Coloured Pencils: Toucan (demonstration)

Time for another coloured pencil demonstration! This one is based on a photo of a toucan by Cindy Fry in the Photos For Artists Facebook group. I thought this beautiful brightly coloured bird would make a nice model for a drawing. I’ve listed all the Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils I used for this drawing, but as always, you can use whatever similar colours you have in your own pencil collection.

Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils:
-Cadmium Yellow Lemon
-Light Chrome Yellow
-Dark Cadmium Yellow
-Cadmium Orange
-Pale Geranium Lake
-Deep Scarlet Red
-Dark Red
-Light Magenta
-Purple Violet
-Light Ultramarine
-Sky Blue
-Middle Phthalo Blue
-Light Phthalo Blue
-Cobalt Turquoise
-Light Cobalt Turquoise
-Dark Phthalo Green
-Light Green
-Grass Green
-Pompeian Red

*Note: I used the Faber-Castell Polychromos White because I was reviewing the pencils for another post. In terms of opacity and softness it’s actually quite good, considering the firm texture of these pencils, but if you have a softer and more opaque white (like a Prismacolor Premier or Caran d’Ache Luminance), you might find it easier to use that instead.

Stonehenge 250gsm paper (22cm X 30cm)

Step 1
Draw or trace the outline of the toucan onto your paper. Using a light pressure and diagonal strokes, put in an even layer of Light Cobalt Turquoise in the background, leaving it slightly lighter in the bottom quarter of the page, and then go over it again with the strokes in the opposite direction (try to make your strokes sort of circular rather than just back and forth, as this will reduce the hard edges; you want the background as smooth as possible). Add a light layer of Light Phthalo Blue using the same light, feathery strokes and gradually let it blend into the lighter background at around half way down the page, then add a light layer of Middle Phthalo Blue in the same manner to the top quarter of the background (see the markings I’ve made on the masking tape to work out where each colour should end). When you have finished, you should have a nice graduated blue background, starting off darker at the top and lightening towards the bottom. Using a medium to heavy pressure and horizontal strokes, go over the whole background with White from the bottom up.

For the yellow area of the toucan’s face and neck, add a light layer of Cream down the left and bottom, and gradually blend this into Light Chrome Yellow as you move towards the upper right, still using a light pressure. Try to make your pencil strokes follow the direction of the bird’s feathers. Add some Cadmium Yellow Lemon under the toucan’s eye.

Step 2
Colour the little red patch under the toucan’s wing with Dark Red, using a heavy pressure on the bottom half, then colour over the whole patch with Cadmium Orange and a medium pressure. Colour around the eye with Light Cobalt Turquoise, letting it blend out into the yellow a little above the eye, and then add some Light Green below the eye, allowing it to blend downwards and to the right towards the beak. Use Grass Green on the darkest areas just below and to the right of the eye. Leaving a few small spots white for highlights, colour the eyeball in with a light layer of Dark Pthalo Green, then use Black to outline the eyeball and add in the iris (don’t make the iris outline too sharp; let it blend a little with the Dark Pthalo Green).

Add a little Light Ultramarine to the black area around the beak and go over this with medium pressure White. Add the shadow just under the beak with Light Ultramarine and then go over this with Light Chrome Yellow, blending it out a little further than the edge of the Light Ultramarine. Use very sharp Dark Phthalo Green, Pale Geranium Lake and Dark Red to put in the beak line, then put in the golden triangle shape with Dark Cadmium Yellow and then go over this with Cadmium Orange, leaving some yellow showing along the top left corner and allowing the orange to go onto the lower part of the beak. Add the purple markings on the beak with Purple Violet. Add a shadow to the underside of the beak with Light Ultramarine and a little Light Green, and then use Light Green for the green patch on the lower half of the beak. Go over it with a light pressure using Light Cobalt Turquoise, leaving the end of the beak white. Go over all the coloured area in the lower part of the beak with White and a medium pressure. Put a thin area of Cadmium Yellow Lemon along the top of the beak, starting from the face and going to about half way along the beak, then extend this area along to almost the end of the beak with Cream (again stopping before the red area). Add a very light layer of Light Green and Light Cobalt Turquoise along the top half of the beak, leaving a small highlight above the orange area and leaving the red area untouched, then go over this with a heavy layer of White. Next, add a medium layer of Pale Geranium Lake to the tip of the beak.

Step 3
Go over the very tip of the toucan’s beak in Cadmium Orange with a light pressure, and then add some Pale Geranium Lake over the rest of the red area. Add a little more Cadmium orange to the tip and around the edge where the red turns to blue green, then go over the whole red area with medium pressure and Dark Red, making it darker in the middle and leaving a slightly lighter area for the highlight. Go over this highlight with White, blending this out into the red slightly. Add another layer of Dark Red over the blended bit of White, but leave the highlight untouched. For the black part of the beak, add a layer of Black, making it darker under the beak and leaving a few lighter areas of the Light Ultramarine from the previous step. Go over these light areas again with Light Ultramarine and add a heavy layer of White over the lightest parts. Darken the shadow under the beak with Light Ultramarine if necessary (after adding the black section, I realised my shadow was too light).

Using Sky Blue, Light Magenta and Light Cobalt Turquoise and a light pressure, colour in the bird’s black feathers, focusing more on the lighter areas (in particular the whispy bits around its neck). You can mix or overlap these colours or have some areas that are a single colour; it’s up to you, as long as you get a nice pastel underlayer. For the toucan’s eye, add another layer of green (Dark Phthalo Green for the bottom half and Cobalt Turquoise for the top half) in a medium to heavy pressure, again leaving the hightlights, and then go over the iris again with Black and a heavy pressure, letting the edge blend slightly into the green. At this point I also did a heavier layer of Cream and Light Chrome Yellow to the toucan’s face and neck, adding some Ivory in the lighter areas.

Step 4
Here I darkened the purple marks on the beak with a little more Purple Violet and added a very light layer of Light Cobalt Turquoise and Light Green to the top half of the beak before going over it all with White. I also blended the edge of the red area into the blue/green area with White and deepened the shadow on the bottom half of the beak with Light Ultramarine, blending it with White as well.

Now is time to lay in the black for the majority of the toucan’s body. Using a Black pencil and varying degrees of pressure, colour in the feathers, making your strokes follow the lines/directions of the feathers where possible. The darkest areas (like the shadows under feathers) can be a heavy, deep black, while highlighted areas should use a lighter pressure and let some of the pastel colours from the under layer show through, especially around the neck area.

Step 5
With Sky Blue, go over some of the lightest areas of the feathers. Use a medium pressure for the short feathers around the bird’s shoulder and the rounded feathers on the wing, and a light to medium pressure in the darker areas in the rounded top part of the wing and the lower front of the wing; add a very light layer of the same colour over all the black areas except for the head and neck. For the very lightest areas (the short shoulder feathers and the rounded wing feathers), add a layer of White using a medium pressure for the front hightlighted edges and reducing pressure as you move to the left. Use a light pressure with Light Ultramarine, Light Magenta and Light Cobalt Turquoise to make the pastel hues in the head and neck area more pronounced and reduce any white paper showing through. With Black, add another layer of fine feathers to this area, following the direction of the feathers with your pencil strokes and keeping a few areas lighter than the rest. Still using black, add another layer over the toucan’s body and wing, focusing on the darkest areas with a heavy pressure first, then using a medium pressure and a circular stroke pattern for the middle value areas (ensure you keep the blends between light and dark areas smooth where necessary). The lightest highlights with the Sky Blue (on the rounded wing feathers and short shoulder feathers) should mostly be left as they are, though some can be blended out to black. Now it’s time to sign your name in the lower right corner with Light Ultramarine.

I hope you enjoyed this coloured pencil demo. I hope to have a review of the Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils up within the next few days.

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