Moth Sketching Tutorial

Moth sketch with Golfaber Color Pencils

A sketching tutorial to capture the details!


In this lesson plan, we combine the unique qualities of two types of pencils:

Goldfaber Color Pencils offer the artist a large degree of control and ability to capture fine detail.

Goldfaber Graphite Pencils offer contrast, texture, and a pleasing aesthetic. 

These pencils combined, produce an impressive effect and offer an ease of use that make them fun and easy to master with a little practice. 


Materials used:

Goldfaber Color Pencils

Graphite Sketch Set

Blending Stump


Inspiration: Poetry

I have always loved poetry for it’s ability to speak to my heart, and also for the artistic inspiration it offers. This lovely, sensitive poem’s last two stanzas inspired this lesson plan.

Moonflower & Moth:

In a wildflower garden
there lived a cocooned creature
who hatched, grew tall,
and produced feet, 6 in all.

And wings,
oh such wings.
But who can fly
when you’ve only been taught to crawl?

The butterflies were beautiful,
floating from marigolds to phlox,
but she was no butterfly—
she’d heard them talk.

So she waited,
said creature,
for the last quarter moon,
and then whispered to it, “what must I do?”

The moon answered
with glitter and white
when on the moonflower
it shone its light—

she knew then she was made
just right; some things are meant
to temper the night.

-Jennifer Wagner

Graphite sketches of moths and flowers

Composing the drawing

In this first step, I make three separate sketches on tracing paper; one for each moth, and one of the Moonflowers. This way, I can easily move the sketches around to find the best composition.

Graphite sketch of flowers and a moth

Final drawing

I then combine the 3 drawings on a light table and trace everything into position onto a 4th piece of tissue paper.

Finally, using the light table, I trace this drawing onto the final piece of drawing paper. The sketch is very light and simple, and will serve as my guide for the pencil artwork to follow.

Graphite sketch with colored moth and Goldfaber Color Pencils

Promethea Moth

In this step, I use the colored pencils to begin the first layer of color. I keep it light, knowing that I will continue to build up combinations of color in layers.

TIP: Keep a piece of scrap drawing paper handy to experiment with color, layering effects and pressure used with pencils throughout the project.

Colorful moth sketch

Here, I continue to layer colors, blending and refining, creating contrasting dark and light areas. I keep my pencils very sharp for the fine detail of the delicate, feathery antenna and line work on wings.

TIP: Use tissue paper to protect surrounding areas of the drawing from smudges as you work.

 Moth sketch with blending stump and Goldfaber Color Pencils

Luna Moth

Here, I begin by coloring an underlying light blue that will show through as the veins of the wings, and also enhance the green that I will use next. I use a blend- ing stump to get a smoothness to this layer.

Colored moth sketch and a Goldfaber Color Pencil

Next, I layer the blue with lime green, while at the same time defining the blue channels that show through the wings.

 Colored moth sketch

Here, I try to create a soft fur-like texture on the moth’s body with a beige pencil.Using a blending stump helps with this. I use a sharp pencil for the antennae, purple detail and eyespots on the wings.

Graphite sketch with colored moths and Goldfaber Color Pencil


Finally, I enhance the graphite pencil drawing of the Moonflower. I darken some of the lines with quick, sweeping strokes, others I leave light. I lightly indicate some shading on the leaves and flowers done in light lines. I fade and lose some lines, and I add other wispy detail here and there.

Signing the artwork is my final touch.

Love this lesson plan? Download it here

Artist Biography: Janis Doukakis


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