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Here is a step-by-step process of how I might layer markers, colored pencils, and pencil when working in my sketchbooks (you can see more sketchbook drawings here and here!)


I drew a quick line drawing on 5″ x 7″ watercolor paper (140# hot press Fabriano). I used an ultra fine point black Sharpie (permanent marker). I tried to hold the pen loosely in my hand, but I wasn’t particularly happy with the drawing, so I am going to try and “fix” it with color.


I was thinking it was a poodle, and poodles have curly fur! So I started out making the curly marks with a light grey Copic marker (#T2). I like Copics because they come in a whole range of VERY LIGHT colors, which I like to use when layering my colors (instead of drawing bright colors right off the bat, I prefer to build the colors up slowly through transparent layering).


Next I added some light gold colored pencil (just a Crayola I had lying around). I’ve drawn two little “patches” in the lower left corner to show how I like to lay colored pencil down. Instead of pressing really HARD at this point (the far left mark), I press very lightly. Since I’m going to be adding more transparent layers of color on top later, I know that, even though the color looks “blah” right now, it will BUILD into something more interesting as I go along.


Next I added some pink Crayola marker (yes, the cheap kind). Since it was a darker shade, I added it to the areas of the dog I thought might be in shadow, such as the bottom of its snout, around the ears, etc. I also threw a few random pink marks in the body to tie it together, and “puffed out” some poodle hair on the head, tail, ear and feet.


Added red colored pencil in similar areas. I worked both the lighter shade and a few darker lines for the curls.


Now I added some pencil shading (using a regular mechanical pencil from the office supply store). I tried to get the darker pencil into the nooks and crannies where I imagine shadows might be (under the hair tuft, for example). I smeared it with my finger, which I always do but know I shouldn’t! (Note re: smudging! I’m thinking the LEAD isn’t good to rub into my skin and system, but I do it anyway! Update on the Update: Several readers have pointed out that it’s GRAPHITE and non-toxic. Well, then, oil from the fingers on the paper = not good? All I know is that I feel slightly guilty every time I rub pencil with my finger. But I do it anyway!)


The strong line of the original sketch around the fur tufts was bothering me, so I went back to the black Sharpie and added more dark lines to the tufts of hair to try and obscure those original lines a bit. I also, continued the “grass” on the bottom, to give the dog something to stand on and make those marks make more sense!

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Phew, you made it to the end!

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

If you like this little poodle dog, leave a comment on this post and I will pick a winner randomly at noon on Friday, May 27th. I’ll send the winner the original!

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AND THE WINNER IS… commenter #88

Wendy Polidori 

Comment: Thank you for the tutorial. It really helps to see all the steps and I’m excited to try my hand at layering. And ditto Lisa…LOVE the grass!!!