Blend Colored Pencil with Turpentine in 3 Easy Steps

Blend Colored Pencil with Turpentine in 3 Easy Steps

How to blend colored pencil with turpentine in three easy steps. By popular request, that’s our topic today.

I originally intended to share tips on this blending method with a landscape or horse drawing. But I’ve recently started another project and decided to use one of these new drawings as the subject for today’s post: an adult coloring page.


The subject is a stained glass style composition drawn with dark brown colored pencil on the back (the smooth side) of a sheet of gray Canson Mi Tientes paper. I used Prismacolor Premier Soft Core pencils to draw the composition and to fill in each shape.

Here’s how I did it.

How to Blend Colored Pencil with Turpentine in Three Easy Steps

Step 1: Initial Color Layers

Since I wanted the look of stained glass, I chose bright primary and secondary colors. Canary yellow, grass green, ultramarine blue, orange, and poppy red. Black cherry and indigo blue provided darker accents, with white and sky blue light as light accents. I also wanted neutral accents so I planned from the start to leave some of the sharps untouched.

I also wanted to see how turpentine worked with bright colors, dark colors, and light colors. Besides, I so rarely get to go wild with color that I really just couldn’t help myself!

Here’s the drawing about halfway through the first round of color.

I applied color with medium to heavy pressure with blunted pencils to fill in each area as much as possible. Sharp pencils were required for some of the smaller areas, but I didn’t sharpen pencils as often as I usually do.

TIP: Outline the shape with a sharp pencil and medium pressure and work along each side. Turn the paper if that’s more convenient. Then fill in the shape with a blunt pencil and heavier pressure. Use hatching and cross hatching strokes to fill in the paper’s tooth.

The finished first layer is shown below.


Step 2: Blend with Turpentine

After I’d applied all the color I wanted, I used a small, sable round brush to blend most of the areas with turpentine. I dipped the brush into the turpentine, then carefully brushed it over each section, making sure the turpentine dampened every part of each section.

TIP: Use turpentine and all solvents in a well-ventilated area or use with breathing protection.

Because all of the colors appeared throughout the drawing, I had to be careful not to blend two adjacent colors at the same time. Turpentine blends colored pencil so completely that colors can run together. You can get some very interesting results that way, but I wanted pure color and crisp edges for this drawing.

TIP: To blend colored pencil with turpentine, start with the lightest color and blend every occurrence of that color. Then rinse the brush by swishing it in the turps and blend the next lightest color. Continue until you’ve blended the darkest colors.

I worked through the entire drawing, blending each colored section. When all of them were blended, I let the paper dry completely. It was only then that I could see how well the colors blended.

The Results of Blending

The results were markedly different from color to color. The darker colors blended quite well, as did the medium value colors. The lighter colors blended, but not as completely.

But more than color determined how well the turpentine blended. Success also depended on how much pigment was on the paper.

One reason the light blue areas didn’t blend well is that I hadn’t put much pigment on the paper. The white near the center of the drawing blended better because there was more pigment in that area, but it still wasn’t satisfactory.

On the other hand, the brighter, darker colors blended more completely. The blue at the top of the page is an excellent example of a near perfect blend. Turpentine blended that color so completely that it filled every paper hole.

The adjacent green didn’t work quite as well, but there was less pigment in that area.


TIP: For the best results when you blend colored pencil with turpentine, apply heavy layers of color first.

Step 3: Finishing Touches

After the paper was thoroughly dry, I went back over each area with the same color. It didn’t matter whether color had been heavily applied before or not. Nor did it matter how completely the color blended with turpentine. In all cases, I was able to layer color as easily as though on fresh paper.

I used heavy pressure with blunt pencils, almost burnishing in some areas. For the colors that didn’t blend quite as well, I went over them a couple of times, using a variety of strokes to cover every bit of paper.

The result was very pleasing. Clear, rich colors. Few or no paper holes and the appearance of stained glass. Even on gray paper. As good as this digital image of the drawing is, the original is even more vibrant.


TIP: Work from light to dark so darker colors do not migrate into lighter colors. Note the light blue at the top of the page, where a few red smears were carried into the blue. Additional layers of light blue muted that darker color, but didn’t conceal it completely.

The Bottom Line

Will I use turpentine again? Most definitely. I was very pleased with the way the colors blended when I applied appropriate amounts of pigment.

I also liked the way I could layer fresh color over blended areas. It was almost like drawing on fresh paper. I think I could blend again with turpentine, then add yet another layer of color.

Is blending colored pencil with turpentine a must for a drawing like this? I don’t think so. I deliberately ignored one area when I blended with turpentine, for the sake of comparison. Can you tell which area wasn’t blended with turpentine? HINT: It’s not one of the gray areas, since that’s bare paper.


  • Layer pigment heavily for best blending results
  • Work from light to dark when blending with turps or any other solvent
  • Make sure the paper is completely dry before adding more color
  • Work from light to dark when burnishing color
  • Use a drafting brush to remove pigment crumbs without leaving marks

Interested in more articles about how to blend colored pencil with turpentine? Check out How to “Paint” with Colored Pencils and Turpentine written for EmptyEasel.

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