Suede Board and Colored Pencils

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.


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


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.


    1. Dick Blick sells suede board. I don’t believe Hobby Lobby does, but you’d have to contact your local store and find out. They might carry it in full sheets, but I’m sure they would cut one down for you, or possible even sell you “waste” that’s been cut out of a mat they cut for someone.

  1. Dean Rompella

    I have used suede board often, especially for animals. As mentioned in your article, it’s great for fur. I have also used it for birds. The feathers turn out great. You do have to saturate the highlights or they dull quite quickly. I buy the boards in large sheets and then cut them to size as needed.

  2. I am familiar with the characteristics imparted to colored pencils by different proportion of oil and wax in the binder, but, having begun to experiment with sandpaper as a ground, I find myself mystified by the inherent differences among “pastel pencils”, “soft colored pencils”, colored charcoal pencils, and other of the “softish” sort. Can you please enlighten me?

    1. David,

      Thank you for your comment and for your question.

      Unfortunately, I can’t enlighten you any further than to say that pastel pencils and charcoal pencils are nothing like colored pencils. They are entirely different mediums.

      I have dabbled with charcoal pencils a little bit, but not enough to advise you.

      I have never used pastel pencils or soft pastels of any type, so I have no advice to offer beyond suggesting that you look up artists who use pastels and see what they have to say. Jason Morgan does great work with both pastels and colored pencils, so he would be my first recommendation. He also has a great YouTube channel with lots of videos.

      Thank you again for your comment and your question.

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