If you are given a photograph of a pet to draw for someone using pastel pencils, sometimes the photo(s) that you are given can have a bias to them. This bias can sometimes be blue (cool colours) and sometimes orange or brownish (warm colours). In this article I’ll use the example of a Black dog with a blue bias in the photo.
The problem is that you know the dog is not that colour so what you try to do is to change it. My advice is not to change it too drastically because all the other colours you are copying will also change. It’s best to keep on the bias that you have on the photograph. However, I would temper the blue tone. I wouldn’t put it on as you see it in the photograph, we can adjust the tone slightly with base colours, let me explain how.
Certainly if you are going to be using black then you will be using a grey as a base colour. So in order to temper the blue tone, use warm greys rather than the blue greys. That will mean when you eventually put the blue on, the bias won’t be so much on the cool side. Conversely to that if it had a brown/orange tint to the black you could even get away with using the blue greys underneath which again pulls the bias back.
Going back to the grey base, if it’s the dark part of the animal you are starting with your grey should be 273 warm grey (colour numbers from the faber-castell pitt pastel pencil range), then the 181 Payne’s grey can go on next. 273 is a warm tone and 181 is a cool tone – see where we are tilting the balance? You will get a nice neutral colour there. Once that’s on that is the time that you would put the blue in.
Note: don’t put it on top of the black. It sandwiches between the 181 Payne’s Grey and the 199 Black. I also wouldn’t suggest putting too much on – you could try this on spare paper first just to see how it works. The blue that you put on will basically disappear by using the colour shaper and all the other colours but it will still be there as an undertone. It is not a good idea to put the blue back on over the top of the black as this will give a blue hue to the animal.
Watch our pastel pencil tutorials online to learn how to draw pet portraits.