The Perfect Holiday Art Lesson: Drawing and Shading Holiday Ornaments with Colored Pencils

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Welcome to a special holiday art lesson tailored for this festive season! Today, we’ll delve into the enchanting world of colored pencils, where we’ll bring festive ornaments to life on our canvases. This lesson not only hones your artistic skills but also embraces the joy and warmth of the holidays. 

As we dive into the technicalities of drawing and shading with colored pencils, remember that these skills are versatile and applicable across various artistic projects. The holiday theme adds a layer of enthusiasm, encouraging you to master these techniques with a purpose—creating festive masterpieces! 

What can teens make for Christmas?

Sometimes it is hard to find an age-appropriate art lesson for teens and adult artists. These ornaments aren’t just colorful shapes; they are canvases for exploring the magic of light and color. We’ll venture into the art of creating highlights, shadows, and reflections, transforming our drawings into vibrant and dynamic representations of the holiday glow. 

Step 1: Choose the Right Materials and Reference Image

Choosing the Right Materials and Reference Image for your Holiday Art Lesson

First, grab some black paper. Next, find your perfect inspiration! I’ve got a whole gallery of ornaments just waiting to be drawn. Check out my stash of reference images here!

Now, gather your tools: your favorite colored pencils (think festive reds, greens, and golds!), a regular pencil and eraser for planning, and a white pencil for adding highlights. Teachers, help your students analyze the different ornaments. Talk about how complex shapes or tiny details might make things harder to draw. Choose a picture that matches their skill level, so they feel inspired but not overwhelmed.

Step 2: Creating an X Grid to Accurately Transfer Your Reference Image

Creating an X-grid is a crucial first step for making a holiday ornament look just right. It’s like drawing a guide to help you get everything in the correct place. Getting the grid just right can be a bit tricky, especially making sure it fits your drawing. If you rush, things might not line up well. So, take your time and make sure the grid matches what you’re drawing.

When you draw the grid, be gentle. Use light strokes for the grid lines because they’ll vanish when your drawing is finished. Pay close attention to where the lines cross, and mark those spots carefully. Those little marks make a big difference. If you’re teaching art, show students how to make the grid step by step, explain why it’s important to be precise, and tell them to go easy with the pencil. For students, take your time making the grid, mark the crossing points carefully, and don’t make the lines too bold – they’re just there to guide, not be part of the final drawing.

Step 3: Draw with your White Colored Pencil to Create the Base of the Highlights

Layering the white-colored pencil is a crucial step in elevating the highlights and adding dimension to your holiday ornament. The trick here is to use the white pencil with just the right amount of pressure for optimal blending and layering. When applying the white-colored pencil, students often face a challenge by pressing too hard, which can make it tough to layer additional colors effectively. The key is to master the art of using light, thin strokes to achieve the desired highlighting effect.

This layer enhances the luminosity of the colors you’ll add later, giving them a radiant quality. For art teachers, start by showing students the correct pressure for layering the white-colored pencil, emphasizing the difference between light, gentle strokes and heavy, pressurized ones. Highlight the role of the white-colored pencil in creating highlights and encourage experimentation on scrap paper to understand how pressure affects blending.

For students, remember to use gentle strokes, allowing for better control over pigment application and a smoother blending process. Practice layering the white-colored pencil on scrap paper before applying it to the final drawing to refine your technique and gain confidence in achieving the desired highlighting effect.

Step 4: Layering your Colored Pencil Lightly

Layering colors is crucial for giving your holiday ornament depth and dimension. The challenge in this step lies in achieving low-intensity shadow tones that contribute to a realistic and visually appealing representation.

Students might find it challenging to master this, requiring an understanding of color theory, a focus on using thin layers, and the strategic use of complementary colors to create shadows that are subtle yet impactful. If you need a refresher on the theory behind creating tints and shades, I’ve got you covered. Check out the video tutorial I’ve provided, where I explain the process in more detail.

To tackle the difficulty of achieving low-intensity shadow tones, art teachers should emphasize color theory. Discuss how color choices influence the perceived intensity of shadows, providing examples and demonstrations to illustrate the impact of different color combinations. Specifically, demonstrate the use of complementary colors to achieve subtle shadow tones, showcasing how strategic layering can create natural-looking shadows. Encourage students to adopt a strategic approach to layering colors, using thin layers to build tones and allowing underlying colors to shine through for a harmonious blend.

For students, experimenting with different color combinations on scrap paper is crucial for discovering the perfect mix for their holiday ornament, especially when aiming for low-intensity shadow tones. Using thin layers is essential to maintain transparency and prevent an overly saturated appearance, contributing to the gradual buildup of colors. Students should also understand that thin layers not only help achieve low-intensity tones but also maintain transparency, enhancing the overall visual appeal of the ornament by allowing subtle variations in color to shine through.

Step 5: Adding Shadows to Add Depth to your Drawing

Adding shadows and depth is an important step in enhancing the realism and three-dimensional quality of your holiday ornament drawing. This involves strategically incorporating shadows to create a sense of volume and presence in the artwork. The challenge in this step is to move beyond basic shading and achieve realistic shadows that contribute to the overall depth of the holiday ornament. Students may face difficulties in understanding where and how to apply shadows effectively, making it crucial to develop their observation skills.

For art teachers, it’s essential to emphasize observation skills among students. Encourage them to sharpen their ability to notice how shadows naturally form where surfaces meet or where light is obstructed. Demonstrate the importance of closely studying the reference image for cues on where shadows should be applied.

Additionally, showcase gradation techniques to illustrate how shadows often vary in intensity and guide students on transitioning smoothly from the darkest shadows to lighter areas, capturing the subtleties of light and shade. Remind students to consider the placement of the light source in their composition, ensuring shadows are consistent with the direction and intensity of the light.

Encourage them to explore the color wheel, understanding how complementary colors work to unlock the secrets of creating captivating shadows. Knowing the right combinations becomes the key to crafting shadows

Step 6: Building Layers, Adding Midtones and Highlights with Colored Pencils

Building midtones and highlights is a crucial step that injects dimension, luminosity, and vibrancy into your holiday ornament drawing. This process involves strategically layering colors to create midtone values and accentuating areas with highlights, effectively bringing the ornament to life. However, in the rush to infuse vitality into their artwork, students may unintentionally overlook the significance of midtones, akin to a subtle winter breeze that can go unnoticed but is crucial for the realism and depth of the composition.

For art teachers, it’s essential to engage students in discussions about the distribution of values in their composition. Emphasize that midtones play a crucial role in contributing to the overall form, while highlights add a sense of luminosity, working together for a harmonious effect. Illustrate the importance of gradual transitions from midtones to highlights, showing examples where subtle shifts in color intensity create a sense of depth and realism. If applicable to the ornament’s material, demonstrate how to capture reflections and highlights on reflective surfaces, explaining how these elements enhance the overall visual interest of the artwork.

Practically, students should exercise patience while layering midtones, recognizing that each layer contributes to the overall masterpiece, and patience is the key tool in this process. Additionally, encourage students to refer back to the reference image for guidance, as it reflects the details of highlights and reflections, providing a helpful guide throughout the process of drawing their ornaments.

Step 7: Adding Reflections and Final Details to your Ornament Drawing

This step involves refining details, adding any remaining highlights, and incorporating reflective elements to enhance realism and visual appeal. In this phase, the challenge lies in refining details with precision and creating realistic reflections that complement the overall composition. Students may find it tricky to determine where to add final touches without overdoing it.

For art teachers, it’s essential to share techniques for refining details, such as using fine strokes, adjusting color intensity, and paying attention to subtle variations. Demonstrate how these refinements contribute to the overall polished look of the artwork. Discuss the strategic use of subtle highlights to accentuate specific areas, emphasizing that highlights should enhance without overpowering the composition. Provide examples of how well-placed highlights can elevate the visual impact.

Additionally, guide students in creating realistic reflections, especially if the ornament has reflective surfaces. Demonstrate how to observe the reference image for cues on where reflections naturally occur, adding depth and dimension to the drawing.

Students should experiment with the art of blending, using short strokes and a light touch to create a smooth transition between colors. Regularly comparing their work with the reference image ensures accurate capture of all details, helping them strike the right balance in the final touches and reflections without going overboard.

What's included in the ornament lesson

Ready to Let Your Creativity Sparkle with this Colored Pencil Ornament Lesson?

What’s Included in this resource?

✅ 24 Reference Images of Christmas Ornaments

✅ 27 Slideshow Presentation, Both View-Only and Editable

✅ 5 Minute Drawing a Christmas Ornament Video Demonstration

✅ Step by step PDF Handout with QR code students can scan

✅ Editable Christmas Ornament Colored Pencil Drawing Rubric

✅ Teacher’s Instructions

Colored Pencil Ornament Drawing and Shading cover

This holiday season, let your creativity sparkle and shine! .

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!

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