Fixing Damaged Drawing Paper

Over the years, I’ve received questions about fixing damage. Usually, the questioner wanted to know how to fix damage to a drawing in progress. Today, I want to talk about fixing damaged drawing paper that hasn’t been drawn on yet.

I used to think any damage was the end of a drawing, because I didn’t know how to fix any kind of damage. I trashed a lot of drawings before learning differently.

Fixing Damaged Drawing Paper

Most paper companies take a great deal of care to assure their paper reaches you crisp, clean, and undamaged. Even some retailers give extreme care to the storage of the paper they sell.

But from the time paper leaves the factory until you put it on your easel or drawing board, there’s plenty of opportunity for something to happen. Sooner or later, it will happen to you.

Damage doesn’t mean the paper is trash, though. There are ways to repair even some forms of serious damage.

Fixing Damaged Drawing Paper

Avoiding damaged drawing paper is, of course, the best option. The following suggestions tell you how to look for damage to unused paper.

When You Buy in Person

If you’re buying in person, examine every sheet of paper before you buy it. Look for scuffs, dents, creases, scratches and other kinds of surface damage. Unless you’re absolutely certain you can work with or easily remove damage (or if the store gives you a deep discount,) don’t buy damaged paper.

When You Unpack a Shipped Order

When you buy online and your order arrives, examine every sheet at once. If you find damaged paper, contact customer support and ask about refunds, returns, or exchanges on the damaged paper. Resolving the issue differs from company to company, but chances are good that something will be done if you purchased from a reputable company.

I’ve purchased from Dick Blick often enough to have encountered occasional problems. I’ve returnned items for an exchange, kept the item and received a new one, or returned the item for a discount or refund, depending on the item.

DO NOT accept damaged goods without at least making an effort to contact the seller. Give them the opportunity to make things right.

What to Look For

Look for stains, discoloration, or any other marks that cannot be easily erased. Check both sides of the paper.

Hold the paper up to the light and see if any parts of it look thinner than the rest. If there are thin spots, that’s damage you can’t fix and probably don’t want.

Hold it so bright light slants across the surface. This is the best way to find scratches or impressed lines. Look for scuffed surfaces, too. What you do with that paper is up to you. After all, if you use some of the following suggestions, you will be able to use it.

Fixing damaged drawing paper doesn’t have to be complicated, difficult or time-consuming.

Types of Damage

Dents

This illustration shows an unused sheet of Stonehenge with a dent.

The dent isn’t serious. In fact, I wouldn’t consider it damage at all. It won’t affect a drawing and will “press out” as I work with the paper.

But it is easy enough to repair.

Fixing Damaged Drawing
When you shine a light across a piece of paper, it’s easier to see dents and other minor surface imperfections. I held a lamp just above the paper to photograph this. This type of damage can be easily removed by placing the paper between two rigid surfaces and putting a weight of some sort on top for a day or two.

Step 1: Place the paper between two clean, rigid supports that are larger than the piece of paper. Mat board works great, but you can use other sturdy items.

Step 2: Place a weight of some type on top of your drawing paper “sandwich.” A coffee table book is good. It’s heavy enough to “press” the paper sandwich, but big enough to spread the weight evenly. I don’t recommend small books such as mass market paperbacks because they’re not heavy enough. Dictionaries are too heavy.

Step 3: Press the drawing paper this way overnight or for up to 24 hours. That should be enough time to reduce the dent without compressing the rest of the paper.

Torn Paper

There is only one solution to badly torn paper. Cropping. The easiest and fastest solution is to cut the paper along the tear, then trim the resulting pieces to “square up” the corners.

But where and how you crop the paper depends largely on where the tear is, how big the original sheet of paper is, and your own creativity.

Another solution you might consider.

A lot of the better papers come with deckled edges. If you frame artwork so that it’s mounted with the edges showing, deckled edges can enhance the artwork nicely.

Even small pieces of paper can then become the support for unique works of art in which the drawing paper is as creative in appearance as whatever you draw on it.

How do you make deckled edges?

One way is to purchase a straight edge with a deckled edge. Lay it on your paper, then carefully tear the paper along that deckled edge.

You can also tear the paper completely into two pieces by hand. Fold the paper forward and backward enough to break the paper fibers, then carefully tear it along the fold.

Stonehenge paper and many others are sold with two deckled edges. These are “raw” untrimmed edges. You can create something similar by carefully cropping torn paper along the tear.

Creases

Creases are very difficult to repair, usually because the paper wasn’t just bent; it was folded. They will show up in your artwork, so unless you can think of a way to incorporate the crease into your artwork, the best thing to do is trim the crease out.

You can, of course, do that with a mat cutter, paper cutter, or an X-Acto knife and rule.

But before you start cutting, consider folding the paper backward and forward a couple of times to break the paper fibers, then carefully tearing it along the crease as described above.

Why?

Carefully tearing paper this way produces a feathered edge that can be used to your advantage.

However, if the paper is too heavy for that, go ahead and cut it.

3 Ways of Fixing Damaged Drawing Paper

These repairs work on a variety of drawing papers. The softness and surface treatment of the paper you’re using may require you to adjust your methods.

But if you’re careful and patient, and if you don’t panic, most damage can be repaired.

Additional Reading

To see how these methods work, read Hiding Scratches, Dents, and Scrapes in Your Good Drawing Paper on EmptyEasel.

The Difference Between Hot Press and Cold Press Papers

Let’s take a moment talk about the difference between hot press and cold press papers.

I know this subject can easily become complex, especially to those of us who have never used watercolors. But watercolor paper is a great paper for colored pencil work, too, so knowing a little about it can help you make a better choice.

So I’m keeping this discussion short and sweet by concentrating on the primary difference.

The Difference Between Hot Press and Cold Press Papers

The Difference Between Hot Press and Cold Press Papers

The biggest difference between hot press and cold press papers is surface texture. Hot press papers are generally smoother (sometimes much smoother) than cold press papers.

Cold press paper is pressed with cold rollers or plates. These plates press the surface fibers down somewhat, leaving some surface texture. The amount of texture varies from paper to paper and company to company, but in all cases, cold press paper is toothier than hot press paper.

Cold-press paper is the most popular and versatile and is suitable for most media, depending on its weight. It’s a favorite for watercolor artists because it’s more absorbent and tends to stay wet a little longer than hot press paper.

Hot press paper passes through heated rollers or plates. The heated presses press the paper fibers down more completely, producing a smoother paper. Some texture remains. Hot press paper is not as smooth as Bristol, for example, but it’s much smoother than cold press paper.

Hot pressed paper is ideal for highly-detailed illustrations, printmaking, etching, drafting, sketching, and drawing. Yes. Even colored pencil drawing.

Read Which Paper is Best for Colored Pencils? for more paper basics.

How to Decide Which Paper to Use

The type of watercolor paper (or any paper) you use depends largely on the art you want to create. If you like highly detailed artwork, use a paper sturdy enough to handle lots of layers and smooth enough to easily fill the tooth. Weight is important, but so is surface texture.

If you prefer a more painterly look, then choose paper with a bit more surface texture.

The watercolor papers I use are Canson L’Aquarelle and Stonehenge Aqua, both 140lb hot press. Both look and feel like Stonehenge traditional paper. I use watercolor or watercolor pencil under traditional pencils on both papers.

I also use only traditional colored pencils on both with good results.

Both papers—and probably any other artist grade 140lb hot press paper—are good for my drawing methods for landscapes. I’ve yet to do an animal portrait on either.

Nor have I tried cold press watercolor paper because I prefer smoother papers. But as I mentioned above, if you prefer a more painterly look for your art, give them a try.

For more detailed information on hot and cold press watercolor papers, read Cold Press vs Hot Press watercolor paper – Here’s how to choose ! It’s written for watercolor artists, but the paper information is good for colored pencil artists, as well.

Still Undecided?

Buy the smallest pad of each you can find and experiment. If you know a watercolor artist, ask him or her for advice. Or maybe a small demo.

You may even contact some of the more popular paper companies. Many of them offer free samples. The samples are often small—5×7 or less—but they’re large enough to find out what works and what doesn’t.

And you can’t ask for more than that!

Reasons to Try Canvas with Colored Pencils

Are you looking for a durable support that can stand up to deep solvent blending and erasing without damage? Have you considered trying canvas with colored pencils?

I know you have questions. I sure do, and I can’t think of anyone better able to answer them than today’s guest blogger, John Ursillo. John has been using colored pencils on canvas since 2007. Today, he’ll tell you how he came to canvas as a colored pencil support, and why he likes it.

Please welcome John Ursillo.

Reasons to Try Canvas with Colored Pencils, Guest Post from John Ursillo

Canvas with Colored Pencils

by John Ursillo, CPSA

When discussing technique with fellow colored pencil (CP) artists, I sometimes meet with a doubtful look should the subject of using canvas as a support come up. “Why canvas? What’s wrong with paper? What made you go there and why?”

This has changed over the years as other artists have adopted the canvas…but I still get the soft-voiced comments of gallery viewers of “How the h… does he do that?” I like to explain, and Carrie has given me a wonderful chance here.

Anything wrong with paper?

Absolutely nothing! I have nothing against paper as a support, having done and continue doing many pieces on a wide variety of papers from the time I picked up my first set of colored pencils in 1984. Paper was all I knew to use!

Life is Like a River, 18 x 24 Colored Pencil on Canvas

How I Started Using Canvas with Colored Pencils

I caught on to using canvas in 2007 as the coming together of two seeming separate events:

First, I had my interest focused on doing a nautical piece based on a ship I photographed in New Zealand in 2004. Much of the drawing involved weathered, rusted hull plating with a unique, surface texture–right “down my alley”!

Second, I tried, but could not capture it in test runs on the papers used for my normal colored pencil (CP) techniques no matter how I tried. Not just the texture but also the luminosity of the color was off–it just would not seem real–in fact it seemed very “ho hum” and “why bother?”

As a possible “what if?” solution I remembered a snippet I had recently read in the CPSA publication To The Point. It discussed small scale use of odorless mineral spirits to dissolve CP when working on paper. I had already tried that and liked it–for small areas. Would it work on a larger scale?

Seen Better Days, 24 x 11 Colored Pencil on Canvas

Yes…sort of!

The hardware store variety mineral spirits from my garage did dissolve the CP but when used over more than a small area it soaked into the paper and even left some color blooming out around the wet spot when it dried. Further experiment didn’t resolve these problems and I was about to give up.

A “What If” Moment

But, I’m an engineer and problems are our daily bread. My Left-brain Engineer side determined to get an answer, one way or the other.

Then…another brainstorm. In those days I was painting in oils as well as doing CP pieces. I had a piece of canvas board sitting around waiting for a project. Engineer said “Canvas doesn’t absorb mineral spirits right?. Hmmm…what if?”

My first attempts were messy. But as I got the “hang of” this new support and the new way of using CP, my left brain told my Right Brain everything was “OK, go ahead, what are you waiting for?”

The result was a 20 x 16” piece, “The Venture” (see below) that became my second acceptance to the CPSA International (2010), led to an invitation to conduct workshops at the 2012 CPSA Convention, and the work was subsequently accepted by the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA) for their 16th traveling exhibit.

The Venture. Original artwork using canvas with colored pencils.

The vessel depicted is the actual tramp steamer used as the set for and digital model prototype of the “SS Venture” featured in the 2005 film “King Kong”.

I was visiting my daughter ‘down under’ when she worked with Weta Digital on the film. She got us onto the secured quay where the ship was moored, so it was a unique “up close and personal” experience of a piece of maritime history. I discovered this gallant lady was eventually declared unseaworthy and too expensive to restore or maintain. She was ceremoniously scuttled (sunk on purpose) in the deep, stormy waters of Cook Strait, between the North and South Islands of New Zealand in 2010.

A fitting end.

Why I Like Canvas

I was, and continue to be, sold on canvas as a support for CP and artist’s mineral spirits as a solvent. Perfecting the technique took time, and I continue to surprise myself with each new piece’s opportunity to learn more.

I continue to use various papers as well, but canvas has been adopted as my primary support.

In my opinion there are some salient advantages to using canvas as a support for Colored Pencil work.

Deep Saturated Color

Getting deep saturated color using CP dry on canvas involves much pressure and a very sharp pencil to get color down into the weave of the canvas. Pencil wear is high. Why? The white of the canvas shows through in the pits of the weave. Easily build up lighter passages using the white weave of the canvas just as with a rougher paper. This is valuable for doing work that requires an “airy” feeling, especially skies and atmospheric effects.

Vibrant Color

Vibrant colors can be built up by using an under drawing/painting to fill in the tooth without killing it. Use complementary colors in the under drawing/painting to add interest and vibrance to colors laid over them.

Durability

The weave of good canvas is very tough and difficult to destroy, either by burnishing or erasing thoroughly with a white eraser and water, making both small and major changes possible.

No Framing Necessary

Canvas is available pre-mounted in both large and small sizes. The lack of need for a frame makes large CP pieces possible that would otherwise be prohibitive to glaze, frame and ship. An unglazed (no glass) CP work on canvas is no more fragile that an oil or acrylic on canvas when properly handled.

Excellent for Solvent Blending

The appearance of lightfast CP applied dry is greatly enhanced through use of solvent UV protective coating such as fixative and varnish.

Color Saturation

Color saturation is easier to achieve when solvent is used–even for very thin, single layer passages. The colors in a finished piece on canvas have a vibrance different from works on paper because of the property of light penetrating the color layers and reflecting off the brilliant white surface.

More Painterly Affects

Lastly, and in my opinion, a deciding factor. Because of the nature of the surface, CP work on canvas compels a more “painterly” and immediate technique than dry CP on paper. Don’t get me wrong. Both approaches have their important place in the genre of CP works. But some subjects obviously work better on one versus the other. I work on both.

Christmas Chickadee III, 8 x 10 Colored Pencil on Canvas

Choosing the Right Canvas

Canvas brands, like papers, vary widely in texture from coarse to ultra-fine. I have tested many of the brands commonly available in local art supply houses or from internet vendors with high customer ratings. The only ones I looked at were: archival throughout, had brilliant white gesso coating, Fine, regular weave, lack of foreign matter in the coating, and a finger-touch texture like velvet. But these stood out:

Blick’s Premiere canvas line: a consistently fine product for this use.

Archival Watercolor Canvas made by Fredrix. Its texture is more like a portrait canvas that Blick’s.

Both come in stretched or board-mounted and have well aligned, regular medium-smooth weave and brilliant white gessoed working surface – archival throughout. Each has a feeling like velvet of a very fine

paper. They also come in common rectangular dimensions as well as square, oblong and curved shapes (Blick).The Fredrix Canvas has a very fine weave, much like portrait canvas. I choose this when I want the canvas weave to be almost, but not quite, inconspicuous.

For artists new to CP on canvas I recommend a canvas board. If you get your canvas from a local art supply store, review the criteria I described about and require the clerk to let you open and feel the surface. If he/she won’t, go to a store that will.

For an overall look at my many pieces done on canvas I direct the reader to my website, www.bearcubstudio.com.

So What do You Think about Canvas with Colored Pencils?

My thanks to John for sharing his experiences with using canvas with colored pencils.

I started out using oil paints on canvas, so John’s method intrigues me. What about you?

John is the featured artist in the May issue of CP Magic, where you can read more about his unique technique, as well as his artistic journey.

My Recommended Paper and Colored Pencils

Yesterday, I received a question from a reader who wanted to know my recommended paper and colored pencils. Since that’s one of the questions I frequently receive, I thought I’d share my answer today.

Here’s the question.

What brands are recommending for paper and pencils? Do you use different types of paper with different techniques?

My Recommended Paper and Colored Pencils

I can only specifically recommend the brands I use or have tried for both paper and pencils. However, I am happy to provide information on both.

My Go-To Pencils

My go-to pencils are Faber-Castell Polychromos and Prismacolor (the lightfast colors only.)

I’ve used Prismacolor pencils from the beginning. I started with them because they were pretty much the only colored pencil available when I started back in the 1990s. They have always done what I wanted to do. The only changes I’ve made is in how I buy them (open stock and in-person only) and the colors I use (lightfast only.)

I use Prismacolor pencils on almost every drawing, but limit myself to only the lightfast colors. The top-rated colors are shown here, the I category. I also use category II colors as needed. Read the specific list of colors here.

My husband bought me a full set of Faber-Castell Polychromos a couple of years ago and I use them on every drawing. Usually in combination with Prismacolor. The two brands compliment one another beautifully.

Pencils I’ve Tried and Liked

I have tried and liked Derwent Drawing pencils and Derwent Lightfast pencils, but in a limited fashion, since both pencils are pricy.

I have no fear of recommending either type, but would suggest you buy a few of your favorite colors to try before buying a full set of either.

My Go-To Papers

For paper, I most often use either Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper (the back side) or Stonehenge.

I also like Strathmore Artagain Drawing Paper and am learning my way around Clairefontaine Pastelmat.

I also sometimes use Bristol vellum, but it’s not really a go-to paper for me.

Papers I’ve Tried and Liked

I’ve tried a lot of papers over the years and have liked many of them.

One of those is Strathmore’s Artagain Drawing Paper. This paper is made from about 30% post-consumer waste paper and it’s a delight to draw on. It’s almost like a combination of Bristol and Stonehenge. It takes quite a few layers of color like Stonehenge, but is smoother than Stonehenge.

Another paper I’ve tried and liked but haven’t used much is Uart sanded pastel paper. I’ve drawn on grits ranging from 240 grit (coarse) to 800 grit (fine.) It’s a great paper for layering and they now have a dark gray version if you like to work on dark paper.

My Recommended Paper and Colored Pencils - Uart 800 Grit Sanded Pastel Paper
This ACEO landscape study was painted with watercolor pencils on Uart 800 grit sanded pastel paper. It took less than an hour to create and the fine grit worked unexpectedly well with watercolor pencils.

Choosing the Right Paper and Pencils

The paper and pencils that work for you depend a lot on your drawing methods and your goals for your artwork.

In general, if you like a more painterly look, papers with more tooth will suit you better. You might want to try Canson Mi-Teintes or a sanded art paper.

Spring II is another ACEO landscape on Uart Sanded Pastel Paper. This time I used Prismacolor pencils on 240 grit. The result is a more painterly look, with a lot of the paper still showing through the layers of color.

If you like drawings with a lot of fine detail, try something smoother like Stonehenge, Artagain, or Bristol

I choose the paper based on the subject more than method. I especially like the Pastelmat for landscapes, but also use both Stonehenge and Canson Mi-Teintes for landscapes.

I’ve not yet tried drawing an animal on Pastelmat, but have had good success on Canson Mi-Teintes, Stonehenge, and Bristol.

So try a few combinations and see what works best for you.

Want more Specific Advice on My Recommended Paper and Colored Pencils?

I answered a similar question during December 2019 Q&A month. Read The Best Paper and Pencils for Colored Pencil Art.

Review of Clairefontaine Pastelmat

Today, a product review! I’ve finished one drawing and made enough mistakes on another to write a thorough review of Clairefontaine Pastelmat. So let’s get to it!

Review of Clairefontaine Pastelmat by Carrie Lewis

What I Bought

There’s no doubt about it, Pastelmat is expensive. That’s why I first got a sample piece to try.

But the color I received was the Sienna color, which is close to Prismacolor Yellow Ochre. I wanted something different, so purchased the smallest pad available (7×9.5 inches) in an assortment of colors. Three sheets each of white, sienna, brown and anthracite. The price from Dick Blick was $36 including shipping.

The pad has a rigid back board, with each sheet protected by glassine-like paper to keep it fresh and clean. Those cover sheets also come in handy while I’m drawing.

Pastelmat is 170lb paper, so is quite substantial. Personally, I like the additional heftiness, but I do enough layering that a paper with a bit of weight is better.

I like the feel of pencil on this paper. The better the pencil, the nicer the feel. Soft and waxy Prismacolor pencils have a good feel. Color goes down quickly and with good coverage. Derwent Drawing pencils layer nicely on bare paper or over other color. Derwent Lightfast glide onto it like a dream, while Koh-I-Nor Progresso pencils didn’t perform very well over or under other color.

Now for the details.

Review of Clairefontaine Pastelmat

I’ll talk first about the things I like about this paper, then about the things I didn’t care for, and wrap up my review with a general recommendation.

What I Liked About Pastelmat

It Takes a Lot of Color

For artists like me who like to work with lots of layering, Clairefontaine Pastelmat is ideal. I used countless layers of color on both pieces and was still able to add more on my finished piece.

I didn’t count layers on either of the pieces I’ve worked on, but it was a lot. I’m confident I could have added still more layers even on the finished landscape.

It doesn’t matter whether you blend with solvent or not (I did,) or whether you use any other drawing tool. Pastelmat simply takes a lot of color.

You Can Add Light Colors Over Dark

Yes. It’s true! You can add light colors over dark for bright accents and details.

Add middle values over dark values by glazing color, or add accents and details by stippling. Both methods work with sharp or dull pencils.

Here, for example, I layered a light-medium value green evenly over the bushes, and then stippled white highlights. After that, I stippled light yellow or green accents, and you can see the greens even over that dark, dark sky. I was delighted!

Review of Clairefontaine Pastelmat. You can layer light colors over dark.

You Can Do Smooth Blends

Even light blending produces soft looking transitions. You can easily blend just a few layers of color, but the more color on the paper, the better and softer the blend.

This illustration shows a dry blend after just a few layers of color. Note the softness in the two brown shapes. The blue background is also fairly soft looking even with fewer layers of color and less blending. Adding and blending more layers continued producing soft color and value transitions.

Corrections are Easy on Pastelmat

It’s easy to correct mistakes.

Mistakes on traditional paper often mean starting over from scratch or living with a partially corrected mistake. Not so with Pastelmat!

It’s easy to sketch changes over existing color, shade the shapes, and end up with a drawing in which such corrections are not obvious. Try that with most traditional drawing papers!

You can Remove Color Totally

In cases where a simple correction isn’t possible, you can make major changes by removing color. A little bit of odorless mineral spirits, a bristle brush, and paper towel is all you need.

This is a drawing I didn’t like. In fact, I was pretty sure I’d ruined it. Not a pleasant thought.

After a few days of indecision, I tried softening those background shapes by blending with solvent and a stiff brush.

That resulted in a mess, so I wiped the drawing a couple of times with paper towel.

It’s still not pretty, but most of the mistakes are now gone and the paper dried as flat and fresh as the day I transferred the line drawing. I may need to freshen up the line drawing, but I’m confident I can redraw the background with no harm done to the paper.

Paper Colors

Pastelmat comes in fourteen colors, with pads available in white and anthracite, and four different assortments. Most of those colors are ideal for nature subjects, pets and human portraits.

So those are some of the things I liked about Pastelmat. Were there things I didn’t like? Yes.

What I Didn’t Like About Pastelmat

Pastelmat is not very good for dry blending.

This may surprise many of you, but one of the things I didn’t like about Pastelmat is that it’s more difficult to dry blend color.

I’ve gotten used to sanded art papers producing enough pigment dust for effective dry blending with a bristle brush. In fact, I’ve found ways to make good use of that pigment dust.

So I was disappointed to discover that Clairefontaine Pastelmat doesn’t produce the same amount of pigment dust produced by other sanded art papers. The first few layers produced no dust at all, and I had to put down several layers of color to get enough dust for dry blending.

I was able to do some dry blending toward the end, but not as much as I usually do. I could have left my bristle brush in the tool box and gotten the same effects with other methods.

It takes a lot of layers to fill in the tooth of the paper.

The number of layers you can put on Pastelmat is a disadvantage as well as an advantage.

While I liked the ability to continue adding layers well into the final stages of the drawing, there were times when I just wanted the paper holes to be gone! I finally resorted to solvent in some areas, just be done with it.

(An approaching deadline had a lot to do with my impatience. It will be interesting to see if I experience the same impatience to finish when I can work on a piece without a deadline!)

Pastelmat seems to eat pencils for lunch.

If you’re a sharp pencil fanatic, you’re not going appreciate Pastelmat all that much. Two strokes and that nice, needle-sharp tip is history. You’ll feel like you’re sharpening pencils a lot more, and that will leave you thinking you’re burning through the pencils.

But wait a minute! That is an illusion for the most part. A lot of color is going onto the paper, so it builds up faster. You’re not wasting color, you’re using it.

And Pastelmat is ideal for dull or blunt pencil methods. You can use a pencil down to the wood and still cover the paper as well as with a sharp pencil. So in the long run, you’re saving time (fewer sharpenings) and pencil (less pencil ending up in the sharpener.)

Should You Try Clairefontaine Pastelmat?

My overall recommendation of this paper is favorable. It comes in a nice variety of colors. It’s very sturdy, so it stands up well under heavy pressure, tons of layers, and solvent blending.

And you can layer light colors over dark colors with more ease than most other papers.

But it does take a lot of layers to fill in the tooth of the paper, and there is a bit of a learning curve in using it.

If you have an adventurous spirit, like trying new things, and are patient, then give Pastelmat a try.

If you don’t, then you may want to skip it.

Personally Speaking…

My overall impressions of Clairefontaine Pastelmat are good, but I probably won’t make it my preferred paper without more work on it. I’ve learned a lot, but there’s still a lot to learn.

The full tutorial on the landscape drawing featured in this post is available in the March 2020 issue of CP Magic. It includes more in-depth information on my experiences with this paper.

Last week’s post also features work on Pastelmat. Read How to Draw a Blurred Background.

Colored Pencil Comparison: Wax-Based or Oil-Based

A colored pencil comparison between wax-based and oil-based pencils is the topic for today’s post. It comes in response to the following reader question.

Hi Carrie,

Which pencils do you consider best, oil or wax based? I have never used any pencils other than Derwents Coloursoft which I believe are wax based. What are the Pros and Cons of each?

Colored Pencil Comparison: Wax-Based or Oil-Based

There can be a lot of confusion about the differences and some artists go so far as to discount the distinctions altogether. So what’s truth and what’s hype?

Colored Pencil Comparison: Wax-Based or Oil-Based

Colored pencils are manufactured much the same as oil paints, watercolors, and other mediums. Powdered pigments are mixed with a substance that helps them perform the way artists want them to perform.

With oil paints, that substance is called a vehicle and is usually linseed oil, safflower oil, or walnut oil, although there are other vehicles available. The vehicle makes the pigment brushable and influences how quickly it dries.

Colored pencils use a binder. The binder makes it possible to form powdered pigments into a thin “lead” that can be used in pencil form. It also makes the pigment transfer to paper easily and stick there.

All colored pencils use a combination of some form of wax and oil as the binder. Wax-based pencils have more wax than oil. Oil-based pencils have more oil than wax.

The amount of wax compared to oil affects the way the pencils behave, as does the type of wax used in the binder.

Colored Pencil Comparison: Which is Best?

I don’t really consider one type of pencil better than the other. They’re just different.

Wax-Based Pencils

Wax-based pencils are generally softer than oil-based pencils. They go onto paper more smoothly and blend extremely well by layering, burnishing, or with solvents.

Because they’re softer, they don’t hold a point very long and can be difficult to draw details with. I’ve used Prismacolor Soft Core pencils for decades and have been able to get wonderful detail, but it requires a lot of sharpening.

The pigment cores also are more apt to break if you use heavy pressure or sharpen them to too long a point. In addition, they can be susceptible to breakage if you drop them on a hard surface.

The light blue pencil at the bottom of the image has a nice tip, but is sharpened to too long a point if you tend to draw with heavy pressure. You’re quite likely to end up with something like the red pencil in the center!

Finally, wax-based pencils can produce wax bloom, a misty sort of film that happens when the wax in the pigment rises to the surface of the drawing. It can easily be wiped away, but it can also be a nuisance. Especially if you use a lot of pressure or dark colors.

Oil-Based Pencils

Oil-based pencils are generally harder than wax-based pencils. They hold a point longer and are excellent for drawing details. They’re not as likely to break while you’re drawing or if you drop them.

Oil-based pencils don’t produce wax bloom because they contain less wax.

They also erase or lift more easily if you make a mistake.

But they don’t always layer color as smoothly, so drawing even color requires either heavier pressure or more layers. I recommend more layers.

Using Wax- and Oil-Based Pencils Together

You can use both types together. That’s what I do.

Most of the time, I start with Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils (oil-based) and do as much layering as I can.

Toward the end of the process, I switch to Prismacolors(wax-based) where I need more color saturation.

But you don’t have to do it that way. You can intermix them at any point in a drawing.

Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils are among the best known oil-based colored pencils.

The Colored Pencil Comparison that Really Matters

The much more important comparison is the grade of the pencil; the quality.

Scholar or student-grade pencils contain more binder (whatever it may be,) less pigment, and sometimes inferior pigment. You can create good art with them and if you’re on a budget, it’s better to start with student-grade pencils than not start at all.

But don’t go cheap. Always buy the highest quality pencils your budget allows. Select wax-based or oil-based pencils based on your personal preferences and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Have a Question? Send me an email!

Prismacolor Colors I Use Most Often

There’s been a lot of discussion on this blog about the best pencils to use and the best colors to use. Most of the discussion has been about issues with fading. So I thought I’d start 2020 by sharing with you the Prismacolor colors I use and why I use them.

I’m very particular about the colors I use. As a portrait artist and an artist interested in selling my work, I want buyers to get the most for their money. The idea of selling a piece at any price and having it fade away in any length of time is not a pleasant idea.

The Prismacolor Colors I Use (and When I Use Them)

Yes. I know there’s no way to make most things 100% permanent. Even granite wears away.

But I can select supplies to help my work last as long as possible. Consequently, I’m careful about the colors I choose. They must fit my subjects (landscapes and animals,) AND be as lightfast is humanly possible. It doesn’t matter what brand I use, every color must meet these two qualifications.

That usually means I work with a limited palette. That’s definitely the case with Prismacolor pencils.

The Prismacolor Colors I Use (and When I Use Them)

Prismacolor rates their pencils on a scale of 1 to 5 based on American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) D6901 standards. Each pencil is labeled with a Roman numeral to indicate its lightfast rating. Roman Numeral I equals 1, Roman Numeral II equals 2, Roman Numeral III equals 3, Roman Numeral IV equals 4, and Roman Numeral V equals 5.

I (1) is the highest rating. V (5) is the lowest.

I do not use Category III (3), IV (4) or V (5) colors for anything but fun stuff, sketching, blog illustrations, or anything else for which the drawing does not need to be archival.

But this is an entirely personal choice on my part. A lot of artists whose work I respect use every color available to them, so the final choice is yours.

Prismacolor Soft Core Colors Rated I (57 colors)

These are the most lightfast colors Prismacolor produces. They are rated as Excellent and “exhibit no appreciable color change after being exposed to the appropriate equivalence of 100 years of indoor museum lighting.” American Society of Testing and Materials., D6901 Standard

The important phrase is “indoor museum lighting.” It not only includes the type of lighting artwork is exposed to, but the framing materials used. Proper framing, including UV resistant glazing, helps preserve artwork.

It’s also important to let clients and buyers know they should not display artwork in direct sunlight for any length of time.

ASTM D6901 indicates that these colors can be used on artwork meant to be displayed outdoors, but I’m not sure I’d go that far. Any artwork displayed outdoors is more likely to fade more quickly than artwork in museum conditions.

Fifty-seven colors are Category I colors, but I don’t use all of them. My go-to colors are:

Browns

Artichoke, Beige, Bronze, Burnt Ochre, Chocolate, Dark Brown, Dark Umber, Goldenrod, Light Umber, Mineral Orange, Sandbar Brown, Sepia, Sienna Brown, Terra Cotta, and Yellow Ochre.

Greens & Blues

Dark Green, Green Ochre, Jade Green, Kelly Green, Parrot Green, Peacock Green, and Yellow Chartreuse. Powder Blue.

Reds

Black Cherry, Black Raspberry, and Crimson Lake.

Yellows

Lemon Yellow, Nectar, and Spanish Orange.

Pinks

Light Peach.

I also have a full complement of cool greys, warm greys, and French Greys but don’t use them very much.

These colors are used with almost everything I draw. They produce natural looking landscapes and are perfect for drawing realistic scenes and animals.

Category I Prismacolor Colors I Use

I don’t use all of the Category I colors because they don’t fit my palette, but there are several new colors I hope to try this year. Some of the new earth tones are especially tantalizing.

Prismacolor Soft Core Colors Rated II (26 colors)

ASTM D6901 standards categorize these colors as Very Good, and suitable for fine art uses where the artwork will be displayed indoors. They are not suitable for any work displayed outdoors, or anywhere in which exposure to high levels of UV light is possible.

No direct sunlight, in other words.

There are 26 Category II colors, but my palette is currently limited to about half that number, as follows:

Browns

Beige Sienna, Chestnut, Cream, Ginger Root, Pumpkin Orange, and Sand.

Greens & Blues

Chartreuse, Grass Green, Kelp Green, Olive Green, and True Green. Indigo Blue, Mediterranean Blue, and Slate Grey.

Reds

Black Grape, Crimson Red, and Scarlet Lake.

Yellows

Jasmine

Pinks

Peach.

Category II Prismacolor Colors I Use

As with Category I colors, there are some Category II colors I don’t use.

And as I add other brands of pencils to my stash, Category II colors will become fewer and fewer. Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils include several good matches for Prismacolor Category II pencils, so I now use those before reaching for any Category II Prismacolor. I can see the day coming when I no longer need Category II colors.

The yellows, greens, and blues are used as needed on landscapes and, less frequently, animal portraits.

The Bottom Line

I’ve discovered over the years that I can do almost everything I want to do with Prismacolor Category I colors. Those generally more muted colors are enough to draw most animals and landscapes.

The Category II colors are a nice supplement, but unless I’m drawing a still life (which doesn’t happen often,) or adding bright accents to a landscape or portrait, I don’t need them. Since most of my subjects don’t require bright colors, there’s simply no need for a lot of bright colors in my pencil box.

When combined with other brands such as Polychromos, Derwent and others, the Prismacolor Category I colors provide an excellent color base.

Does this mean you can’t use all of Prismacolor’s colors? No. Deciding which colors to use and which to avoid is as personal a choice as deciding which brands of pencils to use.

A complete list of Prismacolor Category I and II colors is available as a free, PDF download, so you can print it and take it with you on your next in-store shopping list. The list downloads automatically, so check your download file if it doesn’t open for you when you click on the link.

The Best Paper and Pencils for Colored Pencil Art

Today’s reader question comes from a reader who wants to know the best paper and pencils for colored pencil art. Here’s the question.

Hi Carrie.

In your opinion, which are the best coloured pencils to use for drawing and which is the ideal substrate to use? I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for the question. Other than questions about blending and layering, this is probably one of the more often asked questions asked of artists.

The Best Paper and Pencils for Colored Pencil Art

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer beyond my encouragement that you buy the best of both that you can afford.

The Best Paper and Pencils for Colored Pencil Art

There are so many different drawing methods and styles that what works for me may not work for you. The best paper and pencils for you depends on what gives you the results you want, and what fits your budget.

So I’m going to address it from two points of view: Craft art and fine art. I’ll also offer general suggestions on what to look for and a few things to avoid.

The Best Paper for Craft Art

Craft art includes adult coloring books, greeting cards, art trading cards, stamping, and so on. Short-term art that doesn’t need to be archival in order to be useful or marketable.

The best paper and pencils for craft art.
Image by A_Different_Perspective from Pixabay

I also include artwork from which you make reproductions, but which you have no intention of selling as an original.

Adult coloring books are usually printed on inexpensive drawing paper so you have no choice in the paper unless you print the pages yourself. Coloring books printed on better paper are available, but you will pay for the improved quality.

Blank greeting card stock comes in a variety of qualities. Canson and Strathmore are two well-known paper companies that also sell artist-quality blank card stock. Other companies sell less expensive card stock, so you can pick and choose and try different papers until you find one that works well for you.

Strathmore makes a line of drawing papers ranging from newsprint, which isn’t archival, to high-quality drawing paper. Many other paper manufacturers also make different grades of paper.

Beyond that, any pad of good drawing paper will allow you to do what you need or want to do as far as craft art. I don’t do craft art, so recommend you try a few and see which you like best.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

And there’s absolutely nothing other than price keeping you from using high-quality paper for craft purposes. If your budget is flexible, give those pricey papers a try and see what you think.

The Best Pencils for Craft Art

You can use almost any pencil for craft art, from the most expensive to the least. Look for the best combination of price, color selection, and availability in your area.

In the United States, Prismacolor is probably the best combination of those four features. They have a stunning collection of colors and are a good value. Some quality issues exist, but broken leads, split casing, and warped pencils are sporadic, at worst.

Blick Studio Colored Pencils are also a good brand to consider. High quality, low cost, and color selection are their strongest selling points. They are available only through Dick Blick, but can be purchased online as well as in Blick stores.

If you buy a full set online, buy from a respected and trustworthy outlet such as Dick Blick. You can’t beat Dick Blick for customer service and if you end up with a bad purchase, they will make it right.

After that, you can buy open stock (single pencils) and look for things like warped pencils and split casings if you buy in person.

Image by Hartmut Jaster from Pixabay

Other brands to consider are Bruynzeel Design, and Derwent Coloursoft.

I don’t recommend pencils such as Crayola or any other scholastic pencils. You can do craft art with scholastic pencils, but the colors aren’t usually as bright or the pencils as well pigmented. It takes more effort to get the same results you could get with better pencils.

The Best Paper for Fine Art

Fine art includes portraits and other types of commission art, exhibit art, and art you want to sell. Artwork in this category needs to last a long time without fading or otherwise deteriorating, so you need the most archival paper and pencils you can afford.

Look for papers that are high-quality. Usually that means non-acidic.

You should also opt for papers made from cotton fibers, since those fibers are the strongest and longest lasting. Avoid papers made from cellulose fibers.

I prefer papers that are sturdy. 98lb paper is about the lightest I’ll use for fine art applications. Stonehenge and Canson Mi-Teintes are both 98-pound papers and are sturdy enough to stand up under solvents and watercolor pencils in moderate amounts.

Stonehenge Aqua and Canson L’Aquarelle 140lb hot press papers are also excellent papers. Both are made for watercolor painting, but both have a great texture for dry work, too. The biggest drawback is that they come in white only and cost more than regular drawing paper.

I also use Uart Sanded Pastel Paper, Bienfang Bristol Vellum, and Strathmore Artagain recycled paper. All are worth trying if you haven’t yet found a favorite paper.

The Best Pencils for Fine Art

Pencils should be lightfast tested and rated. The best pencils usually have a somewhat limited selection of colors because the companies have opted not to include fugitive (fading) colors in their selection.

Caran d’Ache Luminance and Pablos, for example, are about the best pencils on the market and come in only 76 or 80 colors. They have a good color selection, but lack many of the bright, jewel-tone colors that tend to fade the most.

Other high-quality brands are Faber-Castell Polychromos and Derwent Lightfast.

Image by Thanks for your Like • donations welcome from Pixabay

My Favorite Paper

This is a close call, since I use a variety of papers ranging from very smooth Bristol Vellum to sanded art paper. But the paper I use most often (by a narrow margin) is Canson Mi-Teintes. Why? Mostly the colors. Canson Mi-Teintes comes in a rainbow of colors that are perfect when I want to do a portrait-style drawing with a plain background.

Portrait of a Black Horse is drawn on Steel Gray Canson Mi-Teintes paper. The paper has enough tooth for lots of layering, and the color was the perfect middle value.

Stonehenge and Stonehenge Aqua are the next favorite papers. The 140lb hot press Stonehenge Aqua looks and feels like white Stonehenge regular paper, but handles wet media better. Dry media works extremely well on it, so I can see the day coming when I no longer use regular Stonehenge.

After that, it’s a toss up and I often choose papers based on what I have in stock most of the time when I don’t want to work on either of those listed above.

The papers I currently have in stock are:

My Favorite Pencils

At present, I have only two brands of pencils. A full set of Prismacolor pencils (with all the non-lightfast colors removed) and a full set of Faber-Castell Polychromos.

Wax-based Prismacolor pencils are quite soft. They lay down easily and are capable of a high degree of blending with or without solvent. They can be sharpened well enough to draw a lot of detail, but tend to break if you apply too much pressure.

The best paper and pencils for Afternoon Graze was Prismacolor pencils on Bristol Vellum paper.
Afternoon Graze was drawn entirely with Prismacolor Premier pencils on Bristol vellum 146lb paper. The combination of soft, wax-based pencils and smooth paper helped me draw detail with a minimum of effort.

Oil-based Polychromos are harder, so they resist breaking even when sharpened to a sharper point. They don’t create wax bloom, but they also don’t burnish quite as well as the softer Prismacolor pencils.

I use both brands in most drawings. Usually, I start with Polychromos, then switch to Prismacolor when I need to lay down more color or want to burnish.

But I also mix them if I need a color that’s only available in one brand.

I used Prismacolor and Polychromos for this drawing, also on Bristol Vellum.

Pencils I’d recommend for the serious fine artist (or anyone who wants to become a serious fine artist) include:

I don’t currently use and never used any of these brands, but they come from companies with a good name in the industry and with a proven customer-service track record. I trust them to provide a quality product.

The list includes hard and soft pencils, wax-based and oil-based. Buy a few colors in open stock and try them to find those you like best.

The Best Paper and Pencils for Your Art

Those are my recommendations for the best paper and pencils for colored pencil art.

As mentioned before, it’s difficult to do more than make general recommendations and share my favorites because there are so many ways to make art.

So my best advice is to find an artist creating the type of artwork you want to create and see what paper and pencils they use.

Why I Switched from Oils to Colored Pencils

Jana wants to know why I switched from oils to colored pencils, and if I’ve noticed one sells better than the other? Here are Jana’s questions.

Hi Carrie, 

These are business related questions instead of technical ones, so if you choose not to use them on your December questions posts, I will understand. 

1. Why did you switch to colored pencil from oils? I ask this because I went the opposite direction.

2. Do your colored pencil pieces sell as well as your oils did? 

Your blog with all its tips and helps is so interesting to me because you reinforce much of what I tell my drawing students. Since I teach primarily how to draw with pencil, it is only my more advanced students who go to colored pencil, so I read your blog to be sure I am not leading anyone astray. (It has been about 15 years since I was active in the CPSA or used colored pencils other than as accents to my graphite.)

Thank you for your thoroughness and clarity. 

Blessings, Jana

Thank you for your question, Jana. I don’t mind answering business questions at all.

Why I Switched from Oils to Colored Pencils

Why I Switched from Oils to Colored Pencils

I’ve addressed this subject more than once in the past, including a similar question earlier this month. But I wanted to answer this question because it also includes a question about sales.

And every artist trying to turn their artwork into money wants to know about sales!

I switched from oil painting to colored pencils for two main reasons, with about twenty years between the the first reason and the second.

Chapter 1: Convenience

For over forty years, I painted portraits of horses. I was an oil painter because that’s the medium I learned as a preteen and teen. By the time I sold my first portrait at 17-years-old, I’d already been painting for several years. Continuing to oil paint was never a question. I often told people I’d retire when I fell face down in my palette!

Image by Katya36 from Pixabay

Part of my marketing strategy (if you care to use such lofty terms) was attending horse shows and trade shows. Michigan hosted two big shows every year. The Lansing Stallion Expo in March and the North American Horse Spectacular in Novi every November. For many years, I attended both with a collection of paintings and drawings, but my primary goal was lining up portrait work.

I saw artists working at those shows and thought it would be cool, but oil paints are such a nuisance to travel with. They pack all right if you don’t take everything in the studio, but working on a painting in public is risky, and getting wet paintings home safely is no picnic either.

So in the 1990s I started looking for another medium that traveled better. I wanted something that could produce oil painting-like results, high levels of detail, gorgeous color, AND was easy to transport and use on location. Pastels were out because I’d already tried those and disliked them, so colored pencils were the only choice.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

I intended to continue oil painting. Colored pencils gave me a second medium to offer clients, but I really preferred to work in oils.

Most clients chose oils, but some preferred colored pencils. One couple even opted for watercolor colored pencils. Talk about a step outside my comfort zone!

Chapter 2: Changing Focus

Eventually, portrait work tailed off. I think the move to Kansas had a lot to do with that. Most of my clients were from Michigan and I had been active with the Michigan Harness Horseman’s Association since the second year it hosted a benefit art auction. Many clients purchased their first portraits there and some of them became repeat customers.

Kansas isn’t that far away from Michigan, but it was too far to make the trip to the MHHA auction every January. I continued participating, but by long distance. Then they canceled the auction.

After that, it didn’t seem to matter what I did, I couldn’t sell a portrait to save my life. The last portrait was completed in 2016. An oil portrait for which there’s a moving story. But still the last portrait.

Back then, colored pencils were just starting to catch on, thanks to adult coloring books. I enjoyed them. They were a lot easier to manage in my studio (which is one corner of what should be the dining room,) and they were still portable. My husband played in the Wichita Community Band and I could take pieces to work on during weekly practices.

So colored pencils became my primary medium.

Long Story Short

(I know. Too late for that, isn’t it?)

A decision that began as a matter of convenience became a matter of finding a marketing niche twenty years later. Simple as that.

I haven’t completely given up on oil painting. I still love the process, the colors, the results, and even the smells. But let’s be honest. With cats and kittens in the house, it just doesn’t make sense to try oil painting!

Maybe some day I’ll get back to it.

That’s why I switched from oils to colored pencils. Now about selling original art….

Oil Painting Versus Colored Pencils in Art Sales

The other part of Jana’s question is about sales. Have I noticed one medium outselling the other?

The cold hard truth is that my originals aren’t selling. At all. Any of them.

It’s been a couple of years since I sold original work and those were mostly ACEOs through eBay. Most of those were oil paintings, but mostly because that’s what most of my ACEOs were.

Why I switched from oils to colored pencils.
Even though my primary focus is now teaching colored pencils, I do have a website dedicated to marketing original artwork and promoting portrait work. In both oils and colored pencils.

Now, before you begin feeling sad for me, let me add that my work doesn’t sell because, quite frankly, I don’t market it!

Yes, I have a website dedicated to my original art, but the main focus of my studio business is teaching and that’s the bulk of marketing energies go.

If I spent just half the time marketing original art that I do marketing this blog, I’d probably have sales.

And then I could answer your question more positively!

Colored Pencils and Fading Colors

Today, we’ll talk about colored pencils and fading colors, a common concern among artists. The question for the day comes from Carolyn. Here’s her question:

I originally began with Prismacolor pencils, read that they fade, gave them away.  

I replaced them with Caran d’Ache Pablo, then bought their Luminance set, as well.  Been working in both.  

I read that the latter are light-fast, but are the Pablo, too?  Understand that Pablo are oil-based, and Luminance wax-based, and therefore more opaque, which drove my decision to purchase and use with the Pablo, which are more transparent.

I just don’t want my work disappearing after all the time invested.

Carolyn

I wholeheartedly agree with you on the issue of having your artwork disappear over the years. If you’re like me, you put way too much time into your work to risk it fading into pale memories!

Colored Pencils and Fading Colors

Colored Pencils and Fading Colors

All mediums include colors that fade or are fugitive. The problem isn’t with the medium (oil, acrylic, colored pencil, etc.) The pigments used to make those colors are the problem. Some pigments, like those derived from minerals or the earth, are very stable and last a long time.

Other pigments, usually those derived from plant sources, are not stable and tend to fade. Some fade quickly.

Until science comes up with non-fading AND inexpensive substitutes for those fugitive pigments, we have to deal with fugitive colors.

Prismacolor Pencils

Prismacolor pencils have a reputation for fugitive colors.

Some of the fading colors fade because there are currently no non-fading substitutes for naturally fading pigments, or the non-fading pigments are prohibitively expensive. Pinks and purples are good examples.

Some of the colors could be more lightfast with the use of more stable pigments. But those pigments are expensive, so the Prismacolor people have chosen to use less expensive pigments (even though they fade) in order to keep their prices low.

That, incidentally, is true of most inexpensive pencils. They cost less either because they use inferior pigments, or a lot of binder.

Even so, about half the colors in the Prismacolor line are perfectly safe to use. I use colors that are rated I (1), II (2), or III (3), with I being the safest. Colors rated IV (4) or V (5) are not even in my tool box. I don’t buy full sets anymore, but prefer to buy open stock.

But a lot of artists are like you and prefer not to mess with Prismacolor at all.

Caran d’Ache Luminance

Caran d’Ache has chosen to take the high road in their colored pencils. They use the highest quality pigments, which means they have more non-fading colors.

They’ve also opted to produce fewer colors. Prismacolor currently has a line of 150 colors, for example. Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils come in only 76 colors. The colors that Prismacolor offers and Caran d’Ache doesn’t are the colors most likely to fade.

You can use every color in the Luminance line with confidence.

Caran d’Ache Pablos

The difference between an oil-based pencil and a wax-based pencil is the binder—-the stuff that holds the pigment together in that pigment core and allows you to put color on the paper. The binder has no affect on the lightfast qualities of the color.

The same pigments are used in Pablos that are used in Luminance.

The biggest difference will be in handling. Pablos are a harder pencil. They hold a point longer, and lay down color differently than the softer, thicker Luminance according to other artists.

I haven’t used either Luminance or Pablos, but I trust the company to produce a quality product and would have no hesitations at all about mixing Pablos and Luminance pencils.

The Bottom Line on Colored Pencils and Fading Colors

No matter what brand of pencils you use, some colors will be less lightfast than others. Knowing how each color from each company is rated for lightfastness is your best tool in deciding which companies (and colors) to trust and which to avoid.