The second subject for a drawing with my new panpastel and pastel pencils, is certainly a challenge… And an intriguing one! I want to try a full background with panpastel, and I have found a reference photo on – by Skeeze – that suits the purpose. A swimming otter. Whoa… Can I do that?

First, I have to choose which colour of Pastelmat paper to use. I pick a dark grey one, so any unfilled spots will be dark. As usual, I start measuring what dimensions would be ideal. I decide to draw 1,25 times as big as my iPad screen, so I can use as much of the sheet as possible. When I finally finish taping down the sheet and setting measurement marks, I find out I have been a bit too optimistic. I have only 6 mm of tape on the “curling” sides, so I have to put some extra tape over the corners. Later, during the drawing, I have to retape the sides several times. Be wiser next time.

Papier gereed voor tekenen

I start drawing the outline with a light grey pastel pencil. The whole process of measuring, taping and outlining takes two hours, so hopefully I will get better at that in the future! Then I start colouring the background with panpastel. This is working great! Since I noticed that applying the pastel too thick makes it impossible to apply a next layer, I try to rub on a very thin layer. Too thin, at least, too much rubbing, since my Sofft Tools are soon falling apart. So evidently, it is important not too use too much pressure.

The light over dark is also much easier now. Both with panpastel and pastel pencil, a stroke of a light colour shows distinctively on a darker patch. Fantastic! I fill in the whole background, with a piece of tracing paper at hand, or rather, under my hand, to keep me from smudging everything. The light at my desk is far from perfect so I keep changing the colours to more bluish or greenish or purplish… Hard to decide. The dark paper makes the colours look different from the colours I mix on my sheet of printer paper.

I’m not sure how to deal with the outlines. I wipe over them with panpastel, to make sure there are no unintended blank spots, but I’m worried it means I have to do them over again. We’ll see.

Then I go in with the pencils, yummy! Though they are far from sharp, like colour pencils would be, they are very satisfying. A very light touch of the paper leaves a little mark, like I intend to draw. I just have to be very careful to use the right ‘side’ of the pencil… if I don’t pay attention, I leave a big blunt mark at the wrong spot. But what also helps, is moving the pencil from side to side against a little piece of sandpaper to create a little sharp edge. You don’t need a full point, because just a few pencil strokes will make it blunt again.

Tekening otter 4

Then back to the otter itself: underpainting with panpastel. As you can see, I didn’t have proper lighting when taking this picture…

Tekening otter 5

I look at the reference photo a lot, since I have no clue how to draw waves or wet shiny fur! I keep analysing the colours and shapes and try to imitate them. And, the weirdest thing, when I take a quick picture of my drawing… I see it! It looks wavy and wet and shiny! This never ceases to amaze me, what looks like a few silly pencil scratches when your nose is on top of it, can look really nice if you take a step back!

Tekening otter 6

Whenever a spot looks “flat”, dark or light, I bring in a little blue, purple, green, pink or brown to make it look more lively. And I use a lot – yes, really a lot – of stump or finger to fade and soften the edges, mix the colours, or rub it into tooth of the paper.

The most satifying part is the bubble. I save it for last (well, almost, but I lose my patience), as a reward for all the hard work… 🙂 I love bubbles!

Tekening otter 7

It feels a bit strange to say, but – for the first time – I like it! It has been a challenge, and I tried to give my otter a little more colour and expression than the ref, and I think I’ve succeeded! At least, I have succeeded in having a good time, I have really enjoyed this one more than ever!

Tekening otter 8


To go to the Dutch version of this post: Tekenen met pastel (3) – Otter!