Layering is the absolute fundamental skill when it comes to coloured pencil work and is what makes really dynamic pieces of art.
Layering is so essential, especially if you are wanting to create incredible, hyper realistic portraits. Layering and coloured pencil go hand in hand and it’s so fun to do.
There are 3 important things to remember when you’re adding your layers:
KEEP YOUR PENCIL SHARP
A sharp pencil really helps to keep a smooth, even lay down of colour. The point of your pencil can get into all the valleys of your paper whilst sharp which leads to that smoothness and also the vibrancy of the colour. There are some cases when a blunt pencil can be handy, for example base layers or glazing, but generally it’s good practice to keep your pencil nice and sharp. A sharp pencil is also handy when it comes to adding fine, sharp details as again, the point can get right into the valleys of your paper.
USE LIGHT PRESSURE
Using light, even pressure is absolutely essential! When you use light pressure, you limit the damage you can do to your paper and you’ll find that you can add so many more layers down and build that depth by keeping your layers feather light.
A really handy way to limit the pressure through your pencil is to hold it quite close towards the end (the opposite end to the point) and at a slight angle. This might seem a little unnatural, but after multiple hours of work, you’ll find your hand automatically holds your pencil in this manner when you’re layering. Holding the pencil quite far back loosens the control which gives you that light pressure.
There are some cases when you can increase the pressure on your pencil and I talk about that in the Blending and Burnishing topics.
The direction in which you layer is very important, especially if you’re drawing fur or feathers. When drawing something with fur, feathers or hair, it’s really important to study your reference photo and work in the direction that the fur/hair/feathers are going in order to maintain a natural look. Keep all your layers working in the same directions as what you see on your reference – even those very first base layers!