Hi, artists of all ages! I said a little while ago that I might be doing more crafts-focused posts, and this is the first of them. You may recall (I mentioned it in my post on rockslide-dodging paleontologist Mary Anning) that we have a great kids' guide to drawing dinosaurs: Ready, Set, Draw…Dinosaurs!
It's specifically designed for young artists, but I think it's a pretty excellent introduction to drawing dinosaurs for dino-fans of any age.* Artist Kerren Barbas Steckler has given ultra-simple visual step-by-step instructions for drawing 18 dinos (and dino-proximates; see footnote). They're easy to follow, and the results are most fierce.
Today, I thought I'd give a quick colored pencil demonstration for anyone who's mastered the dino outlines and wants to get a little fancy. Detailed colored pencil drawing may seem a bit intimidating at first (no erasing? What?!), but all it takes is a little practice, and once you begin to get the hang of it, it's tons of fun.
We'll be drawing velociraptor today! Despite the reputation a certain popular dinosaur movie gave raptors, they weren't (evidence suggests) particularly diabolical fiends. Nor were they especially large. They were, in fact, about the size of a turkey. A really scary turkey. Our drawing of velociraptor is feather-free, but recent evidence suggests they may have been feathered.
Follow along to draw velociraptor, or pick another dinosaur from the book if you have it, and use the suggestions here to create your own many-colored dino!
1. To start, pick a very light colored pencil (I used pale green here), and sketch the outline of your dinosaur. Follow the book, copy my sketch, or do your own sketch–whatever makes you happy! You may find it to lightly draw a sort of "stick figure" version of your dinosaur first.
2. Once you've outlined your dinosaur, lightly sketch in details like eyes, claws, stripes, and teeth. Give your dino a personality. My velociraptor is definitely grouchy. Or maybe just in need of a snack. Perhaps I shouldn't have my hand so close to her jaws…
3. Now the fun starts: shading! Pick a color that's slightly darker than the color you used to outline your dino, but is still pretty light. I used a dark yellow. The color doesn't matter too much, as you'll be coloring over it. Press lightly for this step. Don't worry about being super-realistic here–we're drawing dinosaurs for fun, after all. Put a little shadow below your dinosaur's jaw, along the bottom of its neck, on the bottom of its stomach and tail, and on one side of each of its arms and/or legs.
4. Time to start adding more color! Pick five or six colors, including at least one very light color and one very dark color. I find it's helpful to choose a pair of complementary colors (opposite colors; see the link for details) like blue and orange or purple and yellow, and use shades of one color for light areas, and the other color for dark areas. In this drawing, I am using yellow for light areas, and purple for dark areas. If there are any areas that you want to be a particular color, add that color lightly now so you don't forget. (I did that with the light purple stripes.) Then, pick a dark-colored pencil and shade over where you put your shading earlier.
5. Now, choose your darkest pencil and make sure it's sharp. Fill in a few very small areas, like your dinosaur's eye, its nostril, the bottoms of its claws, and the backs of its teeth, that you want to be very dark. It's okay to press hard when you fill these areas in, in order to get the color really dark–you won't be layering any more color over these small areas. You can also make some of the dark areas of shading a little darker, if you like.
6. Very lightly fill in your dinosaur's body with your light color. (I used yellow.) Then, with a medium shade of your dark color (I used light purple), lightly shade around your areas of dark shading. Add some new shading as well, if you wish. Tip: Press lightly until you're sure you like how something you've shaded looks. You can't really erase colored pencils very well, especially once you've started layering colors, but you can make things less noticeable and blend in colors you don't like if you put them down lightly.
7. Color in your dinosaur fully as you started to do in step 6, layering one color over another so that they blend in places, but making sure to keep your light areas light and your dark areas dark. If you're using complementary colors, you'll notice that layering your colors over one another will sometimes make an area appear brown or grey, but that you can still see traces of both original colors in the brown or grey color. Cool, huh? I think this is much more interesting than just using a brown or grey pencil! Feel free to fill in your solid-colored areas (like the light purple stripes on my dino's back) in this step.
8. Add in any finishing touches (I put in some lines on my velociraptor's brow ridge), and voilà! You've drawn a full-color dinosaur!
FYI, I used a Peter Pauper Sketchbook here for the first time, and found (disclosure of bias self-evident) that the paper was quite good for colored pencil drawings. It's thick and sturdy (a necessity if you don't want to see an imprint of your drawing through half the pad, or worse, risk tearing the paper by pressing too hard), and just a tiny bit textured, so it picks up color nicely and you can get a lot of rich layering in before it's saturated.
*I should note, with apologies to anyone irked by this usage, that the word "dinosaur" in this and any other blog posts on the subject will sometimes be used according to its popular definition, not its scientific (i.e., actually accurate) one. So when animals such as ichthyosaur and archaeopteryx, despite not really being dinosaurs, are referred to under the dinosaur heading, I'm invoking the term as it's often used in popular culture: to mean "non-mammalian animal that had its heyday in the Mesozoic Era."