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How to Draw a Realistic Cupcake with Colored Pencils

Are you craving a sweet artistic challenge? In this tutorial, we will explore two techniques for drawing a realistic cupcake using colored pencils. Prepare your Prismacolor Premier colored pencils and white Stonehenge paper as we embark on this delectable journey.

Gathering the Materials

Before we start, let’s assemble our supplies:

  • 9” by 12” White Stonehenge paper
  • H graphite pencil
  • B graphite pencil
  • Masking tape
  • Kneaded eraser

Specific Prismacolor Pencils

Prepare the following Prismacolor pencils for our project:

  • Crimson red (924)
  • Crimson lake (925)
  • Tuscan red (937)
  • Magenta (930)
  • Pink (929)
  • Blush pink (928)
  • Lilac (956)
  • Peach (939)
  • Goldenrod (1034)
  • Burnt ochre (943)
  • Dark umber (947)
  • 90% warm grey (1058)
  • 90% cool grey (1067)
  • 30% warm grey (1052)
  • 30% cool grey (1061)
  • 20% french grey (1069)
  • White (938)
  • Cream (914)
  • Colorless (1077)

Capturing the Textures

Our cupcake consists of various textures. The cherry on top appears smooth and reflective, while the creamy icing has fluffy overlapping folds. The visible cake beneath the icing is coarse, and the wrapper has a waxy and smooth surface.

Pink cupcake photo reference

To depict these textures accurately, we will tackle each section individually, starting from the top and working our way down. For smoother textures, we will layer colors heavily and use the colorless blender to reduce the visible paper texture. However, for the icing and cake, we will embrace the paper’s texture, allowing some of the tooth to show.

Step One – Transferring the Image

To begin, we need to transfer the contour lines or outlines of the cupcake onto our drawing paper. While you can freehand draw the lines, transferring them saves time and ensures accuracy. Here’s how:

Contour line drawing of the cupcake

  1. Cover the back of the reference photo or the provided outline template with soft graphite, like a 6B pencil. Ensure complete coverage by holding it up to a light source.
  2. Position the reference on the drawing paper, securing it with tape.
  3. Use a harder graphite pencil, such as an H pencil, to trace over the contour lines and desired shadows. Apply moderate pressure, avoiding excessive indentation on the drawing paper.
  4. Gently remove the reference to reveal the transferred line drawing. If needed, use a kneaded eraser to lighten the lines to a faint, visible outline.

Step Two – Starting with the Cherry

Let’s dive into coloring by focusing on the cherry. Follow these steps:

  1. Apply crimson red (924) to the entire shape of the cherry using a light to moderate touch, leaving the highlights untouched. The paper’s tooth should still be visible.
  2. Layer tuscan red (937) over the top to add subtle darker tones. Focus on the upper left quadrant, right side, and center of the cherry. Apply more pressure for a deeper color, filling the tooth of the paper.

Colored pencil applications on the cherry on top of the cupcake

  1. Use white (938) to highlight the top and sides of the cherry. Layer it directly over the crimson red, creating a pink tone.
  2. Add some depth to the shadows by applying dark umber (947) sparingly, focusing only on the darkest areas.
  3. Enhance color consistency and unify the cherry by applying crimson lake throughout the body and over the darkest shadows.

Step Three – Finishing the Cherry

Let’s bring the cherry to life with the final touches:

  1. Use the colorless blender (1077) with heavy pressure to smooth the surface of the cherry, giving it a reflective appearance that mimics its texture.
  2. Apply crimson red (924) again, smoothing the transitions from dark to light and intensifying the red hues beyond what the reference photo shows.

Complete the cherry

  1. If the paper’s tooth is still visible, consider another application of the colorless blender to ensure coverage.

Step Four – Beginning the Icing

Now, let’s move on to the icing section, where we’ll incorporate shades of purple and peach for contrast:

  1. Start by applying pink (929) to the entire shape of the icing using light to moderate pressure. Increase pressure where darker values are present to enhance the folds’ definition.
  2. Use lilac (956) with moderate to light pressure in the shadowed areas to add depth. Follow up with peach (939) in the transition zones between shadows and highlights.
  3. Lightly apply blush pink (928) over the lighter areas of the icing.

Begin drawing the icing on the cupcake

  1. Even after these color applications, the paper’s texture should still be visible.

Step Five – Finishing the Icing

Let’s add contrast and emphasize the highlights and shadows on the icing:

  1. Use white (938) with heavy pressure to cover the lighter sections of the icing.
  2. Apply 90% cool grey (1067) lightly on the shadowed areas to create dark tones. Exercise caution as this color is strong.
  3. Layer tuscan red (937) over the areas covered with 90% cool grey (1067) to reintroduce red tones in the shadows.
  4. Strengthen the mid-value pinks by applying blush pink (928) with moderate to heavy pressure.

Finish drawing the icing on the cupcake

  1. Allow some of the paper’s texture to remain visible to capture the icing’s surface texture. However, smooth the transitions and work the medium into the paper’s tooth by using the colorless blender (1077) with heavy pressure.

Step Six – Drawing the Cake

Now, let’s work on the visible cake section beneath the icing:

  1. Start by applying magenta (930) with a moderate touch to cover the entire shape of the cake.
  2. Layer peach (939), blush pink (928), and a touch of cream (914) directly over the magenta. This combination creates a slightly different pink shade from the icing.
  3. Add a touch of goldenrod to introduce a yellow tone in certain areas.

Draw the cake

  1. Deepen the shadows and create dimension by using 90% warm grey (1058) with light pressure, followed by a light application of dark umber (947).
  2. To finish this section, apply magenta (930) with heavy pressure mainly on the shadowed areas.

Step Seven – Beginning the Wrapper

The wrapper is partially translucent, allowing us to see the cake color behind it. It also exhibits variances in darkness, with the bottom appearing darker than the top. Let’s start with the lighter tones at the top:

  1. Use 20% French grey (1069) with moderate pressure, focusing on lighter areas. Increase pressure in the shadowed regions to create contrast.
  2. Lightly layer 30% warm grey (1052) over the top. Apply magenta (930) to bring out the visible pink hues beneath the wrapper.

Begin drawing the cupcake wrapper

  1. Apply goldenrod (1034) for the middle and lower portions of the wrapper. Burnish the entire shape with the colorless blender (1077) to smooth transitions. Use 90% warm grey (1058) to outline the edges subtly.

Step Eight – Finishing the Wrapper

Now, let’s add colors to the bottom portion of the wrapper and emphasize the shadows between each wrinkle:

  1. Incorporate burnt ochre (943) to the lower part, allowing it to overlap with the goldenrod (1034) applications.
  2. Use dark umber (947) with heavy pressure to deepen the shadows between each wrinkle and create a darker base for the wrapper.

Finish drawing the cupcake wrapper

  1. Smooth the texture by burnishing the entire wrapper heavily with the colorless blender (1077).

Step Nine – Adding the Cast Shadow

Our cupcake needs grounding with a cast shadow. The shadow’s complexity arises from multiple light sources, resulting in overlapping shadows. Here’s how to address it:

  1. Apply 30% warm grey (1052) lightly, focusing on areas with intense shadowing. Increase pressure where the shadow is darkest.
  2. Layer a touch of 90% cool grey (1067) only in the darkest areas to add depth.

Add the cast shadow

Step Ten – Finishing Touches

To perfect our drawing, let’s soften the paper’s texture and refine the shadow details:

  1. Use white (938) to cover secondary shadows gently. Extend it over the outer edge of the strongest shadow area to create a smooth transition.
  2. Use the colorless blender (1077) with heavy pressure to burnish the darker sections of the shadow, adding the final touches to our lifelike cupcake.

Drawing of a pink cupcake with colored pencils

Get creative and enjoy the process of bringing this scrumptious cupcake to life on paper. With practice, you’ll master the art of drawing realistic subjects using colored pencils.

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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