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Magical night sky – step by step!

Follow my easy steps to color this kind of night sky – don’t worry, it’s not difficult! But it will take some time, so grab some coffee, tea or whatever you like and let’s get started! 🙂

Here’s what you need:
Faber-Castell Polychromos Dark Indigo (157)
Faber-Castell Polychromos Indanthrene Blue (247)
Faber-Castell Polychromos Light Ultramarine (140)
Prismacolor Premier Sky Blue Light (108)
Prismacolor Premier White (938)

Put the two Prismacolors aside – for now, you’ll only need the three Polys.

Some white gel pen or a white Posca pen, at least one
maybe a blender pencil, if you like (but not necessarily)

Note: For this tutorial, I assume that you already have basic skills about blending and layering colored pencils.

For this page I decided for a dark night sky background with some stars. We want the edges and corners to be dark blue, almost black, and the inner parts light blue, almost white, to get some moonlight effect. I always start with the darkest parts and go all the way up to the lightest. There are some colorists that do it the other way round, but I tried both and I find it easier doing it that way.

On this page, there’s a lot of blank space we have to fill. So we start by sketching the edges of what will be our gradient – this makes it easier to orientate yourself in the later process. So look closely and decide where the dark and light parts should be. In this step, make sure that you don’t apply any pressure at all and keep a very light and steady hand while holding your pencil in a very flat angle (as shown in the picture). Soft, light layers are a must when you start – because if you go in all too hard and all too much, you’ll be having a hard time correcting mistakes.

We can make the outer edges and the corners of our page really dark, go in lighter and prepare for bringing the second darkest color in. Make sure you fade out your color very lightly. Work your way all around your page for a first layer of color. Try to color in circles or ovals rather than just moving your pencil back and forth – it will make the color look more evenly.

In the end, it should look similar to the third picture.

Now we’re reading for bringing in our Indanthrene Blue. Find where the transitions shall be – I started in the middle of my Dark Indigo. Again, keep a very light hand, because we’re still in with the first layer. Follow the sketching you did before and bring the color a bit further to the middle. Again, we do this for the whole page until it looks similar to the second picture above.

Note: don’t worry if it looks messy now (you see, mine looked messy, too!). We will work this out with the following layers – there are many more to come, trust me. 🙂

You already knew what was to come next, right? 🙂 We’re repeating our last two steps, this time with our third color Light Ultramarine. Find the edges of your Indanthrene Blue and lightly blend the Light Ultramarine over them, bringing the color further to the middle.

That was the first round of color!

For now, there’s not much color on your paper. We will have to put several layers over it, so I can shorten the next steps down to the following pictures.

Repeat those three steps over and over again. Start on the edges with the Dark Indigo, fade it out, blend in the Indanthrene Blue, fade this out, bring in the Light Ultramarine and again, fade this out to the white of your paper. Keep in mind that you can always go over the dark areas with the lighter pencil.

Always bring the color further into the center of your page, as you can see in my pictures – but remember to keep some white in the very center! For the first maybe two layers I would recommend to keep the light hand you maintained so well up until now 🙂 In the later process, you can add a little more pressure. But it is important that you always focus on soft transitions – and that’s something you can only achieve by coloring in light circles or ovals.

If you just move your pencil back and forth at this time, there’ll be new edges rather than transitions. I know that this might happen especially when the impatience kicks in – but note that this kind of background is really not difficult at all, it only takes a lot of time. And patience. And maybe coffee. 🙂

I’d like to share another tip with you: I call it the slicing principle 🙂

In this page, we really have a lot of white space to fill and I admit that when I started with the first step shown here, I found it quite scary. I thought, ooh, what if I can’t make it all the way through, what if the transitions get messy, what if it doesn’t look evenly in the end.. lemme tell you: that’s bullshit. 🙂

You don’t have to do this all in one sitting and you don’t have to focus on the whole page the whole time. Choose a small part of your page to start with – I decided to go for the upper right corner first. That’s a quite small area here. Focus on this corner and do the three steps I showed you. Then you choose the next small part that’s next to this – for example the upper central part. Do the same with that. Move on to the upper left corner, repeat your three steps. You can do maybe five centimeters of blending and shading at once, right? You can! Cut your page into small slices and you’ll be there in no time! 🙂

You can do as many layers as you like – but I recommend doing at least four for a background of that size. And yes, this will take some hours (hours!). No, you cannot speed it up – at least not if you want it to look good.. 🙂

Now is the time to bring in our two Prismacolors.

The difference between the two brands of pencils we are using here is that Polychromos are oil-based while Prismas are wax-based. You probably knew that already. But when it’s about those soft transitions we want to achieve here, the Prisma’s wax can really help you soften them even more. So this is what we’re gonna do here. We add another layer of color, this time with the Sky Blue Light. I used it to blend the Light Ultramarine with the Indanthrene Blue, and I used the white to blend the Light Ultramarine into the white of the paper.

If there are any areas in which your transitions aren’t so soft, you can now work this out with the Prisma pencils.

If you want to use a colorless blender, now is also the time to do that. If you don’t have any, you don’t need one – you can also blend with white (as above), with a very light color (like Sky Blue Light in this example) or you just seal the white dots with the next lighter color of your choice. I think a blender is nice to have, but you don’t necessarily need one.

And now, last but not least – add some stars! 🙂

For mine, I mainly used the white Posca pen shown in the picture. I tried with the gel pen that is also shown, but I found out that the Posca worked better. I only have this one size of Posca, but if you maybe have several, that would be cool, because then you can make bigger and smaller stars much easier 🙂 Since I don’t, I just made little dots all over the page and circeled around some of them to make them bigger. You can also add real stars if you want to. Or maybe there are some parts of your coloring where a little glow would be nice (jewellery, eyes, hair, glass, ..).

Possible details to add would be some transparent glitter to the stars, or you could also darken the edges and corners further by using a black pencil. But I didn’t do this here.

And this was it! I know it takes a lot of time, but the result is worth every minute. I really like this kind of background and I hope you do, too!

If you’re using this tutorial for your work, I would be happy if you credit me, either with this blog or with my Instagram @roxellence. I would love to see it! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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