Mixed Media Portrait in Charcoal and Colored Pencil – Fan Art

by Wendi OBrien

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Today I will be sharing with you a mixed media piece of Kristen Bell & Anna from Frozen 2.  Kristen Bell was completed with Charcoal and Anna colored pencil.

This project is the first in a long series that I will be completing combining actors with the characters that they play.  Not only will this be a fun series to complete, but also help me develop my color portrait skills.  This is something that I struggle with and decided to work on during 2020 and beyond.

For this project I decided to render Kristen Bell with charcoal and Anna with Colored pencil.  I really love the two mediums together and also the way the subjects are interacting with one another.

What Medium to Use First?

Since I am using different mediums it was important to me to choose which one I was going to do first so as to not ruin the second subject.  Ultimately, I decided to complete my charcoal character first since it is the messiest of the two mediums.

Masking Film

This allowed me to use masking film over Anna to protect her from any charcoal residue that would have affected the color pencil rendering.

Beginning with the Background

I began by using a bit of charcoal powder and a brush for the background.  I then used my pencils and a brush to intensify the black in the background.

I used a tissue and blending stump to smooth out the pencil and apply multiple layers until I am happy with the result.

Rendering Skin

I then move on to the eye and skin of Kristen. It is very rare you will see me use a pencil on the skin.  I mainly use a brush to allow for more control over the lighter areas on the skin and just apply more charcoal to darken the shadow areas. 

I pick up the charcoal with the brush from a separate paper that I scribbled the pencil on, essentially using it as a pallet.

For the darkest or black areas I do apply with the pencil to ensure the highest value of saturation.

Rendering Hair

After completing her skin, I move onto the hair blocking in the darkest areas and creating a bit of texture with the pencils and then use my brush and blending stump to soften.  I then take my tombow mono eraser and pull out some highlights.  You will notice I may do this in a few layers to get the final look I want.

Working on the Clothes

I then move on to her shirt and necklace.  I block in the darkest areas and use the blending stump and brush to soften and finish the final details.

Beginning Anna

Once all of the charcoal areas were completed, I then removed the masking film and began on the colored pencil character. 

Now color pencil portraits is something I struggle with so I took my time and really paid attention to where I put my colors.  I had to be careful not to flatten the tooth of the paper too soon or I would not be able to continue to layer.

Cartoon Character Advantage

I was thankful this was a cartoon character so if it wasn’t perfect, that would be okay and wouldn’t matter as much as if it was a human.  More room for error in my opinion.  I did still struggle but learned a lot.  One of my favorite things to do on her was her freckles.  Never knew freckles could be so fun.

Rendering Hair

Once I completed her face I moved on to her hair.  This is another area that I struggle with but have improved over the past year and I feel it has really paid off.  While I am still nervous about creating hair, I am getting more and more comfortable rendering hair as I get more practice.

Clothing Texture

After the hair was completed, I moved onto her clothes.  The texture was similar to felt and was really fun to try to render.  It definitely wasn’t for the faint of heart and though the texture isn’t spot on it was fun to try different things and see what worked.

Mixed Media Tips

Mixing media is a great way to experiment and give a unique appearance to your artwork.  When you decide to mix your media, if you are layering one on top of another be sure to research and see what mediums work best together and in which order to layer.  This is important because it can not only affect how archival your artwork is, but also whether or not your media sticks to your support.

If this is a video that would interest you, let me know in the comments below which mediums you would like me to try together to see what works what doesn’t and if order matters.

Until next time… keep on arting!

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