Tips for getting colored pencils to the right color

Colored pencils

Tips for getting colored pencils to the right color. In my colored pencil artwork, I try to make colors that don’t look too bright or too dull. Here are some tips on how to render color variations that make the most of your color options:


For a more realistic representation, use highly measured bright colors to indicate focal points, accents, or areas of interest. In this way, neighboring matte colors will emphasize the look of the bright color.


To make a color opaque, add white, gray, black, or the complementary color. White attenuates the color and brightens the value. Black dulls the color and darkens the value.


Sometimes, the use of black or white changes the color and creates a different hue (as in the case of yellow + black).


Adding gray to a dark value lightens it (although not as much as adding white).


Adding gray to a light value makes it darker (although not as dark as adding black).


We can also dull a color by adding its complement. The correct choice of the complementary shade will be based on color theory, according to the relationships of the color wheel. (Complementary colors are in direct opposition to each other on the color wheel. The actual colored pencil corresponding to a selected shade is often approximate due to production specificity and the lack of a universal color standard in products. In colored pencil).


Also, when working with add-ins in colored pencil painting, remember that it is easier to smudge the color than lighten it, and it is easier to darken the value than lighten it if you want to preserve the layers.

Alyona Nickelsen is an award-winning artist whose work has appeared in numerous national and international art exhibitions and magazines. A distinctive member of the Colored Pencil Society of America, the International Guild of Realism, and the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, she is the author of Colored Pencil Painting Bible: Techniques for Achieve Luminous Color and Ultra-realistic Effects and founder of the Online Colored Pencil Painting School.

Colored pencils: how to get started

Tips for getting colored pencils

There are three types of colored pencils:

  • Wax: Pigments are bonded with wax to create hard or soft pencil cores (the colored part of a colored pencil). Wax-based pencils offer excellent coverage, but are more prone to breakage, wear out quickly, and dirt. They also produce bloom, a layer of dusty film that appears after color is applied.
  • Oil: The binder (a substance that holds the pigment together) consists of vegetable oil, not producing flowering. Oil-based pencils are slightly harder than wax ones.
  • Water-soluble: These pencils can be wax or oil-based, hard or soft. An emulsifier is added, which allows the pigment to be liquefied with water.

Regardless of the type of colored pencil you use, you will also need these items:

  • Surfaces: The colored pencil can apply on almost any porous surface; however, heavy applications require a serrated surface to anchor the pigment. Always use acid-free materials. These three are good options:
  • Graphite pencils: use 2B pencils for designs (preliminary sad drawings).
  • Pencil Sharpener: An electric pencil sharpener is the most important tool of the colored pencil artist because the tips of pencils must always be sharp. Electric Knife Sharpeners are available in AC (corded) and battery-powered models. I recommend the Panasonic KP-150 (AC) and the Panasonic KP-4A (battery). Manual pencil sharpeners are not efficient for serious work with colored pencils.
  • Erasers: A kneaded eraser is most commonly use with a color pencil. It is suitable for gently erasing or lifting debris lodged in the paper tooth. Wet white erasers are also useful for removing colored pencils, but abrasive erasers, erasers, or erasers are not. For larger areas, an electric tire is a more efficient option. These are available in both AC and battery-powered models.

Desk Brush:

  • To keep your art free of debris, use a large brush with soft bristles or a can of compressed air.
  • Pencil Extender – This tool increases the longevity of a pencil and makes it easier to handle butts.
  • Colorless mixer – This object looks like a colored pencil, but the core consists only of a folder, which allows you to mix the colors of the pencil without adding color.
  • Solvent: You can mix wax and oil-based colored pencils with different solvents, producing different results. Bestine Rubber Cement Thinner is excellent for mixing smaller areas of color. It evaporates quickly and can apply with a cotton swab or brush. A longer drying time makes Turpenoid ideal for mixing large areas and can apply with cotton balls, rags, or a brush. Other solvents include white spirit, denatured alcohol, bleach, lighter fluid, and even vodka or gin. Experiment with different types.
  • Brushes: Use cheap synthetic watercolor brushes to apply solvents. Use quality brushes to apply the water-soluble pencil.
  • Cotton swabs: they are useful for applying the solvent. Pads with wooden handles are the best.
  • Fixer – Use this product to remove the wax bloom, but note that color cannot apply after fixation. Prism color Final Fix is ​​specially formulate for colored pencils.

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