The Best Papers for Blending Colored Pencils

Let’s talk about the best papers for blending colored pencils. Are some papers better for blending than others?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one single paper that’s absolutely best for blending colored pencils all the time or for every artist. Blending has more to do with the pencils you use, the way you draw, and the results you want to achieve.

The paper does make a difference, but probably not as much as you might think.

The Best Paper for Blending Colored Pencils

Blending colored pencils is all about smoothing out the color and filling the paper holes. You can do that on almost any paper. For example, I use Stonehenge, Canson Mi-Teintes, Bristol Vellum, and Clairefontaine Pastelmat. The techniques vary, but I can fill the paper holes on each paper.

But there are a few general guidelines for selecting papers to make blending easier.

The Best Paper for Blending Colored Pencils

Smooth Papers versus Rougher Papers

As a rule, smoother papers like Bristol Vellum are easier to blend on because they have very little surface texture. Color goes down more smoothly, so there are fewer paper holes to fill in.

Some of the best papers for blending colored pencils are very smooth papers, such as Bristol.

The flip side to smooth papers is sanded art papers, which have a lot of tooth.

It seems like it would be harder to blend colored pencils on sanded art papers, but it’s actually easier. That’s because sanded papers take a lot more layers. You can keep adding color until the tooth is filled.

Another reason is that sanded art papers create pigment dust. That seems like wasted pigment at first glance, but use a stiff brush to push the dust around and into the tooth of the paper, and all of a sudden, you can blend beautiful, smooth color.

The fact of the matter is that you can blend smooth color on any kind of paper.

So let’s talk about the three things I mentioned earlier.

The Pencils You Use

The higher quality pencils you use, the easier it should be to blend, no matter what method you prefer. Better pencils have a higher percentage of pigment to binding agent. That means less binding agent and more pigment ends up on the paper. The more pigment on the paper, the better the colors blend.

I addressed the issue of pencils and blending in a recent post.

The Way You Draw

The way your draw is probably the most significant factor. If you like drawing with just a few layers of color applied with medium pressure or heavier, than you’re probably going to get the best results with a paper like Bristol. It’s smoother, and tougher. You can get good color saturation with a softer paper like Stonehenge, but you will crush the tooth of a softer paper.

Afternoon Graze is drawn on Bristol vellum. I was able to get rich color and good coverage by careful layering with light pressure.

If you draw with a light hand and like lots of layers, then the only papers you probably will not want to use are the smooth papers like Bristol. You’ll need something with enough tooth to hold multiple layers of color. Stonehenge and Canson Mi-Teintes would be good papers to try.

And for those who like a more painterly look, sanded art papers are perfect.

Spring Storm is an original colored pencil on Pastelmat. Color saturation is good. There are no paper holes showing through, but the overall appearance is more painterly; less finely detailed.

The Results You Want to Achieve

Some artists like doing hyper-realistic art, in which you can’t tell the difference between their art and their reference photo.

Other artists prefer a sketchier style, and still others prefer a more painterly look.

The type of blending you need to do depends on the type of work you like. That in turn may determine the type of paper you use.

The Best Papers for Blending Colored Pencils

The best papers for blending are different for each artist. Some artists can get similar results on whatever paper they use, and they try lots of different papers.

Others find a paper they like and stick with it.

In either case, they’re able to blend effectively.

If you’re not satisfied with the way your blending looks on the paper you’re using, using another paper might be the solution. The best option is to try as many papers as you can afford to try until you find one that works for you.

However, I also challenge you to continue improving blending skills. The better you get at layering and blending colors, the happier you’ll be with the results.

No matter what paper you use.

Ask Carrie a Question

Suede Board and Colored Pencils

Today’s question comes for a reader who is interested in using suede board with colored pencils, but has a question. Here’s her question.

Hi,

I was wondering if coloured pencils work well on suede board, and is there a special technique that should be used?

Dianne

Thank you for the question, Dianne!

Suede board and Colored Pencils

Colored pencils work very well on suede board, and yes, you do have to adjust the technique somewhat.

But I think it’s mostly a matter of adding more layers.

I’ve never used suede board myself, so I couldn’t personally answer Dianne’s question. But I do know of several artists who use it, and one of them, Peggy Osborne, has written tutorials for this blog and for Colored Pencil Tutorials. So I asked her to share a few tips for using colored pencils on suede board.

Here’s what she had to say.

Tips for Using Suede Mat Board with Colored Pencils

I think suede mat board is a wonderful support for colored pencil, and love how the suede board works with the colored pencils.

Suede Board Advantages

I use Prismacolor over Polychromos on the suede. Polys are too hard for my liking, and they didn’t work as well.

You can add highlights on top of the dark pencil and it shows up nicely.

I like the softness you can achieve with suede; it’s perfect for furry animals. 

I don’t have to keep my pencils super sharp, either. In fact it works best for some applications if you save the sharp pencil for fine details. 

Although I have done complete backgrounds on suede, I normally do not draw over the whole board. Instead, I do a head/shoulder portrait and leave the board for the background. Since it comes in a variety of colors, and has a mottled look, it’s ideal for a background that looks rich and exquisite without having to draw in a background.  People ask me all the time how I drew that mottled background!

Denali, Colored Pencil Portrait on Suede Board by Peggy Osborne. Peggy has written a tutorial on this portrait, which is currently available on Colored Pencil Tutorials.

Suede Board Disadvantages

But there are also a few negatives about the board.

It tends to absorb the pencil, especially light colors. You have to keep penciling in the color until it’s saturated. I tend to save the board for drawing darker colored animals. 

I’ve used Prismacolor markers along with the colored pencils on the board with success. Be careful to blend them without leaving a definite edge where the marker ends and begins.

Another downfall is that the suede does not erase. You can gently lift some color with the scotch tape method but that is about it for making serious corrections. 

There is definitely a learning curve to using the suede board but it feels so good when you complete your first successful piece on suede board. 

Ask Carrie a Question

Old Prismacolor Colored Pencils

This week’s reader is one fortunate artist. She has in her possession some old Prismacolor colored pencils!

She also had a couple of questions about them. Here’s what she asked.

I found that along with my Prismacolor Premier pencils I also have some odd Prismacolor pencils with other names: Sanford Prismacolor and  Berol Prismacolor. Are these beginner pencils with less permanence than the Premier pencils?

Dolly

Old Prismacolor Colored Pencils

Old Prismacolor Colored Pencils

I have good news for Dolly and for anyone else who has pencils with these labels.

They are artist grade pencils.

They’re also perfectly good to use, and may actually be of higher quality than the current Prismacolor pencils.

So what are they?

Time for a quick colored pencil history lesson!

In 1856, a man named Daniel Berolzheimer founded the Eagle Pencil Company. He made graphite pencils and other writing tools and accessories.

Colored pencils didn’t come into being until 1938 under the name Eagle Prismacolor pencils. Even then, they came in two forms: The soft core thick lead pencils, and the thinner, harder leaded Verithin pencils.

In 1969, the company adopted the name of Berol Ltd., and renamed the pencils Berol Prismacolor. The company remained family-owned for five generations. Then, the Empire Pencil Company purchased the company and its products. That was in 1986.

In 1995, Sanford LP purchased the Prismacolor line. The name was changed again, this time to Sanford Prismacolor.

Sanford is a subsidiary of the Newell Company. You may be more familiar with some of this company’s other products, including Rubbermaid, Coleman outdoor products, Mr. Coffee, and Yankee Candle, just to name a very few.

Are All Those Pencils of Good Quality?

Factories built by the original owners manufactured Prismacolor pencils until Sanford bought the line. Family-owned companies are often more interested in producing top-quality products because their name is on the line.

After the sale to Sanford, those factories began to close. Manufacture of Prismacolor products was out-sourced when the last factory closed in 2010. Products made by factories not owned by the company sometimes results in lesser quality control.

I looked through my pencils and found a Berol Prismacolor and a Sanford Prismacolor among the colors I rarely use. The pencils are both metallic silver and have the same color number—949, though the Sanford pencil is labeled PC949. I’ve used them both (at least both of them are sharpened,) and recall no difference.

Are They Permanent?

I cannot tell you that because lightfast testing was not done back then. At least I found no evidence of lightfast tests or test results.

I am confident, however, that earth tones (browns,) grays, blacks, and some of the less bright colors are lightfast. The jewel tones (if you have any) are more likely to fade.

You can use all the colors if you’re doing craft art. If you want to use them for fine art for your own display, then make sure to frame them with UV resistant glass and display them where natural sunlight does not reach them.

Old Prismacolor colored pencils

Old Prismacolor Colored Pencils: The Bottom Line

Those Eagle, Berol and Sanford Prismacolor colored pencils are perfectly good for modern day use. They feel about the same as today’s Prismacolor pencils when you draw with them, and they should perform very well.

By the way, you can still buy some of these old Prismacolor pencils if you know where to find them. Hint: Etsy and eBay are both good sources.

Research Sources
Ask Carrie a Question

Choosing Papers for Colored Pencils

Lets talk about choosing papers for colored pencils. There are a lot of options, and today’s reader wants to know about suitable papers.

Hi Carrie,

Could you please share your knowledge on suitable papers for different projects?

You may like to cover points such as what would be the best papers for portraits, paper with tooth or smoother papers, vellum, & what grades, etc.

It’s just so confusing and there is so much out there.

Thanks so much for your valued help.

Kind regards,

Suzanne

Suzanne, what a great question and great discussion points. Thank you!

Choosing Papers for Colored Pencils

As Suzanne mentioned, there are a lot of papers on the market. Especially if you’re new to colored pencils, making the right choice can be intimidating.

Let me remove some of the pressure. There is no Right Answer to this question. I will tell you what papers I like for portraits, and other projects, but my choices are based on my drawing style. They may not work for you.

It’s perfectly all right to try different types of paper. That’s what I did. But hopefully I’ll give you a place to begin with my recommendations.

Choosing Papers for Colored Pencils

Let me answer the easy question first. Suzanne mentions grades of paper. By that, I’m assuming she means quality. Always, always, always use the best paper you can afford. Unless you’re doodling or sketching, you’re likely to put a lot of time and effort into your work, so it deserves the best paper.

If Suzanne means the weight of the paper rather than the quality, then consider heavier papers. Canson makes two papers that are very similar. Canson Ingres paper and Mi-Teintes paper. They are very similar in surface texture and come in similar colors.

But the Ingres is only 27lb in weight (100gsm) while Mi-Teintes is 98lb in weight. That’s a significant difference. I have used both and was so dissatisfied with the feel of the Ingres that I almost didn’t try the Mi-Teintes.

You may not care for heavier paper, but they will stand up better under lots of layers. Most of them can also stand up under some solvent blending and erasing.

High quality is always best. Heavier weight is usually best.

The Way You Draw Makes a Difference

I have a naturally light hand and my drawings are developed through multiple layers. I don’t keep track of that information but would guess that the average is 20 to 40 layers to finish a drawing. Maybe more.

So I need a paper with enough tooth for all those layers. I like Stonehenge, but prefer Canson Mi-Teintes and I’m growing quite fond of Pastelmat. They all take a lot of color and still allow me to draw realistic pieces.

Someone who uses heavier pressure might prefer a toothy paper, but they could also use a smoother paper, since they wouldn’t need as many layers of color.

Suggestions for Different Types of Projects

Because drawing methods and styles differ so much, I can’t give you a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But I will tell you how I choose papers for various projects.

Smooth or Reflective Subjects

In general, I use smoother papers like Bristol Vellum or Strathmore Artagain for subjects that need a polished look. Metallic, shiny things, for example. I used Bristol Vellum for this piece.

My preferred Bristol is Bienfang because it’s heavier than most Bristol in pads.

Portraits

For portraits, I use something that’s not too toothy but that can handle layers. I’ve done portraits on Stonehenge, Canson Mi-Teintes, and Strathmore Artagain. This portrait was on Canson Mi-Teintes.

At present, I’m also doing one portrait on Bristol Vellum and another on Pastelmat.

Landscapes

For landscapes, I prefer Pastelmat, but can also do landscapes on Stonehenge and Canson Mi-Teintes.

I’ve also done some wonderful work on 140lb hot pressed watercolor paper. My favorite is Stonehenge Aqua (which feels just like regular Stonehenge) and Canson L’Aquarelle 140lb hot press. Whatever brand of watercolor paper I use, I choose hot press because it’s smooth. 140lb watercolor paper is the lightest paper I trust.

This is my most recent landscape. I used dark gray Pastelmat.

To Recap Choosing Papers for Colored Pencils

In general, smoother papers are better for drawings that require a high level of detail and/or for artists who prefer drawing with fewer layers. They’re also good for mixed media with watercolor, watercolor pencils, or markers if they’re made to handle moisture.

Toothier papers are good for artists who do a lot of layering, want a more painterly look, or don’t require a lot of detail.

But tastes change.

You’ll probably find that your preferences change as you gain skills or experiment with new papers. That’s okay.

In fact, it’s part of the process of growing as an artist. So don’t be afraid to try new papers. You never know where you may find your next favorite paper!

Ask Carrie a Question

Filling in Paper Holes on Stonehenge Paper

If you’ve ever had problems filling paper holes, you’ll be interested in today’s question. A reader asked about filling in paper holes on Stonehenge paper. Here’s the question.

What is the best paper to use for blending colored pencils?

I have tried Stonehenge which takes a lot layers but I find it difficult to fill in the pin holes that the colored pencil doesn’t cover.

Best Regards,

Dean

Thank you for your question, Dean.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one single paper that’s absolutely best for blending colored pencils all the time or for every artist.

Filling in Paper Holes on Stonehenge Paper

So rather than talk about papers, let’s talk about filling in those paper holes on Stonehenge paper.

Filling in Paper Holes on Stonehenge Paper

Blending is all about smoothing out the color and filling the paper holes. You can do that on almost any paper. I use Stonehenge, Canson Mi-Teintes, Bristol Vellum, and Clairefontaine Pastelmat paper, just to name a few. The techniques vary, but I can fill the paper holes on each paper.

So there are ways to fill in the paper holes on Stonehenge paper, beginning with the pencils you use.

The Pencils You Use

The higher quality pencils you use, the easier it should be to blend, no matter what blending method you prefer. Better pencils put more pigment on the paper. The more pigment on the paper, the easier it is to blend, and the more paper holes you fill in.

I use a combination of Prismacolor and Faber-Castell Polychromos on Stonehenge with good results.

The Way You Draw

What I’m talking about here is the pressure you put on the pencil when you draw. If you draw with light pressure, you can put more layers on the paper. If you draw with heavy pressure, you limit the number of layers you can add.

That’s because you’re putting more binding agent as well as pigment on the paper. The binding agent fills the tooth of the paper without adding color, so it can hinder you. Especially if you use waxy pencils like Prismacolor.

I mentioned earlier the pencils I use on Stonehenge. I also have a very light hand and begin drawings with light pressure, and use the lightest possible pressure as long as possible.

Layering

Simple layering is the best—and easiest—way to fill in paper holes. At least for me. The more layers you add, the more the paper holes you fill in, especially when you keep your pencils sharp.

Use light pressure for as many layers as possible as described above. Gradually increase pressure as needed. Make each layer as smooth as you can.

Blending Between Layers

One thing that really helps me blend smooth color on Stonehenge is blending between layers. I use a variety of blending methods and tools depending on the result I want. Here are a few of my favorites.

Dry Blending with Paper Towel or Bath Tissue

Dry blending with paper towel or bath tissue is especially effective with Stonehenge paper because Stonehenge is so soft. It’s easy to do, too. Fold a piece of paper towel or bath tissue into a small square, then rub the part of the drawing you want to blend.

Blending with a Light Value Neutral Color to Blend

You can blend by blending with a light value neutral color. Use light or medium pressure to add a light color over a few layers of the other colors you’ve been using. The lighter color smooths out pencil strokes and unifies the previous layers of color.

I recommend a color similar to the color of your paper if you’re not using white paper. If you are using white paper, then a light gray is probably your best choice.

Burnishing

Burnishing is using heavy pressure to “press” the layers of color together. It’s best to burnish toward the end of the drawing process, because burnishing flattens the paper and makes it difficult to add more color.

I hesitate to recommend burnishing because it’s easy to scuff the surface of Stonehenge, even with a lot of color on the paper. But it is effective if you don’t burnish a lot and are careful.

My Best Tips for Filling in Paper Tooth on Stonehenge Paper

I get the feeling that Dean really likes drawing on Stonehenge paper, but is discouraged about the difficulty of filling in those pesky paper holes. If that’s the case, then these tips should help him.

They’ll help you, too, if you also have problems filling in paper holes. And they work on most art papers.

With enough layers or with the use of blending methods like burnishing and solvent blends, it is possible to fill in all the paper holes on Stonehenge and other papers.

It just takes more layers and more time.

Ask Carrie a Question

The Best Way to Sharpen Colored Pencils

What’s the best way to sharpen colored pencils? That’s what today’s reader wants to know.

Hello, Carrie,

I thoroughly enjoy your posts. Although I’ve followed you for a couple of years now, this is only my second attempt at using colored pencils to create an artwork. The first time was for a class project and I drew my dog. This time it is once again a class project and it will be a self portrait in the style of a famous artist.

What is the best way to sharpen colored pencils? I have an Carl Angel-5 pencil sharpener I use for all of my pencils. Would that be appropriate? And should I sharpen often to keep a sharp point (as is done with charcoal pencils)?

Thank you for offering to help all of us with our art journey,

Katherine Collmer

Thank you for your question, Katherine. I’ve been blogging about colored pencils long enough to know that a lot of people wonder about sharpeners. Thank you for taking the time to ask.

The Best Way to Sharpen Colored Pencils

Katherine actually asked two questions, so let me tackle them in the order in which she asked them.

The Best Way to Sharpen Pencils

The best way I’ve found to sharpen all of my pencils (including Prismacolor pencils) is an old crank sharpener my husband bought when he was in school.

Made by Apsco, this sharpener holds a pencil firmly during sharpening, and is capable of sharpening different sizes of pencils.

The Best Way to Sharpen Colored Pencils

This sharpener is so old, it’s all metal, which makes it ideal for heavy use. You can still buy crank sharpeners, but many modern models are no long all metal. If you want a sharpener like what I use, you’ll have to buy a used one through eBay or similar websites.

But any high quality sharpener made for colored pencils should deliver the same sharpening capabilities.

I have used some electric, battery, and hand-held sharpeners with good results, but I prefer that old crank sharpener! It is the best way to sharpen colored pencils for me.

I’m not familiar with a Carl Angel 5-Pencil sharpener, but if it’s working, there’s no reason to change. That’s why I continue using the old sharpener I use.

How Often You Should Sharpen Pencils

The rule of thumb is to sharpen frequently. Some artists recommend sharpening every minute or two to keep pencils needle sharp.

That’s a good policy, but hard to do. I often work until my pencils have a flat edge! Mostly because I forget to sharpen them. But I’ve also learned to turn a pencil as I draw, which seems to make sharpening as often less necessary.

In general, sharp pencils work better because they get color down into the tooth of the paper more easily than a dull pencil. But there are times when a dull (or even a blunt pencil) is the best tool for the job.

And there are some papers on which sharp pencils are not necessary. Sanded art papers, for example.

So the short answer to this question to sharpen your pencils as often as you need to in order to get the results you want.

In the end, the method that works best for you is the method you should use.

Ask Carrie a Question

My Favorite Colored Pencil Sharpeners

Today’s reader question is about sharpeners. There are so many options available that I thought I’d share my favorite colored pencil sharpeners and tell you what I like and don’t like about them.

But first, here’s the question:

Hi

It’s not my first rodeo so to speak, but I still have sharpening issues at times- broken points, too short a point. Like you, when using a sharp pencil, I prefer a longer point. I’ve gone through 6 sharpeners, some a little better than others, but still haven’t found a gem.
Which ones have you found work the best consistently?

Thanks and stay well.

Dee

Dee isn’t alone in the search for the ideal colored pencil sharpener. Sooner or later we all look for a great pencil sharpener.

My Favorite Colored Pencil Sharpeners

I’ve used a variety of colored pencil sharpeners over the years, from hand-held to crank to electric. Some of them have been excellent sharpeners and some haven’t. The best thing I can say about all of them is that I haven’t spent much money on any of them.

Hand-Held

Hand-held sharpeners come in a variety of shapes and styles. Some have containers to catch shavings and some haven’t, but they all have one thing in common. You hold them in your hand.

I currently have two styles. Both of them come with shavings containers and both were very inexpensive. Under $2 each.

But one sharpens pencils to a short point, while the other sharpens a longer point.

One of my favorite colored pencil sharpeners is this inexpensive hand held sharpener.

What I like about them is that I can keep them in my pencil box, in the cup of pencils currently in use, or in my field kit. They’re also so cheap (yes, I’ll go ahead and say it) that I can keep several handy in different locations. For my artsy side, they come in different colors. How cool is that?

What I’m not crazy about is that they don’t last more than a few months under heavy usage. But I have had two of them for more than two years and they still do the job.

Besides, they’re cheap enough that replacing them is no big deal.

Crank

The sharpener I use most in the studio is actually not mine. My husband bought it when he was in school. It’s an APSCO Premier Standard and is the kind of sharpener that used to be in every classroom in every public school. What’s more, it’s all metal! No plastic parts.

I like this sharpener because it’s solid, is designed to take pencils of different sizes, and sharpens like a dream. Pencils sharpened in this sharpener have a lovely, long, tapered point.

It’s easy to clean, too. Just turn the shaving container a quarter turn, slide it off the blades, and empty it.

To keep the blades sharp and functioning properly, I sharpen lead pencils once in a while to remove wax and other colored pencil debris.

Is there anything I don’t like about it? Yes. It’s not attached to a wall, so I have to either hold it on a desk top or in my lap to sharpen pencils. But that’s not all bad. I can move from one working area to another when necessary.

Electric

I’ve used a couple of different electric sharpeners in the past. One battery-operated and one that had to be plugged into the wall.

The battery-powered sharpener was large enough that I didn’t need to hold it while I sharpened a pencil. Just put the pencil in the top-loading sharpening opening and sharpen. But it was also small enough to take along when I worked out of the studio.

The second sharpener was also not very large, but because it required a power outlet, it didn’t leave the studio.

Both of them sharpened well and lasted quite a lot while. Both were under $30, but it’s been so long since I purchased them, that prices have almost certainly gone up.

My only complaint about both is that they eventually wore out, as sharpeners tend to do. By then, I had other options and just never replaced them. Do I sometimes wish I had? Absolutely.

Which Colored Pencil Sharpener is My Favorite?

That’s easy. The crank sharpener is the one I reach for most. It produces long, tapered points, it’s easy to clean, and sturdy. And it’s all-metal, so it’s going to last a long time.

But there are other ways to sharpen pencils, and you can read more about one way a lot of artists swear by in Getting the Most Possible Use out of every Colored Pencil, which I wrote for EmptyEasel.

Ask Carrie a Question

Fixing Damaged Drawing Paper

Over the years, I’ve received questions about fixing damage. Usually, the questioner wanted to know how to fix damage to a drawing in progress. Today, I want to talk about fixing damaged drawing paper that hasn’t been drawn on yet.

I used to think any damage was the end of a drawing, because I didn’t know how to fix any kind of damage. I trashed a lot of drawings before learning differently.

Fixing Damaged Drawing Paper

Most paper companies take a great deal of care to assure their paper reaches you crisp, clean, and undamaged. Even some retailers give extreme care to the storage of the paper they sell.

But from the time paper leaves the factory until you put it on your easel or drawing board, there’s plenty of opportunity for something to happen. Sooner or later, it will happen to you.

Damage doesn’t mean the paper is trash, though. There are ways to repair even some forms of serious damage.

Fixing Damaged Drawing Paper

Avoiding damaged drawing paper is, of course, the best option. The following suggestions tell you how to look for damage to unused paper.

When You Buy in Person

If you’re buying in person, examine every sheet of paper before you buy it. Look for scuffs, dents, creases, scratches and other kinds of surface damage. Unless you’re absolutely certain you can work with or easily remove damage (or if the store gives you a deep discount,) don’t buy damaged paper.

When You Unpack a Shipped Order

When you buy online and your order arrives, examine every sheet at once. If you find damaged paper, contact customer support and ask about refunds, returns, or exchanges on the damaged paper. Resolving the issue differs from company to company, but chances are good that something will be done if you purchased from a reputable company.

I’ve purchased from Dick Blick often enough to have encountered occasional problems. I’ve returnned items for an exchange, kept the item and received a new one, or returned the item for a discount or refund, depending on the item.

DO NOT accept damaged goods without at least making an effort to contact the seller. Give them the opportunity to make things right.

What to Look For

Look for stains, discoloration, or any other marks that cannot be easily erased. Check both sides of the paper.

Hold the paper up to the light and see if any parts of it look thinner than the rest. If there are thin spots, that’s damage you can’t fix and probably don’t want.

Hold it so bright light slants across the surface. This is the best way to find scratches or impressed lines. Look for scuffed surfaces, too. What you do with that paper is up to you. After all, if you use some of the following suggestions, you will be able to use it.

Fixing damaged drawing paper doesn’t have to be complicated, difficult or time-consuming.

Types of Damage

Dents

This illustration shows an unused sheet of Stonehenge with a dent.

The dent isn’t serious. In fact, I wouldn’t consider it damage at all. It won’t affect a drawing and will “press out” as I work with the paper.

But it is easy enough to repair.

Fixing Damaged Drawing
When you shine a light across a piece of paper, it’s easier to see dents and other minor surface imperfections. I held a lamp just above the paper to photograph this. This type of damage can be easily removed by placing the paper between two rigid surfaces and putting a weight of some sort on top for a day or two.

Step 1: Place the paper between two clean, rigid supports that are larger than the piece of paper. Mat board works great, but you can use other sturdy items.

Step 2: Place a weight of some type on top of your drawing paper “sandwich.” A coffee table book is good. It’s heavy enough to “press” the paper sandwich, but big enough to spread the weight evenly. I don’t recommend small books such as mass market paperbacks because they’re not heavy enough. Dictionaries are too heavy.

Step 3: Press the drawing paper this way overnight or for up to 24 hours. That should be enough time to reduce the dent without compressing the rest of the paper.

Torn Paper

There is only one solution to badly torn paper. Cropping. The easiest and fastest solution is to cut the paper along the tear, then trim the resulting pieces to “square up” the corners.

But where and how you crop the paper depends largely on where the tear is, how big the original sheet of paper is, and your own creativity.

Another solution you might consider.

A lot of the better papers come with deckled edges. If you frame artwork so that it’s mounted with the edges showing, deckled edges can enhance the artwork nicely.

Even small pieces of paper can then become the support for unique works of art in which the drawing paper is as creative in appearance as whatever you draw on it.

How do you make deckled edges?

One way is to purchase a straight edge with a deckled edge. Lay it on your paper, then carefully tear the paper along that deckled edge.

You can also tear the paper completely into two pieces by hand. Fold the paper forward and backward enough to break the paper fibers, then carefully tear it along the fold.

Stonehenge paper and many others are sold with two deckled edges. These are “raw” untrimmed edges. You can create something similar by carefully cropping torn paper along the tear.

Creases

Creases are very difficult to repair, usually because the paper wasn’t just bent; it was folded. They will show up in your artwork, so unless you can think of a way to incorporate the crease into your artwork, the best thing to do is trim the crease out.

You can, of course, do that with a mat cutter, paper cutter, or an X-Acto knife and rule.

But before you start cutting, consider folding the paper backward and forward a couple of times to break the paper fibers, then carefully tearing it along the crease as described above.

Why?

Carefully tearing paper this way produces a feathered edge that can be used to your advantage.

However, if the paper is too heavy for that, go ahead and cut it.

3 Ways of Fixing Damaged Drawing Paper

These repairs work on a variety of drawing papers. The softness and surface treatment of the paper you’re using may require you to adjust your methods.

But if you’re careful and patient, and if you don’t panic, most damage can be repaired.

Additional Reading

To see how these methods work, read Hiding Scratches, Dents, and Scrapes in Your Good Drawing Paper on EmptyEasel.

The Difference Between Hot Press and Cold Press Papers

Let’s take a moment talk about the difference between hot press and cold press papers.

I know this subject can easily become complex, especially to those of us who have never used watercolors. But watercolor paper is a great paper for colored pencil work, too, so knowing a little about it can help you make a better choice.

So I’m keeping this discussion short and sweet by concentrating on the primary difference.

The Difference Between Hot Press and Cold Press Papers

The Difference Between Hot Press and Cold Press Papers

The biggest difference between hot press and cold press papers is surface texture. Hot press papers are generally smoother (sometimes much smoother) than cold press papers.

Cold press paper is pressed with cold rollers or plates. These plates press the surface fibers down somewhat, leaving some surface texture. The amount of texture varies from paper to paper and company to company, but in all cases, cold press paper is toothier than hot press paper.

Cold-press paper is the most popular and versatile and is suitable for most media, depending on its weight. It’s a favorite for watercolor artists because it’s more absorbent and tends to stay wet a little longer than hot press paper.

Hot press paper passes through heated rollers or plates. The heated presses press the paper fibers down more completely, producing a smoother paper. Some texture remains. Hot press paper is not as smooth as Bristol, for example, but it’s much smoother than cold press paper.

Hot pressed paper is ideal for highly-detailed illustrations, printmaking, etching, drafting, sketching, and drawing. Yes. Even colored pencil drawing.

Read Which Paper is Best for Colored Pencils? for more paper basics.

How to Decide Which Paper to Use

The type of watercolor paper (or any paper) you use depends largely on the art you want to create. If you like highly detailed artwork, use a paper sturdy enough to handle lots of layers and smooth enough to easily fill the tooth. Weight is important, but so is surface texture.

If you prefer a more painterly look, then choose paper with a bit more surface texture.

The watercolor papers I use are Canson L’Aquarelle and Stonehenge Aqua, both 140lb hot press. Both look and feel like Stonehenge traditional paper. I use watercolor or watercolor pencil under traditional pencils on both papers.

I also use only traditional colored pencils on both with good results.

Both papers—and probably any other artist grade 140lb hot press paper—are good for my drawing methods for landscapes. I’ve yet to do an animal portrait on either.

Nor have I tried cold press watercolor paper because I prefer smoother papers. But as I mentioned above, if you prefer a more painterly look for your art, give them a try.

For more detailed information on hot and cold press watercolor papers, read Cold Press vs Hot Press watercolor paper – Here’s how to choose ! It’s written for watercolor artists, but the paper information is good for colored pencil artists, as well.

Still Undecided?

Buy the smallest pad of each you can find and experiment. If you know a watercolor artist, ask him or her for advice. Or maybe a small demo.

You may even contact some of the more popular paper companies. Many of them offer free samples. The samples are often small—5×7 or less—but they’re large enough to find out what works and what doesn’t.

And you can’t ask for more than that!

Review of Colors A Workbook

Today, I want to share my review of Colors A Workbook, by Amy Lindenberger.

I don’t often review new products. So many new tools and products enter the market every week that it wouldn’t take long for this blog to become a product review blog if I tried to review everything.

Ann Kullberg released a new book May 1 that I wanted the moment I saw it. I bought it the same day.

Colors Workbook Review

Before I begin the review, however, I need to issue a caveat or two.

Caveat #1: Colors – A Workbook is not a casual read. Yes, you can pick up a few things just by reading it, but you will not get full benefit from just reading.

Author Amy Lindenberger has designed several exercises to download and do (that’s why this book is called a workbook.) One of two exercises are fairly easy. The rest are more in-depth.

Caveat #2: This book is designed for artists serious about learning how to choose colors. Every subject. Every brand of pencil. Exercises include a color wheel, blending bars, and drawing projects.

No hand holding involved! The author designed each exercise for a specific purpose. Give them the same attention you give regular drawing projects, and by the time you finish, you won’t have to ask someone else which colors to use.

Now for my review!

Colors Workbook Review

My Review of Colors A Workbook

Long-time artist Amy Lindenberger has several tutorials published by Ann Kullberg, so you may already be familiar with her work. In addition, she also teaches in person, so it’s possible you’ve attended one of her classes or workshops.

Having said that, this book is not a tutorial in the traditional sense. It’s very in-depth. Amy covers many general color-related topics beginning with color perception and the basics of color theory.

She also designed drawing exercises that walk you through basic color mixing. And I do mean color mixing. Students start with three colors—the primaries—and graduate to a total of twelve colors. You complete every exercise in the book except for the first two with twelve colors.

You need only three colors for the first two exercises.

My Experience So Far

I say “so far,” because although I bought the book the day it was released, I ‘m still reading it. Quite frankly, it’s taken nearly two weeks to finish the color wheel.

That in no way reflects on my level of interest in the book or the exercises. It’s just that there’s no way to rush through the material or the exercises and do a good job.

The first exercise is probably the easiest one in the book. Making color isolation cards. Basically, punching two holes in a small piece of medium gray paper (I used Canson Mi-Teintes Steel Grey.) My color isolation card is shown here.

Use a color isolation card to look at a color without also seeing the colors around it.

The next exercise is a color wheel, which you can download and print on Bristol (Amy’s recommendation) or printer paper. I spent at least an hour on my color wheel to reach the point below, just to show you this is no fast exercise.

I used Faber-Castell Polychromos Fuchia, Light Cadmium Yellow, and Medium Phthalo Blue for my color wheel. Amy recommends colors to use in other brands, though she says she gets the best results with Prismacolor pencils.

I finished the color wheel in eight days.

Granted, I try to give at least half an hour a day to drawing, but don’t always succeed. Artists with more time to draw will finish more quickly.

Colors A Workbook includes practical drawing exercises in addition to exercises in which students create their own drawing tools.

These pages show one of these projects, a collection of colored eggs, but students also draw cherries and pears.

Review of Colors A Workbook

The Bottom Line in My Review of Colors A Workbook

Colors – A Workbook is 80 pages in length and stuffed full of encouragement as well as instruction. It’s available in print format or as a PDF download.

The individual exercises are also available for download and I highly recommend them.

In fact, I highly recommend this book. The content and drawing exercises benefit every artist willing to treat them like a course, no matter your level.

After all, if I can learn more about color matching, mixing and selection after over 20 years of using colored pencils, you can too!

Review of Colors A Workbook
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