Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Advice on Sketching - tips, techniques and toolkits

Perrot - the first sketch on the Sunday morning
pen and sepia ink across a double page spread of my A4 Daler Rowney sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've reviewed and updated the page on my website, Pastels and Pencils, which provides Advice about Sketching.

Sketching: Information about Tips, Techniques and Toolkits

The page provides information for all of you who would like to try to develop and/or improve your skills in sketching. It provides

  • links to a collection of my advice on approaches to sketching and sketching toolkits
  • plus Word files for FREE DOWNLOAD for personal and educational use only.
  • plus links to relevant sites which I've developed as part of my Resources for Artists series of information sites.

It's organised as follows:

  1. Starting to Sketch with Coloured Pencils
  2. Travels with a Sketchbook - tips and techniques
  3. Advice on Sketching Toolkits and Materials
  4. Sketching for Real - a class with assignments
  5. From sketch to painting - a slideshow of a work in progress
  6. More information about sketching and travels with a sketchbook
I've not finished! I'll be adding more in the future - so those who would like to know when this happens need to read the next bit too.

Sketching: The Mailing List

This page is just over a year old and is already a popular part of my website. It also contains a lot of information. In order to make sure people who are interested can easily keep up to date with any changes to this page I've added a mailing list so you can get an update every time I add something major.

So - if you would like to know when new items are added to the 'Advice on Sketching' page please join the mailing list by adding your e-mail into the box near the top of the page.

Otherwise, maybe bookmark the page if you'd like to look in more detail later - there's a lot to look at! Regular readers of this blog and my Travels with a Sketchbook blog over the last two years will have seen a lot of it already - but not all in one place....

From sketch to painting - a slideshow of a work in progress

I've added in a new section which is not new material but because I've been rejigging the main menu, access to this material has been moved here as it fits much better with the rest of the advice about sketching.

Perrot - afternoon colour study
coloured pencil on Canson Mi Teintes

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

It relates to page which describes, with a slideshow, how a pen and ink drawing and a coloured pencil study of an old Perigordian farmhouse in France are worked up into a finished coloured pencil drawing. You can see small images in this blog post.

I'm thinking of developing this into a publication (a bit like the one I did introducing people to life class -
A Making A Mark Guide: Life Drawing and Life Class). Let me know if you think that would be a good idea. I don't want to do one of those 'I used these coloured pencils....' pieces. This would be more about the total process and how it was developed in more detail.

After all, the pencils will always vary whereas the process endures!

Perrot - a work in progress (Stages 1-4)
coloured pencil on Arches HP,
60cm x 42cm (c.23.5" x 16.5")
copyright Katherine Tyrrell



  1. Many thanks to Jael Bendt for the 'heads up' on the fact that I'd been working off the non-public version for the links - which of course means they were not accessible.

    All links have now been reinstated correctly.

    Please do always let me know - like Jael did - if you ever do find a link that doesn't work. That's just me trying to three things at once again!

  2. For some odd reason, I am frightened of sketching with colored pencils.
    Will have to give those links a good read once I find some time!!!!

    I'm always far more comfortable sketching with graphite. Sketching is one of my loves, lol. I think the biggest piece of advice, and the most useful, I've ever received on sketching it every day. It unconsciously has honed my skill at it, I think.

  3. You should definitely give coloured pencils a go for sketching.

    I've been sketching in coloured pencils for 15+ years now. I always forget exactly when I started - but do remember exactly where I was - which was sitting in a park in Prague trying out my first complementary colour mix with artists coloured pencils! I was so surprised at how different they were to the coloured pencils I'd used as a child.

    I'm somebody who can't use a pen or pencil if it doesn't feel right. So I'd recommend trying all the different brands. This is because they all feel and work in a slightly different way - and I guarantee you will find at least one brand which feels as comfortable as graphite for sketching.

  4. I have FC Polys, Prismas, Coloursofts and Derwent studios.. but I see them as more of "use only for finished pieces!" -- whereas I can't seem to be able to sketch with them...I'm far more afraid of messing up a sketch than a finished piece in CPs! haha.

    I'll definitely try to get out of my comfort zone and give them a try. My Derwent Studios feel hard as graphite, but I can't seem to layer them right...Might have to try my hand with some Derwent artists. I've heard they're hard enough..

  5. I think such a guide would be a wonderful thing. I like the fact that it would feature your own work as well as your talent for teaching and explaining. I've just signed up to be notified by email of your various project updates and publications!

  6. hats off to your wonderful powers of collating a lot of written information & putting it together on-line in clear, simple & abbreviated form.


    what a surprise to see Simon & Charlotte's house here! 'Art Holidays' at Perrot in Dordogne sadly now no longer exists & the house is currently being gutted & revamped.

    I taught there one summer. Did our paths cross I wonder?

    I wonder just how many drawings of Perrot exist? FYI, I've posted my drawing of Perrot at:

    funny small world n'est pas! Did you enjoy the Dordogne?

  7. That's very sad to hear.

    I have always really liked the Dordogne. I hired a car for that holiday and travelled around independently in the area and along the Dordogne quite a bit before heading on down to the south of France for yet more sketching!

    You can see some more of my work from that trip on my portfolio website.

  8. ha ha

    that's nice - wheels in france are very advantageous. So even more sketching for you!

    i do hope that simon & charlotte re-surface in the art holiday & teaching business as they were talented. Co-teaching with simon was enlightening for me as I found him to be excellent in dialoguing with students. he got me to do all the demos...LOL

    wishing you the very best with your guide - i'm sure you'll do a fine job of it.

    IMO, might it not be more in keeping with sketching to do a WIP of a smaller work, one more of sketch book dimensions?

    i know that 'perrot' is billed as from sketch to larger work (personally, that title makes me think of 'research' type sketches, such as Gericault's for his 'Raft of the Medusa'). i suppose that large means important? it is quiet rare to see large-sized coloured pencil works.

    BTW, your last sunday's orange flower was beautiful, displaying a mastery of colour pencils.

  9. hey katherine

    visited your sketch book of france - happy days in happy places :)

    now, concerning your sketch publication... IMO, it would be a good idea to incorporate the distinction betwenn dry medii such as pencils & wet medii such as ink. FYI, i've written a short article about 'Wet' Sketching in Pen & Ink using washes - includes advice about materials & techniques


    BTW, stage 4 of Perrot is when you used 'wetted'the colour pencil work, right? A piece on how to use water-soluble colour pencils in sketching would be useful!

  10. Hello,
    funny I know, but I am writing a novel and I came across your website after googling Perrot- I'm Simon and Charlotte's daughter Isabelle,
    it's lovely to see that Perrot lives on in the art that went on there, and hopefully in the minds of the people too!
    If you know any other perrot pictures online, send me a message at
    best wishes and congrats on the great website

  11. Hello Isabelle - I think the old website is there somewhere on the wayback machine. Plus Adam Cope has drawn Perrot but I don't think I've come across more than one or two others


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