Allerford 5 Page Six


A Start on the Buildings

Here is that reference again (left), so that we can see what is being discussed.

Below is the test I completed to try to identify the colours required for the wall on the left hand building.  

As you can see, I have tried a number of colours from the Pablo box, and whilst the right hand sample here (which starts off with an undercoat of Light Beige), looks quite strong and dark against the reference, it looks quite a bit lighter against the printed reference I am working from and I am tempted to go with that one for consistency.  The tonal balance is also about right when compared with my trees.  I know the colour shown on screen looks more Pink, but I am working from a printed reference.

My final choice of colours may need to have a higher proportion of warm grey in it so that the left hand building frames the sunlit building across the stream in the centre.

If you are using other brands of CP, then use my test sheets as a guide, but do your own sampling to make sure the combinations are likely to work.  Also compare the tone levels with the trees already completed.

I think that I am pretty well settled on the next steps now, so I will make a start and see how far I get.  If I am aware of any particular points which need sharing I will send out an Email to the Working Group and post a further comment here.

REMEMBER when testing !  The first colour down takes prime position in the final result.  White first will give you a paler result.  The old guide is that the first layer is worth 70% of the final result.


First snag - we only have one complete side - not to worry, extend the Right hand side line and the base line onto the white paper around the edge of the image ( you still have a white paper surround, don’t you ? ).  If not, no panic, attach a piece of white paper with blue tac or white tac and extend the lines on that.  Mark up your lines and then use a black CP to mark them in clearly.  

Next use the light grey CP to note some light areas - rectangles in between the lines - but make sure that the vertical edges are on the slope..  

Then fill in with layers of shading - I used Bistre next and then black on top.  The effect is to enhance the black lines where there was black pencil at the base, and the lighter tiles where the grey was underneath shine through.  

The result isn’t yet as dark as I would like, but I am using Pablo, a medium oil based pencil - not a soft one.  

At the end of the process when I am tidying up and bringing up the contrasts, I I may go to either a Prismacolor, Luminance or Coloursoft black which will be softer and give a more intense dark where it is needed.


I have decided to incorporate a little more warmth into the mixture, and the following combination has been used. The touch has been quite light, but in each overall colour layer there have been approximately 3 coverings of the paper.  Starting with Light Grey,  Then Apricot which surprisingly gave a quite accurate mix with the Grey underneath.  This was followed by Green Ochre and then a further colour layer of Apricot.  

The final colour layer (so far) was Light Beige and that was followed by a burnishing layer of white.  That is 5 colours and a burnish and approximately 3 coverings to each colour layer.  The result will be shown when I have done the windows, the roadside weeds and the shadow on the road.


This depends on there being a good number of layers of pigment on the paper first. The burnish layer can be any colour, but is most often white or a much lighter shade of the  eventual overall colour.  A good pressure with a fairly blunt CP presses the pigment into the paper surface and blends the layers together.  Burnish back across previous burnish layers to get a smooth result.

If you use the same brand of CP to burnish, it should be possible to add further layers of colour later - though probably not a lot !

Using a proprietary blender/burnisher may seal the surface to further layers, so you would need to check before use

I am not sure about those windows !

They don’t look very convincing at the moment and they are right in the foreground, so I think we may have to rely on the fact that once the rest of the picture is completed, they eye will be too busy looking elsewhere !

If not I will have to look at them again in the final tidy up.

So what have I done ?   First I applied the coats of colour to the wall area and burnished the colour to a smooth finish. The paper proved to still show up the grain and the result was not as smooth as I would wish.  I could use a solvent to bed the colour in, but there is a risk in that it might just ruin the whole thing, and the whole point of working with CP is that the medium is always correctable.

If I were to use solvent, the results would be permanent

I then looked at those small thin areas of shadow to the right of the windows ( as we look at them ) and applied grey and ochre, and  completed the window sills with Bistre and Black.

I have then shaded in the individual windows with vertical strokes of Light Grey and  used a Paynes Grey to heighten the slivers of shadow we see in the curtain folds.

I have applied a light covering of very pale blue over the whole of the windows

I put that post in to the extreme left as I thought it might prove a useful foil to the ochre wall.  It could always be omitted when the picture is mounted if it isn’t required.  Since doing that, I have run a ruler down that left hand extreme and identified that there might be a problem if I wanted to include the post - I might have to work some more to the trees and roof.  Perhaps I will just leave it for now !

You can’t see it from the scan - but if you remember, we extended the width of the picture by including the extra windows in the middle building, so if you compare the reference to the working outline, you will realise that the tip of the shadow that fell just short of the bridge, now has to fall short of it by a good margin.  I have taken that into account and have completed those bits of weeds that ‘ground’ the house in the landscape.

That completes the left hand side so far.

Remember that all the work we are doing at the moment is the completion of the bulk of the painting.  Once the picture is all done, we can look at it overall and then sharpen up some areas, darken some and strengthen the colour in others so that we get the viewers to look where we want them to.  At the moment the picture has a focal point by the arches of the bridge.  We may need to tinker with the work we have done to point eyes that way.

We will next have a look at the Right Hand side building where the first decision is whether to leave it white or to ‘paint’ it cream to balance the picture better.  At the moment, the eye goes first to that white wall and it then has to be diverted to look at the ford and the bridge.  We need ( I think ) to do some cautious Town and Country Planning.  Opinions invited !

That ‘little’ problem over the odd look of the left hand building has been resloved when I suddenly had the brainwave that I had ignored the rules of perspective, getting so enthused over the system for getting tile spaces correct.  I had rather oddly taken my vanishing point from the left rather than the right and it was only when I removed some of the colour from that side that I realised the fault.

I lifted most of the pigment with a ball of white tac and then erased the residue to get as near the white paper as possible

I then lifted much of the pigment from the wooden tiled area with white tac and was able to re-draw the shadow lines on the fascia of the building (with reference to a vanishing point right over on the right hand edge of the paper)

I then applied an undercoat of Pablo ‘brown’ and marked in the dark shadow with ivory black.

( see below )


This repair work has left the roof fascia tiles lighter than before, and with more colour, but I am leaving them as they are for the moment - I can darken if necessary later.

Look at the left hand edge of the paper.  I have taken the opportunity to extend the trees above the roof so that the edge lines up with the building edge and hopefully I now have the option to include that post on the road edge in the final picture if I wish to.

Final steps on this side ( for the moment ) are to add pale blue to the white/grey of the windows, strengthen the shadows behind the glass and crisp up the window frame edges.

I have also strengthened that shadow across the road which now emphasizes the fact that the sun is shining and the front of the building as we see it, is in shadow.

I am much happier with this area now and we can start to look across the road at the right hand building

Let us now look to the right.

Here you see the first steps on the roof area of the right hand house.

The first step was to apply English Red in a row of little circles along the roof peak and then fill in the top edge with the same colour.  

The green of the trees was then in-filled to bring the green right up to the red and get rid of any white paper.  

Red and green are complementary colours (opposite on the colour wheel) so they spark off a vibration when they meet and attract the eye.  

Below the top line of English Red I have added a line of Apricot - a paler light brick colour - to represent the paler line of tiles at the top.

Next step was to tidy up that black and white timbered fascia with a dark grey and Ivory black - with very sharp points - and a small ruler to ensure the edges were correct and crisp.

That gets us moving again on this project and I will tackle the roof tiles tomorrow and then the triangle of trees that abut the end white wall of the house.  That should bring the white of that end wall into prominence and we can then decide if it is going to stay white or be re-decorated

So let us now look at those roof tiles.

They are in the sunshine, so although they are generally grey in colour they are warm in tone and there is very little shadow - apart from those vents at the top edge.

This suggests that we will need white as a base (to keep the tones light that we put on top),  we will most probably be working with grey, green and brown. We already have an underpainting of grey so the touch of the pencil point will need to be light, as we don’t want to get too dark to take away from the darkness of the shadowed woodwork which will be the main contrast.

It may be that we will blend the white and some of those early layers with a bristle brush to avoid having clear cut marks showing.  My grey underpainting is on the warm side anyway, so I will need to add a touch of coolness with more pale blue.  The Pablo pencil range includes ‘Blue Jeans’. Polychromos has a ‘Sky Blue’, and whilst both are too strong on their own, they may well work over the white base coat.

If you are in doubt, do a test on a similar paper.

When putting down your white base layer, don’t forget to keep the direction of shading in line with the way the roof runs - i.e. Horizontal, and vertical at a slight angle - reflecting the fall of the roof as we see it.  You will see very little difference in the colour of the surface and you may need to look at the paper against the light to be sure that you have  an even coat of white pigment.

I used Moss Green and Blue Jeans over the white base coat on the roof tiles and marked them out with a very sharp ‘Cocoa’ coloured pencil. There are 16 rows of tiles on that roof so the spacing can be done as earlier described - half, half and half again ( and then divided by two ).  I actually burnished with white to even out the general colour and get the tile edge lines to sit back.

I then used an eraser to lift out small areas where tiles showed up lighter and applied mouse grey to some areas to darken edges.

Also note that when I finished off the bottom edge with the line of shadow, I left spaces for the green of that small tree to show later.

It all starts to look rather good in the original (though I say it myself).

The next step will be to look at the background grass and foliage beside the edge of the building.


One of our working group who is a relative beginner to CP has been catching up, and had problems, firstly with coping with the idea of underpainting with watercolour pencil washes and secondly, when he decided to work the picture entirely with dry pencil point using Derwent Artists pencils (which are harder than many brands ).  

His choice of pencil was understandable as those were the pencils he had, but it does make it difficult to get down a good depth of colour with a harder pencil and no underpainting.  

His tree working ( shown in image 1 )was using a basic scribble stroke using a variety of greens, but the result left him quite unhappy as it didn’t seem to be going at all well.  We have all been there !

He posted me his scan of the trees and I have suggested that he do some more work picking out the darks with a dark green and a dark sepia pencil.  If the surface starts to get too filled and the further layers become difficult to get to build up, then his best option is to try using a softer brand of pencil..

I used Polychromos for my demonstration of his next step (Image No 2 ), but Derwent Coloursoft would do equally well.  

Image 1 -  Trees with no underpainting using Derwent Artists pencils

   1.  Emerald Green

   2. Chartreuse

   3. Juniper Green

   4. Emerald Green

   5. Chartreuse

   6. Juniper Green

Image 2 suggested next step adding in shadow areas to highlight the tree tops within the tree canopy and the dark area of shadow under the tree edges on the lower right hand side.  This needs more work but  shows the different  pencil stroke and the effect of adding shadows.  Added colours are Faber-Castell Polychromos Chromium Oxide Green and Dark Sepia. It is a common mistake to make woodland trees too uniform in colour.. There are many shades of greens and browns in the leaf canopy, and shadowed areas make all the difference

I am now looking again at the right hand side building.

We have completed the roof tiles and it remains to work down from the roof edge, completing the building and the end garden wall as we go.  Watch out for those tree branches against the roof and end house wall and make sure you leave space to fill in the greens later.

I have started on the shadow under the window and under the roof gutter.  These are light blue in colour, but I have started off with a light under layer of steel grey to ensure the blue doesn’t go down too bright in colour.  Don’t forget that if you are dealing with very light colours, to shade even lighter and put down two coats of colour - the second at right angles to the first so that the finish is as even as possible. I have kept the initial shading as light as possible as I need to be able to compare the tones of the surrounding elements.

When a surface is in full sun, the colours will be warm and shadows cool. There can be a problem assessing how contrasts work within the sunlit surface (those shadows against the bright white wall).  To make life easier, I need to work any areas of sharper contrast around the sunlit section and that means completing both the trees that are seen to the left of the wall, and also the tree and wall to the right below the roof.

It will be necessary to bring all these areas ‘up to speed’ together once the initial layers are in place.

From the image to the left here, you will see the small tree area has been completed with scribble strokes in a selection of greens, being careful to outline the house wall with a straight edge using mid green, and you will also see that I have left a clear area for the bar the sign is hung from. It is dark in the reference, but I think it will look better white.  I have added a final burnish of a yellow green on top of those trees to keep them lighter than the bank of trees behind.

Moving on to the tree against the house wall, I have applied loose scribbles in three very pale greens - the palest I have.

I need to keep this area light even when I later add in shadow greens so my first layers are the lightest colour.

I will remove any surplus layout pencil marks as soon as I have the main body of green in place, as you will see I have done with the upper window surround.  Before I do any more with the tree, I will put some of the base work into the garden wall and identify the shadows under the foliage.

That will take us to the next page of the Step by Step.  See you there !





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December 2014    NOTE

This old step by step is still receiving a lot of attention from readers

I apologise for the fact that the two images above became confused at some point in the last year.

The correct ones are now shown