My Review of Titanium White

My Review of Titanium White

I mentioned a few posts ago that I’d started experimenting with some of the products by Brush & Pencil. Today, I’d like to offer my review of Titanium White pigment and share one particularly exciting (to me) unexpected benefit.

My Review of Titanium White

Titanium White is pure, white pigment; the same pigment used in making white pencils. The pigment, which comes in powder form, can be applied dry by brush or sponge applicator. You can also mix it with Touch-Up Texture and paint it onto a work-in-progress.

Since there is no filler in the pigment, it goes onto the paper fairly opaque, but you can spread it thin enough to create varying degrees of translucency.

Titanium White pigment and white colored pencils work extremely well together. Use Titanium White pigment for larger areas, and pencils for smaller areas or details. Alyona Nickelsen uses Titanium White and white colored pencils to lighten parts of her under paintings before the color glazing phase.

Because it’s powder with no filler or binder, you must seal it with ACP Textured Fixative before adding more color.

You can remove Titanium White pigment with mounting putty until it’s sealed. Then it becomes permanent.

My experience with this product is still limited to two experiments. One wet, and one dry.

Titanium White mixed with Touch-Up Texture

My first experiment with Titanium White involved a small landscape called Blazing Sunset. When the landscape looked like this, I thought I’d finished it. It looked complete.

Review of Titanium White mixed with Touch-Up Texture

Then I decided to add a bright gleam of sunlight streaming through the clouds.

I tried layering lighter colors over the sky, but in vain. Even sealing the painting with ACP Textured Fixative didn’t help. Those bright values continued to elude me.

As you can see here, it was a pretty good painting. The additional details added to my overall satisfaction, but it still wasn’t quite right.

So I mixed up a small amount of Titanium White with Touch-Up Texture, then painted that over the sun. It went onto the painting very easily and dried quickly.

And it completely covered up everything underneath.

The illustration above shows the patch of sunshine with traditional color layering. The illustration below shows the Titanium White mixture painted over the area. Quite a significant difference!

Once the surface dried, I glazed color over it to get the right colors for that area and I finished the painting with no further setbacks.

The result was very pleasing. The improvement delighted me to no end.

I was even more delighted with what happened on the next experiment.

Using the Pigment Dry

I recently decided that a horse portrait wasn’t working and set it aside for later work. In the back of my mind, I’d already decided the portrait was a failure, but I lacked the courage to say so out loud. So I tucked it away in a closet with the thought that I’d stumble across it sometime in the future and be able to finish it.

Sometime that night, the thought came to mind that I should try Titanium White pigment on it. I knew the pigment was opaque mixed with Touch-Up Texture. Was it opaque enough dry to cover a failed drawing so I could start over? It was worth a try.

The next day, I started spreading Titanium White pigment over the paper. I tapped a little bit out of the container, then used a sponge applicator to spread it around and blend it into the tooth of the paper (Clairefontaine Pastelmat.)

One application covered the paper. The drawing was still visible, but I could draw over it if I wished.

Review of Titanium White used dry.

I put down a second application and the drawing was even less visible. I knew it was still there and could still see it.

Would it show through a new drawing? I didn’t think so.

I could have added a third application, and I did think about it.

Instead, I sealed the surface with three light coats of ACP Textured Fixative, letting each coat dry completely before applying the next. Three applications completely sealed the Titanium White. I could lift no white pigment by drawing my finger across the surface.

I ended up applying another layer of Titanium White. Once it’s sealed again, it will be ready for a new drawing.

That’s My Review of Titanium White Pigment

For now.

Yes. Only one of my experiments involved using Titanium White pigment the way it’s marketed. But you have to admit that the second experiment opens a lot of doors for saving drawings that might otherwise fail.

Do I recommend Titanium White pigment?


For my money, this successful experiment makes Titanium White worth its purchase price. I don’t abandon that many works-in-progress anymore, but if I can blot out an entire drawing with this product, then I can certainly cover a small part of a drawing if it goes wrong.

And that does happen more often than I’d like to admit.

Where Do You Put the Sparkle?

Today’s reader wants to know something very basic: Where do you put the sparkle accents in a colored pencil piece? Here’s her question.

How would one determine where to add a sparkle highlight with titanium white to something like a very shiny glass ornament? I have seen some artists literally do a tiny asterisk shaped white star mark on the brightest, shiniest areas…. like on a marble etc., and it looks amazing and makes the piece really pop!


Thank you for your question, Gail. I’ve seen those kinds of highlights, too, and you’re right. They can be stunning.

How to Decide Where to Put the Sparkle

How to Decide Where to Put the Sparkle

In general, the kind of bright white sparkles Gail is asking about appear where the light strikes the subject most directly. So the first thing to look for the light source. Any sparkly highlights will be on the part of the surface that faces the light source.

If the subject is curved or round like a marble or bowl, then the sparkle appears in a very small area—the part of the curved surface that catches the light most directly.

If the subject is flat like a window pane, there’s less chance of sparkles on it. However, if you position yourself at the right angle to the window pane, the entire window becomes a sparkle. If you’ve ever traveled through a large city with glass-walled buildings, you’ve no doubt experienced this affect. That flash of light that nearly blinds you. That’s one huge sparkle!

Water shows a lot of sparkles unless the surface is quiet. When the water is so still that it’s like a mirror, then it behaves like that pane of glass. No sparkles until you get at the right angle, then one magnificent blinding flash.

So look for the light source, then locate the part of your subject facing the light source or catching the light most directly. That’s where to put the sparkle.

Two Examples

Take a look at this photo. Good places to add sparkle are the places that show bright white highlights in the photo. The bright white highlights are the highlights that either look a bit fuzzy or look kind of like stars. I see four.

However, only two of them are direct reflections of the light source. The sparkle at the upper left corner and the sparkle on the upper curve of the headlight are from the sun.

The other two are reflections of the first two sparkles. They look just as bright, but they are just a little dimmer than the main sparkles. They’re also smaller.

Ideally, you’d choose one or two near the center of interest and emphasize those. I’d probably emphasize the highlight on the upper right of the light, and maybe, to a lesser degree, the one on the fender below the light.

Here’s the reference photo for a horse portrait I did a couple of years ago. I’ve marked two of the places I chose to add sparkles.

How to Decide Where to Put the Sparkle

This illustration shows a detail of that area, with the sparkles drawn. I added the white highlights first because they give me a clear idea of the light source. That makes it easier to place shadows and middle values, but you can also add the highlights later.

How to Decide Where to Put the Sparkle

I used pencils to draw these star shapes, but you can easily get the same result with Titanium White. The advantage of using Titanium White is that you can shade color over it if you don’t like the brightness. It’s more difficult to shade color over white colored pencil, especially if you burnished those highlights into place.

Artists in Other Mediums to Take a Look At

You can learn a lot about basic methods like adding bright white highlights by watching artists who work in other mediums. Let me suggest two.

Andrew Tischler is an oil painter in New Zealand and he paints the most fantastic landscapes. He does a lot of sparkles on water. Take a few minutes to look through his gallery and pay special attention to the landscapes with water. You’ll see lots of sparkling water.

He also has a YouTube channel with videos featuring many of those paintings. The video I recommend is How to paint ROCKS in OILS – Landscape Painting Detail Techniques! It includes water and will be a great help to anyone who wants to learn more about adding sparkle.

Another artist I recommend is Yushkevich Viktor Nikolaevich. He is a Russian landscape artist who works in acrylic to create stunning landscapes.

He uses “star-shaped” white or nearly white accents on water. The video titled Playing the Sun is the first one I watched and is a great example of his “sparkling water” technique, but you can see the same thing in any of the videos that feature moving water.

While you can’t do exactly the same thing with colored pencils that these artists do with wet mediums, Titanium White would be the perfect tool to use for sparkles

I Hope That Helps You Decide Where to Put the Sparkle

Seeing how other artists do it is great for getting started, but the best advice is to pay close attention to your reference photo, and to practice. The more you do things like this, the more natural it will become.

Thank you, Gail, for such a great question!

Best Papers to use with Titanium White

The first question for December Q&A month concerns the best papers to use with titanium white.

Here’s the question.

What exact types of paper work best with Titanium White?  You told me that they would have to be heavier types, so just wondered specifically which ones would work?  I tried to find this out by searching on the internet and couldn’t get this question answered.


Best Papers to use with Titanium White

Gail has asked a great question. I yet to use Titanium White mixture, and I know many others of you probably haven’t either. So let’s talk a little bit about what Titanium White is first, then answer Gail’s question.

What is Titanium White

Colored pencil artist Alyona Nickelson developed Titanium white as a fully archival way to add or restore bright white highlights to ancolored pencil drawing. It can be used dry and applied with a sponge applicator to any part of a drawing you want to lighten.

Most artists I’ve seen using titanium white mix it with another Brush & Pencil product, Touchup Texture. Touchup Texture is restores surface texture to a drawing that is too slick to take more color. Just shake it up, brush it on, let it dry, and continue drawing.

Mix Titanium White and Touchup Texture, and brush it onto a drawing to add sparkling highlights. Once it’s dry, you can draw over it to add color. It looks like a fantastic product and an excellent addition to any colored pencil tool box.

Peggy Osborne, who has written several tutorials for this blog, uses this mixture in many of her projects, including How to Draw an Irish Setter and How to Draw White Fur.

The Best Papers to use with Titanium White

Some of the Brush & Pencil products require either a sanded paper or rigid support. Powder blender is one such.

But I was unable to find anything specific on the best papers to use with Titanium White. Many of the artists whose videos I watched while researching this question used sanded papers for their demos. Most of them were using Pastelmat, but that’s because that’s their go-to surface anyway.

Peggy has seven tutorials published on this blog and she used Titanium White mixture on almost all of them. Papers she used included heavyweight vellum from Bee Paper, mat board, Strathmore Mixed Media Paper, Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Paper, Robert Bateman Series 110-pound paper, and Pastelmat.

What Peggy Osborne Recommends

So I asked Peggy what papers she found worked the best with Titanium White. Here’s what she had to say.

I can only answer this per my own experience. I have used the mixture on a number of different types of paper. But I normally use a thicker paper with tooth. I don’t how this mixture would work on a smooth, thin paper.

The mixture is fragile and you would not be able to roll your artwork to say, place in a tube [for shipping.] It is meant to stay flat or it will flake off.

This being said, I think the mixture would work on most papers. It is normally applied to the colored pencil so if there are several layers of pencil for the mixture to stick to then it should be fine.

Hope this helps.


What are the Best Papers to use with Titanium White?

It really looks like Titanium White works on any high-quality drawing paper. Heavier papers like Canson Mi-Teintes and sanded supports like Uart or Pastelmat seem to me to be the best alternatives, but as Peggy says, it appears suitable for most good drawing papers.

So if you have a favorite drawing paper and want to try Titanium White on it, go ahead. Make sure to do a test swatch first, though. There’s no sense in ruining an otherwise good drawing if the experiment doesn’t work.

I’ll do my own tests when I get the opportunity and write up my experiences. In the meantime, feel free to share with us how your drawings turned out in the comments below.