White Prismacolor Tutorial with Retro Ruched Swimsuit and Cover-Up

RLC asked some time back about how I draw white things, and I’ve finally written a tutorial about it. I’d say it’s intermediate, and I hope it’s of use to someone!

GreysSo the first thing to understand is that I have eighteen grey pencils in three sets of six, French Grey, Warm Grey and Cool Grey. For each set, the 10% pencil is the lightest and the 90% pencil is the darkest, with 20%, 30%, 50% and 70% in between. I almost always use French Grey — I think it has a nice warm tone to it, it blends well with the colorless blender and the lightest French Grey is lighter than the lightest greys from the other two sets. Most of the white dresses or parts of dresses that you see on my site will have been done in French Grey. I like Cool Grey for silver, white parts with cooler colors like blue and sometimes just if I’m bored of French Grey. Warm Grey I don’t use all that much.

Generally with grey I work from lights to darks. I like to start off with light lines and pin them down with darker colors later, so I used French Grey 20% and Cool Grey 20% to draw the base of the swimsuit and cover-up (traced over the doll). 10% is hard to see, so I’ll usually go with 20% or 30% here.

Using French Grey and Cool Grey 10%, I colored most of the area where I intend to have shaded areas eventually. This is the base that the rest of the grey goes on, so these lines are more like a covering than sharply defined shadows.

Working my way up now, I’m using French Grey and Cool Grey 20% to lightly redefine where the shadows are going to go.

French and Cool Grey 30% define the darker areas even more now and start to make it look less flat.

Now that I’ve used the lighter colors (10%, 20%, 30%) I like to stop and blend a bit with the colorless blender. The general way I use the colorless blender is to rub it over the dark areas first, blending them into the lighter areas gradually and softening the whole area. I don’t always use the colorless blender with white outfits, though — it makes it smoother but it only makes a really dramatic difference with colors. I especially won’t use it with whites if I’m scared of accidentally dragging another color into the white section.

Going from 30% to 50% with the French and Cool greys is a big jump – if I wasn’t doing the tutorial, I might stop here and not use the darker greys, because the more you use the darker greys, the more risk there is of it looking less “white” and more “grey.” Anyways, I redid all the major lines and some of the shading with French and Cool Grey 50% here.

Using French and Cool Grey 70%, I added in even deeper shadows, especially around the knot at the waist, and redid the border lines.

Going back to French and Cool Grey 50%, I added in deeper shading where I thought it was needed. (Note, in this tutorial I don’t use the 90% colors at all. Beware if you have them out with the others, more than once I’ve picked up 90% when I meant to use 70% and made myself very grumpy.)

Again, I’ve smoothed out the colors with the colorless blender. I also added some more shadowing to the sides with the 50% pencils.

Added color to the flower and some little pink dots to the cover-up, and voila! I would have probably stopped at step 7 if I was doing a proper outfit, though. I think you can use a lot of grey and still have something be read as white, but it’s easy to slip into being more grey than white. In this white dress which I think turned out well, the lines are all French Grey 50% and the only hint of 70% is at the folds in the hem.

27 thoughts on “White Prismacolor Tutorial with Retro Ruched Swimsuit and Cover-Up

  1. Yay! Thank you. Thank you. Now I have fewer excuses for not branching into color. I shall have to try this method and see how it works out. Maybe this weekend when my life is less crazy… :)

  2. Wow, this is great! Thanks so much for this tutorial, I hope I can do it! I hope you start doing other tutorials–I’m really interested to know how you get those gleaming shiny mermaid tails. Not that you have to divulge all of your Top Secret Drawing Skillz ™.

  3. wow, i have been gone a while! i love seeing how you work on a piece start to finish. maybe this will inspire me to get back to my own stuff! thank you!

    : D

  4. Off-topic, but what kind of pencil sharpener do you use for your Prismacolors? I recently bought a nice set of them, but I am terrified of breaking the leads by using the sharpeners I have now, and I’d like to know what works well for them.

  5. If you’re looking for ideas, how about these: What would you wear to the wedding/coronation of your arch-rival? What would you wear to the funeral/execution of your arch-rival?

  6. your use of words are very helpful!
    where abouts are you based and how did you get started in the fashion industry

  7. Don’t worry! Liana is on vacation visiting her mom(me)and enjoying a Northwest retreat. I suggested she post that she was away but I think she hoped to do an update before she left and ran out of time. I’ll see her on Thursday and pass on that you miss her.

  8. Yeah, hi :) I’m alive and well, and I’m sorry I made anyone worry! I’m not quite back home yet, but when I get there I have a new scanner waiting for me, one that doesn’t mess up the colors and put ugly bands all over the place, so in a few days I bet you’ll see some updates!

  9. Wow! You are a very good drawer!! Keep using those talents for God!! And could you try making some new paper dolls?? ;)

  10. Hi my cusin amy is having a sweet 16 in 8 days and my mom needs a dress to were but cant find the right one the party is in colors of a light peach and black what should i do to help my mom.

  11. peach and black? whut an er, interesting combination of colors. Preferberaly i think Peach and cream would go better. You draw so well!

  12. Liana I <3 your work! The only suggestion I might have is more fairy dresses for Ivy and Grace, because those are the only two dolls my parents let me print, so I can't use any of the left-facing dresses. Thanks soo much!!!!! Keep up the great work.

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