How to Draw with Colored Pencils on Black Paper: 6 Easy Steps on Drawing and Shading Flames

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Hello, artists and art educators! Welcome back to our creative corner. Today, I’m excited to share an engaging middle or high school art project tutorial centered around the captivating world of colored pencils on black paper.

This unique lesson explores the mesmerizing beauty of drawing and shading flames against the dramatic backdrop of black paper. Tailored for middle or high school art students, I’ll walk you through the lesson introduction and provide valuable insights into the tips and tricks that have proven successful in my classroom. Learn from what worked well, and discover adjustments based on my experience.

By following these straightforward steps, both you and your students can create stunning compositions, mastering the art of drawing and shading flames with colored pencils on black paper. So, let’s dive in together and unleash your artistic potential in this vibrant exploration of colors, shadows, and the dance between light and darkness!

Frequently Asked Questions about Colored Pencils and Black Paper !

Before we dive into the step-by-step creation of radiant flames, let’s address some burning questions you may have about using colored pencils on black paper.

Can you use colored pencils on black paper?

Absolutely! Colored pencils on black paper create a striking contrast that enhances the vibrancy of your artwork.

What kind of pencil do you use for black paper?

A standard number two pencil is perfect for sketching out your initial shapes on the dark canvas. Additionally, white-colored pencils work wonders for highlights.

What color will show up on black paper?

Colored pencils, especially those with rich pigments like Prismacolors, offer a vivid display on black paper. The darker tones complement the background, creating a stunning effect.

Do white pencils work on black paper?

Yes, indeed! White-colored pencils are your secret weapon for adding highlights and luminosity to your artwork on black paper.

What paper is best for colored pencils?

Choosing high-quality black paper ensures a dramatic backdrop for your colored pencil work. The paper’s texture can also influence the blending and layering process.

Can I draw on black paper?

Absolutely! Black paper provides an intriguing canvas that opens up a world of creative possibilities, especially when paired with colored pencils.

Now that we’ve demystified the essentials, let’s embark on the exciting journey of flame drawing, unraveling each step to create a masterpiece that will set your creative spirit ablaze!

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace and Gather Materials

Ensure you have all the essential materials for this colored pencils on black paper art project.

Before delving into the artistic process, it’s crucial to establish an environment conducive to creativity. Ensuring you have all the essential materials and organizing your workspace will set the stage for an enjoyable and productive flame-drawing experience.

Materials Checklist:

  • Black Paper: Opt for high-quality black paper to provide a striking contrast for your flame drawing. The dark background will allow your colored pencil work to shine vibrantly.
  • Regular Number Two Pencil: This familiar tool will be your initial guide, helping you sketch out the basic shapes and layout of your flame on black paper.
  • White-Colored Pencil (Optional): While optional, a white-colored pencil can be a valuable addition, especially for creating highlights and enhancing the luminosity of your flames against the dark backdrop.
  • Colored Pencils: The heart of this project lies in the use of colored pencils. Whether you choose Prismacolors, Faber-Castell, or any other brand, make sure you have a set of vibrant colors to bring your flames to life. In this tutorial, we’re working with a pack of 24 Prismacolors, but don’t hesitate to explore different brands that suit your preferences.

Step 2: Create an X Grid on Your Black Paper

Now, let’s dive into the essential steps for setting up our flame drawing. To create a helpful guide, we’ll either fold our reference image to form a sneaky X grid or, for those who prefer a different approach, use a white-colored pencil to draw the grid lightly.

One common challenge you might encounter is navigating the paper fold. Folding can be a bit tricky, but we’re not seeking origami perfection here. Take your time to ensure the folds align properly. There’s no rush or pressure; just focus on getting those folds in place.

For teachers, emphasize the importance of precision in these early steps. A well-folded reference image acts like a trusty sidekick, smoothing out the drawing process. Communicate to your students that investing a bit of extra time in nailing this step lays the foundation for a successful artistic outcome.

If folding seems like a puzzle you didn’t sign up for, students can opt for an alternative method. Grab a ruler and draw a light X with a regular pencil – easy peasy. The key is finding the approach that feels right. Remember, this drawing experience is meant to be enjoyable, not a stress-fest.

So there you have it – setting up our guide with an X grid. For a deeper dive into this easy grid drawing technique, you can check out further details in this comprehensive Easy Beginner High School Art Lesson blog post.

Step 3: Sketch the Biggest Shapes of Your Image


Now that we’ve got our grid in place, let’s sketch out the main shapes of our flames. Think of it as laying the groundwork for the fiery scene on our black canvas.

Start by lightly sketching the primary shapes of your flame, using the grid as a guide. This step is like giving your flames a basic structure. Remember, go easy on the pencil – use light strokes and don’t press down too hard.

Figuring out the initial shapes might be a bit tricky, but don’t stress about details right now. Focus on the bigger picture, setting the stage for the flamey magic.

Teachers, highlight the power of observation to your students – breaking down complex stuff into simpler shapes is the key. Encourage them to really look at their reference images and pick out those basic shapes. It makes things easier and adds a bit of realism to their drawings.

For students, take it slow and explore your reference image. Identify the simple shapes that make up your flame. This isn’t a race, so no need to rush. This initial sketch is laying the groundwork for all the cool details you’ll add later. In short, we’re sketching out the main vibe of our flames, using the grid as a helpful guide. Keep it light and easy for now, building up to the details that’ll make your flames pop on that black canvas.

Step 4: Layering Colors

Get ready, artists, because we’re getting to the fun part – adding color to our flames. This is where the magic happens. Unleash your creativity and bring those flames to life with vibrant hues!

Use your colored pencils with short, light strokes. Start by gently applying the colors to your paper. Start by layering warm tones to build up the highlights. Whether you’re using Prismacolors or another brand, keep it light. Avoid pressing too hard – we’re aiming for a smooth blend.

Now, there might be the temptation to press down hard for quicker results. Take a deep breath and remember, patience is key. Slow and steady wins the race to vibrant, transparent colors.

Teachers, share the basics of colored pencils with your students. Discuss how layering works and the role of pressure. Empower your students to experiment and bring their visions to life.

For students, here’s a simple experiment: practice layering different combos of warm tones. See which hues match the vibe of your reference photo. This hands-on exploration hones your skills and ensures your final creation is as vibrant as your imagination.

Step 5: Adding Depth with Shadows and Highlights

Now, let’s add depth to our flames for that extra punch in our masterpiece. Think of this step as the key to making your artwork stand out. We’re delving into shadows and highlights – the combo that takes your creation from good to eye-catching.

To give your flames more impact, introduce darker tones beneath your main colors. Use cool, dark shades especially where shadows naturally fall. This adds a layer of mystery, making your flames look three-dimensional. Now, for highlights – add a bit of the white-colored pencil beneath your lighter tones for that sparkling effect against the dark background.

Balancing shadows and highlights might seem tricky, but the key is simple observation. Look at your reference image to guide you. Understand where light and shadow naturally occur, and let that shape your masterpiece.

Teachers, have a quick chat with your students about light sources and their impact on shadows. Encourage them to think about light and darkness in their artwork.

For students, before applying shadows and highlights to your main drawing, test different color combos on a separate sheet.

Step 6: Continue the Process of Layering and Blending

As you build up those flames, remember the golden rule: patience is your best friend. Layer your colors with a gentle touch, using light pressure and short strokes. This isn’t a race; it’s a slow dance where each layer contributes to the stunning transparency of your masterpiece. Hold the pencil a bit further back when blending for that feather-light touch. Now, there might be an urge to speed through this step, but remember that the wonder of colored pencil art lies in the patient dance of layering and blending.

Congratulations! You’ve completed a mesmerizing flame drawing using colored pencils on black paper. This project not only enhances your understanding of colors and shading but also allows you to explore the unique qualities of colored pencils. Remember, the key is patience, observation, and a willingness to experiment. So go ahead, ignite your creativity, and let your flames burn brightly on the canvas of black paper!

Take a peek at the results from my students following this lesson!

Colored pencil flame drawing art lesson

Did this lesson spark your creative flame?

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

Flame using colored pencils on black paper preview

What’s included?

✅An editable 39-slide Canva slideshow with step-by-step guidance

✅A video demonstration showing each step of the art lesson

✅28 reference images to choose from.

✅An instructional handout with QR code so students can easily scan to see the lesson videos and slideshow

✅Teachers instructions

✅A rubric for easy grading

By incorporating my complete lesson, you’re not just teaching art; you’re inspiring a journey of artistic self-discovery. Elevate your lessons, capture your students’ imaginations, and witness the extraordinary unfold in your classroom. Ready to embark on this transformative adventure?

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