Pet portrait Dog Molly's Fine Art, watercolor and colored pencils tips and tutorials

How Do I Make My Drawings Look Realistic? Use this ONE Technique

That’s the million-dollar question I get all the time! You can get realistic drawings and paintings with this ONE technique!

Hello Fellow Artists! 🎨

Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I answer this question because the answer solves many other challenges with any artwork, such as colored pencils and watercolors. Which means I’m always repeating the same word or phrase over and over. Sorry to my students!  

If you’ve been to one of my colored pencil weekly Zoom demonstrations, you for sure would know the answer. (I wish I really had a million dollars to give to my students!)

Okay, so what is the answer you ask? Drumroll please…VALUES!

What is it I say all the time?

πŸ‘‰ Make your darks dark enough, and your lights light enough. Match to your value finder. (above) A must for your toolbox! 

Okay, so what exactly are values? 

 Values refer to the relative lightness or darkness of a color, and by manipulating these values, an artist can create the illusion of light and shadow. πŸ”΅

Blue Sphere colored pencil tutorial, colored pencil realistic drawing, colored pencil tips and techniques, Molly's Fine Art
Molly’s Fine Art Academy Blue Sphere Challenge

In art, color values play a crucial role in creating the illusion of depth and dimension on a flat surface. 

The lights and darks in your drawing or painting create the illusion of form and depth, making it look more realistic.

πŸ‘‰ Darker values recede while lighter values bring forward.

Values also create a sense of Mood or Atmosphere in a painting. πŸ–ŒοΈ

For example, darker values can create a sense of mystery or drama, while lighter values create a sense of calm or serenity.

In addition to these effects, color values can create a sense of movement or direction in a painting. 

By gradually transitioning from light to dark values in a specific direction, an artist can create the illusion of movement or lead the viewer’s eye through the composition.

Here is a quick YouTube Short that I did. It’s of a pet portrait that I did with black/grey fur. And it’s perfect for demonstrating how important the values are. You’ll see how it takes many layers to get the darkest of the dark.

One of the reasons I like colored pencils over watercolor is so I can get a super deep color plus detail. 🎨


Color values play a critical role in the overall impact and effectiveness of a drawing or painting. Understanding how to use and manipulate values is an essential skill for any artist. So, it’s really not about finding that perfect color, although it feels really good when you do! A great work of art has layers and layers of color to achieve its values.

So here’s to values, my friend! You’ll always see me practicing values and, for sure, teaching them! πŸŽ¨

Happy Drawing,Fellow Artists! ✍️

Molly 🌻

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about drawing and colored pencils, visit my website for more info about my Academy!

P.S.S My Create Commissionable Pet Portrait Course is Now Open! Visit my website for more info about my Pet Portrait Course!

Take your artwork to the next level and work for yourself! (although creating beautiful art is not really work!) 😍