Cathleen Lengyel > Scribbles > Tools > Colored Pencils > What Colors Do I Need For Wildlife Art?

What Colors Do I Need For Wildlife Art?

Blick Studio – Colored Pencils
You want to start drawing wildlife in colored pencil or pastel, but you’re on a tight budget.  Rather than spend money on a complete set of pencils or pastels you want to only purchase the most necessary colors for your work.  What do you choose?  What colors are THE colors most needed? Today will talk about this question and I’ll do my best to help you out. When I first began my color journey I asked in a facebook group, “What colors do I need, have to have, for drawing wildlife?”  The answers I received were not what I was hoping for, the main answers:  
  1.  All of them!
  2. Depends on what wildlife you want to draw.
It was frustrating not getting an exact list of colors, but it made me really think.  What do I intend to draw?  
All Of Them
At some point in your work you may very well need all the colors you can get.   When looking to purchase color supplies try and get the biggest selection you can afford.  You’d be surprised what colors you may end up needing.  If you want backgrounds with your subjects you may find you need some of those purples for wildflowers.  That orange you didn’t think you’d ever need may end up being a color needed to blend into highlights in fur or even eyes.  Those blues and purples may be needed when drawing something with black fur or feathers.  It’s amazing the amount of colors that go into an animal!  
Depends On What Wildlife
In many respects it does indeed depend on the type of wildlife you want to draw.   Do you want to draw birds?  You may find you need many bright colors.  Yellows, oranges, reds, pinks, greens, blues, purples… birds can cover the entire color spectrum.   Do you want to draw exotic animals like tigers, lions and leopards?  You’ll definitely need oranges, yellows, browns, grays, white and black. Insects/Amphibians/Reptiles?  You’ll more than likely want all the greens you can get your hands on, but remember, some of these beautiful creatures can have amazingly brilliant colors mixed into their skin, scales, shells and eyes.   I have found that having the biggest selection of colors to work with is your best bet.  If you look at the photo at the top of this post you’ll see my first set of colored pencils.  Looking closely you will see there is not a large selection of browns.  That was disheartening.  The animals I draw tend to have multiple browns and tans in their fur.  Even the raptors have multiple browns in their feathers.   What did I do?   I have been slowly building up my colored pencil collection with lightfast colors from other brands.  I’ve purchased individual open stock pencils such as Faber Castell Polychromos and Caran d’Ache Luminance.     I have the same advice when it comes to pastels.  Get the largest set of pastel pencils and pastels that you can afford.  Over time, you can build on your collection by buying individual open stock colors from the same and other brands.   Open stock is the key.  Make sure when you buy sets of colored pencils, pastel pencils or pastels you buy from brands which are also available individually as open stock.  There’s nothing worse than buying a set, running low on one color and discovering in order to get more of that color you have to purchase an entire set again.   Again, open stock is the key!  

My Colored Pencils

If you are curious as to what colors I currently use in my wildlife art here is a list by brands.  I’ve listed colored pencils specifically, but the same idea applies to pastels as well.  
Blick Studio Artists’ Colored Pencils
Full set of 72 colors plus the set of 12 Grays.  
Caran d’Ache Luminance
001 White 801 Buff Titanium 832 Brown Ochre 10% 842 Raw Umber 10% 906 Sepia 50%
Derwent Drawing
7200 Chinese White  
Faber Castell Polychromos
Fur Colors:  103 Ivory, 186 Terracotta, 188 Sanguine, 187 Burnt Ochre, 176 Van Dyck Brown, 177 Walnut Brown, 178 Nougat, 179 Bistre, 180 Raw Umber, 169 Caput Mortuum, 263 Caput Mortuum Violet, 283 Burnt Siena, and 199 Black. Others (fur highlights, noses, ears, eyes, feathers):  107 Cadmium Yellow, 109 Dark Chrome Yellow, 131 Medium Flesh, 130 Dark Flesh, 129 Pink Madder Lake, 124 Rose Carmine, 189 Cinnamon, 190 Venetian Red, 191 Pompeian Red, 217 Middle Cadmium Red, 171 Light Green, 267 Pine Green, 140 Light Ultramarine, 120 Ultramarine, 110 Phthalo Blue, 145 Cobalt Blue, 151 Helioblue-Reddish, 157 Dark Indigo.   I do plan to add more of the tans/browns/grays from the Caran d’Ache Luminance collection as I can.  I will also be extending my collection of Faber Castell Polychromos with many more colors. I hope this gives you a little help when looking to begin drawing in colored pencil and pastels. Until next time,  Keep Creating!  

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