These are the main Sections of the Site

These are the other Topics within this section



Malcesine, Lake Garda

Using Caran D’Ache Supracolour soft pencils


Ideally we should have some human interest in the picture. Just because there was no one in the photo, doesn’t mean we can’t put a figure in.  If we do, where should we put the person or persons ?

There will be considerations of light and shadow if we do.  Also the height and placing of the person (or persons) in relation to the buildings.  I have some reference photos, but what do you think ?

The areas of shadow are quite deep on the nearby right hand side, and in the doorway of the left hand side cafe.

Do we need them in deep shadow or shall we aim for a lighter overall scene ?

Those chairs outside the cafe have very thin legs. How will we work them in pencil ?

Should we include the Italian Flag ?   If we do, how can we balance the colour ?

Thinking of the overall painting process, what will be the steps we need to follow and what do we need to watch out for at each stage ?

Is there anything we could, or should, omit ?

I will post my own thoughts in a day or so

1st July 2012

Original Photograph Copyright © 2006 Peter Weatherill

3rd July 2012

I think we are all agreed that there needs to be a little more human interest in the picture.  R.E. Has sent me a broadly similar photo of the same place with quite a bit of pedestrian traffic, which I show here.

I do need to own up to having asked the questions when the answers had already been fixed -  I have already started on the picture so it is already several days down the line !

Anyway lets look at what I asked .........

Do we need more human interest ?  Answer yes.

Where should we place the interest ?  I suggest just outside the cafe so that the figure partly hides the rather boring corner of the cafe building.

How light should the shadow areas be ?  I think I will go for a lighter appearance to the cafe doorway and the right hand side foreground. If I need to, I can always go darker later, it is less easy to go lighter.

Those chair legs ?  We could use impressed line with a wax based pencil before we get too far advanced. This should provide some protection and keep the light chair legs free from aquarelle colour.

Yes, I think we need the flag, but we will need to include some other bright red on the left of the picture to provide a balance.  Those flowers on the balcony are red, but in shadow. If the shadow is taken lighter, then the reds will shine out and provide that balance.

The painting process..... As I am going to use watercolour pencils ( mostly ),

I will first use a wash process in colour to establish the picture base.  

I will then remove any surplus pencil lines and deepen those wash colours as necessary, and then apply dry colour to the dried wash surface.

This dry watercolour pencil can be settled into the paper with a damp brush and added to as necessary to build up colour depth.  The final steps may well be wax type pencil, but we will see how we go.

Should we omit anything ?  I will omit the white blind on the far left which cuts across the cafe front.

Otherwise I will go with what we have.

And that human interest .....

I am posting up three PDF files on the site here

The first is a large version of the original photo which is shown at the top of this page. The PDF1  file is A4 sized.

There is also a PDF file of my original drawing ( PDF 2)

And thirdly - for reference purposes - a PDF file which shows my first stage colour wash on the paper ( and also a better image of the ‘human interest’ ).( PDF3)

I have posted here the image of the white plate I used for the wash colours. It is not vital that yours are the same, as much will depend on the colours in your brand of pencils.

There is an Olive Green, A yellow orange ( an ochre would do ), a blue,  a medium cold grey, Venetian red, a purplish red, and Paynes Grey.  Look at my washed in image on the PDF and see what colours you have available. There is a small image of the first step below.

I also added a smattering of tints from some extra colours which I blocked in on a piece of white card. These gave me some further touches of colour to get the full range.

PDF 1         PDF 2       PDF 3

Remember, this step of putting down a wash of water soluble colour is only to establish the tints and contrasts in the picture and once the wash is dry, we can remove the graphite that made up the original drawing.

We now have the shapes more or less in position and we can do the rest of the picture in detail, freehand, using either the dry watercolour pencils or wax pencils..

The sky will be fine as it is (that saves all the hassle of trying to get an even sky with dry pencils ). The only wet process remaining is developing the tree foliage and the balcony and window boxes.  These areas of green leaves and flowers are easier to do with dry Aquarelle pencil and a damp brush.  We will look at that process next.

Let us look first at the tree in the upper left segment of the picture.  This first image shows the dry watercolour pencil laid down in successive ‘scribble’ strokes.  I used a selection of Greens, Ochre and Browns with some Sepia ( a dark cold brown) to darken where required. You can do this same process more than once, so don’t worry if your first stab at it doesn’t look as good as the one here.  My recommendation is to do a couple of trial exercises on a piece of scrap paper first.

Leave some gaps in the green to show the holes in the tree cover, and consider where your light is coming from and keep light Greens and Ochres to that side nearest the sun and the darker tones on the side of the foliage furthest away from the light source.  There will be areas of dark green within the tree cover also.

Then, taking a DAMP brush, with springy bristles

(a nylon/prolene  watercolour brush is much better for this than an expensive sable brush)

Work the dry pigment in similar scribble strokes to the original pencil strokes.  Push colour about, making areas of thin tint and areas of thicker colour.  See what I did in the image to the left, where the brushwork has been completed on the upper part of the tree cover

To the RIGHT, you will see the tree foliage has been virtually completed with brushwork - I will most probably come back at a later stage and add more dry colour to the leaves , but this will do for now.

I have now started work with the roof line and the upper windows with dry pencil.

I am using the Caran d’Ache Supracolor, but you could equally well use any wax type pencil for these later stages as once all the green leaf areas are complete, water will not come into the process.

I am building up the wall and roof edge colour with shades of warm Grey and light Red with some dark Ochre to balance the effect of the wall in shadow.

I have decided to bring some of the bright red to the balcony flowers to balance the flag in the upper right corner of the picture, but the red elements of the walls on the left - which are possibly greater than in the original photo - are also helping with providing a unity of colours.

The lettering on the wall will be developed as we progress

Having said that only the Green elements will need a brush of water to them, I have now decided to use a damp brush to establish a nice even colour on the closed lower left window shutters.  You can see how the addition of water to the left part of the dry colour has removed those speckles of white and given us a nice even finish to build more colour on to.

This is one of the big advantages of using Aquarelle Pencils.

They can be used as dry colour pencils and also used as soluble ones, so we keep our options open at all stages.

Here we have the flowers on the balcony completed in much the same way as the tree foliage. The red of the flowers was put in first to preserve the red placement and then they were damped down to enhance the colour, much as the window above.

The leaf area was then completed and finally Red re-introduced to bring up the strong flower colour even more.

I have also worked along the windows on the upper right to put in the shadows which show the sunlight.

As I so frequently say, ‘ the darker and sharper the shadows, the brighter the sunlight’

The light on the easel was a bit unbalanced when this photo (left) was taken, and the image has come up a little too dark on the left.

The important points to note here are the fact that I have done some general sharpening up of shadows with a dark grey pencil on the left hand side of the picture.   I have darkened down the shadowed wall facing us and then erased out a light fitting and a menu board ( that doesn’t actually exist). The dry colour has come out, leaving us with the base wash tint.

I have decided to work round the legs of the white chairs with dry pencil in shades of grey starting with a quite light tone  (and a sharp point ) rather than indent the paper with white pencil to preserve the white.  I am able to erase the dry colour back to near white using a battery powered eraser.  I can develop darker tones in the cobbles as needed and lift out dry colour where it is not wanted

I have applied some more dry colour to the walking figure, and also applied small flat circular shapes in grey to the cobbled area on the left.  I have then erased out some highlights with the battery eraser which you can see in the detail image below left.  

As you can probably see, I have been developing the road surface and the cobbles which are grey with an underlying purple.  

To try to get the right colour, I have first applied a series of circular shadings with an indigo pencil which has laid down a fresh base on top of the previous layers of colour.

I have taken this right across the road surface and also applied the same colour shading in the shadows on the right hand side buildings.  This is then followed by further circular shading with a cold grey which kills some of that purple.  You can see the detail in the smaller image below where the grey shading has been partly completed.

I have also further developed that darker shading on the buildings as I need to get the extremes of shadows in position to show up the bright sunlight.

I have also used the darker grey to darken the shading around the left hand chairs and define the chair legs better.

The whole shading exercise takes quite a lot of time as the colour goes down in very light layers

The final pictures on this page show the point reached on 17th July.

You can see in the full sized image below that a number of small areas of concern have been completed to pull the picture together.

These are :

The bit of roof in the extreme top right corner has been added - it wasn’t in the reference, but I think the picture needs it.

A small piece of green has been inserted in the distance to outline the building at the far end of the street.

The small lights have been added to the building on the  near right outside the restaurants

More work has been done on the various doorways down the street and the edge of the buildings at pavement level have been defined.

Where necessary, colour has been lifted out using a battery eraser which removes  up to 75% of the original wash colour and virtually all the dry colour added since. We don’t get back to white paper, but we are very close to it and once the darker layers go down, the near white will read as white.

The shadowed area in the Cafe front on the left has been further darkened.  

I am reaching the point where I have to decide whether to continue using watercolour pencils in their dry form,

or change over to the wax pencil equivalent (Pablo) which will handle better as more and more colour goes down.   

Doing the picture in steps like this, I can get all the right shapes in position whilst the colours are still fairly light, and colour can still be removed if required.  

Wax type pencils will give me the opportunity to blend the colours into the grain of the paper which will add to the overall depth of colour.

I want to bring the overall depth of colour to a much stronger level and get some of those dark shadows really dark.

I will close this page by showing you a small detailed image if the distant view down the street, and a reminder of the original reference photo.

The decision on the type of pencil to go one with, together with the next steps of the exercise, will be shown on page 2 of this exercise in around a week’s time


Next Page


Italian Street (1)