My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lesson 15 - Prismacolor apple

Drawing with Prismacolors requires that you add your colors layer by layer, or LAYERING.  I'll show you how to do it today with an apple. It isn't much different from Lesson 4 - Shading an apple. You still shade, you just add your colors in one at a time.

Here is a list of the pencils you'll need for this lesson:

French Grey 70%   1074
Dark Umber   947
Dark Brown   946
Light Umber   941
Yellow Ochre   942
Cream   914
Crimson Red   924
White 938
Sienna Brown 945
Colorless Blender 1077

New terms:
Layering (see above)
Saturation Level (explained in step 10)
Burnish (explained in step 10)

Okay, we'll start with a photo. I'm taking artistic liberties for the sake of keeping this simple and drawing only the apple and shadow, not the leaf. I am also drawing the apple on two surfaces, one smooth white heavy-weight paper, and a light pink mat board, so you can see the differences in technique. (Basically, with the white board, you use the white of the paper for the highlights. On a colored board, you add them with a white pencil.)

Step 1: Using your French Grey 70%, VERY lightly draw in your apple, stem, and shadow.

Step 2: On the white board, VERY lightly circle in all areas of highlight. I included the skiff of lighter area on the upper left of the apple, the areas of yellow behind and around the stem, and around the shiny highlight on the body of the apple.

(You can click on the pictures for a closer view.)

On the mat board, I roughed in the highlights with my White pencil.

Step 3: Using your Dark Umber, begin putting the darkest area of shadow directly beneath the apple.

Step 4: Fill in the rest of the shadow, but make it just slightly lighter than the area underneath the apple.

Step 5: Using Dark Brown, begin putting in the shadow on the apple. This is the first step of layering. You put all the shadows and highlights in, just like a black and white drawing. Colors come after.

Warning: Keep your strokes even and right next to each other as you shade. If you leave gaps between your pencil strokes, they will show up when you put the next layers on and it won't look as smooth.

Step 6: Finish your shading around all areas of the apple.

Step 7: Now that you have the basic shading down, we'll add the other colors (except red) seen in the apple. Don't put red down yet. Here, I added Light Umber to the lighter shaded areas, and Yellow Ochre to the yellowish areas.

Step 8: Now you're ready to work in the red. The main color should be almost your final step. As you lay in in, the other colors you put before will tint the red shade, showing shadow and variation of color. I put the first layer in lightly, using Crimson Red.

Step 9: I continue putting the red over everything except my white highlight and stem.

Step 10: Now comes the fun part. Before, you probably weren't putting much pressure on the pencil, but now that you have a thin layer of red on, you get to go back and BURNISH the apple. You do this by adding another layer or two (or three if needed) of Crimson Red and you are putting a lot of pressure on the pencil. Burnishing mixes the red into the layers below and makes a sheen. Keep your pencil fairly sharp, and it will fill in all the little texture pockets in the paper that leave tiny white dots. Now, I'm going over every part of the apple, EXCEPT the brightest highlights. You can see the areas I left untouched below.

Warning: The paper will only hold so much pigment. When you find that it won't take any more, and you pencil is, instead, scraping OFF the layers below, you have reached your SATURATION LEVEL. That means you need to ease off the pressure just a bit.

What is neatest about this step is seeing the layers below show up through the red. Where there was no layering below, the red will be pure, like right around the highlight on the body of the apple.

Step 11: Now I go back with White and work over the highlighted spot upper left side of the apple (on the mat board, I touch up the edges on the white), then, using Cream and Yellow Ochre, I touch up the highlights to the right and below the white spot and around the stem.

Step 12: We're ready for the stem now. Using the same concept as when we started, we take Dark Umber and lay in the shadow on the right.

Step 13: Using Light Umber, we put in the midtones on the left and right sides, avoiding the highlights on the stem. Go over your shadows also, that you've already done with Dark Umber.

Step 14: Using Yellow Ochre, go over everything except your little spots of hightlight.You will get those with Cream as soon as you are finished with the Yellow Ochre.

Step 15: Now I take my Colorless Blender and soften the sides of the apple, stem and shadow so I don't have hard lines. If there are spots in my shadow, I go over the whole shadow with the colorless blender. The reason you do the whole area is because the colorless blender changes the tone a little bit and you can tell where it wasn't used.

You will use the same steps you did here on any drawing with color pencil:
1) Sketch it in
2) Lay in the shadows and highlights
3) Lay in the variations of color
4) Lay in the main color lightly
5) Burnish with the main color
6) Go back and accent your highlights, shadows, and any colors as needed
7) You're done!

Your apple will look good enough to pick up off the page and take a bite.


  1. It does look good enough to bite. :)

  2. Leisha, thanks and I'm now red-apple-less because we ate all ours. Funny thing, drawing . . . : )

  3. Is that a photo? Amazing! It really looks like the real thing!

  4. Lydia, it's amazing how burnishing the drawing makes it look like a photo. So much fun! Thank you.

  5. We had David Koch come demo for the Palette club once, and he did an apple. He did an apple with a blue light. He told us that if the light source is cool, the shadow is gonna be warm. It was so awesome. The apple was blue-green-yellow, and the shadow was red-violet, a warm red-violet.

  6. Lisa, that sounds like a great technique. Thanks for sharing it! I'm going to have to try it out.


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