Add Spots of Color to Black Paper with This Neat Trick

Add Spots of Color to Black Paper with This Neat Trick

Here’s a neat trick to add spots of color to black paper or paper of any dark color. It’s fast and easy, too. What could possibly be better?

What’s more, you can add bright color to dark paper using this method.

I really enjoy drawing on dark papers. Black is a favorite color, but greens, blues, and browns also attract my attention. There’s just something about putting color on a darker paper that no lighter paper can match.

But lets face it. It can be so difficult to get decent color on dark papers. Colored pencil seems to seep into the paper and disappear!

But my holiday doodles and plein air sketches led to a neat way to add spots of color to black paper. Or any other dark-colored paper.

Best of all, it’s easy!

How to Add Spots of Color to Black Paper

Hold your pencil vertical to the paper, with the tip of the pencil on the paper. This part is important. If you hold the pencil any other way, you will not get spots. At least not round spots.

Turn the pencil a half turn or more without lifting it. The more you turn the pencil, the brighter the resulting spot of color will be. You may need to support the pencil with your free hand to keep it steady on the paper.

Use medium pressure.  Light pressure isn’t enough to get bright color. Heavy pressure may result in puncturing the paper or breaking the pigment core. I shattered several pigment cores while doing the drawing below. The good news is that they didn’t damage the paper.

A soft pencil such as Prismacolor Soft Core or Caran d’Ache Luminance works best with this technique, but I’ve also had success with Faber-Castell Polychromos.

You’ll also get better results is you use a soft paper like Stonehenge or Canson Mi-Teintes.

I used this “trick of the trade” to draw this lighted Christmas tree and stars on black Canson Mi-Teintes, but it would work great on any other dark colored paper. I’m eager to find dark green, dark blue, and even dark red paper.

Add Spots of Color to Black Paper - Christmas Tree and Stars

It’s also an ideal way to add spots of color and accents to any drawing on any color paper.

Other Tips and Suggestions

This method impresses the marks into the paper, so you could use it on light colored paper to add spots of color, then shade other, darker colors on top.

The size and brightness of the spots you add vary depending on the softness of the pencil and paper you use.

You can add small details to any type of drawing with this method.

One Final Comment….

This discovery proves how important it is to draw regularly, even if you’re just doodling or playing with color. I would probably not have learned how to add spots of color to black paper this way if I hadn’t been doodling.

So do some doodling. You just never know where it might lead!

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  1. Gail Jones

    Hi Carrie, I liked your tips for adding bright spots of color onto black paper. Also being the curious sort I am… I wondered about a couple of things having to do with adding color onto black. First of all…I have a whole set of Prisma Pencils. All of them are well used with the exception of the metallic colors. Projects don’t seem to call for them, but I was wondering if they would look extra metallic and shiny on black paper? Also… what about putting a layer of water color under pencil colors on black paper? Would that maybe brighten the colors up?
    In Christ,
    Gail J.

    1. Gail,

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked the post.

      I don’t know about metallic colors on black paper. I don’t use them much for anything myself, so I’ll have to do some experimenting. But I need a drawing or two for today, so if I have black paper, I’ll test both of your suggestions and let you know.


  2. Richard Steffens

    I have done several pieces on black paper and used mostly Prismacolor pencils and even a few Faber-Castell Polychromos. But recently I’ve done a few as gifts for my grandkids who are into Marvel super heroes like Batman, Spiderman, etc. And I have turned to using Sharpie fine point paint markers. They really come out looking good & bold for the most part but of course, you don’t want to mess up. They won’t erase or cover up well. I have mostly cheap, Crayola metallic pencils but I just tested them on black [poster board] and they come out looking pretty decent, especially if/when you turn the drawing into the right light path.

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