Monday, March 10, 2008

Layers of Fun


“Blue Lucidity”
Colored pencil drawing on 3 layers of Duralar drafting film
10 ½ x 8”

(Backed by Stonehenge white vellum)
I am currently a member of a Studios on High Gallery in the Short North Arts District in Columbus, Ohio, where we work weekly and demonstrate our art. During one such demonstration, while working on velum, both the front and back, a couple came into the gallery and stood watching for a bit, as our customers do. They then suggested, as they were both architects and use the product, that I try Duralar film. Of course, I ran out the next day and bought some (it is usually carried in most art stores in their drafting supply section.)

So then, what to try? While shopping at a flea market, I ran across a woman selling marbles which were perfect for a new project on film. Since I knew I wanted to try to draw something transparent, I bought the entire box and now have a fabulous-o collection (as my son tells me).

Marbles are such simple objects and yet the way the light plays through them and casts such interesting shadows and reflections, I knew I wanted to try to capture that by drawing on the drafting film. But after trying to draw on the front and back only of the film, I wasn’t getting what I had hoped; the film is colored pencil friendly, but only allows a couple of layers at most. Because I usually draw with many, many layers, I then decided to try layering the FILM instead.


  1. On sheet 1 (the top sheet), I applied my first two to three layers using lighter shades of yellows, greens, lavenders and blues. Then I flipped the sheet over and applied some darker blues, purples and greens (indigo blue, dark green, peacock green, black grape and imperial violet). This alone could have been my finished drawing, but I wanted the viewer to feel as if they were looking at a three-dimensional object; to really “see” into the marbles.
  2. On sheet 2 (the second layer), I wanted to highlight my focal marble by using orange/red, which complemented the blue/green of the marble and created the depth I wanted. For the marble just to its left, I decided to use more blues to create its depth and to push it back behind the focal marble a bit. I used various shades of blue, gray and orange in the others to accent their swirls and reflections. Again, the color was also applied to the back of sheet 2.
  3. On sheet 3 (the bottom layer), I decided to created the background. I layered on both front and back shades of orange and blue to create a luminous and interesting grey and also to complement the marbles and pull the composition together.
  4. Knowing that I would be backing all three layers with Stonehenge white paper, I wanted the white highlights to really stand out and the background to really recede. So my final application was to apply white to the marble highlights on the front of sheet 1.

All three complete layers:


Keep in mind that the colors of each layer become a bit muted by the opacity of the film; it’s as if you have added a layer of white.

Assembling the pieces:

Here, I am holding the assembled layers in front of my studio window. (It's my "poor gal's light-box", but I do have an awesome view!) This step helped me to see clearly my pencil strokes and a true view of my assembled layers.


The process was not as labor intensive as many people may think. The drafting film pushes you to be selective in your choice of layers to apply, since it only allows a few. It was such a joy to be able to achieve my goal with this extremely colored pencil friendly support. I think the possibilities are many and I plan to keep “playing” with it!

"Green Glass"

colored pencil on 3 layers of Duralar Mylar film

8 x 10.5"

3 comments:

Serena said...

An excellent post on your 3D process...thanks so much for sharing it, Rhonda. It was very helpful and much appreciated. Your work is amazing and always leaves me gob-smacked.....LOVE it!

PS - Is this the same sort of drafting film that Maggie and Wendy use?

Jael Bendt said...

Thank you! My muse seems to flee me a lot. lol. she's been studiously ignoring me.

Rhonda Bartoe Tucker said...

Serena, I think we're using the same stuff. When colored pencil artists refer to drafting film, I believe this is what they're referring to. Anyone else know for sure?

Jael, stay the course, she'll come back!