Have you ever wanted to make colors lighter on a work-in-progress, but thought it was hopeless?
Let me assure it’s not hopeless, and I’ll show you why.
The following three tips work whether you added too many layers or chose a color that was too dark.
Better yet, they’re simple and use tools you already have! No complex methods or expensive tools today.
Are you ready?
How to Make Colors Lighter
Transparent tape, masking tape, or painter’s tape is probably the easiest method for making colors lighter. I wrote in detail about that here, but I wanted to mention it now because it’s so utterly simple.
Tear off a small piece of tape, lay it carefully along the area you want to lighten, then lift it off the paper. Don’t press the tape down firmly or you could damage the surface of the paper.
Do NOT use packing tape, duct tape, or any other heavy duty tape on a drawing. Once it’s on the paper, there’s no way to remove it without damage. “If a little sticky works, a lot of sticky works better” does not work with art!
The next best thing for lifting color is mounting putty.
Mounting putty is that sticky stuff originally designed to stick unframed posters to walls. It’s very handy for that, but it’s also very handy for making colors lighter on colored pencil drawings.
And it’s easy to use.
Just tear off a piece, work it in your hands long enough to warm it up a little, and then press it onto the color you want to lighten. The stickiness picks up some of that color without damaging the paper. One or two repetitions removes just a little bit of color.
More repetitions removes more color.
Mounting putty is self cleaning. If you work in it your hands while you use it, it absorbs the color it picked up. That means that color doesn’t end up back on your drawing.
This method doesn’t get you back to clean paper, but it is surprising how much color it will lift.
For more step-by-step demos on using tape and mounting putty, read this article I wrote for EmptyEasel.
Make Colors Lighter by Adding Lighter Colors
Any artist who has tried to change something after putting down a lot of layers, or using heavy pressure knows how difficult it is to add more color. Difficult, but not impossible.
Use the same methods you used to put down the original color. You will have to be more diligent in keeping your pencils sharp because you’ll be working over a “used” surface.
You may also have to use slightly more pressure than you originally used. But work slowly, use several layers of color, and carefully blend old and new.
This method is especially helpful if you want to tint the color already on the paper as well as lighten. Choose a light-colored pencil that’s lighter than the color you want to lighten. Be careful about the colors you choose, though, or you could end up with mud.
And no one wants that!
Those Are My Favorite Methods for Making Colors Lighter
There are other ways to make colors lighter, but try these first. They’re the easiest and, usually, the most successful and least likely to damage your drawing.