Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Biju: Crashing Ocean Waves in Colored Pencil (Duotone Palette)

Crashing ocean waves in a Strathmore Visual Journal (Drawing, medium tooth, 100lb/163gsm) using Caran d'Ache Pablo color pencils (Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, and White for smaller details; burnished using a colorless blender).

Colored pencils do fascinate me. One of my favorite watercolor exercises is creating pictures using a duotone palette to explore color relationships and mixing between two specific colors. Limited palettes doesn't necessarily seem to be popular among color pencil artists, but then again, limited palettes are of limited popularity across all mediums.

The only colors in this picture are ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. Every other shade, hue, and tint is created via a variety of color laydown, including the order of colors laid down, and multiple color pencil layers.

I constructed this picture after doing a color exploration between Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, altering how they laid down on top of each other.

On the left, burnt sienna is laid on top of ultramarine blue.
On the right, ultramarine blue is laid on top of burnt sienna.

I used a putty eraser to lift a light laydown of the sky even more. Burnt sienna and ultramarine blue layer together frequently, with only ultramarine blue used in the back. A few fuzzy, tiny white waves in the front were done with the white pencil, while the white of the paper was left exposed for the wave foam. I left the sparkle of the paper in the foreground water to represent the rippling and play of light from the sky present in ocean water.

Everything is them burnished carefully, moving from area to area and softening edges as necessary.

Using only pure colors in color pencil is a good way to push a part of the picture into the back, and utilizing multicolor layering pushes part of the picture forwards. This accomplished a certain amount of depth.

For more about what biju are, see Biju.

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 Ava Jarvis is an ink and watercolor artist with a portfolio site at If you found this post useful, consider a one-time tip or supporting Ava on Patreon.