Drawing With Color Part 2: #6 Low Key



Begin with several overlapping objects in a dark environment with soft light. Think of an underexposed photograph where mystery dominates the mood and edges fade into darkness.

bk1Choose a harmony that is conducive to subtle lighting conditions. Here is a simple harmony with one complementary combination and 2 analogous attached to one of the complements: Yellow-orange and blue-violet plus orange and red-orange.  Select only tones and shades.bk2
Look through a view-finder to isolate the composition and to see contrasts more clearly.


Transfer exactly what you see through the viewer to the paper. I’m using a home-made sanded paper painted black.


Begin to shade in light passages. Angle the pastel stick. Use the side of the stick.


Use the blue-violet complement to dull the intensity of analogous colors. I have not fixed any layers yet so, with more pressure, my colors are blending a little bit.bk8

I want to soften more so I use a brush to blend more.  Soften some areas but be aware of going overboard with the brush. Leave some areas alone, especially areas with direct light.

bk9At this point I spray fix the work.  Before the fix dries I blend some areas with a soft cloth.bk10

Now re-establish dark areas with shades and black if necessary.


Go back in with lighter tones and put in some saturated color accents. Let previous layers show through top layers.


I complete the study with another spray of fixative.  This dulls some of the brighter areas and darkens the darker areas. For a low key study this is the desired effect.bk13

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s