alisaburke · Jun 3, 2015

colored pencils: a few tips and tricks

Most of the time I use watercolors to add color to my drawings but I have a special place in my heart for colored pencils. I've been using them to draw since I was a kid- they are affordable, easy to use and great for creating on the go. Today I thought I would share a few of my favorite tips and tricks for creating with colored pencils.
There are all kinds of different brands of colored pencils out there but I prefer Prismacolor Colored Pencils- they are vibrant, really easy to layer, blend and come in 132 colors.
Something that is really important to consider if you have a collection of colored pencils is to make sure you store them in a place where they won't get dropped. Dropping or knocking them around can break the lead inside and lead to problems with breaking when sharpening. I've found that storing them in their original packaging (typically a tin box) keeps them safe.
When it comes to sharpening I only use a hand held sharpener- I love the Kum sharpeners. They are made from magnesium alloy and have a really sharp blade that can be replaced.
TIP: When sharpening pencils twist the pencil around in a circle- instead of rocking it back and forth. If you are sharpening correctly and if your sharpener is sharp, you will produce a long round shaving.
There are all kind of ways to use a colored pencil- you can lightly shade back and forth, press hard for smooth saturation, stipple, scribble, crosshatch, blend and more!
TIP: Different papers will produce different results when using colored pencils. A smooth paper will result in smooth color while a rougher surface will show lots of texture.
One of the best things about colored pencils is that you are able to add color to detailed line work. That sharpened lead is perfect for filling in tiny lines!
TIP: I like to start with a light layer of color and then I go back and add a more saturated layer by pressing harder.
You can also layer and blend different colors on top of each other.
TIP: Prismacolor also makes a really cool colorless blender pencil that enables you to go over the top of your color and soften the edges for a smooth blended look.
You can achieve the same smooth blended look by using baby oil to soften color. I start by filing my surface with a light layer of color.
TIP: If you are adding color to a drawing, make sure your drawing is permanent. Water soluble (or non-permanent ) pens will bleed with the baby oil technique. I use Micron pens for most of my line drawings because they are permanent.
Using a cotton swab or a blending stump, dip into baby oil and blot on a paper towel. The trick is to make sure you don't have too much oil on your swab.
Next, lightly rub the oil into the color.
You will be able to blend and soften all those rough edges and use colored pencils a little like a watercolor (or water soluble) pencil.
TIP: Reverse this technique by covering the surface of your drawing with a light layer of baby oil and then shade over the top with your pencil for rich, velvety color.
I really enjoy adding white highlights to my drawings and I use a tiny brush and little bit of white paint to add those few last details.
TIP: A white out pen (or a squeezable correction pen) also works great for adding highlights!

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