Soft pastels are my personal favorite as they are vivid, vibrant and can be used to achieve very dreamy effect in illustrations. I mainly work on children book illustrations and love to keep it simple with vivid colors. Here I am using Camel soft pastels- 20 shades in combination with Mungyo semi hard pastels- assorted 12 colors and Cretacolor pastel pencils- 12 colors.
To demonstrate how to use soft pastels, I have decided to draw a little girl who is sleeping and her teddy is also dozing off besides her. I made a very rough sketched outline of the characters on cream tinted paper.
Generally I prefer to start with coloring the face first using light brown to add shades, as the base paper is creamy- flesh tinted. Draw lines carefully using tip of the pastel and blending the color using paper stump to achieve desired gradation of color.
In case of pastels you have to be careful about how much pressure to apply on pastel while coloring. Same color stick can be used to achieve different hues of color just varying the pressure. For light colors use less pressure and then blend, similarly for intense and darker colors apply more pressure.
Add color to the secondary details like pillow starting from drawing outline first to avoid smudging of the edges while blending.
Soft pastel creates lots of color dust that can also be used for gradation while blending.
Use feathered strokes to draw pajama’s texture by leaving black space for addition of highlights later. Blend the highlight using paper stump repeating the same procedure to color the whole pajama suit.
For teddy bear apply light brown first and then add shades using darker brown. While coloring always apply lighter color first and then overlay with darker shades to avoid soiling of the pastels.
Adding more texture and highlights to the pajama suit using pastel pencils as they have fine tip that produces sharp lines.
Here I am using paper stumps for blending because it is convenient for blending in narrow spaces.
To color the hair I am again using feathered strokes along with overlaying of different shades of browns and black.
Now add facial details very carefully like eyes, eye lashes, nose and mouth. You have to be extremely careful while drawing such important details, as there is no ERASE option available while using this medium.
Add shades to the pillow using darker Blue. Here I am using cross hatching technique to achieve rough cloth texture.
Option of Erasing is not really possible while using soft pastel, as it is pure form of color pigment and colors the surface. But clay eraser can be used to lift small quantity of pigments. Clay eraser has unique quality and can be shaped into small / broad tip to lift color while adding highlights!
Now this illustration is only half complete and need addition of more details and colors. Soft pastels create a huge amount of color dust specially after blending. So keep the drawing and desk clean by blowing or tapping the dust from the paper to avoid muddy colors as well as coughing.
I started coloring the background and realised that it will get smudged with my hand while adding more details. So I preffer to add backgrounds in the end.
As I always say that the medium itself suggests you the new techniques as well as gives new ideas to make the drawing more interesting!
Here I am adding one more pillow to balance the composition. Also using finger to blend the color wich gives diferent texture and intensity of color compared to paper stump.
As almost all the coloring part is done I am completing the background using fingers to blend. Blending with fingers can only be used for coloring larger areas.
Also don’t forget to clean your hands time to time to avoide soiling the colors. Best way is to keep a towel or wet tissue papers near by.
After using perticular color, clean it and keep it in the cushioned box safely to avoide unnecessary breaking of pastels.
Now adding further shades and highlight to the props in the drawings for realistic feel.
Use pastel pencils to add intricate details, lines and outlines as it has sharp tip that gives firm lines.
I have already completed base layer of the teddy bear, now overlaying with dark brown. Here I am using small-feathered strokes to draw fur like texture with different shades of brown.
Add shades and shadows using pastel pencils to enhance the features that give additional depth to the drawing.
Completing the drawing by adding small motifs of leafs on the bed spread in the background of the characters.
As an artist always feel proud to add your signature to the artwork!
After completing the illustration, keep all the colors neatly in their respective boxes and clean the desk properly. Also clean all the tools and equipments to keep them ready for future use.
Apply fixative to protect the drawing from smudging or fading. There are many types of fixatives available in market but use a good quality of fixative as it might change intensity of the colors after spraying.
Before using directly on the drawing, try spraying it on a sample colored piece of paper. Also don’t forget to read directions written on the bottle of fixative and follow the instructions!
‘Sleep is on the way’_A3_soft pastel on tinted paper