Follow Me Work





I’ve been slowly building up the color on Dean’s face. I finally got close to the intensity that I wanted to see in the third picture.  In the close up, you can also see that the color looks smoother. I was able to find a little more information on how to use a brush to blend the colors on this sanded surface.

I remember first hearing about using a brush to blend colored pencils from a Linda Lucas Hardy workshop I attended. She had developed a method called painting with a dry medium and gave workshops to teach the technique, though unfortunately it was not the workshop I took. Still she talked a bit about it and gave me some ideas.

I found some more pointers on her blog about the type of brush to use, mainly small, flat, inexpensive, hog bristle brushes trimmed down to 1/4 to 1/2 inch lengths. I bought myself some more brushes and tried it out. It worked great.

I had been using some round stencil brushes on the previous portrait I did, which was of Dean on Colourfix paper. I was able to get some good darks with the stencil brushes, but I think you get much better control with the small, flat (or “bright” ) style brushes. I found that you can really blend the colors together for a smooth, rich, more painterly look. Brush in hand, it does almost feel like you are really painting.


Rainy Day Drawing

It’s a cold rainy morning in Los Angeles and since I have the good luck to be home today it seemed the perfect day for a little drawing in my warm and comfy art room. And I thought I ‘d talk a little about a techniques I’m using on this Sam drawing.

I’ve darkened the shadows since the last post. I also warmed up the skin toned a bit. But mostly at this stage, I want to pass on something  I learned in an art class some years ago on how to easily get dark tones on this type of paper. As I mentioned  before, the paper is an 12 x 18  sheet of Canson mi-tienes. I’m not 100% positive but I’m pretty sure the color is Moonstone and I’m working on the smooth side which I much prefer over the textured side.

The trick is to use graded grey toned art markers to put in varying dark shades before applying the colored pencil. This is what I did for the dark shadow behind his right shoulder.  I am using an assortment of warm grey colors in 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% intensities with the warm black color as the darkest tone.

These Prismacolor markers have two tips, one broad and one fine. The broad tip is the only one I use here since the idea is to lay down covering color in fairly large areas.

I started with the warm black in the lowest portion and then graduated to the lightest markers toward the top. The idea is to work quickly laying down the darker color and then using the next lighter color to blend the edges and continue laying color while the first application is not dry yet. This gets you a fairly smooth transition of color with no obvious banding. The good thing is that even if your application of color is not so even (like mine) you can totally smooth it out when you apply the colored pencil on top.

In the above picture I have already applied black pencil over the bottom area and evened out the color here. If I was really confident I could have gone through the whole image and made a grisaille rendering with the just the markers first, but that would mean I had to have a lot of things figured out already, like where exactly the light source is coming from and how dark the whole thing is going to get. For now I would rather do it bit by bit and try to figure things out as I go.

I haven’t really used the markers on his face, just a few strokes here and there in the shadows of the hair. Again it’s mostly because I’m not sure how dark I’m going to go on his face. One more thing to mention is that I’m using the warm greys and black here because the paper color is a warm grey tone so it’s a good match. Prismacolor also has markers of graduated cool grey tones and a cool black that might match other paper tones better.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to many relaxing hours of working on this. One thing about working with colored pencil is that you can almost get this zen thing going once you’re in the flow. With your favorite music playing in  the background, building up the color with your barely-there pencil strokes, not really dwelling on fact that you need to do about a million and one more before you finish. There is not really anything else  I’d rather be doing on a rainy Monday.

Pensive Sam

Here is a new distraction to keep me from finishing the Dean portrait . Not really, I’m just tired of Dean’s face and needed a Sammy break. Actually Dean is almost done. I’m just working on adding a few more highlights to the million that are already on his jacket and then I’ll be ready to sign it. Then I can put it in the closet and not look at it in six months. Just kidding, what I actually want to do is finish it and make prints in time for the LA Supernatural con next month. That way I can get one autographed and give some away to people who would like a copy.

But back to Sam. I was thinking it would be nice to try something on plain old canson paper and so started looking through my Sam photos for something to spark my imagination. I found a great close up shot of his face, very dark and moody and thought it would be great to try it on a darker toned paper.  I lined up some other reference photos and came up with digital collage of body parts and faces that allowed me to create the sketch for this.


It’s coming out better than expected even though I broke one of my own rules by embarking on this project without having a good reference image for his face. The picture that captured my imagination is great, but unfortunately rather low res and missing some vital information like where exactly his right eye is situated and where the top of his head ends. But being forever optimistic I figured my own version could just reproduce those dark shadows and extrapolate (i.e., make a wild guess about) everything else.


I took another picture from my files that I liked for the body,…….


……… did some cutting and pasting in Photoshop, stretched and distorted things a bit and came up with my sketch.


You will quickly notice he does not have a right eye. My powers of extrapolation failed me. I was able to complete the head contour but every attempt to draw in an eye were pretty ghastly. I resolved to put in a big old dark shadow there.

The funny thing was when I started putting in the colors on the paper and working the shadows  I was able to get a much better feel for where the eye should be. I took my Sam reference and adjusted the levels down in Photoshop until I was at least able to discern some eye shaped blobs down deep in the bigger shadowy blob. This helped me feel my way to drawing in a more believable eye shape there. Who knows, if I am able to get the whole drawing as dark as I would like to, I may end up darkening the left eye out just like in the reference. But at least I now have the option to have a semi believable shadowy eye there in case I don’t.


The paper is an 18 x 12  brownish grey toned Canson paper. Since it is 12 inches wide I was able to print my sketch directly onto the paper with my large format Epson printer. I printed the line drawing in draft mode, and with the opacity down to 30% in Photoshop. It gave me a line I could clearly see but that won’t be too difficult to cover up with the colored pencils.

Sam or Samantha?

I’m still here, just really busy at work. I haven’t forsaken Dean’s portrait, just working on it at a snail’s pace. I think part of the reason I’ve been so slow is that I’m slogging through the background work and it’s pretty boring. I keep getting side tracked when I have time. Instead of grabbing my colored pencils, I find myself sketching Winchesters from the television or promo pics. Or playing with my wacom tablet and trying to learn how to paint in a digital medium. It is addicting.

I have to admit that one of these side projects has been getting most of my free time lately. I was trolling [info]spnroundtable the other day and came across one of the many and varied theme recs that they post now and again. Not all of the themes are my cup of tea, but I can usually find a link or two to some great stories that are just my speed. In the midst of one of the  roundup posts, the genderswap theme caught my eye. To tell the truth, genderswap stories are not my favorite, since for the  most part they are wincesty and I still shy away from the whole wincest thing. But I was looking through the recs anyway, 😀 ,which were for art as well as fanfiction. The renditions of Sam as a girl just kind of rooted their way into some deep part of my brain and I couldn’t shake the idea of trying to draw Sam as a girl myself. I know, I am strange.
Mostly I wondered if it was possible to draw a Sam that was for all intents and purposes a girl, but still be recognizable as Sam.  I started off with a sketch of our very masculine and handsome Sam and then started playing with the proportions of his features and the shape of his face. Sometime later, after a lot of erasing and redrawing and then painting ( All this done very conveniently with my wacom tablet.), I realized that maybe I had a recognizable Samantha after all. Here is what I have so far.


It’s not done by any means, in fact this is just a portion of the whole image. I am really happy with some of my progress on it . I finally got something semi realistic looking out of my digital pen and tablet. I’ve been reading digital painting books and looking for painting tutorials on the web. I  still have tons to learn but at least I finally got my feet wet. I spent about a week just trying to figure out how to do his, …I mean her hair. Not great yet, but not bad.

This picture is going to go through a lot of changes yet. It’s my learning piece. But now to the most important question of all. Does it look like a female Sam to anyone else but me?

Mostly Background Work

Crawling along here with some work on the background. In this first picture I’ve barely started to lay some color on the far left background area. It’s mostly white, light greys and blues. Also here you can see where I removed some of the dark color just to the right of Dean’s face. I decided that the color here was too dark and distracting. Eventually I will cover all this area with lighter, fuzzy color too.


I’ve also done a little work on the jacket zipper on the right side. It will be a challenge to see if I can get it to look like bits of glinting metal.  It needs work, but it’s a good enough start.


The next series of pictures captures different stages of background work on the left side. I am laying layers of colors here, until the paper is totally obscured. I also did just a little work on the left side of his jacket.




There is still some work to do on this background. I am thinking of adding a little more blue toward the top, but it’s almost done. Next I will concentrate on finishing the left side of his jacket.

I am finishing the areas on the left side from top to bottom, to avoid having to work with my right arm over finished areas of the paper. Colored pencil doesn’t smear too badly, but it can happen. At this point I can still rest my elbow on the right side of the paper so that my forearm clears the middle area while applying color to the left side.

Of course I can also turn the whole piece upside down or work sideways to avoid the finished areas, but I always find myself unconsciously coming back to the normal orientation, with my arm laying across some of the dark colors. I also have tried to placed a clean sheet of paper between my arm and the paper, but for the most part it usually ends up forgotten somewhere. Fortunately I haven’t messed anything up yet.

Here is a close up look at his jacket. I’m trying to keep the edge looking crisp and dark against the background.


This has been my progress over the last few weeks. I’m moving slowly, but I’ll get there.

Dean Update

Most of the new work is on his hair and background around his head. I also built up the colors on his ears.


There were a lot of colors and layering involved in getting his hair to this stage. Below is an interim shot when I was still building up the colors. You could still see a lot of the paper and overall his hair color was still too light. I thought about it a while, wondering what to do to get the right look.


I knew I had to darken his hair color in general so I applied a light layer of medium brown over everything on the top of his head. Then I went in and darkened the shadow areas even more trying to cover the paper more completely. Once the darkest darks were in, I put some of the highlights back in on top of them. I repeated this process a few times, putting down medium and dark colors and them coming back to add highlights as needed.

His hair is a dark blonde, but seems to go quite lighter around his temples and face, and that is what I tried to capture.

My initial idea of defining the highlighted areas and then working the mediums and darks around them didn’t work out too well. Fortunately putting highlights in over the darks works on this paper. Adding highlights as pencil strokes over the dark colors made them look more natural, the pencil lines looking more like hair than when I tried to work around light areas.

Here is a close up of the finished hair.


You can also see here how I defined the edges of his head against the soft background a lot more.The secret is that when the background color shifts to a light color, then the edges of your foreground object should shift to dark and vice versa. If you notice the top of his head stands out against the lighter background while the side are light against the dark, with some shifts back and forth in between. Another trick which works in this case is to make the foreground object edges as crisp as possible against the diffused backdrop.

Since I worked on his right ear, you can really tell that the color is pinkier than his cheek area, in other words more what like his finished skin tone should be. The good thing is that now I can get back to work on his face and make that happen!

4th of July Update I


It’s just a little update.

I darkened the blues for his jacket and shirt.. I’m definitely using the bristle brush here to spread the colored pencil down into all the nooks and crannies of the paper. The blues are similar to each other in the reference picture but  I think I will have to differentiate them more in this portrait. I also put a little more color in the background to see how the brown of the tree looks next to the blues.

I darkened the shadow under his chin a little too.

Starting a Dean Portrait

I’ve been doing sketches of Dean, but somehow he seems harder to draw. I’m not sure why because if anything, his looks are more classically proportioned than Sam’s. Maybe it’s the combination of those big round eyes and square jaw, but somehow my sketches of him always end up looking kind of goofy. What I finally did was find a really good reference picture, one of those where you can see the pores on their skin and follow it exactly.

This is what has come of that so far.


I’m sure people will recognize which publicity still I’m using for my reference. It’s from the scarecrow episode so Dean’s face actually shows bruises on his left eye. I will leave out the bruises as well as the scarecrow lurking around in the background.

I have just started applying the colored pencils. The paper is a 13 x 20 inch piece of sand toned Colourfix paper. I took a shortcut and scanned my original sketch, sized it and then printed it to the paper with my large format Epson printer. I dialed down the opacity of the image to 40% in Photoshop and set the print job to draft mode. It sure made transferring the drawing to my paper a breeze.

Here is a close up of the small bit I’ve done so far.


There’s a lot of work to be done here still. I need to put eyelashes on his other eye and add many more layers of color. I think with this paper tone it will be much easier to get a natural skin tone compared to the grey Ampersand board I used with the Sam drawing.

One thing to mention is that because I did print the sketch onto the paper the reference lines are harder to cover up than if I had used a more traditional method of transferring the sketch. Next time I will try bringing the opacity down even more when printing.

I have to confess that I was going to experiment with the Faber_Castell Polychromo colored pencils on this piece. They are oil based colored pencil as opposed to the wax-based Prismacolors. Unfortunately I quickly discovered that the color was much less opaque and it was almost impossible to cover my reference lines. Too bad, because they blended even more beautifully than the Prismacolors and had a wonderful soft sheen to them. I am definitely going to try them again for another project.

This is what the Polychromo start on this piece looked like.


Fortunately this paper is so resilient I was able to use a stiff brush to remove most of the color and then finished cleaning it up with my electric eraser. I was then able to make a new start with the Prismacolors.

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