Finishing my Coloured Pencil Sketchbook

May 6, 2022 | 15 Comments

Well, I did it – I completed an entire sketchbook without any paint! 🙂

Watercolour is still my favourite medium (by far!) but it’s been really great to have a significant break from it.

I’ve absolutely loved using coloured pencils (CPs) during the past month and plan to continue to use them in my everyday sketching. There are still some CP techniques that I haven’t fully explored!

Going forward I think that I’ll continue to use them for complex scenes when I don’t feel like getting my paints out, or when the drying time of the paint might be an issue. I’m also looking forward to combining them with watercolour for details and texture  (both on top of washes and also underneath them!). See here for some experiments last year using CP as a resist under watercolour.

In the last two weeks…

I’ve been trying to do more sketches without ink during the past two weeks. Not all of them have been totally successful but I know that it’s only a matter of time until I develop an approach which will produce more consistent results.

I’ve experimented with heavier pressure. BTW drawing every brick is so out of character, isn’t it? 🙂

And I have been using lots of layers. On this occasion, I started with a background of pale yellow but wasn’t happy with the sketch until I added a layer of Ultramarine blue lines over the finished sketch. Those final blue lines certainly add something special and I want to explore further this concept (of using contrasting coloured outlines).

Over the last few weeks, I’ve continued to sketch more scenes that I normally wouldn’t bother to record. This is a view of Military Road in Mosman after an appointment.

Another really quick loose sketch when visiting my storage unit on a wet Saturday morning.

And a third ‘boring’ sketch that I really enjoyed doing in CPs – a local construction site that now blocks the sun from one of my morning sketching spots.

These three sketches were definitely quicker to do in CPs but in general, I think that CP is slower than ink and wash.

However, because it’s so easy to come back to a CP sketch at a later time and add layers to it, I’ve been finding that I’m doing more work back home. As a result, I’m not spending significantly longer periods of time sketching on location – it’s just that my sketches are less complete.

For example, this sketch done at Lane Cove National Park took about 25 minutes (very comparable to a similar ink and wash sketch). I knew that the composition wasn’t quite right – the space wasn’t reading properly.

So later that evening I extended the dark areas and added a little more detail to the right side of the page so that the road and the background bush (forest) highlights the picnic area in the foreground.

I have lots more thoughts floating in my head about my CP adventure, but I’ll leave these for another occasion. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next two weeks as I move back to watercolour!

Okay… so here are all the double-spreads from the last two weeks… and you will notice a lot of ‘contained compositions’ as I continue to revisit through the concepts from my Sketchbook Design course.



And finally this afternoon….

I tried to review and reduce my current CP selection… but it’s just too hard. I’m attached to all of these colours.

And then I did this sketch which means a sketching trip is around the corner. In fact, I have to go now and pack!

Thanks so much for coming on this CP adventure with me!


  • Louise Cuff says:

    Loved seeing this Liz. An inspiring take on colored pencil sketching. Thanks!

  • Dawn Holder says:

    I have loved seeing your colored pencil adventures. Thanks for sharing.

  • Annette Huppatz says:

    I’ve really enjoyed your colour pencil sketches, looking forward to seeing how you incorperate them into your watercolour sketches. Water colours and pencils really are peaches and cream to me.

  • Alexandra sirugue-macleod says:

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you for sharing yourCP adventure and beautiful sketches with us! Truly enjoyed each and everyone!!

  • Laurence says:

    Thank you Liz for all this information about colored pencils. I can’t wait to follow your journey, so inspiring!
    Wonderful discoveries to you 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    I already have a small stockpile of Albrecht-Durer WCPs, so I can’t go down this path, LOL. Beautiful sketches Liz! Thank you for sharing. I think you may need to add a Coloured Pencils block/section to your site!

    • Stephanie says:

      oops, there already is a section for coloured pencils ;O)

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Stephanie! and yes, already a CP tag. I was using them last year for a bit!!! Lots more articles with that tag in the future too!

  • To tell the truth, I fall in love with painting and I admire people who are engaged in this kind of activity and create such wonderful pieces of art. I can say that all your drawings have a highlight and stand out with their original concept. I really like your own style of painting because I think that it adds a special charm to your works and it helps people look at ordinary things from a different angle. It is so cool that you decided to dilute your water color paintings with colored pencils because I think that it is important to experiment in your creativity and try something new, getting away from stability. I think that you have mastered pencil technique to a great extent and, without any doubts, you will develop your skills more and more, becoming a true professional in it. I think that if you decide to combine colored pencils with watercolour, it will be a perfect creative solution.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Marina for your lovely comment. I’m having a lot of fun combining CP with watercolour – not sure where it will go long term, but super exciting at the moment!

Leave a Reply