Creating a Colorful Cranky Bird: Colored Pencil Art Lesson for Beginners in 6 Easy Steps!

YouTube video

Hello, artists and art teachers! Get ready to embark on a delightful colored pencil art lesson. Whether you’re a complete beginner or someone with a bit of creative experience, worry not, as I’m here to guide you through every step of the process. In this lesson, our focus will be on creating a lively drawing of a cranky bird using the wonderful medium of colored pencils. So, let’s dive into the vibrant world of color and bring our feathered friend to life on paper!

Step 1: Choosing a Reference Image for your Colored Pencil Bird Drawing

In this critical first step, challenges may surface, such as selecting a fitting reference image—especially for those new to art, who may grapple with questions of complexity and inspiration. Beginners might also find the array of colored pencils, paper types, and art supplies overwhelming, making the choice of materials daunting.

For art teachers, supporting students involves curating a varied collection of reference images, encompassing different complexities and subjects. Encourage exploration and help students find an image that aligns with their skill level and sparks their artistic interest. Additionally, discussing compositional fundamentals, like balance and focal points, empowers students to make informed choices.

Students are advised to take their time in selecting a reference image, exploring options that resonate with their creativity and skill level. Ensuring materials are ready, including the appropriate paper and a good eraser, streamlines the drawing process.

Step 2: Using X Grid Drawing Method

Colored Pencil Art Mixed Media Watercolor Art: Elements of Color Theory Cranky Bird Art Project

This step revolves around capturing the bird’s basic shapes without diving into intricate details. The strategic use of an ‘X’ grid becomes your compass, ensuring precise placement and balanced proportions throughout this foundational stage.

Common pitfalls for beginners often involve wrestling with proportions and placement. The bird’s body might feel too elongated, wings too small, or the head disproportionately large, leading to a less-than-lifelike representation. Another common challenge is applying excessive pressure with the pencil, resulting in dark lines that pose a challenge for later erasing and maintaining clean outlines.

For art teachers, instilling a sense of proportion’s importance in art is paramount. Encourage students to scrutinize their reference image, comparing sizes and positions meticulously. Emphasize the use of light, gentle strokes during the sketching phase, highlighting their role in facilitating corrections and ensuring a smoother process. Promote keen observation skills, urging students to closely study the reference image’s nuances to better comprehend the bird’s structural intricacies.

For students, observing the reference image diligently, sketching basic shapes with a light and accurate touch, and resisting the temptation to delve into details are crucial. The ‘X’ grid technique comes into play here, serving as a reliable guide for placing the basic shapes accurately. By measuring distances between different bird parts, accuracy is ensured, setting the groundwork for a trouble-free later stage.

Step 3: Erasing the Drawing Grid

The next step involves refining your drawing by gently erasing some of the initial lines. The goal is to strike a balance where the outlines you need for reference remain visible without causing distraction as you delve into adding more intricate details to your artwork.

Common challenges at this stage include the risk of erasing too forcefully, leading to smudges that can mar the overall appearance of your drawing. Another hurdle is unintentionally losing parts of the initial sketch, which can complicate efforts to maintain accurate proportions and shapes.

Art teachers can guide students through these challenges by emphasizing the importance of light erasing techniques. Demonstrating how to delicately hold and use the eraser ensures the preservation of faint outlines while removing unwanted marks. Precision erasers, such as kneaded erasers or eraser sticks, can be highlighted as valuable tools for maintaining accuracy. Emphasizing the role of the initial sketch as an ongoing guide reinforces its significance throughout the drawing process.

Students, opt for a soft eraser, like the versatile kneaded eraser, to avoid damaging the paper. Erasing carefully and incrementally, focusing on small sections at a time, helps maintain control and prevent the accidental removal of critical lines.

Step 4: Choosing Colored Pencil Colors and Layering

Colored Pencil Art Mixed Media Watercolor Art: Elements of Color Theory Cranky Bird Art Project

In this step, the selection of four colored pencils—a light color, a medium color, and two shades for depth (yellow, orange, pink, and light purple for shadows in this lesson)—is crucial. While progressing through this colorful journey, challenges may arise, such as difficulty in choosing appropriate colors and struggles with achieving smooth transitions between them.

Art teachers can guide students by explaining the concept of value, emphasizing its role in creating depth and realism. Introducing color harmonies, such as complementary and analogous colors, provides students with a foundation for selecting harmonious color combinations. Encouraging close observation of the reference image helps students understand where specific colors should be applied and how transitions contribute to the overall effect.

Students are advised to start with a very light touch, applying the lightest color gently. The process involves gradually building up layers of colored pencil to achieve smooth transitions and vibrancy. Patience is key as they refer to the reference image, using it as a guide for color placement and shadow areas. It’s essential to remind students that colored pencil drawing improves with practice, and each attempt contributes to a better understanding of color and value

Step 5: Building Shadows and Highlights in Colored Pencil

Colored Pencil Art Mixed Media Watercolor Art: Elements of Color Theory Cranky Bird Art Project

As you continue to develop your colored pencil drawing of the cranky bird, the next critical step involves adding depth and dimension through carefully crafted shadows and highlights. While navigating this phase, common challenges may emerge, such as overworking the paper with excessive layers and struggling to achieve seamless color transitions from shadows to highlights.

Art teachers can guide students by emphasizing the importance of patience and gradual building in the layered process of colored pencil drawing. Introducing various blending techniques, such as using blending stumps, provides students with tools to achieve smoother transitions between colors. Discussing the impact of pressure on color intensity helps students understand how to manipulate shades effectively.

For practical tips, students are encouraged to experiment with pressure, trying both light and heavy levels to discern their effects on color depth. Utilizing blending tools like stumps, aids in creating realistic shadows and highlights. Taking breaks during this step allows artists to step back, assess their work with a fresh perspective, and make necessary adjustments. Continuously referring to the reference image ensures accurate replication of shadows and highlights, capturing the interplay of light on the subject.

Step 6: Exploring Cool and Warm Colors

Colored Pencil Art Mixed Media Watercolor Art: Elements of Color Theory Cranky Bird Art Project

This step invites you to explore color variations by strategically incorporating both warm and cool tones to infuse depth and interest into your artwork.

While working on this step, artists commonly encounter challenges in selecting complementary warm and cool colors. Striking the right balance between these tones can be tricky, leading to either overuse or underuse, impacting the overall harmony of the drawing.

For art teachers guiding their students through this phase, a discussion on color theory becomes pivotal. Introducing the concepts of warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) and cool colors (blues, greens, purples) lays the groundwork for understanding how these color groups interact. Emphasizing the importance of balance and showcasing examples of artwork that effectively employ warm and cool colors helps students visualize the potential impact on mood and atmosphere.

Practical tips for students include experimentation with color combinations, such as incorporating reds, oranges, and pinks as warm tones, and purples as cool tones. Observing how these colors interact and create contrasts contributes to the visual appeal of the drawing. Additionally, considering the emotional associations of warm and cool colors enables artists to convey specific moods, with warm tones evoking energy and cool tones conveying calmness. Maintaining a careful balance and referring to a color wheel for guidance ensures a pleasing and harmonious color scheme for your final masterpiece.

You can find this complete “Cranky Bird Colored Pencil Art Lesson” lesson with reference images, slideshow, video demonstrations, practice worksheets, handouts, rubrics and more in my resource shop!

What’s included in this lesson?  In this complete resource you get:

✅An editable 31-slide Canva slideshow with step-by-step guidance

✅A video demonstration showing each step of the art lesson

✅20 gridded and ungridded reference images to draw from.

✅An instructional handout with QR code students can scan to see videos and slideshow

✅A practice worksheet

✅Teachers instructions

✅A rubric for easy grading

Colored Pencil Art Mixed Media Watercolor Art: Elements of Color Theory Cranky Bird Art Project

Ready to continue your creative adventure? 🎨


Investing in your artistic journey is an investment in yourself. This lesson is designed to empower you with knowledge, boost your confidence, and enhance your creative expression.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to refine your skills and create captivating artworks that stand out. Hop on this artistic adventure today!

Be the first to know about discounts, freebies, and new resources!

Find me on my blog – Inside Out Art TeacherYouTubeor Instagram.

Share it:


You might also like...