Studio Activity #3

Let’s talk for a minute about the idea of wearable art. That would be jewelry, the vehicle for self-expression, the method of adorning ourselves in fine art. Jewelry starts as a two-dimensional concept and becomes a tangible, wearable piece. The article below, demonstrating the use of jewelry in portraiture, returns to it’s two-dimensional form. And I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit that the jewelry in portraiture is one of my favorite concepts in art. That is my Big Idea!


Colored pencils are the first medium used when learning to create jewelry renderings. They allow for more control and precision than watercolor and gouache paints. With the exception of specialized art programs in specific high schools, jewelry design is not often offered. But let’s assume it is! And honestly, why isn’t it?!

A high school artist is probably comfortable using “basic” colored pencils and are ready to take their skills to the next level by using Prismacolor pencils and practicing their jewelry sketching skills. Prior to starting with Prismacolors, it is best to get familiar with basic drawing techniques and product knowledge.

And here are some fast facts about Prismacolors: The pencils can be purchased in sets or individually (which is key, as we will soon discover!). The only other materials needed are a hand-sharpener to keep the tip sharp, and a kneaded eraser.


Ready?! Let’s get our pencils out and start sketching!

Wait. Those pencils are almost all the same color. Why?! And remember how I mentioned Prismacolor pencils can be purchased individually? This would be why! To allow the proper options needed to render jewelry.

Online example of yellow gold ring renderings.

See, jewelry rendering starts with learning to draw gold and silver (platinum, white gold). The brightly colored Prismacolors come out to draw gemstones-the icing on the cake!


This is a necklace I rendered to show the idea of yellow and white gold. One of the main drawbacks of using Prismacolors for jewelry rendering is the lack of ability to really blend the colors. That said, they are an excellent starting point for students to get familiar with the colors needed to create different tones of metals and to practice execution of applying shading and highlights to give a three dimensionality. Developing these skills will then provide skills for students to move on to using watercolors and gouache to render metal.

Now on to color! Gemstones come in every color of the rainbow, and that is where the colored Prismacolor pencils shine. Need to draw an emerald? Reach for your green pencils. A ruby? The red pencils will shine here. Drawing a diamond? Well, the absence of color is important here! So the gray, black and white pencils are necessary.

This was a sketch of cabochon (non-faceted) gemstones I created. Again, as you can see achieving proper blending for a three-dimensionality in such a small area can be a challenge. Let’s look at an in-depth tutorial on gemstones and Prismacolors:


Utilizing Prismacolors to render metal and gemstones is a great start to getting familiar with jewelry design concepts. Designs will reach the next level when students grow their skill set with the use of paints to render jewelry.