Colored Pencil and Mixed Media

Colored Pencil and Mixed Media

Please discuss colored pencil work when it is being done with mixed media. Issues to be concerned with and the best paper or surface?
Thank you so much! Don

Colored Pencil and Mixed Media

One of the things that makes colored pencils so popular is that they can be used with so many other art forms. Colored pencils work well with other dry media such as PanPastels and graphite. Watercolor, watercolor pencils, inks, and even markers are also good fits for mixed media work with colored pencils.

So it’s impossible to give specific answers to this question without writing a treatise! Since I don’t want to write a treatise and you probably don’t want to read one, let’s stick to the basics.


The truth is that colored pencils work well on many types of surfaces from drafting film to sanded art paper. So when you consider papers for mixed media projects, it’s best to consider the paper the second media works best on.

For example, wet media requires paper made to handle moisture. Watercolor paper is best for inks, watercolors, and watercolor pencils.

Colored Pencil and Mixed Media

To make the best of both wet media and colored pencil, 140lb hot press watercolor paper is a good starting point. You can also use heavier paper if you wish.

I’ve used Stonehenge Aqua and Canson L’Aquarelle Heritage papers and they both are great for colored pencil work, as well as wet media.

For markers, you need a surface that’s smooth and non-absorbent, such as illustration board.

And for dry media like PanPastels, select a paper with enough tooth to grab the pastel and make it stick. They work very well on sanded art papers, but Canson Mi-Teintes and other pastel papers will also do the job.

Issues to be Concerned with Other than Paper

The main issue when using mixed media with colored pencils is getting the media in the right order. You almost always have to use the colored pencil over the second media.

Wet media will not stick to colored pencils because of the wax content in the binding agent of colored pencils. It doesn’t matter whether you use oil-based or wax-based colored pencils. All colored pencils contain some amount of wax. Wax repels water, so using a water-based media over colored pencils doesn’t usually work.

That includes watercolor, watercolor pencils, most inks, and even alcohol markers.

Nor does dry media stick very well to colored pencils.

So start with watercolor, ink, marker, pastels, or other media first. Do everything with that media that you want to do. Then finish up with colored pencils.

Colored Pencil and Mixed Media

Colored pencils work all kinds of media, fine art and craft art.

So if you want to see how colored pencils work with a medium I haven’t mentioned, give it a try and see what you think.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting, and it’s a great way to learn first hand what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve done plenty of it myself, including putting watercolor over colored pencil. You never know. You might be able to get away with it!

Got a question? Ask Carrie!


  1. Patricia Wilson

    This was very helpful. What you said makes sense about using things in the right order. It seems to make sense but so often we go off on a tangent and don’t think of these things. Thanks so much for giving us all these tips.

    1. Patricia,

      It never hurts to refresh oneself on the basics. I think one of the biggest surprises I had when I started blogging about colored pencils is how often I got a refresher on the basics while answering a reader question.

      Do I still sometimes go off on a tangent? Absolutely!

      But it’s still good to have a solid understanding of the basics, no matter what you’re doing.

      Thank you for reading, and thank you for leaving a comment.

  2. Lilette AUTREY

    I am a card maker artist and other arts. I would like to include a bit of drawing and painting in my art but I am nil in drawing and painting . To be honest. After more than 50 yrs I am trying to go back to my painting and drawing. Believe me I did art for my HSC but it is as if I have never done it in my life . It does not want to come back , I suppose it is a lack of confidence in myself . I am willing to try . I have my paint and my coloured pencils , now I have to use them. I do a lot of pouring paint , it is very nice with different technics bu t I know that drawing yourself on your paper is expressing more of yourself and not what the painting wants to look like.on your canvas. So how do I start , do I copy a picture , oh well a dog might look like a horse , I always love drawing flowers , may be I will start a flower , I do not know , I have to decide but I will follow your advice, for sure. Thank you for listening to me,

    1. Lilette,

      Thank you first of all for reading this article.

      Thank you also for taking the time to ask your question and share a bit of background.

      Let me encourage you that if you have drawn in the past, you can still draw. It may just take a bit of time to get back into the habit. So start simple and work up.

      This is what I suggest.

      Step 1
      Click the “Start Here” link in the menu near the top of the page. There are three categories of articles in that sub-menu and you will find information there that will help you get started.

      Step 2
      Play with your pencils. Do some doodling or shading or anything. It doesn’t matter what you draw. What matters is that you start putting color on paper. That will help you get familiar with what your pencils can do. Once you see what they (and you) are capable of, you will gain confidence.

      Step 3
      If you want more specific help, you might look for a step-by-step tutorial you can do. Most tutorials tell you what colors to use, when to use them, how to use them, and so on. They are a good way to learn techniques such as layering, blending, etc. with the guidance of an established artist. Ann Kullberg has a ton of great tutorials for beginners. Click on the ad on the upper right of this page to get to her store. You don’t have to buy the product in the ad.

      My store, Colored Pencil Tutorials, also has a selection of tutorials on a variety of subjects from beginner to advanced. There’s an ad for that store in the right side bar, too.

      Finally, if you want to learn by drawing your own subjects, flowers are a great subject to start with. They are very forgiving. Roses are perfect because they have big petals and big shapes. Find an image you like and start drawing!

      Thank you again for your question and welcome to colored pencils.

      Welcome to this blog, too!

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