Mastering Color and Underpainting with Colored Pencils

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ArleneShellImageValues are as important as color when creating realistic colored pencil drawings. The traditional way to achieve a dark shadow is to add black. However, another way to achieve richer shadows is to add the complementary color instead of black. Underpainting with complements was highlighted in Arlene Steinberg’s book Masterful Color. In this class, you will learn how rich, vibrant color and values can be achieved with colored pencils.

Start Date:

February 5, 2013

Course Length:

4 weeks




Arlene Steinberg (bio)

Course Materials:

View Course Schedule


What You’ll Learn:

  • Students will learn how to create an underpainting that will give a “roadmap” to creating a finished drawing
  • They will learn the best ways to layer and mix color to achieve realistic results and how using complements can create richer values
  • They will start by creating a green underpainting that will become a red tomato and from there, progress into creating grays without gray pencils and learning and how to see and draw all the colors in white objects.
  • The class will finish off by learning about glass and reflections.

Who should take this course:

  • Artists with a beginning knowledge of colored pencil drawing techniques
  • Experienced colored pencil artists who want to expand and learn new techniques


  • Wax-based colored pencils
  • Colorless blender pencils
  • Stonehenge paper or hot press watercolor paper.
  • Electric pencil sharpener
  • Kneaded eraser or mounting putty
  • Cotton makeup pads
  • Pencil lengtheners
  • Drawing board
  • Desk brush or Swifter duster
  • Light source


Course Syllabus:

Lesson 1:

Reading Assignment:

  • Read Chapters 1 and 3 in Masterful Color by Arlene Steinberg.

Homework Assignment:

  • Chapter 4; Underpainting for Reds (page 50)

Session Two:

Reading Assignment:

  • Browse through the rest of Chapter 4 in Masterful Color by Arlene Steinberg.

Homework Assignment:

  • Grays Without Gray Pencils (page 71) (Extra; Find a gray object and draw it without using gray pencils)

Session Three:

Reading Assignment:

  • Read Chapter 2 in Masterful Color by Arlene Steinberg.

Homework Assignment:

  • Colorful Whites and Blacks (page 66)

Session Four:

Reading Assignment:

  • Read Chapter 7 in Masterful Color by Arlene Steinberg.

Homework Assignment:

  • Complete the Marbles exercise

All assignments should be scanned, or photographed at full size, at 72 dpi or better, jpeg.

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