Artists Toolbox: Colored Pencils

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Astralseed's avatar

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 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 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.  

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.  

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-ArtYou are part of fairytale by eneraiBlackberry Winter - part 1 by EyaninVariation by reelphineDelicacy by Anity-artCome Walk With Me by PolarisAstrum

© 2013 - 2021 Astralseed
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Drawingartistjulia's avatar
Colored pencils are awsome im collecting money for prisma colored pencils(cant afford them since my health is to bad to get a job and im just 16) anyways check out my acc
Shuira's avatar
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 
Astralseed's avatar
I'm glad you found this article to be useful :)
RlCKR0LLD's avatar
Thanks so much!
And that is.. quite the icon! :DDDDDDDDDDD
Astralseed's avatar
haha, thank you :D
teddybearcholla's avatar
Excellent!! Thank you!
bottled-mermaid's avatar
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:
Astralseed's avatar
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!
bottled-mermaid's avatar
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" :)
catluvr2's avatar
Oh, and I find RoseArt pencils to be too gritty, they seem to catch on the paper at the most inopportune times. :shifty:
Astralseed's avatar
I think I've only tried rose art crayons and or markers.. neither of which I am a fan of.  
catluvr2's avatar
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.
Astralseed's avatar
I'm not a huge fan or markers.  :D
catluvr2's avatar
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:
Astralseed's avatar
I don't think I've ever tried crayola colored pencils D: 
catluvr2's avatar
You really should, they're really smooth, they blend well, and the number of available colors... *swoons*
Astralseed's avatar
I may need to one of these days :)
Queen--Zelda's avatar
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!
Astralseed's avatar
Awesome, I'm glad you enjoyed the article!  :highfive:
Mosspetal's avatar
Cool post! Yeah, I learned about the white pencils sealing everything the hard and not so nice way :3 Thanks for the tips!  :D
Astralseed's avatar
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!  
Mosspetal's avatar
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
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