Thursday, January 3

Colouring the Waratah

Today I want to share my technique for colouring the waratah flower head with Prismacolor pencils. I'm using kraft card stock as my base, but you can substitute white or any other light coloured card if you prefer, and whichever pencils you have in your collection.

I start by laying down a light layer of my mid colour, in this case Poppy Red (PC922). Take care not to press too hard with your pencil, you want a light coat that allows you to add more pigment over the top.

The second layer uses the same pencil with a slightly heavier pressure. The colour is the same, but the intensity is increased in the areas around the base of the large petals and the bowl of the flower. Again, take care not to press too hard with your pencil. 

I'm adding Tuscan Red (PC937) to deepen the image and help shape the petals. Dark colours recede while light colours come forward helping to give the appearance of dimension.

I applied the Tuscan Red to the bottom of each large petal and 2/3 of the way up the bowl of the flower. Then I added more Tuscan Red between the individual florets in the top 1/3. You want to keep the lighter colour visible at the top of the flower where it would naturally be hit with more sunlight.

At this point I like to add in a little highlight colour, which is Pale Vermillion (PC921). I find it easier to switch between the shadows and highlights to give a more balanced look to my overall design.

I keep the highlights to the tips of the large petals and the top 1/3 of the florets. Again I'm thinking of where the light would hit if the flower was out in the garden.

In the two photos above, I've tried to illustrate the benefits of deepening the shadows and adding brighter highlights to help give your image more depth. I've added Black (PC935) for deep shadows and Canary Yellow (PC916) for the top highlights on just the right hand side of the flower so you can compare.

My flower head is now completely coloured. You can see how the contrast between the lightest and darkest areas of the flower help to "trick" your eye into believing there is shape... which, to me, is one of the main reasons why we colour.

The stem has been coloured in a similar manner to the flower head. I've kept the highlight down the centre of the stem to give the illusion that it's rounded. Remember, darker colours recede, so when applied to the sides of the stem it gives the impression that they are curving away from the viewer.

As always, the best way to improve your colouring is to play and practice. Try a range of different colouring techniques and styles without worrying too much about the end result. There are lots of tutorials on the internet with different techniques for adding colour... it's just a matter of finding the one that works best for you.


Photos and written instructions are copyright Beccy Muir.
All rights reserved.


  1. It's beautiful colored Beccy!!
    Love your project colour guide :)
    Happy new year,

  2. Wow Beccy, it's amazing how you have played with all the colours to give highlight and shadow to that flower.
    Thanks for this tutorial !

  3. Wow! This is great. Thank you for the tutorial.

  4. Oh Beccy your colouring is just amazing. I haven'e used pencils much. Thank you for all the tips. Take care. Hugs Jackie