Ready to learn basic coloured pencil techniques?

Trying different techniques using coloured pencils can improve your artwork!

Some of those that follow are unique to this medium. They may seem unfamiliar at first. But don't worry.

We'll explain things simply and provide links to useful tutorials. You'll be underpainting, layering, and burnishing like a pro in no time. 

Coloured pencil mark making

In coloured pencil art, details matter.

The sharpness of your pencil tip affects the marks you make. Blunt tips give soft strokes, while sharp tips create clean lines.

Parallel lines and cross hatching can add texture to your art.

But it doesn't end there. Different pressures and layering techniques bring your drawings to life.

Colored pencils can create different textures. You can make smooth gradients or rough textures. Experiment and practice to become a master at making marks.

For more details check out the colored pencil strokes page.

Underpainting coloured pencil artwork

Underpainting is a technique used by oil painters for centuries to create a solid foundation for their work. It involves applying a layer of paint in a single color, which acts as a base for subsequent layers of color. This technique not only creates depth and texture, but also helps unify the overall composition of the painting.

While underpainting is a traditional technique used by oil painters, it is equally effective for coloured pencil artists. In fact, underpainting can produce stunning results in pencil art, helping to create a solid base for subsequent layers of colors. By applying a layer of pencil in a single color, pencil artists can achieve the same benefits as oil painters, including enhanced depth and texture in their work.

Coloured pencil layering techniques

Get ready to unlock the secret ingredient to creating breathtaking artwork with colored pencils - layering!

This tried-and-true technique has been used by artists for centuries to add depth, mood, and atmosphere to their masterpieces. By layering multiple colors, you can bring your artwork to life and make it pop off the page in a whole new way.

But layering colours isn't just about creating depth - it's about evoking emotions and drawing in your audience. With the right combination of colors, you can create a sense of warmth, coolness, or even mystery that will leave your viewers in awe.

Protecting, indenting and scratching

Example of indenting the paper before applying coloured pencil

Colored pencil art is all about precision, and sometimes that means getting a little creative with your tools and techniques.

One such technique is the use of white or colorless wax to protect your artwork's surface from pesky pencil pigment stains. It's like a magical shield that keeps your paper looking pristine and perfect, even as you create stunning works of art.

But protecting the surface is just the beginning. With a fine stylus, you can add delicate details like whiskers or leaf veins to your artwork, creating a sense of realism and depth that truly brings your creations to life.

And when it comes to creating stunning textures like fur, hair, or grass, the sgraffito technique is your secret weapon. By using a ceramic blade or Slice Tool to remove pigment from the paper, you can create breathtaking textures that add a whole new level of dimension and detail to your artwork.

Burnishing coloured pencil

Burnishing is a technique that's used to create a smooth, glossy finish on your coloured pencil pieces.

The magic of burnishing lies in its ability to create a surface that's perfect for still-life pieces, with their delicate vases, fruits, and glassware. But it's not just limited to still life - burnishing can also be used to create stunning animal eyes and noses, adding a whole new level of realism and detail to your work.

One option is to use a colorless blender pencil, which is specially designed to smooth out the pencil lines and create a more polished, painterly effect. But you can also use a white or light coloured pencil for the same purpose.

The key is to use gentle pressure and work slowly and carefully, building up layers of pigment until you achieve the desired level of texture and depth.

With a little practice and experimentation, you'll be amazed at the beautiful results you can achieve with burnishing.

Using paper blending stumps

Well used paper blending stumps and tortillons

Blending techniques are essential for any colored pencil artist, and paper blending stumps and tortillons are beloved tools that allow you to blend and soften the edges of your pencil lines.

These simple yet versatile tools allow you to blend coloured pencils and soften the edges of your pencil lines, creating a seamless transition of colours and textures.

But don't let their simplicity fool you - blending stumps and tortillons are true multitaskers. You can use them to create a wide range of effects, from subtle shading to bold textures, making them an essential tool for any colored pencil artist. It is also possible to blend coloured pencils using cotton swabs. 

Applying powdered pigment

Colored pencil art is all about creativity and experimentation, and one technique you may not have tried before is using pencil shavings or grating the pigment into a fine powder.

This technique creates a stunning painterly effect, with delicate clouds and smooth skies that look like they were brushed on with paint. And it's not just limited to clouds  - you can use this technique to create large, smooth areas of color in your backgrounds, adding a whole new level of depth and texture to your artwork.

Simply shave or grate your colored pencils into a fine powder, then apply it to your paper using a cotton swab or sponge. The result is a beautiful, soft effect perfect for creating atmosphere and mood in your artwork.

Erasing coloured pencil for effect

Samples showing the use of erasers.

Erasers are not just useful for graphite pencils, the coloured pencil artist can also make use of them.

But these aren't your average erasers - each one serves a unique purpose, from correcting mistakes to creating stunning textures and effects in your artwork. Whether you're using a kneaded eraser to gently lift away pigment or a vinyl eraser to create bold, crisp lines, the right eraser can make all the difference in the world.

And when it comes to erasing tiny areas, there's no better tool than an artist's eraser guard. This nifty gadget allows you to erase even the tiniest of details without smudging or damaging your surrounding artwork, ensuring that your finished piece looks perfect from every angle.

So don't overlook the importance of a good eraser in your colored pencil toolbox. With a variety of options at your disposal, and an artist's eraser guard to help you navigate those tiny details, you'll be amazed at the stunning effects you can achieve.

Eraser guards are available from Amazon (affiliate link) if you have trouble sourcing one locally.

After using these coloured pencil techniques...

Using any of these coloured pencil techniques will help you create a true labor of love. Once you think you've finished, take a step back and admire your masterpiece.

Perhaps an edge needs sharpening, or an area could benefit from a subtle hint of shadow?

Approach your artwork with a fresh eye, looking for opportunities to add that extra layer of detail that will make your work stand out from the crowd. This is your chance to add those final touches that will lift your work from good to great.

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