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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth De Cicco

NYBG Colored Pencil Class: Tomato

I am enjoying my Colored Pencil class at NYBG. Each week, we prepare color charts, graphite studies, and a colored pencil illustration of a fruit or vegetable. It is a slow process and I need about 3 days to feel finished with each illustration.


We are primarily using Faber-Castell Polychromos, which are oil-based with some wax. It takes many light layers of pencil to build up the form. After some careful tests with different grisailles (the under-painting), I did some color studies for the local color and shadows. I used nearly the entire color spectrum, so I wanted to document my process so I could share it in the critique.


The most important layers were the grisaille and first applications of local color.

  1. Grisaille: stem- raw umber and earth green yellowish; tomato- raw umber, Venetian red, dark indigo

  2. tomato- 1-2 layers of geranium lake and orange glaze

  3. tomato- geranium, orange glaze; core shadow- fuchsia near the edge, phthalo core

  4. tomato- many layers of dark reds and cool yellows on the shadow side, warmer yellows, oranges, and reds on the light side

  5. stem- chrome oxide green, dark sepia, earth green yellowish

  6. Burnishing: tomato- cream, white, and powdered blue in the highlight, greyed lavender along the edges, white and light yellow glaze


The process takes as long as watercolor. I miss the precision points of my graphite pencils and 0/3 watercolor brushes, but these low-wax pencils are luminous and easy to blend.


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