Enchanted Forest. Dawn Forest stage by stage.

Please pardon any errors and poor writing skills in this update.  The weather here is diaboloically hot for no sane reason what so ever… it’s still only spring.  There is a beastly hot wind blowing and the air pressure has caused a rotten pain to settle just behind my left eyebrow.  A change is on the way and it can’t come soon enough.  On the other hand THUNDER STORMS!!!  (Love them… hope we get a good one.)

I love Johanna Basford’s work.  Her beautiful, precise line work begs to be coloured and there are many many wonderful examples online of people who have done just that.  So it was with a lot of eagerness and some trepidation that I undertook the massive task of colouring in the first two page forest spread in her Enchanted Forest colouring book.  I thought you may be interested in seeing just how I colour a large piece like this so I took some photos at various stages.


For this piece I’m using my Faber Castell Polychromos pencils.  If you haven’t guessed by now these are my favourite coloured pencils.  I love their softness, but not too soft, and their ability to keep a nice pointy end for detailed work. And they blend… man do they blend! 🙂   The first big problem, after choosing the weapons, is deciding on a colour scheme.  Some pictures I approach by formulating a 50 to 70% plan of what colours are going to go where and I find that often these pictures are the ones I’m most happy with.  Not so with this one.  I knew I wanted to create a ‘pre dawn’ look to the picture as it is at the start of the journey through the enchanted forest.  So the sky had to be a rich blue with an aura of pink, orange and yellow rising from the horizon.  Secondly I decided that I wasn’t going to stick to standard green leaves and brown trunks for the trees.  I wanted to go wild and experiment with colour.   With those two thoughts in mind I was just going to wing it.  I started in the top left hand of the left page.  This is so I don’t smudge my work with my hand as I often do because I’m clumsy like that.  First I coloured the pink leaves and brown tree trunk with peach coloured lichen.  Then I began to tackle the sky with a bright, rich blue.  It’s quite difficult and time consuming trying to keep the sky colour evenly distributed and fading evenly down the page.  I’m trying not to relay on blending materials and I didn’t use any in this entire picture.

The first big tree was next.  I planned the leaf colours for all the trees by using a scrap piece of paper to experiment on.  I drew little leaf shapes and filled them in with various colours until I found a combination I liked.  I gave this tree an Autumn look.


The leaves on the tree are finished.  Time to fill in the sky around them.  I like to fill in the back ground as I move through the picture as this breaks up an otherwise daunting and tedious task into smaller, manageable bites.  I found it quite challenging to shade the blue evenly and fade it out as I came down through the foliage.  But I like a challenge.  See my penciled in note to myself on the bottom right hand side of the picture.  I write notes to myself as I flick through my books to record any inspirations I get regarding colouring them in the future.


Jumping ahead now.  The third tree did end up with green foliage as I felt green was now needed in the picture.  For the large tree I choose four colours… tan, a light and a dark warm gray and a purpley-pink colour.  This is an enchanted forest so I wanted the trees to have a surreal, magical look.  Because the light is coming from behind the trees I first started to colour them by colouring a band of cream on either side of the trunks.  This is what is giving the picture its ‘glowy’ look. It’s a simple trick and very effective.  The dawn glow was created by first colouring a band of cream, then a yellowing orange, a pink and finally a rich burgundy colour around the base of the grass.  Each colour had a fair amount of overlap to create a soft, gradiented look. Again I did the sky last as I completed each section.


Then I started to get a bit bolder with my colour choices.  A spearmint green trunk with red leaves.  I love this combination and it will be appearing again in this book.

One side complete I started on the other side.  I won’t include stage pictures of that as, by now, you get the general idea.  Here is how it turned out.  (This picture is a little dull as it’s over cast as well as horribly hot and windy this morning.  In real life it’s very bright.)


And here is each page so you can see all the details.  Enjoy. 🙂  If you’ve colouring this picture too I’d love to see it.  Please leave me a link in the comments section.




  1. Jane

    PETA your image is just outstanding as is you step by step guide on how you achieved your results. Thanks for sharing I really enjoy each and every post..

  2. Sandra Morris

    Thanks so much for sharing, this is absolutely beautiful! I am new to colouring and can only hope to produce pictures like this.

  3. Claire

    Wow, that’s amazing! I love everything about it 🙂

    1. Sandra Harris

      I’m going green with envy Peta. Already finished this, I think I posted it. Love your dawn sunrise, brilliant.

  4. Jennidee

    Outstanding! Not only amazing colouring, but wonderful notes to tell us how you did it. This is going to be one Magnificent book.

  5. Nichola Feeney


    Peta, you are a stupendously talented colourist. I’ve picked up so many good tips from your blog and YouTube videos but can only dream of being this good.

    I’m going to scroll back up and have another look!

  6. lilian

    Thanks so much for sharing. I dont have a website to send you a link , although i dont mind sharing with you my novice coloring pics…hehehe… but i havent do this pic yet. :-D.

  7. Alain

    All I can say is WOW! I CAN’T BLEND LIKE THAT!!!

  8. Fendi low

    I love ur colouring, i wish i could share my creation with u, well, some of my colour page i did add on some gems stickers to make it more shining, i love to do it? Hopefully it give u more idea?

  9. Jennifer Langton

    I honestly watch and rewatch all your videos. You way with color is amazing. Thank you for sharing your talent.

  10. Mette Nichols

    I’m struggling to achieve the light purple colors seen here on the right hand page in the tree trunk and the leaves in the upper right corner. Could you possibly ( if you still remember!) tell me which Polychromos pencil(s) you used?

  11. Denise

    THANK YOU! I have been wondering how people achieve the colored background in detailed drawings. Sadly, I don’t think I am up to the task yet, but at least I don’t have to keep wondering.
    I will begin on something smaller perhaps. You are my favorite teacher I am so grateful that you make such inspiring and informative lessons.

  12. Brenda

    PETA, Where are you? Is everything OK? I have been looking for you and any new postings, I haven’t seen anything. I miss your demonstrations. This is like losing track of an old friend. I got accustom to spending time with your voice. Please tell me you are all right and that you are just taking a break and will be back.

    Your fellow colorist,

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  14. BethAnn McGill

    Oh Miss Peta how I love this picture. I follow you all over the place. I would love to see more full length coloring tutorials from you. You are truly wonderful and so talented. You have inspired me to add a set of Faber Castells to my set soon. I plan on coloring along with you World of Flower tutorial you did the series on, for the flower wreath.

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