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July 25, 2013
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Artists Toolbox: Colored Pencils

Thu Jul 25, 2013, 1:20 PM





Colored pencils are widely used as a fun and readily available art tool.  I'm sure most if not all of us have tried our hand at colored pencils, even if it was only while we were children.  While colored pencils may not be as respected as paints such as oil, acrylic or watercolors, colored pencils shouldn't be under-estimated in the impact they can and do have on the art world.  

Different Types of Colored Pencils


Wax-Based
Wax based colored pencils are probably the most common and readily available types of colored pencils on the market.  As with any type of colored pencil, these come in varying qualities and prices.  

Oil-Based
Oil based colored pencils in my experience are not as easy to find unless you are shopping online or in an art store.  These colored pencils are excellent if you are planing on coloring on wood or another similar surface.  Blending oil based colored pencils can be done using turpentine since it helps break down the oil making blending easier.  

Watercolor Pencils
Watercolor pencils are again, not as readily available as the wax based colored pencils are, yet they are still quite easy to come by and can be a lot of fun to work with.  They blend easily with or without adding water and work on a variety of surfaces.  


Picking which colored pencils are best suited to you


With as many variations and options there are for colored pencils, sometimes it can be difficult to figure out which ones are best for you.  The good news is that most colored pencils are rather afordable so it gives more room for trial and error.  There are of course a few brands which are a bit pricier; Prismacolor and Faber Castell for example, which generally are worth the price if you are serious about working with colored pencils more than just once or twice (or if you just want high quality products).  I highly recommend utilizing the internet and comparing colored pencils brands to get a better idea of what will suit your needs.  


Blending and color distribution


There are many different ways to blend colored pencils and give the kind of color distribution you are looking for. I'll be covering basic blending and color distribution techniques for wax based pencils, since those are the most commonly used, these techniques can also work with oil and watercolor pencils, though if you plan on using those I'd suggest looking up tutorials and other worthwhile literature to help you get the most out of the product.  

Pressure
I think most of us have experimented with adding or removing pressure while coloring with colored pencils.  The more pressure we apply, the more color/pigmentation is applied to the surface we are coloring on.  

Layering
Slowly building up layers of color with colored pencils is quite easy though can be a bit more time consuming.  It definitely has its upsides and can make blending easy without the use of other tools.  Simply color your piece (without too much pressure and go back over the colors with other colors, or the same and continue to layer the colors in this way until you reach a desired result.

Blending sticks
Blending sticks are another cheap blending tool.  Essentially they are a piece of paper rolled to a tip which you can hold and use much like a pencil and bleds your colors together for you.  While these are very inexpensive and many people use them, I personally have had more luck with other blending tools.  

Blending Pencils/White Pencil
I am unsure if other brands aside from Prismacolor make these colorless pencils which are used to blend colored pencils together, though plain white pencils generally have a very similar effect and can be used as well.  Essentially, as stated, these are colorless pencils which you use to draw over the area(s) you wish to blend together.  When using a colorless blender you will notice that your colors become more vibrant as you start to blend them and it will also help fill in grainy areas if your paper is not super smooth.  Using a white colored pencil to do this has much the same effect, except it does give a dull white tint on top of it which may or may  not be desired.  I also think it is worth pointing out that if you do want to use this method to blend your colors, be sure not to do so until you have laid down all of your color since this will also seal your drawing and you wont be able to add extra color on top with colored pencils.  

Blending Markers
Blending markers, much like the blending pencils are simply a clear marker which will also make your drawing more vibrant.  While using a blending marker is often much friendlier to your wrists since you don't have to press so hard, they aren't always as effecient as the blending pencils.  

Tissue or Q-tip
Using a tissue or a Q-tip are probably the most popular and widely used blending techniques for colored pencils.  Since most households generally have either of these items on hand, there is little to no cost involved and the effect from using these can be quite impressive.  Q-tips will generally give you more control over blending smaller, finer areas, while tissues are often more suited for larger areas, though both can work for either.  Simply rub your tissue or q-tip over the area which you wish to blend gently.  I suggest using a circular motion to make it blend evenly and without strange lines.  

Pencil Shavings
Pencil shavings are a fun way to blend larger areas like grass and or sky etc.  Essentially you'll want to take the colors you wish to have blended and sharpen them a bit letting the shavings fall onto the paper where you wish to apply/blend the color(s).  After the shavings are on the paper simply use a tissue or even your finger to swirl them around leaving color behind as they cover the page.  



Worthwhile Colored Pencil Tutorials


LUKIIH COLOR PENCIL TUTORIAL by Lukiih Color Pencil Tutorial by Verlisaerys Colored pencil tutorial by emperpep Rondie's Colored Pencil Tut 1 by GoldeenHerself Rondie's Colored Pencil Tut 2 by GoldeenHerself

Beautiful Colored Pencil Creations


Macaw by BeeZee-ArtA different kind of tea party by NeoRikeYou are part of fairytale by eneraiBlackberry Winter - part 1 by EyaninVariation by reelphineDelicacy by Anity-artCome Walk With Me by PolarisAstrum




Add a Comment:
 
:iconshuira:
Shuira Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
I've been wanting to try out color pencils, tried using some wax color pencils a few times(what am I typing about, almost everyone has at least used colored pencils! :P ), but after reading this tutorial (as well as a few others) I think I'll get a better result next time!

So thank you for making this tutorial Astralseed! :D 
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2013  Professional General Artist
I'm glad you found this article to be useful :)
Reply
:iconmcd0nalds:
MCD0NALDS Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much!
And that is.. quite the icon! :DDDDDDDDDDD
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
haha, thank you :D
Reply
:iconmcd0nalds:
MCD0NALDS Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Welcome :D
Reply
:iconteddybearcholla:
teddybearcholla Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Excellent!! Thank you!
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
:)
Reply
:iconbottled-mermaid:
bottled-mermaid Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013
Awesome article :heart:

Color pencils are one of my favourite tools ever; I use them a lot, but I must admit  I've never used high quality pencils yet, because they're really expensive. I hope I can buy at least some Faber-Castell in the future!

Also, thank you very much for the blending tips! :hug:
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
Before I used the high quality ones, I did just fine with cheap brands ( I particularly like Prang colored pencils) but I have to say when you start using the higher quality ones, you feel like you've been missing out on something and then the higher quality ones are like THE pencils to have!
Reply
:iconbottled-mermaid:
bottled-mermaid Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013
I agree with you; better quality tools play a big role in a traditional piece :la:.
I'm planning to buy some Faber-Castell pencils, maybe "Polychromos" :)
Reply
:iconcatluvr2:
catluvr2 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, and I find RoseArt pencils to be too gritty, they seem to catch on the paper at the most inopportune times. :shifty:
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
I think I've only tried rose art crayons and or markers.. neither of which I am a fan of.  
Reply
:iconcatluvr2:
catluvr2 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Crayola is AWESOME. Plus, the markers can be used for makeup for Halloween, and you can practise with them all year, and they're washable AND nontoxic.
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
I'm not a huge fan or markers.  :D
Reply
:iconcatluvr2:
catluvr2 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Out of all the colored pencils I've used, I prefer Crayola the most.
That being said, it's a pain to sharpen them. :stare:
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
I don't think I've ever tried crayola colored pencils D: 
Reply
:iconcatluvr2:
catluvr2 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You really should, they're really smooth, they blend well, and the number of available colors... *swoons*
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Professional General Artist
I may need to one of these days :)
Reply
:iconl-yre:
L-yre Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for making this! I am a colored-pencil FREAK! I love the advice you gave, and I'll try it all out soon!
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
Awesome, I'm glad you enjoyed the article!  :highfive:
Reply
:iconmosspetal:
Mosspetal Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Cool post! Yeah, I learned about the white pencils sealing everything the hard and not so nice way :3 Thanks for the tips!  :D
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
haha you and me both!  I remember sealing my picture that way once and then going OMG I need to change this!  and no eraser in the world was going to unseal it for me again!  
Reply
:iconmosspetal:
Mosspetal Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, I know! Then it's like "oh, shoot.. I didn't know that would happen.." :3  But everything's trial and error, so now we know xD
Reply
:iconpizzapotatonbacon:
PizzaPotatoNBacon Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student General Artist
Faber-Castell FTW. :la: It's kinda expensive, but it really, really does its job. I can do so much with just a small (meaning about less than half of a full-size pencil), 12 color pack! :evillaugh: I love colored pencils, and recently have begun practicing with them again. :w00t:

Wonderful article- I should consider those blending techniques next time. :clap:
Reply
:iconmonochromera:
monochromera Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013
my favorite medium of all time :D 

can't say there is anything here I don't already know, but it was still a great journal, and very informative for beginners and people new to the medium~
Reply
:iconjakathine:
Jakathine Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student General Artist
Thanks for this. Will keep this faved as  a future reference :heart: 
Reply
:iconwaterfaerienaomi:
WaterFaerieNaomi Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student Digital Artist
This is a really useful article! Thank you for composing it. <3
Reply
:iconender-yama:
Ender-Yama Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
ohh Colored pencils
something I have had experience with WAY before I knew that I wanted to pursue art (:
I can somewhat make lineless pieces with only wax colored pencils from crayola, but I hope the techniques you explained in this will help me improve on it so they look better! ^^
Reply
:iconwondersparks:
WonderSparks Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist

Golly, those pictures are so vibrant~ :iconiwantitplz:

I guess my pencils are to cheap (and old) to be anywhere near that good. :giggle:

Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
Even cheap pencils can have really great effects once you find a technique that works well with them and you :)
Reply
:iconwondersparks:
WonderSparks Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hmm, I guess you're right. =P Then I guess the only thing for me to do is to keep trying to get better! :dummy:
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Professional General Artist
:nod: just keep at it :#1:
Reply
:iconwondersparks:
WonderSparks Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Will do~ :icondancinglaplz:
Reply
:iconmonochromera:
monochromera Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013
what brand are they? 
I'm sure you can still get some good use out of them :3
I've made some of my best art with roseart and crayola! works like a charm as long as you can mix colors well~ 
Reply
:iconwondersparks:
WonderSparks Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist

I always forget how to spell this one, so I grabbed one of my pencils to read the name on it. It says Laurentien. :nod: These twelve are scented, too, even though they're like seven years old XD

Hmm, but now I'm thinking maybe my pencils aren't the problem here, instead perhaps I am. :dummy: I don't really know any techniques besides simply coloring. :giggle:

Reply
:iconmonochromera:
monochromera Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013
huh, never heard of them. I'll have to look into it lol

you never know ^^ sometimes it just takes trying out different  brands and techniques before you find out why the desired effect hasn't reached you
regardless, good luck with your colored penciling if you wish to pursue that medium :D 
Reply
:iconwondersparks:
WonderSparks Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist

Really? :lmao: I can't imagine why that might be. X3

That's a good point. :nod: After all, as I've learned, one does not get anywhere without trying. :dummy: And I honestly haven't really tried anything different lately. >w>

And thank you~ :la: (Although I wouldn't mind becoming skilled in digital art, too!)

Reply
:iconmonochromera:
monochromera Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013
mmhmm ^^ just takes getting out there I suppose.

np (go for it!~ both are good options) 
Reply
:iconwondersparks:
WonderSparks Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist

Agreed. :la: And I have been meaning to do some new things for a while, so... perfect excuse to do so! :dummy:

:D

Reply
:iconmonochromera:
monochromera Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013
yay~! 
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconchickadde1:
Chickadde1 Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student General Artist
Thanks so much for this article!! <333
Reply
:iconhellfiredemonchild:
hellfiredemonchild Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student Artist
this is great!
Reply
:icondragonstormstudios:
DragonstormStudios Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ahh, coloured pencils. My most delightful poison. ;)

I use polychromos, they're a dream to work with and the result looks like the sheen on an oil painting. Kills the hand though.

Thank you for writing up on this fun medium. :D
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Professional General Artist
My boyfriend bought me some Polychromos a few months ago and they are indeed a joy to work with!  
Reply
:icontwinkiedragon:
twinkiedragon Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013
My colored pencil art looks great in real life, but when I scan it, the colors are off and looks terrible.  Does anyone have this problem as well?
Reply
:icongrapesodagirl:
GrapeSodaGirl Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student General Artist
I usually go into a basic photo-editing software (mine is Zoombrowser) and play with the saturation and contrast levels of the drawing until it looks close to normal. It might not work for you but it's worth a try :P
Reply
:icontwinkiedragon:
twinkiedragon Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013
I'll have to give it a try sometime.  Thanks!
Reply
:icongrapesodagirl:
GrapeSodaGirl Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student General Artist
No problem :)
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Professional General Artist
I have that problem as well, I've started trying to use different colors to compensate for the usual loss of certain colors etc, but then ugh, yeah it tends to just be very frustrating.  As I understand high quality scanners tend to pick the colors up quite well, another option is to photograph your drawing.  You certainly aren't alone with this problem though :)
Reply
:icontwinkiedragon:
twinkiedragon Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013
Thanks for the reply. :3
Reply
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