Set Your Night on Fire: 4th of July How-to

Jul 02

Set Your Night on Fire: 4th of July How-to

In honor of Independence Day, I decided to pay homage to our lovely Lady Liberty set in front of an array of fireworks. To capture the glow of fireworks, I chose to use black paper and build up the brilliant color, which mimics the night sky. You can see how to emulate this easy-to-do drawing and celebrate the 4th your own way!

Learn how-to light up your night!


Supplies: Black paper, image you plan to draw, Prismacolor Premier Soft-Core Colored Pencils (an array of light and medium-valued colors), Ebony pencil, eraser, coffee (of course).


To make an exact match of the picture and to save time, I created a transfer of the image. Color the back of the paper with an ebony pencil, and then tape your image to the black paper so it doesn’t move. Choose a bright colored pen so you can see the lines you’ve already drawn. This will create an indent in your paper, so be careful not to press too hard! If you would rather free-hand the drawing, you can skip this step.


Once you have your image outlined, choose a medium value colored pencil (this color should be the darkest pencil you use) and lightly fill in the highlights (I used PC992). When working on black paper, you need to remember you’re doing the inverse of your image as if pulling the picture out of darkness. Look carefully at where the highlights are and try to only fill in color where those areas are. Leave all shadows black.

After you have the majority of your lightly colored highlights done, choose a new color (same or lighter value) to start adding more depth and contrast. I chose a periwinkle blue (PC 1103) to complement the sea foam green. Keep building up your color, adding your lightest tones last. Colored pencils are meant to be layered so you can always go back and change the value of what you colored. If you make a mistake, a regular pencil eraser will take away the colored pencil lines.


Once you’re satisfied with the basic coloring of your image (in this case, the Lady Liberty) move onto the background. We will come back to foreground later. Behind the statue, I wanted to include fireworks. I laid out roughly where I want them to be in a light yellow pencil. To create an illuminated effect, I used white colored pencil to create an edgy line. I then used yellow over it, which looks bright from the white underneath. I added pinks and purples to create more contrast.

To finish the drawing, I used the same pink and purple to add a subtle highlight along the statue to make it look like the light from the fireworks was bouncing off her. It also helps make the drawing more unified.

To see more work from Samantha DeCarlo, visit her facebook page

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