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5 Drawing Ideas for Colored Pencils that I Love

Hey, fellow art enthusiasts! Recently, I finally convinced myself to step outside the comfort of graphite and learn to draw with colored pencils (it was about time 😂).

After a long time, I’m having so much fun drawing, and I decided to write this post to share with you five of my favorite colored pencil drawing ideas along with some of my inspirations and tips. ✏️

5. Miniature Portrait Studies.

As someone who has always been fond of drawing faces, I have fallen in love creating tiny portraits of with colored pencils of the size of my thumb. What I appreciate about drawing with colored pencils is that it dorces you into a more loose art style because this medium is inherently less precise compared to graphite which I’m more accustomed to. Or maybe it’s just that I’m not skilled enough to draw with colored pencils with more precision yet. 🙈

Anyways, I’m still refining my process with this medium, and I really liked this tutorial by Chris Hong on drawing portraits with colored pencils, which I suggest you check out if you’re interested.

4. Sculpture studies with a limited palette

If, like me, you’re relatively new to drawing with colored pencils and a bit overwhelmed by the potential color combinations, you’ll enjoy drawing sculptures because it allows you to explore this medium with minimal colors.

What I like to do is select two colors: 1. a darker, desaturated, and opaque color for the shadows and midtones, and 2. a brighter/more transparent color to convey the more saturated sections of the drawing.

Together with the white background of the paper to convey the base color of the sculpture, and the variations from altering the pressure with which you apply the two colors, this gives you a lot of room to explore the medium without getting overwhelmed with too many color options as a beginner.

3 Monocolored anatomy sketches

Lately, I have been obsessed with the gorgeous anatomy sketches by Michael Hampton from his book Figure Drawing: Design and Invention (a great read, by the way) done in a single color (usually magenta), and I have been trying to replicate that sort of minimal aesthetic in my anatomy studies (which admittedly look quite mediocre in comparison 🙈).

To create darker values, you simply press the colored pencil harder against the paper instead of opting for a darker color. One variation of this style is to add a splash of graphite to contrast the dominant color, which can also help you draw some of the really dark shadows.

2 Botanical drawings of dried plants

While I mostly love drawing people, I have always been attracted to the earthy hues of dried leaves, flowers, and plants, and I think they make a really interesting study for colored drawings.

What I love about botanical drawings is that each type of plant, leaf, or flower has a unique construction, which forces you to think about how you want to organize the organic shapes and forms in your drawing. And it’s also really relaxing to draw these, especially if you muster some strength to get off your couch and scavenge samples for your references out in the nature.

1 Fashion sketches

Doing fashion sketches with colored pencils allows you to iterate quickly and experiment with a bunch of different color combinations, styles, and textures without investing too much effort before creating more polished illustrations with watercolor or gouache.

I’ll be adding more ideas to this post over the next few months as I gain more experience. If you love sketching something in particular with colored pencils, do let me know in the comments below. Happy drawing! ✏️