What to Draw with Colored Pencils – 5 Ideas to get you inspired

You bought the colored pencils for fine artists, and you have a lovely tablet of smooth colored pencil paper. Now it is time to actually use your shiny new art supplies and create a beautiful colored pencil drawing! And you’re stuck. All of a sudden, your creative muse has deserted you! If you are stuck trying to figure out what to draw with colored pencils , why not start with one of these creative ideas?

TLDR; What to Draw with colored pencils summary

The following list of what to draw with colored pencils are explained in more detail below:

  1. Create An Inspiration Book
  2. Draw a Doodle – Turn Scribbles into Inspiration
  3. Look at something ordinary in an out of the ordinary way
  4. Pull Random Suggestions Out of a Hat
  5. Make multiple drawings of different versions of the same thing

Before we start, you do not need expensive pencils like prismacolor pencils or Faber Castell Polychromos, you can use any reasonable quality pencil and when you get better you can splash the cash and buy better equipment.

1. Create an inspiration book

Magazines and catalogs pay graphic designers big bucks to develop ads that are eye catching and convey a particular kind of energy and appeal. You can take advantage of the skill and artistic eye of professional graphic designers by making an inspiration book.

Tear out pages of magazines that feature images that you might like to recreate or gain inspiration from.  Slide these pages into plastic page protectors and keep them in a three ring binder. With time, you may need to divide the binder into categories featuring different kinds of images, like landscapes, still life, or portraits. 

Another alternative is to create boards on image based social media accounts like Pinterest and Instagram. You can find all sorts of photos and images there that can be a springboard for your own artistic aspirations.

As you tear pages or click on images, remember that the point of this exercise isn’t necessarily to recreate the exact image with your colored pencils that someone else put together.

This practice can do two things for you. First, it can get your own imagination working as to the artistic possibilities of an image. For instance, if an image features two children playing on a city street, you probably don’t want to sketch that exact image. 

You, however, might want to recreate the playful energy of the children in a park or on a beach. It’s the impression of the image that you want to use. Second, collecting inspirational photos and images will help you develop your own artistic eye.

Being able to “see” like an artist can be developed and improved upon over time. You can learn from the artistic ideas of others and develop your own way of seeing the world. Then, you can recreate your visions in your colored pencil sketchbook. So if this idea sounds appealing to you, grab a color pencil and some magazines and get started.

What to draw with colored pencils

2. Draw a doodle

A page of blank white paper can be intimidating. To get started, use any color of your colored pencils to make a giant scribble on the center of the page. The page is no longer blank. Doesn’t that feel better? Now, take a good look at the scribble on the page.

What does it resemble? A stream? The edge of a maple leaf? A crooked village street? The crooked angle of a dog’s hind leg? Working around the scribble on the page, try to sketch in more details.

If you’re still totally stumped, start drawing other lines and try to create a fascinating, hypnotic pattern on the page using as many of your colored pencils as you can. 

3. Look at something ordinary in an out of the ordinary way

Take a moment and really examine something ordinary and try to come up with a new way of “seeing” that object. For instance, look at a flower and think of a new way of sketching the flower.

Maybe you should toss the flower on the ground and stomp on it, or you could zoom in on the flower and sketch a traditionally overlooked part of the flower. Maybe the pollen coated stamens need your focus. Maybe you want to depict dew drops on the leaves or petals. 

Look around your house and figure out something to “see” differently. Perhaps it’s the folds of the velvet in your drapery. Maybe you want to do a close up of the patterns of the knit fibers in your scarf.  

Recreate the grain pattern in the wood on your kitchen cabinet. Perhaps you will take an object and turn it upside down or draw it from an unexpected angle. Start thinking nontraditionally, and depict something in an unexpected way.

4. Pull Random Suggestions out of a hat

When you are totally not feeling the inspiration, sometimes forcing yourself to look at and sketch anything can get your creative juices flowing. Put eight or ten broad categories on slips of paper and draw one at random.

Then, make yourself  find an object that fits that category and sketch it for 15 or 20 minutes. Chances are that just getting started on a piece will help you find other things that are interesting. 

Some ideas for your broad categories: texture; animals; food; paper; fabric; indoor spaces; outdoor spaces; growing things; things to wear; light and shadows; 

Additionally, you can create categories that invoke a particular emotion. Here are some ideas for this: fear; anger; sadness; frustration; joy; peace; excitement; Remember that your drawing doesn’t have to involve a person.

A dark, moody landscape can invoke gloom or sadness as much as the depiction of a person’s face. 

5. Make multiple drawings of different versions of the same thing

Think of a random object that you might like to draw. Don’t make it very complicated; you just want a single simple object. Then divide your drawing paper into four sections. Alternatively, if you like to “draw large” maybe you will want to use four separate sheets of drawing paper. 

Now think of four different ways to depict that object in a drawing. For instance, if you thought of a log, you could draw one landscape that features a log cabin.

Next, you could sketch a drawing of a group of boy scouts gathering fire wood. Maybe you would zoom in on the log and draw a detailed sketch of the pattern of the bark on the log, including the moss that is found on it.

Perhaps you will draw a fireplace with a marble mantle and a large log crackling merrily in a fire. Thinking of various ways of using an item can really help you think more creatively!

No matter what you draw with your colored pencils, remember to be patient with your developing skills. Even if your drawings don’t turn out exactly how you want at first, just keep trying.

Soon, you will learn to see the world as an artist does and be able to recreate what happens in your imagination. Remember that an imagination is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger and more lively it is!

Wrap up – What to Draw with Colored Pencils

Drawing with colored pencils is a great way to express your creativity and get in touch with the more creative side of yourself.

Whether you are using cheap coloring pencils or more expensive prismacolor premier pencils, you just need to start using them and your new found inspiration and get started on becoming a colored pencil artist.

If you are struggling with using coloring pencils, you may need to also look into working on your coloring technique, line drawing using graphite pencil, using coloreless blenders and adjusting your art style to suit your abilities until you get better.

Also experiment with different types of paper such as black paper using colored pencils, toned paper and different color paper.

I hope you were able to find some inspiration for drawing projects that will inspire you, or at least give you some ideas on what colors to use when starting out!

Share this post What to Draw with Colored Pencils with any artist friends who would also love these five easy drawing exercises using colored pencils.

Colored pencil art can be done by anyone; even if they’ve never picked up one before!

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