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Colored Pencil Painting Bible: Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultrarealistic Effects

Groundbreaking new techniques for a favorite medium

• Dazzling colors, incredible realism—with simple you-can-do-it processes!

• Author is a top colored-pencil artist

Radiant color . . . painterly finishes . . . incredible realism. With colored pencils! Artists everywhere will be dazzled by the amazing new techniques created by Alyona Nickelsen and presented in Colored Pencil Painting Bible for the very first time. Layering, translucent effects, using odorless solvents to achieve rich, luminous color and eye-popping ultra-realistic effects . . . Nickelsen’s innovations will delight readers, and detailed step-by-step demonstrations bring her striking results within reach for every artist. Take colored pencils beyond the ordinary with Colored Pencil Painting Bible!

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3 comments to Colored Pencil Painting Bible: Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultrarealistic Effects

  • Robert A. Sloan

    The Colored Pencil Painting Bible: Great for Beginner to Expert! I’ve long enjoyed Alyona Nickelsen’s newsletter from, so I was aware of the beauty of her brilliant hyper-realistic colored pencil paintings. She favors Prismacolors on Stonehenge paper, with a fine eye for incredible detail and the patience of a saint to create rather large works with incredible, meticulous workmanship.I already have several other good volumes on colored pencil realism — Cecile Baird’s Painting Light with Colored Pencils, Arlene Steinberg’s Masterful Color, and quite a few Gary Greene volumes. I’ve successfully done colored pencils realism for years and have used Prismacolors since I was a high school kid in 1971 when I twisted my grandmother’s arm to get the largest set of colored pencils then available — 72 Prismacolors. I never looked back.I looked at this new book as a sweet addition to my library. Some new projects, maybe a few things I’d never run into. I did not expect to find so many useful tips when I’ve already got so many good volumes! Alyona Nickelsen is an inventive person. She has her own solutions to many technical details about using the medium and she has a prose style that makes extremely advanced concepts clear even to a complete beginner.I’m also a fiction writer and a good judge of writing style. English is not Ms. Nickelsen’s native language — and I believe this gives her a little bit of an advantage in explaining things. Every hard-won word that she uses is as concise and perfectly placed as the little flecks of color in her crystal and glass renderings that make the prismatic luminous effects we know and love in her paintings.She tackles every showoff project a modern artist dares and a few that I haven’t seen before. I was delighted to turn a page in the middle and find pearls! She did pearls with the luminous pearlescence and color that an Old Master might have rendered them, pearls worthy of traditional oil paintings from the days no one had photos to work from.She often mentions that colored pencil realism is not a quick medium, that it takes patience, careful observation and precision. Yet she includes many of the timesaver methods used by Gary Greene and others and her color layering techniques are unique. Instead of relying on complementary value drawings as Arlene Steinberg does, which do give a very rich effect in many-layered realism, she begins with bright light tones and works light to dark in soft layers that are often washed with odorless mineral spirits.Little tricks and conveniences abound, like her using a nylon waterbrush to hold her solvent. That idea is so obvious I can’t comprehend why I didn’t think of doing it — I use my waterbrush with watercolor pencils all the time. Alyona is fearless when it comes to testing new materials and finding uses for new technology.An added bonus in this book is a significant amount of instruction on using Adobe Photoshop to alter and prepare your reference photos. Most good art books these days will have some section on creating reference photos and combining or adapting them. She explained the hard part — for me that IS the hard part — in terms that left me considering buying Photoshop since she may have gotten me past the worst part of the learning curve. I have avoided it for years because new software is tough for me and I’m used to Gimp.I’ve got a library of fifty or more art books, almost all have a section on composition, on values, on color mixing and other art basics. Alyona doesn’t go so much into the sketching and drawing process other than to recommend a lot of practice and describe the benefits and drawbacks of many different transfer methods to get accurate outlines. Where her prose shines out for beginners is that I can compare her Chapter 2 “Laying a Good Foundation” with the same topic in many other authors’ works.That’s where things I did master years ago were put into terms so clear and concise I was grinning like a fool. She packed a lot more clear information into those pages than many, it’s readable and even easy reading. Her projects at the end are simple still lifes, downloadable outlines are available on her site and they include fruit, vegetables, a clear glass with water and a cut-crystal pattern, a crystal perfume bottle with a silver lid — she demonstrates how to distinguish silver from crystal when you’re patiently following all the hard juxtapositions of light and dark in a complex shining subject.In her Appendix is a useful set of lightfastness charts for as many major artist grade brands of colored pencils as she could get information for.She also includes tips on organizing and testing your colors in a method uniquely hers. So many of…

  • Naomi Manygoats "Cookbook lover"

    Truly the Bible of Today’s Colored Pencil Techniques Finally- a truly outstanding and beautifully researched and presented book on today’s colored pencil artwork. The appendix alone is worth the price of the book- which has charts showing the lightfast ratings of (almost) all major brands of colored pencils (including the brand new Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils, Derwent Colorsoft, Faber-Castell Polychromos and many more)…well, all except standard Prismacolors since the manufacturers would not give the author that information. A very useful color index is also given for colors when it was available, which gives you information about what pigments were used in the manufacture of the pencils…and another thing I have been wanting- an up-front break-down of which pencils are waxed based and which are oil based.This book has all the information you will need- such as materials, including much needed information on solvents to achieve a paintery look that puts colored pencils out of the ‘drawing’ stage and into the ‘fine art painting’ stage. Information about how to rough up paper to achieve certain effects (such as orange peel)and how to frame colored pencils is included, and a great (and easily understandable) section on color theory, light (and shadows). Her explanations are so clear and easy to understand that they are like a breath of fresh air.Mastering Essential Techniques is a terrific section, that includes the use of photos and photoshop. I loved seeing the equipment she uses too- including the new electric hot and cold colored pencil drawing tablet.A truly exciting section is included on creating surfaces and textures that includes:Backgrounds (my real weakness)Greenery (grass and leaves)Flowers including white petals (very difficult for me to handle)Water (including dewdrops, liquid, and ice)Fire (I have never seen this included- I want to do volcanic eruptions)Surfaces (beautifully done Wood, Silver, Pearls, Cut Crystal, Fabric, Denim, Lace)Fruit and VegetablesThe book contains a large section on practicing with simple still lifes, which have downloadable patterns and reference photos from the author’s website including a pair, cherries, an orange, Indian corn, a dandelion, a wooden mortar and pestle, crumpled lined paper, eggs, a clear glass of water, multicolored glass saltshaker, marbles, a swirled glass perfume bottle. The exercises go from simple to very complex and challenging. After I finish them all I have no doubt that I will be able to paint almost anything in colored pencil.In short, I have loved colored pencils with a passion since the ’70′s, but still, many decades later, get frustrated with the results and techniques that I have found in other colored pencil books (in particular trying to use complementary colors which always seemed to grey out my result)- so I piddle along off and on and do my own methods…which have not given me results I can be happy with, so I put down the pencils and switch to other art forms off and on. This book inspires me to work through the exercises with the author, read every word, and in short, finally get serious about colored pencil art.I hope the author covers water-soluable colored pencils in a future volume.Oh, and a big thank-you to the author about speaking out on using your OWN set-ups and photos, and not copying other’s work (for gallery sales and shows), as well as not printing out photos and coloring over them and calling them original CP work. This is useful information that a lot of artists do not understand the legal implications of, and I for one am very grateful that all new CP artists will have a heads-up. This should give CP work added integrity in the art world.

  • Captain Doc

    Outstanding! This is an outstanding and exciting book for those of us who love the control and feel of pencil drawing, but have longed for the intense colors, textures and realism of other media such as oils or acrylics – yet didn’t want the expense and mess of those methods. Alyona’s text is extremely well written – clear and helpful, with excellent illustrations. The examples of her art contained in the book are stunning. She also will provide pdf files via email of outlines and original photographs for the student to use in learning and practicing the techniques outlined in the text, for those who purchase the book and then contact her. Her correspondance with me clearly indicates her desire to instruct and share the joys of colored pencil with others, an enthusiasm quite clear throughout the book as well.

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