Some topics never grow old. Either they’re so expansive, there’s always something to write, or there are always new readers who haven’t read previous posts. Blending smooth color with colored pencils is one of those topics.
I have written posts on blending smooth color in the past. How to Blend Smooth Color and My Favorite Colored Pencil Blending Methods are just two of those posts. Even if you have read them before, they’re well worth reviewing again.
Today, I’d like to share some additional tips for blending smooth color.
Tips for Blending Smooth Color with Colored Pencils
Some of these tips are common sense (to me anyway,) and some might be a bit “radical.” But I have used all of them at least once or twice, and they have been helpful.
Go Slow & Draw Carefully
Okay, so this is neither new nor radical, but I mention it first because I have so much trouble with it myself.
The key to blending smooth color is drawing smooth color.
The key to drawing smooth color is to go slow and draw carefully. It’s very difficult to blend smooth color from color that’s been scribbled onto the paper. Trust me; I’ve tried it. It just does not work.
Here’s a sample of “scribbled” color. In the background, I got tired and started scribbling color. It’s very light color to start with and may be difficult to see here (in the circle,) but it sure showed up as I was working on the drawing. I was thoroughly disappointed with myself and had a difficult time smoothing out those scribbles. It took several layers to smooth the color enough to create the look of grass.
It’s always better to take your time drawing smooth color. If you find yourself getting careless in applying color, take a break.
Now for some newer ideas.
Experiment on Scrap Paper
The absolute best way to learn a new tool or technique is by drawing. You can learn on “real art,” art that you want to finish, but I’ve found that method to be frustrating and sometimes discouraging.
Instead, save scrap pieces of your favorite drawing papers and use them to test new tools and techniques. They don’t have to be large pieces. Four inches by six inches is large enough.
If you like the results, then you can try it on a drawing. If you don’t like the results, at least you haven’t ruined a drawing.
Use the same type of drawing paper you’re using for the drawing for the best results.
Put Enough Pigment on the Paper
When you blend with solvent, you need enough pigment on the paper for the solvent to work.
If you layer with medium pressure or lighter, put down two or three layers, blend, then add a couple more layers, and blend again. You may have to do that a couple of time to get smooth color, so you might want to try it on a test sample first. Just layer color on a paper, blend it, then add more color and blend again. See what happens.
If you draw with a naturally heavy hand, you may be able to blend smooth color after only one or two layers of color. I have a naturally light hand, so usually have four or five layers before I do solvent blending of any kind. But each layer is quite thin.
Blend with Paper
Sometimes the best way to blend smooth color is by trying different blending tools. I like bath tissue and paper towel to blend because they give a different look than colorless blenders or solvents.
But did you know you can also blend colored pencil by using small pieces of the paper you’re drawing on? It’s nowhere near as effective as using solvents, but if you want to “gently smooth” color, take a small piece of drawing paper and rub it on your drawing. You can use light pressure for light blending or use heavier pressure.
Blending Smooth Color with Colored Pencils Doesn’t Have to be Difficult.
But it does take patience, and a willingness to try different and unusual methods.
Keep in mind that not every method works for every artist or on every drawing. You may need to do some experimenting on your own to get those special results that make artwork sing.
Just remember to practice and experiment on scrap paper; not on your artwork!