (I think it’s called the oral arm, but if not, we’ll go with “the frilly thing”).


Step 2
Dip your 3/4 inch flat brush into your water and use sweeping, curved strokes to wash the pastel, starting at the top and gradually working downward. Rinse the brush and wash the jellyfish’s orange body. Block in the frilly thing with the Crimson 512X pastel, then use Burnt Sienna 548T to darken the lower corners of the jellyfish’s body. Go over these areas again with a slightly damp brush to wash the colour into the paper.


Step 3
Using the same blue pastels you used in Step 1, lay in more colour over the background, following the brush strokes from Step 2 and putting the colours in roughly the same place again. Blend them together with your finger to smooth them out. Add another layer of Golden Yellow 509P over the jellyfish’s body, with more Burnt Sienna 548T in the lower corners. Again, blend these with your finger.


Step 4
Block in another layer of Crimson 512X and some Yellow Ochre 540X for the frilly thing, making sure to create uneven, random edges. Blend Flinders Red Violet 517P into the tip of the frilly thing and extend it out to create the ‘arms’ stretching up into the water. Add a little shading in places with Flinders Blue Violet 520V. Next use Spectrum Blue 524T to add in a few areas in the frilly thing where the background water shows through.


Step 5
Now it’s time to add more definition to the jellyfish’s body. Outline the rim of the bell with Pilbara Red 518N, then go over the line with Australian Red Gold 549P. Bring some lines of Australian Red Gold 549P down into the body to show the creases and curves of the jellyfish’s bell. Use your finger to smudge some of this colour slightly into the yellow.

Smudge some Raw Sienna 544P along the bottom curve of the jellyfish’s body, darkening this more in the corners with a little more Burnt Sienna 548T. Near the rim at the centre of the body, add in a few strokes of Ultramarine Blue 526X and smudge it a little to show the light reflecting through the membrane. Add a little Spectrum Blue 524T and Ultramarine Blue 526P to the creased areas on either side in the same manner. Add a little pure Titanium White 500P highlight in the upper left section of the frilly thing.


Step 6
For the fine tentacles, you will need Coral 507P, Flinders Red Violet 517V and Bordeaux 513N. Draw most of the tentacles starting at the jellyfish’s body and extending them out so they drift through the water above it. Where they cross in front of the luminescent frilly thing, use the bright Coral 507P. Once they cross in front of the blue water, change to Flinders Red Violet 517V or Bordeaux 513N. Create a few tangled areas of tentacles by drawing knots in Bordeaux 513N where they twine around the purple ‘arms’. For some of the more distant tentacles, tap them slightly a few times with your finger to smudge them slightly and make them blend into the background a little. Now all that remains is to sign the drawing with Coral 507P in the lower right corner.


I hope you’ve enjoyed my first soft pastel demonstration post for this blog. It’s a relatively simple project and therefore suited to beginners, but it’s a fun and colourful drawing for any level of artist. I’ll post reviews of both the UArt paper and the Art Spectrum pastels over the next couple of days.

This entry was posted in Demonstrations, Pastels, Soft Pastels and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.