A step by step guide... for who ever would ever like to sketch and watercolor a (sugar) pine cone. This project took me about 35 minutes.
Create a rough sketch of said pine cone, something similar to picture on the left. Nothing fancy as you can see. Next, you need to start creating random third dimensional points, don't worry about grouping them together too closely - you need that space between them (better yet - find a pine cone on your land or at the park or even buy some) to give depth.
This is what you should be trying to get (click to zoom). Random and fun.
Once finished, clean up around the pine cone with your eraser (kneading it into points to get into the small openings around the pine cone). Now it's the fun part - pull out your paints. I use watercolors - they are the easiest for me. Either using tubes or a watercolor pan like my pocket/travel size.
With watercolors, you start with the lightest color you will be needing, and then build up on that with dark and darker colors until finished. Here I start with a dark tan or goldish yellow and focus on the side that is highlighted (the part not colored in yet will be in shadow = darker)
Picture on left: Have filled in most of the points - but not the in between yet. Added some brown to the gold to make it darker on the shadow side. Let dry.
Picture on right: Start filling in between with brown and a little rust color red. Go with just under the points at first, (let dry) and then carefully out line them them. After you have done that, and let it mostly dry. mix your brown/rust color with some black (remember! Even a little black can over power a large portion) to do under and to the side of shadowing of the points.