Pastel Tutorial:#4

#4 Complements: Colors opposite each other on the wheel. Blend them to neutralize or abut them for excitement.

Switching from yellow as our local color in the lemons to yellow-green as the local color of this pear.

Set up the still life with a simple object or two. Try a reflective surface to increase color nuances. Reflections usually read duller/cooler than the actual subject. They will also appear smaller in scale the further away they appear in the reflective surface.


Spin the color wheel to find a match. Yellow-Green is the closest match.


Flip the color wheel to the backside to see the complement of yellow-green. It is red-violet, located directly across from yellow-green. All complements are directly across from each other. They differ in varying degrees of value and temperature.


Your palette will consist of the two complements plus their tints, tones and shades. Eight sticks in all.

  • Tint: spectral hue plus white.
  • Tone: spectral hue plus gray.
  • Shade: spectral hue plus black.

Spectral hue is the pure, undiluted hue, as is appears in a prism.


Tone your paper with the complement of the objects’ local color. I mixed spectral red-violet with a tint of red-violet to lighten it.  Blend the two together in circular motions to produce a uniform surface.


Sketch a measured outline of the form and shapes of light (dark, and light areas). Use a light gray (neutral), red-violet or yellow-green pastel pencil.


Shade in a mid tone using a tone of the local color. You will be starting off the coloring-in part of the drawing with a monochromatic  approach and then adding the complement to darken and change the temperature of different parts of the drawing.

This process will create the illusion of space on the 2-d surface.

Warm advances, cool recedes.


Now some tint.


Now  shade. Squint to see value contrast.


Now, start with a tone of red-violet. Repeat the above steps with red-violet; tone, tint, then shade.

Return to the local color.

Continue adjusting value, hue  and temperature until satisfied.


Push the highlights at the end. You may need to choose lighter sticks or white for this part.

Notice how the object has the richest hue and most contrast in the drawing. The reflection and shadow are duller/less vibrant. This ensures that a viewer will be attracted first to the Pear.


Fix the drawing, remember fixative will darken pastel. Spray more where you want darks or more contrast, less in highlighted areas.

DSC_0594 DSC_0596

Now, try this with several other local colors.


  • Complementary colors
  • Tints, tones, shades
  • Spectral hue
  • Temperature
  • Squint!

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