Colored Pencil Tips for New Artists

Sometime ago, I wrote a post sharing 8 things I wished I’d known when I started as an artist. Those tips apply to all forms of art, so today, I want to share specific colored pencil tips for new artists.

As with most things, when you first begin, the world is at your feet. The sky’s the limit! Colored pencils are the best art medium ever and you’re going to create great art from the start.

Then reality hits.

You’re much better equipped for that reality if you remember these eight things.

Colored Pencil Tips for New Artists

1. Colored Pencils are S-L-O-W!!!

New products are being developed all the time that can speed up the drawing process for colored pencil artists. Watercolor pencils. Sanded art papers. Great new blending tools.

But colored pencils are still a naturally slow medium, and if you prefer traditional colored pencils on traditional papers, expect to spend hours and hours on each piece.

Colored Pencil Tips for New Artists

Especially if you prefer producing realistic work. Take your time and enjoy the process.

2. Not All Colored Pencils are the Same

Aside from variations in labeling and exterior treatment, most colored pencils look the same. Yes, some are round and some are octagonal. Most are wood-encased, and others have no casing at all. And they all look like pencils!

But they don’t all perform the same way. A set of cheap pencils purchased at the local craft store do not perform the same as a set of high quality pencils purchase from a dedicated art supply store.

To keep frustration levels to a minimum, start with the best pencils you can afford.

3. You Don’t Need a Full Set of Pencils

Despite all those lovely, beautiful, enticing colors, you can make a good start with just a few colors. Small sets force you to learn how to layer colors to mix new colors. You may not like all the new colors you make. I can just about guarantee you’ll hate a lot of them.

But that’s all right. Most artists learn more from their mistakes, than from the things that go right.

Smaller sets are also less expensive. If you make a few drawings, then decide you prefer another medium, you can give that small set away without guilt. Or regret!

4. Sharp is Good, but Not Always Best

You won’t have to watch many videos or do many tutorials to start hearing how important sharp pencils are. For many applications, that is true.

But dull and even blunt pencils are also useful in some applications. Try them for putting thin, nearly transparent color into larger areas.

Colored Pencil Tips for New Artists

5. You Don’t Need Solvents to Get Smooth Color

For years, colored pencil artists created wonderful works of art using nothing but pencils and paper.

Then someone discovered colored pencil layers could be dissolved and blended with solvents. Solvents allowed color to “soak” into the paper and fill in the tooth of the paper without damaging the tooth.

That meant artists could add more layers, get smoother color, finish faster, and even work larger.

That doesn’t mean you have to solvents. A lot of artists prefer the way their work looks if they don’t use solvents.

So if you don’t like the look of solvent-blended color, or are allergic to solvents, don’t worry! You can still make great art the old-fashioned way.

6. You Don’t Need Fancy Tools

There are a lot of new tools, gadgets, devices, and other accessories for the colored pencil artist in today’s market. All of them are useful to someone.

Most of them are fun to try.

Some of them may even help you.

But beginners don’t really need them. As a matter of fact, adding tools to your toolbox before you know how to make the pencils and paper work together causes confusion and maybe frustration.

7. Experiment!

Don’t be afraid to make bad art. All of us have done it!

Colored Pencil Tips for New Artists

When you wonder if two colors work together, the best way to find out is to try them together. If they do, great!

If they don’t, then you’ve learned something not to do.

8. Have fun.

I can’t mention this often enough.

That’s because it’s so easy to get caught up in the creative process that you forget to have fun. Especially after you’ve been drawing for a while and you really want to improve.

The best way to improve is to do a lot of drawings. The best way to do a lot of drawings is to have fun with every drawing.

Those are My Tips Colored Pencil Tips for New Artists

Keep them in mind as you begin exploring your colored pencils and your art journey will get off to a much better start.

They also work for those of us who have been making art for a while.

Sometimes we forget!

5 Replies to “Colored Pencil Tips for New Artists”

  1. Pencil art is ever so wonderfully slow and that’s why I love it! Do a little…. leave it…. come back to it…. and nothing dries out in the meantime! Especially appreciate tip 7 and 8….. give yourself enough grace to make adventures in learning (mistakes) and relax!

  2. Yes you can and do learn from your mistakes using colored pencils. Unlike painting where you can paint over many of your mistakes, you can’t do that so well using colored pencils. However, I HAVE painted over a few of my pencil mistakes. I’ve been declared cancer free here lately which is FANTASTIC but I want to say that while I was fighting this disease, I oftentimes was drawing to take my mind off of the downsides of it. And it worked for me quite well. I’m so glad I rediscovered doing artwork about 14 years ago when I became disabled from other complications. God Bless!

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