Carrie L. Lewis, Artist & Teacher

Helping You Create Art You Can be Proud Of

What Do You Want to Know About Colored Pencils?

What do you want to know about colored pencils?

If you could ask one question about colored pencils and know you would get an answer, what would you ask?

What Do You Want to Know About Colored Pencils?

I’m planning content for next year, so I’m looking for topics that will be of interest to you and will also be helpful. Rather than come up with topics on my own and hope they’re of interest to you, I thought I’d ask you.

What do You Most Want to Know About Colored Pencils?

So what do you want to know?

Is there a particular colored pencil method you’ve always wanted to learn more about or is there some part of your current method that you’d like help with?

What problem confronts you most?

What cool tool would you like to learn more about before you spend hard-earned money?

Maybe mixed media with colored pencil is of interest right now, but you don’t know what mediums work well with colored pencil.

This is your chance to ask.

Whatever question is topmost in your mind, this is your opportunity to ask. Questions can be about pencils, papers, methods of drawing, framing, or even shipping and selling. Whatever’s on your mind. Don’t think your question is stupid or that the answer should be obvious. I’ve been doing colored pencils long enough to know that most answers are not obvious and that the only stupid question is the one I didn’t ask.

So step right up! Don’t be shy! If you have a question, the chances are very good that you’re not the only one who wants to know.

Leave a comment below, use the contact box at the end of this post or send me an email. I can guarantee you will get an answer.

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20 Comments

  1. Dianne Hunter

    I love using colored pencils…especially Prisma brand, however, the core (color) breaks soooo easily. I know if the pencil is dropped, the core will break. When it breaks in the center, then it’s sharpened, the whole broken piece comes out of the pencil and is wasted. Is there a way to fix the break?

    • Dianne,

      A great question! One I’m sure others are interested in having answered.

      I wrote about a couple of ways to repair broken Prismacolor pencils. I know that a little heat will cause the wax binder to melt and when it cools, minor breaks can be healed. I’ve left my pencils in the back window of the car on a sunny day and know from personal experience the pigment core softens noticeably.

      There is no guarantee on any of these methods, though. Some artists swear by them, and some swear at them!

      Give them a try and see how it turns out.

      And if anyone else has any suggestions for Dianne, let us know!

      Thanks!

      Carrie

    • Julia

      I always microwave it for about 5 seconds. Or, if its summer leave it on the windowsill in the sun for an hour or two.

      • Julia,

        The sun is definitely a good idea. A south-facing window (or a car window) is a great place to leave pencils to warm slowly and gradually.

        Carrie

  2. Pat

    I’m not sure which pencils are blendable and don’t want to keep buying pencils that don’t achieve this. Help!

    • Dianne

      Prisma are wax based and blen sooo easy. I love them.

    • Pat,

      Most colored pencils are blendable in some way. The better quality pencils you buy, the more likely that is to be true.

      If you’re buying inexpensive, scholastic pencils at places like Wal-Mart or Target, you’re more likely to have blending problems. Part of the reason for that is that there’s less pigment in scholastic pencils and more filler. The more pigment in a pencil, the more there is to blend, and the easier it is to blend.

      To test this theory, you might to try a few artistic grade pencils from an online supplier like Dick Blick. You can also get artist grade pencils as open stock at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and other such places.

      If you are already using artist grade pencils, then I’d have to know more about how you’re putting color on the paper, what type of paper you’re using, and what blending methods you’re using.

      Carrie

  3. Pat

    I’m drawing rocks and stones in the water. I’m having trouble with making the water look shiny and reflective. Suggestions?

    • Pat,

      Try drawing the water like an abstract pattern of colors and shapes. Keep the edges sharp between colors and values sharp. Depending on what you’re drawing, there may be some gradations in color and value within the shape, but if you look at your reference photo as though it were an abstract design all its own, it will be easier to draw. If you faithfully follow the reference, the result should “read” as water.

      Carrie

  4. Lorraine McNamara

    I am a beginner to sketching and creating art. So far I have been practicing sketching with pencils and some charcoal. I can see improvement in my sketches however, I really want to try coloured pencils and thus far, it has been frustrating with little success. Somehow what I have learned in graphite does not transfer to the coloured pencil medium. Any suggestions?

    • Lorraine,

      About the only things that would transfer directly from graphite drawing to drawing with colored pencils is values and some art theory. Colored pencils are made with either was or oil (to hold the pigment into a solid core) and graphite pencils have neither. So they are going to behave very differently.

      The best thing to do is take some time to play with your colored pencils. Just put color on paper and see how the pencils work. Some drawing exercises that I like to use for this, are:

      4 Straight Line Drawing Exercises
      More Straight Line Drawing Exercises
      5 Curving Line Drawing Exercises

      Also practice shading using light pressure, medium pressure, and heavy pressure.

      Get to know how the pencils feel when you use them, how color goes onto the paper, and what you can do with them, then try your hand at a drawing.

      Carrie

  5. Thank you to everyone who has left a comment. You’ve asked some great questions! Keep ’em coming!

  6. david Godfrey

    Hello gracious lady;
    I would love to receive advice on color matching between pencil brands. I am a brand new color pencil person and have been working with Darrel Tank’s online classes for 5 years now. He does not offer much as regards color pencils and uses Prismacolor Col-erase. I really like them along with the Verithin. After that I am relegating Prismacolor Premier to the trash, hence the matching between color pencils. The premiers as so widely used it hinders learing when other pencils are used. Is there a good tool for matching between brands? Thankyou, David Godfrey Grumpy old Man.

    • David,

      All of the Prismacolor pencils will use the same colors and color names (I believe… I know the soft core and the Verithins do; I have very limited experience with Col-Erase.)

      The best tip for matching colors from one brand to the next is Dick Blick, believe it or not. They show color swatches of every pencil for every brand they carry, and they carry a lot of different pencils. A digital color displayed on your screen may not be an exact match for the actual pencil colors, but the various charts will give you a good idea of how to match colors between the brands.

      Click on the Dick Blick link above, find the link for colored pencils in the list of products along the left side of the web site, and you can look at any brand of pencils you want to compare.

      As I say, it’s not a foolproof method, but it is a great place to start.

      Carrie

      • david Godfrey

        Thank you Carrie, FYI I tried out the Mono Tombo graphite pencils and loved them: Prisma graphite are inconsistant to grade and Blick I find harsh but the Tombos are smooth and true to grade. I also want to try out the Mono Tombo colored pencil Irimogen or some such name. Here again I am tired of the Prisma Premier because of their fragility and high waxy content. Just to many problems to justify the expense. How are Derwent, Faber Castell in this regard?

        • David,

          You’re welcome. Glad to be of help.

          A student highly recommends the Tombow eraser (or was it a sharpener), so those are on my wish list.

          Neither Derwent nor Faber-Castell have the reputation for breakage that Prismacolor Premier has. Derwent is English and Faber-Castell is German, so they may be more conscious of what artists want in a pencil. I’ve heard very good things about the Derwent Coloursoft, and Faber-Castell PolyChromos have been on my wish list forever.

          About the only way to avoid wax bloom is by using an oil-based colored pencil. Polychromos are oil-based. So are Caran d’Ache Luminance.

          Carrie

  7. Vickie C.

    I’m wanting to do a bokeh/blurred background in colored pencil for an image I’m working on, but the tutorials seem to range greatly between methods, and none of my practice samples look right. Some say all the circles much be the same size, some say different sizes, and still others say elliptical circles mixed with round ones. Some also say to start with the lightest highlights first, while others say do the dark outside first and leave the highlighted circles for last. Do you happen to have a tutorial on bokeh-like backgrounds in colored pencil?

    • Vickie,

      There is an old adage that says we learn something new every day. I’ve learned my new thing: Bokeh.

      Unfamiliar with the term, I looked it up and discovered it’s a photography term that refers to the blurry quality of backgrounds in photography. (Here’s the article I read. It won’t tell you how to draw bokeh, but it will tell you what it is and how it looks in photographs.)

      The best tutorials I’ve ever seen on this are from Lisa Clough (Lachri). She works in many different mediums, including colored pencil. Many of her subjects are very sharply focused, up-close-and-personal compositions with bokeh-style backgrounds. They all look great. If you watch almost any of her bird or butterfly videos, you’ll see her using that type of background.

      But she uses an air brush to get those affects (an amazing process all on it’s own. Here’s one of the most recent videos showing the air brushing for the background and the colored pencil butterfly drawing. There’s a bit of a promotion on a photo service first, but it’s short. It is a time lapse demo, but Lisa offers commentary over the video.

      As for myself, I’ve never used bokeh for backgrounds, but I have done quite a few blurred or soft focus backgrounds with colored pencil drawings. Sometime ago, I wrote an article on drawing soft-focus backgrounds for EmptyEasel, which you can read here.

      You can also take a look at the tutorial on the palomino filly here. I used a soft-focus background for that.

      Both articles feature step-by-step illustrations and comments, so I hope they’re of help to you.

      If you have any other questions, let me know!

      Carrie

  8. Irene

    I have just started using pencils after years with oils. I like dramatic pictures so I’m using black paper. Once I’ve put in a starter coat of white for flower petals I’m getting resistance to later coats. I’m using Caran D’ache supracolour.

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