Pastel Drawing Tutorial – Pink Orchids


George Max is a Geologist, Fine Artist and Professional Translator from central Guatemala in Middle America. He was born in 1968 in a small town called of Cobán, 200 km north of Guatemala City. He traveled to the USA (Colorado State) in 1989 to study English under a one year scholarship program. He started getting acquainted with art since his first year in College in 1988. As an autodidact, he started his labor of art in 1992 making oil paintings on canvas. Nevertheless, it was until late 2004 when he began to produce formal artwork (oil paintings mainly) for exhibition and sale to date.

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For this second pastel drawing demo, I used the picture of two pink orchids highly sunlit from the top left. The two orchid flowers protrude from the background which is composed of elongated leaves rising from the ground. The lower background is shadowed and makes the orchids stand out even more with color and shape contrast.

Pastel Drawing Tutorial Image 1


Again, for this demonstration I used a 64-color set of Mungyo soft pastels (27 mm x 8 mm) and a sheet of Strathmore Pastel paper (11” x 14”) of somehow pale yellow color. This type of paper requires at least 5 mm sticks or pastel pencils to be able to fill the texture more efficiently and render details in realistic drawings.


I did not find much problem matching the colors, tones and shades on this one with my Mungyo colors but a set with more color gradations and shades is recommended.


The following sections do not follow an exact step by step process but rather stages which contain different steps to work with drawing and coloring areas. My intention here in this second pasted drawing demo is to show more pigment addition without saturating or bloating the paper with colors that causes cloudy patches. I recommend shaking your paper from time to time to avoid the accumulation of dust in the lower parts which contaminates the already colored areas, especially the light colored areas. My expertise with soft pastel colors is not extensive so this is actually part of my pastel drawings self-teaching and learning that I publish on the Web.


With my base drawing carefully and precisely drawn, I begin to match some of the lightest shades in the orchid flowers. This first layer is to slightly fill in areas which define the main subjects and to cover paper texture. White areas have been indicated. Some dark hues have also been added to the orchid. Lemon yellow and yellow ochre are also visible. As I pointed out in my first pastel demo, at this starting stage, it is important to start by just hovering the pastel sticks over the paper without applying much pressure.

Pastel Drawing Technique Image 2


After putting in some coloring from Stage 1, I focus on the lower orchid and start blocking in its shape against the background area which appears a little undefined and blurred. This is yet with the lightest of the various brown and green tones of which the dark background is made. From here I extend outwardly but not far outside of the orchid enclosing area. Here I verify and constrain the orchid’s shape because my base drawing is already concealed.

Pastel Drawing Technique Image 2


Following you can notice that I haven’t moved much farther from the drawing of the lower orchid. The orchid itself shows some loose colors which will need further blending and definition. The dark areas in the background have been strengthened to make the orchid contours stand out. A mosaic of related colors is noticeable which I will later fuse to produce the necessary tonalities. Some leaves have tentatively been drawn with their lightest sunlit or shadowed tones.



From here I have extended to the left and right but still not much to the bottom and top areas. Light tones first for both light and dark areas to progressively obtain the right gradation and blending. Little by little, step by step and area by area the background becomes apparent and integrates with the foreground. I advance on the top orchid by filling in more areas and defining tones. Not much pigment is yet added, just an overall layer without saturating any specific area. Don’t despair on ending one main subject yet, completing it later as we advance is more rewarding and we can save time on correcting mistakes that can’t be undone otherwise.



Next, I have covered the bottom with dark blue (ultramarine blue) but it will require some black to achieve the darkest hue. The leaves in the background are continuously and progressively filled with hues that intermingle with each other. Some dark ochre becomes apparent over the green areas but it will be downgraded as I darken these areas. More polishing and strengthening of colors and shades will be left for the last stages to achieve a thorough application of pigments and overall balance of color and composition as well as contrast.



In advancing to the leaves at the top, the colors need to be some kind of sap green and hookers green using the light shades to match the sunlit areas. Some lemon yellow is also added on the edges of the orchids’ leaves. The upper orchid is not yet well defined or constrained against the background. I do this later as I advance to the upper half. Here, pink shades from the orchid; and pale green and lime green from the leaves are complementary colors whose interplay becomes apparent at the end of the drawing. At this stage, the background appears more integrated and less chaotic than the previous stage.



To this point, after several days and paused working, an overall layer of the drawing surface has been completed. The only uncovered area is where I will put my signature. The background at the top has been filled with dark blue and some scattered black. A lot of polishing and color restating, shading, blending and texturing will ensue to help define overall color balance and contrast. Edges will be enhanced where needed with contrasting colors and shapes. In the lower background area, dark ochre predominates which will subsequently become the lighter areas when darker tones are added over. More retouching will be required to eliminate color and composition inconsistencies in the drawing.



At this stage we have a pre-finished drawing. I have added my signature and the upper orchid has been mostly constrained and redefined proportionally. More time has been invested in polishing, saturating and darkening the background. From my experience in photographing orchids, orchid colors can be highly tinted and others quite pale. These contrasting colors can provide interesting results in drawing or painting orchids in any media. Orchid’s leaves, on the other hand, are almost devoid of any texture except for longitudinal divisions that produce certain color changes with light.



After much more reworking, dedication and effort on trying to achieve a more realistic approach, I treated every area separately and rendered them to the utmost. The paper texture, however, did not allow for further smoothing of the surfaces and some stippling may be noticeable. This can be overcome by using finer textured paper and trying different pastel sizes, brands and quality.


Please feel free to follow this pastel drawing process to create your own drawing and self-teaching. The process does not start if you don’t take the courage to grab your pastels and start to apply colors over the paper. It emphasizes the application of pastel from small amounts to successive layering of pigments as necessary and allowed by the drawing surface. Working this way will create more confidence in the artist and the ability and capability to handle more colors, hues, shades and tonalities to enhance pastel drawing with time. Until another art demo, best wishes in your everyday art making and take the most advantage of your pastel drawing experience. Please send me your comments to email attached below.




  1. RHONDA says

    This is a great place to learn different techniques in art media. Now these days I can’t wait to go home and try some of the tutors that each of you artist send in. Thanks always for you step by step instructions.

  2. pop art says

    for this type of drawings upto what size of brushes we can use? where can i find your first demo?

  3. Charyn Frances says

    I am trying to find out how to publish my pastel drawings and what medium they could be transferred to to make them more handleable. I would be grateful for any advice you can offer me. With thanks, Charyn Frances.

  4. Dave H. says

    Wow what a beautiful pastel picture you created. I have never actually tried pastel drawing in any art class that I have taken. This looks like a very interesting hobby for someone to take up. I don’t think I could draw anywhere close to your amazing abilities.

  5. Anonymous says

    This looks like a very interesting hobby for someone to take up. Pastels are becoming more and more popular. I would be grateful for any advice you can offer me.

  6. Cristy says

    These contrasting colors can provide interesting results in drawing or painting orchids in any media. This looks like a very interesting hobby for someone to take up. Pastels are becoming more and more popular. Very good step by step! Pastels.

  7. rheana longoria says

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! that was the most incredibal thing i’ve ever seen!!!! i’m defenetly gonna try to do that!!!!!

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