This week’s submission comes from artist Eric Killius. He has completed this drawing in colored pencils.  This was only his second time using colored pencils!! The detailing Is beautiful on this and the background nice and out of focus which pushes the bird forward very well!





Foundation Line Drawing

Taking a look at a few things we can adjust to improve on this even more, first, let’s look at the initial drawing. I imported your drawing and reference photo into photoshop, lined your reference photo over your drawing then outlined the reference in red, dropped that out and now we can see how accurate the foundation drawing is.

You are really close in some areas and pretty far off in others. While I always recommend starting with a very accurate drawing no matter the medium, this is especially important with colored pencil because it isn’t very forgiving when it comes to corrections. Spend the extra time to make sure it’s just right before the pencil ever hits the paper.

Color and Contrast

when I look at the finished art, I’m drawn straight down to the white feathers on the bird’s back. This is not really where you want your focus, so I would tone those down a bit and brighten the face WAY up. The face is just fading into the background. Even on the reference photo your attention zooms in more on those white feathers than what is ideal, but it’s even more extreme on your piece because of how dull the colors are on the face. As an artist you will sometimes need to make the decision to adjust your colors and values from your reference photo to make your artwork even better.


The background on your pice is beautiful in how soft you’ve kept the transition from one color to the next, but it feels a bit unfinished. If you use more layers you can hype up the color saturation a lot! Notice how dark the branch is on yours, how much it stands out compared to the background in the reference photo. That gives you a pretty good idea of how much darker you can safely go. That branch should almost blend into the greens. Your shapes and blending are great, more layers is all that is needed!

Softness of Feathers

This is something that we all struggle with when new to colored pencil. It’s easy to keep things looking a bit too harsh. I’ve seen so many colored pencil pieces in art groups where the birds looked like they had feathers made of wax, or people had hair made of wax. You want to spend a bit more time blending areas like the down feathers that are sticking up over the top of the white feathers. Those are super soft and whispy so you want to spend more time making sure you capture that texture.

For the feathers on the wing on the right of the piece, the contrast is a bit too harsh, so they again look more fake than like softer feathers. This is one area where you can tone down the contrast a bit to make it look more realistic. It almost appears like they are heavily outlined here.


I can’t get over that this is only your second time using this medium, you are off to such a wonderful start!!! Keep it up!!