Today I want to talk a little bit about Prismacolor Verithin Pencils and how best to use them. The topic was suggested by a reader question, so let’s begin by taking a look at the question.
I am very much a beginner and enjoy your weekly blogs immensely.
My preference is starting to go towards [the] Prismacolor series, and I’m learning layering and scraping or slicing… whatever it is called.
When I layer the Verithin pencils I have, I seem to have zero effect for [anything but] skinny stroke lines. Am I doing something wrong or is this normal because of the softness and/or hardness of the lead?
Am I never going to be able to use my Verithin pencils with my Premier?
Comparing Verithin and Thick Core Prismacolor Pencils
My experience has been that not many people use Prismacolor’s Verithin line of pencils or know the best way to use them. I have Verithin pencils and have used them quite a bit, but even I have moved away from them in favor of other pencils.
However, they are still very useful for certain techniques, so let’s talk about what these pencils are, how they differ from the soft core line of Prismacolor pencils, and how you can make the best use of them.
Verithin and Soft Core pencils are both manufactured under the Prismacolor name. They use the same pigments, and they share color names. Dark Brown in Prismacolor Verithin is the same color as Dark Brown in Prismacolor Soft Core.
That’s about all they have in common, however.
Most of us are very familiar with the smoothness and softness of Prismacolor Soft Core pencils. That’s what most artists think of when they think “Prismacolor.”
Prismacolor Verithin pencils are thinner, harder, and less waxy. They sharpen to a very fine point and they hold that point much longer. They also leave less wax on the paper.
But they do not layer as easily. Nor do they create the same kind of rich, saturated color as their thicker, softer cousins.
They also come in a limited collection of 36 colors.
It is possible to create complete works of art with Verithin pencils, but the finished pieces have a totally different look than the same art created with the same colors in the thick core line.
Because of these differences, they don’t perform the same way as Prismacolor Soft Core pencils.
But they do perform extremely well in certain applications.
How to Make the Best Use of Verithin Pencils
Because they are thinner, harder, and hold a sharp point longer, Prismacolor Verithin pencils are perfect for drawing fine details. For years, they were my go-to pencil for drawing long, flowing manes on my horses, or for adding detail to grassy fields and similar applications.
Sharp tips and hard lead also make them great etching tools. You can “slice” through heavy layers of softer color with a Verithin pencil AND leave a bit of color in the mark at the same time.
You can’t do as much detail work this way as you could do with a Slice tool or knife, but adding subtle details is much easier with a Verithin pencil.
And you’re less likely to cut through the paper!
Even today, I most often use Verithin pencils at the under drawing phase. They leave less wax on the paper, so I can add almost as many layers of color as a I want without filling up the tooth of the paper.
It’s very easy to layer softer pencils over them to finish a piece.
Sanded Art Papers
I’ve even found them useful on sanded art papers such as Clairefontaine Pastelmat and Lux Archival. I don’t use them as much for under drawings on sanded art papers, but they’re excellent for blending layers of color and for adding details over layers of color.
In fact, one of the last horse portraits I did involved using Verithin pencils over many layers of color to add flyaway hairs in the mane and forelock, eyelashes, and other details.
You’re Not Doing Anything Wrong with Your Prismacolor Verithin Pencils!
Prismacolor Verithin pencils can be extremely useful if you understand what they are and how they work. They have a very specific area of usefulness.
Once you find that place in your drawing process, you’ll be able to create wonderful art with them by themselves or in combination with other types and brands of pencils.
So continue practicing with them, and try a few of the techniques I described above.