Monday, March 4, 2013

Bell Pepper Update

Perfection is overrated. After writing that last post, I went a couple of days without looking at my bell pepper drawing, but still kind of stewing about it. But then, your encouraging, constructive comments prodded me to get it back out, fix it as best I could, and move on. I decided to forgo the inside cross-section I had planned, spent a few minutes on those problem areas, and gave this guy his jaunty little stem hat.

Linda, thanks for suggesting the use of an exacto knife; it's great for removing the waxy layers! I could even feather the area I was working on with the tip of the blade. Live and learn.

Afterward, I cleaned up the paper around the image digitally, as I always do. I eventually go back and clean up the original, but I like my scans to have the same white background. I know it alters reality a bit (no drawing paper is pure white) but the images pop nicely on a white ground. There are probably a number of better ways to do this, but here's my routine: I go into Photoshop and select an eraser with a soft (feathered) round brush. I run it along the edge of the image, being very careful to erase just shy of the image itself. This takes some experimenting with brush sizes, etc; if  too big of a brush is used, or it's too close to the image, the feathering will lighten the edge of the pencil work. Once the area next to the image is clean, it's easy to use the lasso tool and clear out the rest of the background. (I'm not super meticulous when I draw; my paper is always full of pencil dust, smears, etc.)

Oh, and some of you asked about my swatch cards that I mentioned. When I made them, I had no idea how indispensable they'd be. I never do a colored pencil drawing without using them. Click here to read the post I wrote ages ago when I created them.

This little episode has reminded me why I love to draw things from nature—they're not perfect. No one notices if that bump on that squash isn't exactly right. Let's hear it for imperfection!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing. You are an inspiration.

  2. Sarah your pepper is so realistic that I can taste it....incredible work. I only make cards, I cannot draw, but the idea of keeping a swatch is brilliant. I have lost count of the times I have made one that came out well and could not remember for the life of me what Promarkers,papers etc I used. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful creativity x

  3. I never saw the mistakes. I never see any on your work. It's almost blasphemy. but your bell pepper is better than the real one. Too bad, I cannot bit into it. Might as well. it is a wonderful reminder of how beautiful a vegetable may be. I have this thing about peppers...I love them.

  4. Your whole process is very inspirational, blips and all! So beautiful.