top of page
  • Writer's pictureKevin Roeckl

Reeve portrait in progress 8 - Back to the drawing board

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

In my last post I shared the “finished” portrait. It wasn’t finished, because Sheila and David said Reeve looked too light and too orange. It wasn’t “her”. I need to make her face darker and redder.

Colored pencil is an unforgiving medium.

I will only get one shot at this.

With colored pencil you can’t just cover over it like with oil paint. The pencil was already built up pretty thickly, to cover the blue paper. So I am close to the limit of how much pencil Reeve's face will hold.

First I scanned the portrait (on the left), then I made Reeve’s face darker and redder with Photoshop (on the right). I sent the Photoshopped version to David for feedback. I want to make sure I understand what he’s describing. Yes, this was correct. Now I have to replicate that by changing the actual portrait.

Colored pencil head-study portrait of a red Border Collie, before and after color adjustment


On a scrap of the same blue Canson paper, I replicated the left side of Reeve’s forehead three times, using the same pencil colors I used originally. This will be my test run.

scrap of blue paper with 3 colored pencil simulations


Then I tried layering different colors over the 3 simulated foreheads, to see which would work the best. Colored pencils are a transparent medium, meaning the color underneath will show through. Depending on how hard and solidly you color it. But it will always show through to a certain amount. So I was choosing, not just red-browns, which would only give us an orangey red brown, But actually going into the purpleish end of the red spectrum. To offset the oranges and orange reds.

That’s why I was doing a trial run. Because I have never done this exact thing before. I know enough about colors, and how pencils behave, to have a good idea what should happen. But you never know for sure. I have put too much work into Reeve’s portrait to take a chance. I wanted to prove on my test piece that purple reds, layered over orange, would do what I expected.

scrap of blue paper with 3 colored pencil simulations and color swatches

I think I will use the colors on the middle one. Notice I am using an actual lavender, I have gone so far to the purple end of the red spectrum that it’s a purple pink.

People who understand the color wheel will understand this: I am trying to shift the reds (red-browns) in Reeve’s portrait around the color wheel a little way: from the orange-reds to the purplish-reds. Because the previous colors (orangey) will show through a little, I have to go too far into the purples to compensate for that.

Artist's color wheel


From the Studio Blog logo
bottom of page