Painting with Acrylics and Coloured Pencils

Painting with Acrylics and Coloured Pencils

Rabbit Ears Cap: Painting with Acrylics and Coloured Pencils

Acrylics are such a versatile medium. You can use them spread thickly as you might with oils, thinned down with water to create a look that’s similar to watercolour or you can mix them up with other mediums like I’ve done in the picture book style illustration below. Here I’ve combined acrylics with coloured pencils to create a painting that has plenty of texture and depth of colour.

Follow this step by step article to learn exactly how I’ve achieved this and you can even download the rabbit ears cap colouring page and have a go yourself.

Boy in a rabbit ears cap, painted with acrylics and coloured pencisl
Boy with a rabbit ears cap, where’s he off to?


A stock photograph of a cute boy in a rabbit ears cap caught my eye as I went in search of inspiration for a painting. He had a bag on his back and was looking into the distance as if preparing to start on a journey into the unknown.

I started with a pencil sketch which I then transferred onto a sheet of watercolour paper. I had stretched the paper the night before as I knew I was going to be painting very wet in places. The wetness would have caused the paper to buckle and it’s always nicer to paint on flat paper.

Next I made a light underpainting layer using washes of quinacridone purple to bring out the darks and shaded areas of the figure.

Boy in a rabbit ears cap, pencil sketch
Pencil sketch, transferred drawing and underpainting


Rather than laying the paint down thickly I decided to use normal heavy bodied acrylics watered down to create a thin wash that’s applied in multiple layers. All you need to thin the paint is water, make sure each layer dries before applying another and build up gradually to the desired colour.

Remember that acrylics dry to an unworkable state, you can’t lift off or soften the edges like you can with watercolours. They also dry quickly so watch out for hard edges forming where you don’t want them. A bit of tissue paper can be useful here, just dab the edge carefully before it dries completely to help soften it.

Don’t be afraid to knock back areas you’ve painted too deeply with a little opaque titanium white.

Initial washes of acrylic
More thin washes of colour


After a few layers are down I start bringing in the coloured pencils mostly to refine the edges and details but also to add some interesting marks and texture in places.

More washes and coloured pencils
Add fine details with coloured pencils


I continue in this way alternating between washes of acrylic and patches of coloured pencil, at some point I mark out the details of the background and foreground and then colour them in using the same technique.

Eventually it is complete, the end result is pleasing and I’m especially happy with the paint granulation you can see in the background hills and sky.

Acrylic colours used in this piece were from the Winsor & Newton professional series: alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, phthalo blue, phthalo turquoise, burnt sienna, burnt umber, yellow ochre, titanium white and quinacridone purple.

If you’d like to try painting with acrylics and coloured pencils on another drawing we’ve got a selection of free colouring sheets for you to choose from.

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