By Carrie Lewis in Art Tutorials > Drawing Tips
Do you find drawing grass to be the most challenging and time-consuming part of a landscape composition? If you’re like many colored pencil artists, getting the grass just right can be a struggle. But fear not! In this article, I will share with you my latest technique for drawing realistic grass, making the process easier and more efficient.
Step 1: Establish the Foundation
Begin by selecting two to four shades of green in various values. Sharpen each pencil to maximize precision. Start by layering the colors smoothly and evenly on the paper. Working from a reference photograph can assist in determining where the highlights and shadows should be placed.
For best results, use light to medium-light pressure. Avoid pressing too hard, as this could damage the paper’s texture and make it difficult to add additional layers of color. Aim to create three distinct sections of different values—light, medium, and dark—with minimal overlap between them.
Optional: If desired, blend this initial layer with odorless mineral spirits once completed. Remember to let the paper dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
Tip: When blending with odorless mineral spirits, use a brush and blend in the same direction as your pencil strokes. Begin blending in the lightest areas and rinse the brush between colors to avoid darkening the light areas unintentionally. For smaller drawings, cotton swabs can be used for blending, making sure to use each swab just once to keep colors separate.
Step 2: Intensify Colors and Values
In the second step, you’ll be using the same colors to add a second layer on top of the first. Overlap the colors to create a more blended effect, reducing the distinction between the sections.
Note: If you blended with odorless mineral spirits, you may find that the second layer is applied more easily and appears darker than the first. The blending process enhances the pigmentation in subsequent layers.
You may choose to blend again at the end of this step. However, if you decide to do so, use less odorless mineral spirits with each subsequent blending. The more pigment on the paper, the less solvent you should use to prevent unintentional color lifting.
Step 3: Unify the Colors
In this step, layer the lightest color over the entire grassy area, including the shadows and cast shadows. If necessary, add a few layers of the darker colors to achieve a more unified color layer.
Next, gently layer the middle value color over most of the drawing, working into the lightest areas. Use light pressure and gradually decrease the pressure as you move towards the background.
Blend again, if desired, to achieve a smoother transition between colors.
Tip: If the greens appear too vibrant, you can tone them down by applying a glaze of earth tones. Neutralizing the vibrancy before adding details can yield more satisfying results.
Step 4: Adding Detail
For the final step, it’s time to add the details that will bring your grassy area to life. Use sharp pencils and make short, vertical strokes to mimic the appearance of grass. While you don’t need to add vertical strokes everywhere, they are particularly effective when placed along the edges between different colors and values.
Start with the darkest value used in the previous steps and add short, vertical strokes along the color edges. In the background, keep the strokes short and consider using a stippling technique. As you move towards the foreground, lengthen the strokes and vary the direction and angle for a more natural look.
At this stage, avoid blending your colors as the details are what will make your grass look like grass! However, you may notice that blending in the earlier stages enhances the richness and depth of color in certain areas.
Tip: If you’re depicting freshly-mown grass, strive for more uniform strokes. For tall grass, you can experiment with longer and more varied strokes.
While this method may not be my personal favorite for drawing grass, it offers a great way to expedite the process when time is limited or for larger-scale artworks. If you have the luxury of time, feel free to cover the entire paper, or at least the foreground, with short, varied strokes to emphasize the grass.
As you can see, the results are definitely worth the effort!
Remember, practice makes perfect. So keep exploring different techniques and approaches to find the one that suits your style and preferences best.
This article may contain affiliate links.