Well, I’ve had the chance to work on this piece over the past week or so, slowly but I am making progress. When I am color-mapping (see upper background area), I usually apply colored pencils to do that, working in very light applications of the base colors in various areas to get my bearings and see how I like the direction I’m going in. By doing it very lightly I can still see where I’m going but at the same time if I don’t like the overall idea or parts of it I can still erase or cover well with the right colors. I’ve started something new however, which may qualify this piece as mixed media, but more than 90% of the piece is still colored pencil so I guess it’s a mute point. I lay out some of the background as shown here using sponges or Q-tips or makeup applicators and Pan Pastels. Pan pastels are absolutely wonderful to work with and come in a huge array of colors. You can use them without issue with colored pencil. By using them for my mapping, it’s first of all much faster and I can stand back an view what I’m doing much easier. I don’t try to create any detail, just a simple map of the base colors and where they will sort of go for the finished work. As I start working with the colored pencils, I can then easily see when I bump up against another color or line indicating that I need to think about what goes next as I begin to develop the layers and the details. Hope that makes sense. Once the majority of this piece is done I will go in and sharpen up some of the edges and darken some of the values where needed. When having a soft, diffused background like this one, it’s really important for your subject to have some really crisp, clean edges so it pops out from the background as you can see in the bottom half of the picture giving it that realistic appearance rather than being flat and one-dimensional.