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Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Colored Pencil Tutorial: blending analogous colors

Octopus's Garden,
 colored pencil on paper

Before reading this article, click here for a complete list of supplies you can use for this and other 'Helpful Art Teacher' drawing projects.

Fantasy Garden 2
Colored pencil on paper

Mandala Design, colored pencil on paper

How to create analogous color fades 
by blending colored pencils

Layer one color over another and fade the colors as you transition from one color to the next. 
Step 1: Draw your shapes

Step 2: Choose a set of three analogous colors (two primaries and the color you get by mixing them). 

Step 3: Start coloring at the bottom of the shape with the darkest of the primary colors in your set. 
Color in an up and down motion, fading the color as you go up so that it gradually gets lighter. Do not color the entire shape. 

Step 4: Color the second color in an up and down motion starting on top of the first color where it starts to fade. Have the second layer fade as it goes higher, just like the first color.

Step 5: Do the same thing with the third color.

Step 6: Continue to blend and add the three colors until you have the look you want. Outline the shape with the darker colors to make it 'pop'. 
If you ever get confused about color mixing, just remember the acronym, ROY G BIV
Each letter stands for a color on the color wheel; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (a very dark blue) and violet. 

Read my article on rotational symmetry and line symmetry by clicking on the link below:
Draw two mandala designs,
one on a six inch by six inch square and the other on a twelve inch by twelve inch square of paper. Color them using the directions above.

Directions for drawing the mandala design:

Watch the video below:

Take a six inch by six inch piece of drawing paper and fold it in half. Draw half of a butterfly against the fold using the worksheet and videos below as a reference:

When you are done drawing, fold and cut out the complete butterfly and then complete the design on the other wing.

You can also print your butterfly using acrylic paint and then color it after the paint has dried. Here is how:

I got the idea of using paint to create symmetrical prints from elementary art teacher Cassie Stephens. 
Here is the link to her lesson:
Color your butterfly using the same colored pencil technique outlined in the tutorial. 

The pictures above are on display in my classroom

This butterfly is 

not just orange and black. 

In order to draw it, you would need to mix red, red-orange, orange, yellowish orange and yellow. 
Cut out both the large mandala and the small mandala.

Arrange both mandalas and the butterfly on a twelve inch by twelve inch piece of dark blue construction paper. The butterfly should partially overlap one of the flowers.

Try to figure out a way to arrange the objects on the page so that the two smaller shapes balance out the larger shape. Pay attention to the negative shapes (the shapes formed in the blue background in between the objects).
Click here to read my article on asymmetrical balance.

Glue down your design when you have 
created a pleasing composition. 

Make sure to move your shapes around to see where the butterflies and flowers look best before 
making your final decision.

Small mandala: 
(Rotational symmetry)Design: 10%
Color (Demonstrates understanding of analogous colors): 10%
Large mandala:(Rotational symmetry) Design: 15%
 Color (Demonstrates understanding of analogous colors):15 % 
Design (uses line symmetry): 10%
Use of color: 10%
Completed collage:
Overall neatness and presentation: 20%
Creativity and uniqueness: 10%


Completed project by a 5th grade student

Completed project by a 5th grade student

Completed project by 
a 5th grade student

Completed project by 
 a 5th grade student

Completed project by an 8th grade student

Completed project by an 8th grade student

Completed project by an 8th grade student

Completed project by an 8th grade student

Completed project by an 8th grade student

Work in progress

Mandala design 
by 8th grade student

Mandala Design by 7th grade student

Four mandala designs by fifth grade students

Work in progress by a 5th grade student. 


  1. What an amazing tutorial! Especially I loved the mandala signs! I am definitely going to try it! But I would like to add that I have a certain collection of colored pencils , I would like to have your recommendation on that! Waiting for your response!