Two weeks of coloured pencil sketching

April 27, 2022 | 9 Comments

The process of catching up begins 🙂

This article contains all of my sketchbook pages from the past two weeks (with the exception of sketches from two outings that I will share on Friday).

There is no watercolour paint on these pages – simply ink and coloured pencils! As mentioned in Monday’s article I’m not really missing watercolour although I will be very happy to paint again once I’ve finished this 8×10″ softcover Alpha (the estimated time of completion is the end of next week).

Before sharing my pages here are a few thoughts I have at the moment regarding coloured pencils vs watercolour:

  • I’m loving the beautiful vibrant colours of coloured pencils and especially the creamy opaqueness of pastel colours.
  • I love the way you can layer multiple colours and not end up with mud!
  • Pencils are generally easier to use on location – no setup time and it’s really convenient to simply pull out a few pencils and start adding colour immediately.
  • The downsides are that it’s harder to find the colour I want (especially when the pencil is getting short) and there is a limit to how many pencils I can hold in my hand at the same time! 🙂
  • It’s nice to have a break from worrying about water containers and whether the water in them is clean.
  • When someone stops to chat with me, I don’t have to worry about ruining a wash or losing an important moment for working wet-in-wet.
  • I’m finding that I don’t always finish my sketches on location. Since it’s easy to continue working on a piece at a later date, I’m stopping earlier than normally I would with paint.
  • I am missing watercolour granulation and particularly my usual glowing shadow washes when I drop a little warm paint into a grey wash. I haven’t yet found a coloured pencil combo that I’m happy with.
  • As mentioned in previous articles (here and here) coloured pencils seem best suited for complex scenes with lots of different colours or subject matter with texture and/or pattern.
  • I love having zero buckling in my book!
  • I’m really looking forward to combining coloured pencils and watercolour in the one sketch once my self-imposed restriction for this particular sketchbook is over!

As well as exploring different ways of using coloured pencils, I’ve also been intentionally incorporating various elements in my pages as part of Lesson 1 of Sketchbook Design which I’m revisiting at the moment. So you will see headings, borders, colour blocks, maps, charts and a little collage on these pages!

So they all are…


You’ve seen these sketches before here and here, but here’s the full spread.

Lane Cove sketch that I really enjoyed!

Wonky sketch due to lack of support for the cover of this softcover book.

Morning Village Green sketch as discussed previously here.

Roseville Bridge from Echo Point Park, a few green swatches and finally getting around to changing a timer and my bedside alarm (over a week after daylight savings ended!)

Experimenting with colours, layering and burnishing without wondering about accuracy – hence my famous quote: Embrace the wonkiness.
Plus a few brushes after a big cleanup and sort of my desk.

A coloured pencil version of the green entrance door to St Albans church, a pile of erasers and a new box of Aquarius watercolours. It was a little silly to do this in coloured pencils… and just for the record I haven’t opened it yet! (How out of character is that?)

Another complex scene from Cafe Feoh and my typical blind contour during a group zoom call (now at 5am!)

Catching up with Chris Haldane for dinner and drawing a few people and empty chairs. A few more pencils and a new sharpener (T’GAAL by Kutsuwa)

Family outing: a quick sketch of the SOH before catching a ferry to Manly.

Little Manly: done while talking to my sister-in-law and watching the kids play in the sand.

Back home I did a really quick sketch of the VIllage Green and then did a fun page of the icecreams we had at the end of our outing (from photos!)

My note says: A scene without focus leads to a focus-less sketch!

Hot Cross Bun and a Palladio Palazzo that I’ve never seen before. The map highlights that I was near this building on my typical Sunday in Vicenza (online church in a park)

Two sketches that were not particularly successful. Trying to do a teacup sketch in coloured pencils with similar techniques that I use in watercolour – they don’t work! And a quick and interrupted sketch at Central Station. I had a lovely chat with Maria, an art teacher, so I didn’t mind the interruptions at all. I could have worked on both of these sketches a little more, but decided to leave them as they were.

A big outing with my brother’s family and my parents. It was impossible to sketch while in the Powerhouse Museum so I drew these cars from photos later. A map was a good way to summarise the day.

A fun day with the kids at a local park and another teapot added to my collection!

The new teapot is very small but it is perfect for getting multiple infusions out of my fancy Taiwanese Oolong tea. Another blind contour sketch and another pencil sharpener!

And another catchup with Chris and quick sketch to record the evening.

On Saturday I decided that I had to stop using ink outlines (as mentioned in Monday’s article)

FInal spread for the week includes a heavier pressure sketch and some more swatches.

It’s always great to put together a lot of pages in one article and to get a sense of how they work together as a sequence.

If you are working through Sketchbook Design at the moment, I hope that you enjoyed adding elements to your pages. And would love to hear some feedback from you in the comment section before.

Two weeks of ‘contained compositions’ coming up will be a good challenge for me!


  • Charisse Cox says:

    Hi Liz. I’m doing Sketchbook Design course now and learning so much just from Lesson 1! It’s interesting to view your pages now and pick out the elements that we have just learned, and see how you’re using them. I feel a real boost in my creativity as I sit down to mindfully compose my sketchbook pages now.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Charisse – thanks for sharing and your comment makes me so happy. Glad Sketchbook Design is boosting your creativity.

  • Sharon Nolfi says:

    I think you could replicate the look of layered watercolor washes if you blended or layered up the pencils. That said, you have a unique style using colored pencils more as quick drawing tools, and less as a means of achieving a labor-intensive painterly effect.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Sharon, yes, I’ve been wanting to exploring blending options but worry that going down a more layered approach would be too out of character. I primarily want to develop a fresh, spontaneous, loose way of using CPs.

  • Cristi says:

    Great work. I had not seen colored pencil used this way. May I know what color pencil brand you are using?

    • Andrea kine says:

      Christi, see her previous post. It has her pencils. 🙂

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Cristi – not a lot of artist use CPs in a quick and loose way. I’m testing a number of brands which I’ve listed in previous articles. No definitive recommendations as yet!

  • Abubakar Mandhiry says:

    Hi Liz, this is great work and inspiring too. I love working with colored pencils i must say that you encourage me to pick up my colored pencils and sketchbook starting doodling, ??

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