How to Draw a White Swan in Pastel

Skill Level : 1 Beginner, 2 Intermediate

Medium : Pastel Painting

Subject : Animals

Tutor : Dennis Clark

Class Length : 2 hour 17 minutes

Avg Rating : No Ratings Yet

Class Description

There is virtually nothing more satisfying than to watch a swan gracefully glide by on a lovely placid stretch of water.

In the lesson you will learn:

1 How to simplify the background
2 How to cut out distracting objects
3 How to render the reflections in the water
4 How to render shadows on a white object
5 and more ….

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Drawing the background

For a darkish background take a Burnt Sienna soft pastel and stroke it over the top portion of the background.  Then take a red pastel and do the same over the previous color.  Lastly stroke a dark brown over all the other colors.  See how lightly it has been done.  Now, crumple up a tissue and use it to blend all these colors together.  Carefully blend until slightly over the outline of the swan so that a halo will not form around the swan later on.  The lower foreground is lighter than the background.

Drawing the background reflections

Sunlight is reflecting between reeds in the background so use a light blue pastel to add in the reflections.  Some of the reflections will be less obvious than others as well as broader and narrower.  Don't make them all even.

Drawing the head

Block in the head with a soft white pastel, and then black for the forehead and orange for the beak.  Blend with a paper stump and add the eye with a black pastel pencil, then do the nostril and the tip of the beak.


Very softly shade in the head with an orange and a blue pencil.  Add the shadow on the beak with a mauve pencil.

Drawing the neck

The neck shadow is painted in with dark blue and a black pencil, using the side of the tip.  Blend with a paper stump.  Notice how I'm using the tooth of the paper for effect.  Continue working down the long neck and blending as previously and smoother as we get lower down.

About Dennis Clark

Dennis has been drawing and painting for most of his life (since 1944) and shortly after that in watercolours. During WWII there were no art books so to speak, so he had to teach himself through experimentation, sweat and tears. He teaches the following mediums online - Watercolours, Pastels, Acrylics, Pencil, Pastels, Pen and Ink and Oils.
Read more about Dennis Clark

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