Leopard in Coloured Pencil on Black Paper

February 19, 2018 by Diane Marcotte

Painting with coloured pencils is a recent medium that I love because you can get such fine detail – something I usually incorporate into my paintings.  Often I will use OMS (odorless mineral spirits) to dissolve the pencil’s pigment.  This makes the painting process a lot faster.  This time I decided to paint a leopard on black paper (Strathmore’s Artagain).  The paper even took care of the leopard’s spots!

The end result is different than my other coloured pencil paintings which were done on watercolour paper or pastel paper.  First of all this paper wouldn’t take the OMS so the painting took longer than I had anticipated.  Secondly it was difficult to achieve the brilliance of the fur due to the dark paper.  Despite these two drawbacks I actually do like the finished result. It has a depth to it that is difficult to explain.  Anyway I hope you like it and I’ve outlined my steps below.

What would I do differently next time?  I’d make sure the white and grey layers fully covered the black before adding additional colours.  And I wouldn’t have transferred the whiskers from my drawing as it made it difficult to follow the lines with the Derwent white pencil and/or a mixture of Brush and Pencil “Titanium White” mixed with some of their “Touch Up Texture” (applied with a rigger brush.)

I transferred the image to the black paper using white transfer paper.  My reference photo was from Wildlife Reference Photos for Artists (http://wildlifereferencephotos.com/index.php) and I made a black & white copy of the original. Using this image I coloured in all areas, except for the spots and any other black sections, with a Luminance white pencil and a couple of Prismacolor greys. This step is necessary to ensure your colours have a white base and to identify just where the spots are!

Leopard - white & grey

Applying white & grey pencils

The next step was to add various shades of yellow to build up a base layer.  At this stage I didn’t need to match the fur direction. I added some warm browns in the shadowed areas.

Leopard - adding yellows

Leopard – adding yellows

I then deepened the shadow areas and went over the pure white fur with a Derwent Chinese White pencil.  I didn’t use my Polychromos pencils in this painting as they are transparent and I needed more opaque colours to cover the black paper.

Leopard - refining colour

Leopard – refining colour

More refining of colours.  This time I paid attention to the direction of the fur growth. I needed to go over, with a black pencil, any black spots on his face that had gotten lost. Lastly I gave a wash of bright orange to all the coloured areas of the face and neck (focused area) by gently adding a layer of colour.

Leopard - face

Leopard – face

To ensure the black paper came out correctly I needed to scan the image.  As it was larger than my scanner I had to take two scans and stitch them together using my photo editing software.

Leopard - finished painting

Leopard – finished painting

Please check out my Fine Art America website at – https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/1-diane-marcotte.html?tab=artwork – to view my art.

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