Progress on my cicada! I thought this would be a good stage to break down because the piece goes through such a wild transformation. At this stage I am building up the black of the cicada’s exoskeleton, and I was always taught, no matter what medium I’m working in, never to go straight for the black paint or pencil or whatever. Out-of-the-box-black tends to be a very flat color and you can add a lot of depth by blending your own. In this particular case I kind of compromised. I’m using prismacolor pencils.

  1. With the highlights and reflections already laid in in white pencil, at this stage I use indanthrone blue for the very darkest areas. Indanthrone is an intense color: on its own it’s almost black; combined with other darks it makes a nice rich black; but if you let it mix with white pencil it will become the craziest, brightest blue that cannot be erased.
  2. Laying cadmium orange hue over the blue! At this stage I got really nervous because seriously look at that crap, it looks like I ruined it. But orange and blue are color complements so with a bit more fudging they should make the color I’m going for…
  3. That photo doesn’t really show it, but the blue and orange made a color a little closer to green than I wanted, so I added sepia, a slightly reddish brown (red to counteract the green, color complements again).
  4. And then finally plain old black over the whole thing. It was time-consuming but the end result is SO much richer and more complex than just what a black pencil by itself could accomplish.

Thanks for watching!

cicada tutorial colored pencil scientific illustration artists on tumblr illustrators on tumblr illustration

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