Coloured Pencil - Artist Material Or Children's Crayon?

"Wait a minute, that's coloured pencil? No way!"

Was this your reaction when you first saw a piece crafted in this medium? It was mine!

The secret? The magic phrase "artist-quality coloured pencil".

These aren't your run-of-the-mill doodling tools, oh no! We're talking top-tier pigments and binders here, folks!

These pencils are capable of competing with oil paintings or watercolours. You just need the right techniques in your repertoire.

Don't dismiss the thought of coloured pencils as just a childhood relic. Remember - they're not just for stick figures and rainbows any more.

They've graduated from the kids' table, and they're ready to party with the big boys of art. Let's give them the recognition they deserve, shall we?

child's drawing of a house in crayonEnjoy coloured pencils whatever your age

Explore Core Choices

Have you wondered about the ingredients in a coloured pencil?

Pencil makers guard their secrets like a squirrel hides a golden acorn. However, coloured pencils tend to be either wax or oil-based.

But not just wax or oil. In addition, they need to contain clay and binders. The amount of each will dictate whether the core is soft or hard.

Take Prismacolor Premier pencils, for instance. These are softies at heart, which means they lay down pigment like butter.

On the flip side, we have the Derwent Artists pencils, which are a bit more on the tough side with a hard core.

Remember those school pencils? You needed the strength of Hercules to get a smidgen of colour on the paper! And how about those bits of grit that tore your page? Those were probably hard-cored pencils.

Most of the time, a wooden shell protects these cores - whether soft or hard. This keeps them safe and your hands clean. Then there are some pencils that have a clear plastic coating.

So, next time you're choosing a pencil, remember: it's what's on the inside that counts. Or, in this case, what's in the middle.

Read more about the essential pencil core here. 

Fade-Proof Your Art

Barn Owl in coloured pencil on drafting filmBarn Owl worked in coloured pencil

When it comes to professional coloured pencil artists, they know their stuff.

They're all about lightfastness, and for good reason. Imagine putting your heart and soul into a masterpiece. Only to see it fade faster than your last summer tan!

Pencils have a rating, based on the expected lifespan in museum conditions. All well and good if you hang your work in the Louvre.

But what if your masterpiece is catching rays in sun-drenched spots most of the year? It's going to fade faster than a pop-star's 15 minutes of fame! Play safe and pick artist-quality pencils every time.

Fixative spray

"Is it safe to use fixative spray on coloured pencil artwork?"

We've been busy trying out different options to see how well they work. And what challenges they might present for your projects.

They do help to preserve your work and prevent smudging. But, as with all good things, there's a flip side. Let's uncover the secrets these sprays hold, shall we?

We have learned a lot about fixatives through our experiences. We're excited to share our knowledge with you.

Read more about the pros and cons of fixative sprays.

Coloured pencil solvent

A solvent is like a helpful middleman in your artistic process. It blends your colours, creating a smooth and beautiful effect for your artwork.

Now, here's the deal.

Solvents aren't everyone's cup of tea. Some artists swear by them, while others prefer to keep their art solvent-free.

It's a bit like pineapple on pizza, really. Not everyone's into it, but those who are, can't imagine life without it.

So, the choice is yours to make.

But before you make a decision, here's an interesting fact! Did you know that there are pens with solvents? It's true! These pens work like magic wands, allowing you to blend colours. Isn't that something worth checking out?

So, go ahead and try out solvents! You never know, you might just fall in love with them. But even if you don't, you'll have a great time experimenting.

Discover more before making a decision about coloured pencil solvents.

Is it a drawing or a painting?

Is a coloured pencil piece a drawing or a painting? Let's look at different perspectives.


Coloured pencils are great for adding vibrant colours, shading, and details. But this is a topic of debate in the art world. Some classify the work as drawing, because you are using a pencil.


Another viewpoint is that using coloured pencils is a form of painting. This is due to the layering and blending techniques you can achieve. They are similar to those used in traditional painting.

With a wide range of colours available, you can create beautiful gradients and textures. It's just like using paint.

Straight down the middle?

Some artists take a different approach. They see coloured pencils as a blend of drawing and painting. These artists value the precision and control that coloured pencils provide. With them, they can craft fine details and intricate textures.

They understand the similarities to painting. This is especially true in terms of layering and creating depth.

Does it actually matter?

Some people believe that whether we call it drawing or painting doesn't matter. For them, art is all about expressing yourself and being creative, regardless of labels or tools.

They encourage artists to explore and experiment. Try different mediums. The focus is on enjoying the process. Not getting caught up in categorisation.

To sum up

So, there you have it! Whether coloured pencils fall under drawing or painting is your decision.

Changing mediums?

So, you're a seasoned artist considering a little change in scenery? Maybe you've been trying out acrylics or watercolours. Painting with passion and playing with different colours. But now, you're looking for something more precise.

And here's a fun fact: coloured pencils are a dry medium. This means they won't dry lighter like gouache sometimes does. Pretty neat, huh?

Don't be surprised if you find that working with pencils takes a wee bit longer. Especially larger areas of colour. However, there are alternative options. You can use Watercolour pencils or pan pastels for backgrounds.

Benefits of coloured pencil 

Have you realized by now that there are many benefits to using colored pencils?

First and foremost, they are the neat freak's best friend.

Other mediums, such as oil paint, take a long time to clean up once you're done. You can leave your coloured pencil out ready to pick up and draw. Then start doodling whenever inspiration strikes.

Say goodbye to smudged masterpieces and the endless wait for paint to dry!

Next, let's talk versatility. Coloured pencils are like the Swiss army knife of art tools.

  • Realistic details? Check. ✅
  • Vibrant colours? Double-check. ✅✅
  • Delicate textures? Triple-check. ✅✅✅

And if you're the type who likes to have control, you'll love coloured pencils. They're like a magic wand. You can conjure up fine lines and intricate shading effortlessly.

But wait, there's more!

Coloured pencils are also your perfect travel buddy. They're compact. They're as light as a feather. You can take your art with you anywhere.

No matter where you are. Whether traveling, enjoying a coffee at a cafe, or relaxing in your own backyard. All you need is a sketchbook and some pencils. Let your creativity soar.

You may be wondering if you need any fancy tools or accessories for your coloured pencil adventure.

Well, here's the good news. You can start your journey with just a piece of paper and a pencil.

Looking to jazz things up a notch? Try some nifty tools! Blending stumps. Erasers. And a trusty pencil sharpener. These tools can make your life easier. They're not must-haves, but they make your artistic experience smoother.

So, are you interested in trying out the unconventional colored pencil? I sure hope so!

Whether you're a seasoned artist or a newbie, coloured pencils have a lot to offer.

They're versatile, handy, and open the door to a world of creativity.

Go on. Grab a pencil. Let your imagination run wild. Let the colors whisk you away. It's a whimsical journey of self-expression.

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