Sketching and Planning Using Colored Pencil on Drafting Film

As the SOAR Colored Pencil Workshop Coordinator I am motivated to complete a few colored pencil paintings before the May 4-5 SOAR Workshop in Vancouver, Washington.

I loved my recent acrylic painting "Life As A Mermaid" so much that I decided to revisit her to create a newer version in colored pencil on drafting film.

The artists on the Facebook Group, Artworks on Drafting Film, encouraged me with reminders that artists have historically repeated subjects in various paintings. It  made perfect sense now because all composition elements were already decided - just trace and color, right?  However, the Group warned me to be very thoughtful and prepared before I began on my final composition. What could go wrong?

Fortunately, I did not learn any new lessons on the final composition because I took the more experienced artists' advice and worked on a planning piece. That took discipline. I really just wanted to dive in and get the final painting  DONE. Don't skip the mindful planning.

I already had a 4-inch by 6-inch piece started. Now that piece became my planning piece.

The first item I wanted to explore was a more anatomically correct rendering of the mermaid's upper body, hands and posture. That took all day and made me grateful I followed the Group's advice about not working on my final copy surface. I also experienced the benefits of working on film.

To remind you, I do not have a reference photo for this painting. Any of the mermaid's anatomy has been a research project and combination of features discovered in publications and online. Sometimes I used myself as model, but it is not an easy task to draw your hands while posing.

The newer mermaid might have been a long, earned, improvement in technicalities, but I decided I preferred the more emotional rendering of the original for this final copy version. I still have more planning to do in other areas of the painting. I will continue to work on this small drafting film sample.

Besides deciding on my final composition elements, I also learned that drafting film is a forgiving, formidable surface to sketch. try colors, and erase, erase, and erase on without any damage to the surface.

In the attached photos you can see where the left image has the word "erase" in the sentence and where it has been removed on the right hand image leaving no trace of the word. I do see a faint smudge in the upper left area, but that could have easily been erased too if I had noticed before I wrote this post.

You can also see the bright yellow-green showing through from the back. Being able to paint on the front and the back of the film increases hue saturation, layering opportunities, adds a 3-d affect, and provides a consistent smooth application of paint on this undercoat.

At the end of my planning, which is not complete yet,  I expect to have a 4-inch by 6-inch completed painting that I can also display in addition to the final 11-inch by 14-inch painting that I am planning.

I recommend you try working on 2-sided matte drafting film with colored pencils and even add include other other mediums such as ink, pastel and acrylic to your own work.