How to Draw Glass in Soft Pastel

This video demos techniques for drawing glass using soft pastel. Glass is very challenging to draw because of the transparency! You’ll get concrete tips for how to create the illusion of glass in soft pastel that is convincing and believable. Demo led by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

Video Walkthrough

  • Why is transparency so challenging to draw?
  • There’s a big difference between interpreting a reference photo vs. copying the reference photo
  • You don’t have to use the exact same composition as the reference photo, that can be limiting
  • Be willing to depart from the reference photo in terms of composition.
  • You can create muted colors by adding more layers of pastel.
  • Draw many layers of pastel in order to get a broad range of colors.
  • Muted colors are very important in color media!
  • Consider having contrasting edges in your mark, think about soft vs. crisp edges.
  • Squinting at the reference photo will make it easier to see past the details and focus on the simple shapes.
  • Looking for negative space between objects can make it easier to define the objects.
  • You can define an object in the space by building the colors around it, you don’t only have to focus on the objects.
  • Drawing the background colors through the glass object is what can achieve that sense of transparency.
  • Think about the image in terms of space and where things are located.
  • Are the objects in the foreground, middle ground, or the background?
  • You as the artist need to choose what to emphasize in the space, and what you want to fall back in space.
  • When drawing an object with tons of detail, you don’t have to draw every tiny people
  • Sometimes suggesting texture in the lace is more effective.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

There is definitely a time and place for making really time consuming, epic artworks, but for some people (like me) it can be paralyzing because you can get stuck in a piece.

It’s good to have both experiences, so you know how to make long term sustained pieces. At the same time, it’s also important to know how to scale up your quantity and production. Neither way of working is “correct,” is just depends on what you are doing.

What helps me is having 2-3 artworks in progress at a time. If I get tired or frustrated with one, I can go work on another artwork to get distance. Then I can come back a few days later and look at the work with a fresh pair of eyes.

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