How to Finish a Drawing Started with Watercolor Colored Pencils

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Watercolor Pencils

In this post, I’ll show you how to finish a drawing started with watercolor colored pencils.

Last week, I shared the method I used to create an under drawing using watercolor colored pencils. While I focused on watercolor colored pencils in that post, the technique applies to any type of water soluble media with the possible exception of water miscible oils. I’ve never tried that combination, so cannot tell you whether or not it would work.

In this part of the tutorial, I added dry color over the under drawing.

Before You Start

Before adding dry color, make sure the under drawing and paper are completely dry. If there’s any residual dampness, you risk damaging the paper. I usually allow paper to dry over night, just to be on the safe side.  I also usually allow papers to air dry by natural evaporation. Even on the hottest days, this process is less likely to cause warping or buckling.

But you can dry paper with a hand-held hair dryer if you need to finish it quickly. Use a low heat setting and don’t get the dryer too close to the paper to keep the color from running before it dries.

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Watercolor Colored Pencils

Unless otherwise noted, the colors listed in this article are Prismacolor Soft Core colors. Any colored pencils work over watercolor pencils.

Step 1: Start dry drawing with the base colors.

When the paper is ready for dry color, use the same methods of choosing colors you use for any other technique. Start with the lightest colors and build toward the darks layer by layer.

In this illustration, I’ve added a very light earth tone that’s also a warm color. Burnt Ochre was lightly shaded over the darker area behind the ears and in front of the ears. I used light pressure with a very sharp pencil to draw an even color layer.

Next, layer Burnt Ochre over the rest of the horse except the highlights. I always work around highlights so they don’t become muddy or—even worse—disappear. This is the best way to get sparkling highlights when you work on white or light colored paper.

On the horse’s head and neck, use a sharp pencil to draw a smooth, even color.

In the mane, stroke with the growth of the hair, starting at the bottom edge of the highlight and stroking downward to the ends of the hair groups.

Use light or very light pressure on the head, neck, and ears. For the mane, use light to medium-light pressure.

Begin drawing the muzzle with a light layer of pink on the chin and light gray in and around the nostril.

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencils - Step 1b

Step 2: Glaze color over the base layers.

With the base color in place, begin developing deeper values and richer colors.

For this demo, I used Sienna Brown and Mineral Orange in the middle values, a light glaze of Light Umber and Goldenrod to the lighter values, and Dark Brown to the shadows. However, getting the values right is more important than correct color. Since we don’t all see color the same way, select colors based on what you see in your reference.

Continue working around the brightest highlights.

For each round of work, add more of each color. Getting good coverage (filling all of the paper holes) requires multiple layers. For the best color, alternate between two or more colors.

Continue using light pressure and sharp pencils to draw smooth color. Stroke in the direction of hair growth in the mane and forelock.

How to Finish a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencils - Step 2b

Step 3: Add finishing details to complete your drawing.

When the drawing nears completion, begin working on the highlights. Leave the brightest highlights alone. The highlight along the top of the crest, for example, is whatever color shows through from the under drawing.

For the others, add Spanish Orange, Orange, or Yellow Ochre if the highlight is warm in color (the highlight along the cheek). If the highlight is more neutral, use Sand or Cream (behind the eye).

Most of the highlights are then burnished with a color like Beige or Cream to keep them unified with the coat colors around them.


Using water media or watercolor colored pencils to draw the under drawing is a great way to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a colored pencil work. It’s also a good way to cover the paper without filling in the tooth of the paper.

I probably won’t be using this combination very often because it doesn’t work very well on my favorite papers. They just don’t handle moisture well and I don’t care for the texture of watercolor papers that are heavy enough to take the moisture.

But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a viable—and valuable—alternative to using only traditional, dry colored pencils.

As I mentioned in the previous post, if you hope to enter your artwork in shows that are exclusively colored pencil, stick with watercolor colored pencils.

If that doesn’t matter, then experiment and have fun!

Would you like to try your hand with watercolor pencils with a short project you can finish in a few hours?

Draw a Tree Branch with Watercolor Pencils is the tutorial for you! See how easy watercolor pencils can be.

How to Start a Drawing with Watercolor Colored Pencils

Today I want to share a drawing method that’s both fun and potentially time saving. What is it? Drawing with watercolor colored pencils.

Making art with colored pencils is time-consuming. If you like detail and want to do anything larger than 11×14, you should plan on spending hours in the process.

It could take weeks.

Or months.

Solvents are one way to save time, but there are other ways. Using a traditional colored pencils over watercolor colored pencils is one of them.

How to Start a Drawing with Watercolor Colored Pencils

About the Drawing

The art work is small. About 5×7.

I used a combination of Faber-Castell Art Grip Aquarelle and Prismacolor pencils on a scrap of watercolor paper. Unfortunately, I don’t know what type of paper beyond the fact that it was not very smooth, and was heavy enough to withstand repeated wetting.

I wanted to learn what I could do with watercolor colored pencils, so I used an old drawing from another project.

How to Start a Drawing with Watercolor Colored Pencils

Step 1: Getting ready to paint (and deciding how to start)

There are several ways to create color washes with watercolor colored pencils.

To create strong color, use dry pencils to layer color, then wet the color with a brush. Colors “melt” and flow together just like traditional watercolors.

Or dip a sharpened pencil into water and draw while it’s wet. This works especially well in small areas, but requires frequent dipping. It can also soften the wood casing if the wood gets too wet.

If you want softer color, dampen a soft brush with clean water, then stroke the exposed core of the pencil to pick up color. Usually one or two strokes against the pencil is sufficient to produce good color.

If you plan to use watercolor colored pencils for most of the drawing, create a palette by making heavy layers of the main colors on a scrap of watercolor paper as shown below.

How to Start a Drawing with Watercolor Colored Pencils - Color Palette

Several heavy applications are necessary, but when you finish, you can use this palette as you would use a watercolor painting palette. Dampen your brushes, pick up color from the palette, and brush it onto the paper. When the palette begins to look used, simply recharge it by layering more color on the palette.

Step 2: Toning the background

Mark the borders of the drawing, leaving ample margins to wash color beyond the edge of the drawing.

Create a pink wash with Rose Carmine (124) and a yellow wash with Cadmium Yellow (107).

For this piece, I dampened a brush and stroked it against the exposed cores of each pencil to pick up color, then added a band of pink and a band of yellow. I also blended a tint of pink wet-into-wet into part of the yellow.

Step 2: Toning the Subject

For this demonstration, I under painted the horse in complementary colors. The horse is a chestnut (a reddish brown), so greens are the complementary colors. To make the green, wash Emerald Green (163) over part of the background and part of the horse using the same method described above.

For the mane, use a small, round sable. Stroke color into the shadows that break the mane into hair masses. Leave the rest of the mane alone.

For stronger color, wet the brush, then blot it before touching it to the pencil. The resulting color is less diluted and, therefore, darker.

One thing to remember when using colored pencil in this way is that you have one or two strokes—at most—to get the look you want. The more strokes you do and the more water you add, the more you dilute the color. Limit yourself to one stroke for the darkest values. 

After the paper dries, add a very thin wash of cadmium yellow over the horse. Use a larger brush for more even color. Once again, limit yourself to one or two strokes. Load the brush with water, then touch it to the sharpened pencil.

For brighter color along the top of the crest and in the mane, use a smaller brush and a more dry-brush method to stroke color into the still wet wash. The new color dissolves slightly into the wash, creating darker accents with soft edges.

Notice how fresh dampness affects the dry color on the mane (the green). Working with water soluble color requires a different working mindset than using dry color.

How to Start a Drawing with Water Soluble Colored Pencils - Step 2b

Parting Thoughts about Drawing with Watercolor Colored Pencils

Using watercolor-like washes to start a colored pencil drawing is a great way to get a lot done in a short amount of time. You can use watercolor colored pencils (as I did here), watercolor, acrylic (thinned to tint strength,) or any other medium that can be thinned with water then used in this way.

Keep in mind that if you use watercolor colored pencil, the work is still considered colored pencil. Using any of the other mediums makes your drawing a mixed media. If you want to exhibit in exclusively colored pencil shows, this is important to keep in mind.

If this is the first time you’ve used water soluble methods, practice first. It doesn’t matter how you practice. This piece was my test piece, but you could also do random color swatches or just play with color to see how it responds.

Wet media colors interact differently than dry media. Some of them also dry darker or lighter than they appear when wet. Doing a few test pieces will show you what to expect from the medium you’re using.

But you also need to know how traditional colored pencils react with a wet medium under drawing. Next week, I’ll show you how I finished this piece with traditional, wax-based pencils.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll take time to experiment with water soluble colored pencils yourself.

Oh, and have fun!

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper

If you’re been following this blog for any length of time, you know I frequently post tutorials. The subjects differ, but the focus of all those tutorials is showing you how to do something. This week, I want to share some things not to do when using watercolor paper!

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper

This may seem like an odd topic for a how-to blog, but I can’t tell you how many things I’ve tried that were disasters. Nor can I tell you how many times I’ve wished someone would have warned me before I tried those things.

So I decided to share some experiences with the hope of saving you a few ruined pieces of paper or nearly finished drawings. Are you ready?

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper

Don’t Forget to Tape Your Paper!

Unless you’re working very small or using a rigid support, you MUST tape watercolor paper to a back board of some kind. If you don’t, the paper will buckle if you use too much water.

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper - Don't Forget the Masking Tape

If you happen to be using a paper like Stonehenge or Canson Mi-Teintes (both of which can handle modest amounts of water or solvent,) you have to tape them to a back board. That’s the only way they’ll dry flat.

(I have tried working on small pieces of Stonehenge without taping it first. It does dry. It does NOT dry flat.)

Don’t use a misting bottle to blend color

I’m all for saving time whenever possible. Once while working on a small watercolor pencil piece, I tried wetting a piece of paper with a misting bottle. I wanted to drop color onto a wet surface and what could possibly be easier or faster than spritzing the paper a couple of times?

Big mistake!

Even at the finest setting, way too much water ended up on the paper.

So much that it pooled on the paper, and ran off the edges. I let the paper dry on a piece of paper towel, but it didn’t dry completely flat.

The place where the water (and color) pooled also left marks I was not able to cover over despite adding several more layers of wet and dry color on top of it. Fortunately, those marks lent themselves to the drawing I ended up doing, but I do not recommend a misting bottle.

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper - No Misting Bottles!

Don’t keep blending

As an oil painter, my philosophy was that if one stroke was good, two were better, and there was no harm in three.

The problem is that there can be harm in two or three strokes. It’s called over blending in oil painting.

With watercolor pencils, it’s called destructive.

Once the color is wet, it’s very easy to move around. The best thing you can do is stroke the paper once to blend the color, then leave it alone.

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper - One Stroke and Leave It

If you happen to be adding color with a brush, you have a little more room for multiple strokes. But in almost all cases, the fewer brush strokes, the better!

Don’t always use little brushes

The best way to minimize the number of strokes you need is to use the largest brush possible for each area.

Small brushes are great for blending small areas or adding details. But small brushes require a lot of strokes for larger areas. The more strokes, the more chances for unwanted edges where strokes overlap.

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper - Largest Brushes

Also use a soft brush. If you have a naturally light touch, you can probably get away with using a bristle brush, but only if that’s all you have.

And forget a sponge brush! That sounds like the logical choice, but it isn’t. Sponges soak up water. When you’re using water soluble colored pencils, that means a sponge brush will also soak up color. So unless you need to lighten a color, avoid the sponge brushes!

Don’t draw with a dry pencil on wet paper

This is the most important advice I can offer. Why? Because it applies not only to watercolor pencils on watercolor paper. It also applies to paper that’s still wet from a solvent blend.

Absolutely, positively do NOT use a dry pencil on wet paper! Paper is especially delicate when wet. Drawing on it with a dry pencil—especially a well-sharpened dry pencil—can put a hole in the paper.

At the very least, you risk scuffing the surface of the paper.

Yes, you may be able to get some neat affects with this method, but do you really want to risk ruining a drawing? I sure don’t.


Those are five things not to do when using watercolor paper with colored pencils. Those aren’t the only things you should avoid, so if you’ve tried something that ended up disastrously, leave a comment below!

Fast and Easy Backgrounds for Colored Pencil Drawings

Fast and Easy Backgrounds for Colored Pencil Drawings

When we talked about background options sometime ago, I intended to talk about fast and easy backgrounds for colored pencil drawings. Then a few reader questions on the topic led me in different direction.

So we talked about how to draw a clear sky, how to draw a bokeh background, and tips for deciding the best background for your next drawing. All good topics, but not much that’s fast or easy.

It’s time to share some background options that are not only fast and easy, but fun.

Fast and Easy Backgrounds for Colored Pencil Drawings

Over the course of the last several years, I’ve shared ideas for fast and easy backgrounds here and on EmptyEasel. Ideas you may have thought of already, but some that may be new to you. Things like using pencil shavings or your favorite beverage to color a background.

Read Fast & Easy Background Options for Colored Pencil Drawings on EmptyEasel.

I’ve also written about fast and easy backgrounds using India Ink, and graphite.

But for the most part, those articles were all about backgrounds created with a plan in mind.

Today, I want to share three backgrounds I made with no plan in mind. The fact of the matter is that I was just playing around at the end of the day on a Saturday because I needed a drawing for the week.

Fun, Fast and Easy Backgrounds for Colored Pencil Drawings

So let’s take a look at each of these backgrounds and I’ll tell you how you can make your own.

Each of the following three samples are on Canson L’Aquarelle 140lb hot press watercolor paper. I had three small pieces cut and decided to play around with watercolor pencils, to see what happened.

Watercolor Pencil Scribbles Etc.

I wet the paper thoroughly, then stroked a wet brush on the pigment core of a couple of pencils and brushed the color onto the paper.

The yellow isn’t very vibrant, but in some areas, it mixed with blue to make an interesting green.

While the paper was still wet, I drew the loops with a dry pencil. Then I dipped a brush in clean water, and spattered color by stroking the brush across a pencil. When the bristles snapped over the pencil, they threw pigment everywhere (and I do mean everywhere. A drop cloth is advisable.)

More Fast and Easy Backgrounds for Colored Pencils - Watercolor Scribbles

After the paper was well dry, I painted the tree with oil paints just to see if I could. That was one of two tests combining oils and colored pencils, and you can read Can You Oil Paint Over Colored Pencil? for more on that.

On to the second experiment.

Watercolor Pencil Spatters

I wetted this paper thoroughly as well, but didn’t do washes. Instead, I spattered two or three different colors as described above. The wetter the brush, the bigger and more random the spatters appeared. As the brush dried, the spatters became more intense in color, smaller, and more uniform in shape.

Some of the color bled together to create washes. If you want washes like this, make sure the paper is as wet as you can make it.

You can also alter the shape of the spatters by changing how and where you hold the pencil and brush. I worked from almost directly over the paper. If you hold the pencil closer to the paper or to one side, the spatters will be more elongated.

Later, I drew the circles and created a spacescape of sorts. The spatter method is ideal for paintings of this type, but you could also use it to create backgrounds for other subjects.

Watercolor Pencil Shavings

The final experiment was a little more daring (to my way of thinking.)

I’ve dissolved chips of watercolor pencil in water to create fluid pigment and it works quite well. It would be another great way to make a fast and easy background for colored pencil.

But this time, I used an X-acto knife to pare shavings directly onto wet paper. That didn’t accomplish much other than partially dissolving some of the smaller pieces of pigment.

When I washed the paper with a wet brush after it had dried, however, it produced a pastel wash of the blended colors. The chips of color remained mostly undissolved, but they also appear to be more or less permanently attached to the paper.

Only time will reveal whether or not that’s true, but they stayed in place while I drew the tree with dry colored pencil.

More Fast and Easy Backgrounds for Colored Pencils - Watercolor Shavings

Useful Tips

If you try any of these suggestions, tape your paper down first. Since I was just playing around and didn’t expect to create great works of art, I didn’t bother taping any of the pieces of paper. They all curled a little, but since they’re 140lb watercolor paper, they all dried pretty flat.

Tipping a piece of paper after you’ve added color and before it dries is a good way to create random blending. The paper needs to be wet enough for color to “run” for best results. I didn’t try that because I’d used up all my pieces of paper, but it is something I may try the next time I want to do something fun.

Finally, if you know what you plan to draw on the paper, it’s probably a good idea to put the drawing on the paper, then mask it before using any of these techniques. As you can see from my samples, the drawing I put over the background didn’t cover anything that was already on the paper unless I put down a lot of color or used heavy pressure.

Still More Fast and Easy Backgrounds for Colored Pencil Drawings

The EmptyEasel article I mentioned earlier isn’t the only one I wrote. A couple of years later, EmptyEasel published a second article. Read all about more fast and easy backgrounds on EmptyEasel.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils – My Review

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Derwent watercolor pencils. After using the Derwent watercolor pencils for a few months, it’s time for a review.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils Review

About Derwent Watercolor Pencils

I purchased a set of 12 colors, along with a pad of Canson L’Aquarelle 140 lb hot press watercolor paper at Hobby Lobby. The pencils retailed at $25.99 and the paper at $24.99, but I used a 40% coupon on both items.

TIP: If you shop regularly at Hobby Lobby, go online and print their 40% off coupon. You can use it only once and it applies only to the most expensive item you buy (not the entire purchase,) but it’s a great way to get new supplies and a good deal.

Since I did most of my work on the watercolor paper, I’ll share my thoughts on that, as well.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils - Set of 12

Derwent Watercolor Pencils: My Review

Derwent packages their tins with a shrink wrap cover inside the tin, so you can remove the tin’s lid and see the pencils before you buy them. A very helpful feature if you buy retail from a brick-and-mortar store.

The pencils are stamped in easy-to-read silver, with color names and color numbers clearly visible. They come pre-sharpened, and with the approximate colors on the end of the pencil.

Approximate because they aren’t all 100% accurate. It’s a good idea to make color swatches to see the actual color once you buy the pencils.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils in the Tin

Most of the pencils in my set were in excellent shape and ready to use. Only the Burnt Ochre broke when I sharpened it the first time, but that gave me an opportunity to test Derwent’s customer support process. My understanding before buying these pencils that the Derwent company is very quality conscious and is quick to replace defective stock.

I found that to be true. I emailed the company and told them about the set I’d purchased and the pencil with the broken pigment core.

True to expectation, they emailed me back within a few days and offered to replace the pencil if I wished. I could still use the pencil—yes, even the broken pigment core—so I didn’t ask for a replacement, but it’s good know they were so willing to help me.

Lightfast Ratings

Derwent is a British company, so they use the Blue Wool Scale for lightfast testing.

Two identical dye samples are created. One sample is placed in darkness and one in the equivalent of sunlight for three months. A standard test card is also put in the same lighting conditions and the samples are then compared.

Fading is rated on a scale of 0 to 8, with 0 being the poorest and 8 the highest. A rating of 8 signifies a color that doesn’t fade at all and can be considered permanent.

Of the twelve colors in the 12-pencil set, four have an “8” rating, one is rated “7”, two are rated “6,” and the other five are 5 or below. Most professional artists either don’t use any color rated 5 or less for fine art or they don’t sell the originals. Fading colors can be used to create artwork if all you plan to do is sell reproductions.

However, these ratings are all for dry pigment. They apply only if you don’t use water to activate the color.

Since the purpose of watercolor pencils is to use them wet, I set up my own lightfast test.

My Lightfast Test

I made a swatch of color for each of the pencils. Each swatch is labeled with the color name, the number, and the Blue Wool rating (in parentheses.) At the bottom of the page is information on the pencil, the paper, and the test I started the test.

This swatch shows the dry color.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils - Lightfast Test Dry

Next, I activated half of each swatch with water.

This also gives you a good idea of how will the strokes disappear with a minimum of blending. I have found that strokes disappear entirely with a few more strokes of a wet brush, or if you use more water.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils - Lightfast Test Wet

When the samples were dry, I covered the center portion with a piece of opaque paper and taped it in a south-facing window.

4-Week Results

This is the result after four weeks. Dry pencil on the right, water-activated on the left. The only color that appeared to have faded at all was the Imperial Purple (rated 4,) and the fading wasn’t obvious. The fact of the matter is that the ball point pen I used to label the test faded far worse than the colors.

Derwent Watercolor Pencil Test 4 Weeks

8-Week Results

The 8-week check looked like this. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see much difference. That was encouraging, to say the least.

Back into the window for the test sheet.

Derwent Watercolor Pencil Test 8 Weeks

12-Week Results

I checked them again at the 12-week mark and this is what I found.

Derwent Watercolor Pencil Test 12 Weeks

There does appear to be some dulling of the color, but it’s not significant.

However, I need to make two points about my test.

One, it’s in no way scientific or conclusive. We had a lot of gray days this spring, so the exposure of the colors may not have been as strong as it could have been.

Two, I didn’t use very much water to activate the color. The more water you use, the more likely the colors are to become fugitive.

However, given my results, I’d have no difficulties using all of these colors (except maybe the 4-rated and less colors) for fine art if I didn’t plan to sell the original work.

Drawing with Derwent Watercolor Pencils

From the first stroke to the last, these pencils were a delight to use, even on a paper that I was previously unfamiliar with. Color goes on with ease, even with light pressure. They have a soft almost creamy feel when used dry. Not quite as soft as Prismacolor, but much softer than Faber-Castell Polychromos, for example.

They’re also fun to use when you apply color wet. I did a lot of work by wetting a brush, stroking the brush across the sharpened pencil, then brushing the color onto wet or dry paper.

Remember I mentioned that broken pigment core? I wasn’t too upset because pieces of pigment core can be dissolved in warm water to create liquid pigment. It’s a great way to blend colors before putting them on paper.

I’ve drawn several pieces on different types of paper. I’ve also used them wet and dry, and tried several different ways to use them wet. As I prepare this post for publication, I’m working on a sky and cloud study for a tutorial, so you can see how they perform in action.

What Do I Think of the Derwent Watercolor Pencils?

I’m a little disappointed so many of them are fugitive. The pencils are so easy to use dry and wet that it’s a shame five of them are too fugitive for my liking.

But that is the only strike I have against them.

Colors lay-down very smooth, the pencils are highly pigmented. The earth tones, blues, and greens are perfect for landscape and animal art, even in just the 12-pencil set.

Time will tell on the fade rate, but I have no objections to using all the colors for sketching and studies, and will be using the lightfast colors for finished pieces.

So if you want to try watercolor pencils, but don’t have a lot of money to spend, you can hardly go wrong with a small set of these.

And What about the Canson L’Aquarelle Paper?

I didn’t forget!

Most of the work I did with Derwent Watercolour Pencils was on Canson L’Aquarelle Watercolor Paper. I was as pleased with the paper as with the pencils. It’s very much like Stonehenge Aqua in feel, and performs pretty much the same way, too.

I bought 140lb hot press because it’s smoother than cold press watercolor paper, so is more suited to colored pencils. The 9×12 inch pad contains 25 sheets, so it’s about a dollar a sheet. I cut the sheets in half for my small works.

It would also be ideal for ACEO art, since it’s heavy enough to withstand the use of water.

The only thing I haven’t yet tried with it is dry drawing. As soft to the touch and smooth as it is, I have no doubts it will perform well for that application as well.

Basic Colored Pencil Terms for Beginners

Basic Colored Pencil Terms Explained Paper

Let’s talk about basic colored pencil terms today.

A lot of readers are new to this blog, or new to colored pencils, or both. Whichever category you fall into, welcome! Welcome to the blog and welcome to colored pencils!

If you haven’t already, you’re going to hear a lot of terms that make no sense. That’s my bad. I’ve been doing colored pencils so long, I tend to forget what it was like when I first got started!

I also know there are a lot of budding artists out there who already love the medium, but are confused by the jargon.

Basic Colored Pencil Terms for Beginners
So today, I want to go back to square one and define some of those confusing-but-basic colored pencil terms.

Basic Colored Pencil Terms Explained

To make things less confusing, I’ve arranged terms into four separate categories. We’ll begin with the two most basic: Pencils and Paper!

Basic Pencil Terms

The following terms apply to your colored pencils no matter what brand you prefer or the quality of pencils in your pencil box.


All colored pencils are made by grinding pigment, then mixing it with a binder. The binder allows the pigment to be formed into the core of the pencil, holds it together while you use the pencil, and allows the pigment to lay down smoothly on the paper.

Wax-based pencils like Prismacolor and Caran d’Ache Luminance utilize a binder that’s mostly wax.

Wax-based pencils generally lay down more smoothly, and are softer. They also tend to break more easily if you press too hard with them.

They’re great for laying down lots of color quickly, but can be more of a challenge in drawing details.

Wax bloom can also be a problem, especially with dark colors.

Wax-based pencils are the most popular and the most widely available.


Oil-based pencils have a binder that’s mostly oil, often vegetable oil. They do contain some wax, but not usually much. Faber-Castell Polychromos and Rembrandt Lyra are oil-based pencils.

Oil-based pencils are harder and sometimes more brittle feeling than wax-based pencils. That makes them great for detailed work. Smooth layers of color are possible, but aren’t usually as easy to achieve. They hold a point much longer, too.

Wax bloom is not usually a problem with oil-based pencils, even if you tend to use heavier pressure when drawing.

Wax Bloom

When you draw, you leave color on the paper, but you also leave binder. The harder you press on the paper with the pencil, the more color and binder you leave on the paper.

Wax binder eventually rises to the surface of the color layers, giving them a foggy, misty, or gray appearance. This is normal with all colors, though it’s more obvious on darker colors.

The cloudy right half of this sample is wax bloom. The left side shows the natural color after the wax bloom has been removed.

Basic Colored Pencil Terms Explained Wax Bloom

Wax bloom is easily removed by wiping a drawing with clean tissue and light pressure. It can be prevented by sealing a finished drawing with final finish; preferably one designed for colored pencil work such as Brush & Pencil’s Final Fixative.

Framing under glass will not prevent wax bloom.

Grades of Pencils

Colored pencils are manufactured in three grades: Scholar, Student, and Artist. Scholar-grade pencils the least expensive and poorest quality. Artist-grade pencils are the highest quality, so are usually more expensive.

Artist grade pencils have a higher ratio of pigment to binder, so they produce better color and results with less effort. They’re often more fade resistant.

Scholar grade pencils have more binder and less filler, so the color they produce may be weak or pale.

You can make great art with any grade of pencils, but will generally get the best results with higher quality pencils.


A pencil is lightfast if it doesn’t fade over time.

If a color fades over time, it’s also referred to as fugitive. The color “runs away and hides” if exposed to light. Sometimes it may disappear altogether, and sometimes very quickly.

Pencils are rated differently in the US than in Europe and other parts of the world, but all brands are tested in some form, and many companies provide color charts that include lightfast ratings.

Watercolor Pencils/Water Soluble Pencils

These are watercolors in pencil form. Many artists consider them to be colored pencils, others don’t. Since many colored pencil manufacturers also produce watercolor pencils, I tend to think of them as colored pencils that just happen to dissolve in water.

Instead of a wax- or oil-based binder, they use a binder that dissolves in water. You can draw with them dry and mix them with other colored pencils.

You can also draw with them dry, then wet blend them with water, or paint with them by dampening the pigment with water and using a brush.


The following terms apply to drawing papers of all types.

Basic Colored Pencil Terms Explained Paper


The surface you draw on. For colored pencils, that’s usually paper, but colored pencils can also be used on wood, pastel papers, mylar and other similar films, and mat board, just to name a few.

Some paper manufacturing companies also produces papers mounted to a rigid support. The drawing surface is still paper, but the support itself is rigid. Many sanded art papers are available as sheets and boards, for example.


Tooth refers to the surface texture of papers. The toothier a paper is, the more texture it has. Sand paper has more tooth than inkjet paper.

Tooth is important to the colored pencil artist because of the way colored pencil lays down on different types of paper. In most cases and for most methods of drawing with colored pencils, smoother papers are better.

However, there sanded art papers are one notable exception. The grittiness of sanded art papers would seem to make them unsuitable for colored pencils, but many artists actually prefer them to traditional drawing papers.

Basic Colored Pencil Terms Explained Tooth


The weight of the paper refers to the thickness. A 98lb paper is thinner than a 140lb paper. Paper is measured this way because the “weight” is what a standard ream of a particular paper weighs. A ream is 500 sheets, so a ream of 98lb paper weighs 98 pounds.

The actual process is quite complicated, since the weights assigned to papers are assigned based on the standard size for each type of paper, and the type of paper (bond paper, card stock, etc.)

All you really need to keep in mind is that the higher the pound weight, the thicker the paper is most likely to be.

This is important because you don’t want to use a drawing paper that’s too thin (light weight.)

Basic Colored Pencil Terms Explained Paper Weights

Most pads of drawing paper include clear labeling on the weight of the paper (see above.) Most full sheets are also labeled, though the information may be more difficult to locate.


Those are our basic colored pencil terms defined for today. There are a lot more terms relating to both pencils and papers, so if you encounter a term you don’t understand, send me an email and ask about it.

Next week, we’ll talk about some basic colored pencil terms concerning drawing methods and techniques.

How to Paint a Tree With Snow in Watercolor Pencils

In this week’s tutorial, I want to show you how to paint a tree with snow in watercolor pencils.

The sample piece is the weekly drawing the third week of the year.

How to Paint a Tree With Snow in Watercolor Pencils

How to Paint a Tree With Snow in Watercolor Pencils

This four-step method is ideal for sketching, drawing from life, and plein air drawing. You can, of course, finish your drawing more completely if you wish.

In other words, I can’t think of a drawing method for which this method cannot be used.

Begin with a Warm Under Painting

I began with a layer of earth tone. The intention had been to use an umber color, but I couldn’t find one, so I settled for  red-tone.

As with the other tutorials in this series, I added color to the paper by dipping a small sable round into water, then stroking the wet brush across the exposed pigment core and brushing the color onto the paper.

I didn’t do a preliminary drawing, instead drawing much as I would had I been drawing from life or outside.

The first layer of color was applied only in the shadows and darker middle values.

How to Paint a Tree With Snow in Watercolor Pencils - Step 1

Add Gray Tones to the Under Painting

Next, I added gray, beginning by painting over the red tones. In the darkest shadows, I painted three or more layers of gray. In the darker middle values, one or two layers and in the lighter middle values, I added gray in short, straight strokes to mimic the look of bark.

I developed the tree by painting around the snow. But it was getting difficult to imagine the snowy edges while the background was also white. So I switched to a larger, flat and washed a light gray tint into the background.

I used very wet color for this, but also added water to the color once it was on the paper and before it dried. The result was an unplanned, somewhat mottled tone that gives the illusion of a cloudy day and weather of some kind.

How to Paint a Tree With Snow in Watercolor Pencils - Step 2

Adding Warm Reflected Light and Darkening the Shadows

For this step, I painted the underside of the largest branch with a wash of golden color. The reference photo showed warm reflected light despite snow on the ground, so after putting this color on the paper, I stroked over it a couple of times with a wet brush to dilute the color. I also pulled some of it up around the curve of the branch.

How to Paint a Tree With Snow in Watercolor Pencils - Step 3

Then I added a dark blue to the darkest shadows on all of the larger branches.

For each of these layers, I continued working around the areas that were covered by snow on the tree. Notice how the edge is especially sharp and clear in the place where the snow-covered tree meets the dark shadow on the smaller branch on the other side of the tree.

Adding Details with a Dry Pencil

To finish the drawing, I darkened the shadows by brushing black into them, especially on the larger branches.

Then I drew smaller branches and emphasized some of the bark details by drawing with a dry pencil. I used the same watercolor pencil for this because the pigment core is harder and drier than a regular wax-based pencil and is ideal for adding very small details.

How to Paint a Tree With Snow in Watercolor Pencils - Step 4

And that’s all there is to it!


Painting a tree with snow in watercolor pencil was a lot easier than I anticipated (mostly because I’ve never had much success with water media.) It was also more fun and the random effects in the background were a special delight.

I did this drawing in about two hours, not including drying time between each layer. It’s a great way to do quick sketches, practice techniques, or try your hand at a new subject.

It would also be great for doing half tone or color studies for larger works.

Besides all that, it was just plain fun!

Other Tutorials on This Method

I mentioned earlier that there are other tutorials involving watercolor pencils. Here are the two previous posts talking about how I did weekly drawings.

Drawing with Black and Gray Colored Pencils

Painting with Watercolor Pencils

For a more in-depth tutorial describing how I use watercolor pencils, check out my-part series on EmptyEasel.

How to Draw a Sunrise Landscape with Water Soluble Colored Pencils – Part 1

Drawing a Sunrise with Water Soluble Colored Pencils – Part 2

Painting with Watercolor Pencils

In  a previous Tuesday Tutorial, I shared tips and suggestions for avoiding or fixing the mistakes I made using watercolor pencils. Today’s tutorial is all about painting with watercolor pencils.

Painting with Watercolor Pencils

The painting I’m using for this tutorial is more of a study, but the method I used to paint it works for under paintings or complete paintings. In either case, you can layer traditional colored pencils over watercolor pencil paintings and get the best of both types of pencils.

Painting with Watercolor Pencils

This drawing is only 4×6 inches on Stonehenge Aqua 140lb cold press paper. It’s ideal for this type of colored pencil work, because it’s made for wet media, but without the typical watercolor paper texture.

Because watercolor pencils don’t fill up the tooth of the paper, you can do a lot of work with them, let the paper dry completely, then use traditional colored pencils over them.

Landscape Study in Gray

In last week’s drawing, I started with a black watercolor pencil and intended to layer traditional pencil over it. I ended up adding washes with a gray watercolor pencil because the black was too warm. It was also much harsher in appearance than I wanted.

So this week, I started with the gray pencil, Faber-Castell Art Grip Aquarelle Warm Grey V.

I also used a reference photo for this drawing, and the results were much more satisfactory.

Weekly Drawing Week 2 - Gray Scale Landscape WS

Color was applied to the paper with brushes, which I dipped in water, then stroked across the exposed pigment core of the pencil. I did most of the painting with a sable round.

Painting Trees with Watercolor Pencils

Since the largest part of the composition is made up of trees and bushes, I used a lot of squiggly or stippling (dots.) Both strokes are ideal for foliage.

I started in the shadows and continued layering color until I got the values I wanted in the shadows and darker middle values.

Weekly Drawing Week 2 - Small Tree Detail

For the lighter values in the big tree, I then washed a very light layer of color over the tree. After it dried, I stippled additional layers to blend the values and soften the edges.

Weekly Drawing Week 2 - Large Tree Detail

As I look back on it, I would paint the light wash first, then add the darker values. I’d even like to try adding some of those darker values while the wash is drying. Wet color dropped into wet or drying color “self-blends,” creating interesting results not easily duplicated any other way.

Happy Happenings and a Lesson Learned

For the grass in the foreground, I used a half inch sable wash brush that’s been badly abused. The hairs go in every which direction, so it’s perfect for random or semi-random patterns.

After wetting the paper in the dark area, I laid down a thin wash of gray. When it was dry, I added a few more layers by tapping the brush along the slope of the hill.

Weekly Drawing Week 2 - Grass Detail

I absolutely love the look of this after it dried. It didn’t look as great wet, so I’m glad I let it dry before reworking it.

The brush I used for this is a trashed oil painting brush, so this is an ideal reason not to throw any brush away. You never know when it might come in handy!

This method is ideal for using a Flemish-style painting method with colored pencils.

Because watercolor pencils are permanent once they’re dry, you could use them with the Flemish method of painting. Simply paint each of the initial layers with watercolor pencils, then glaze color with watercolor pencils or traditional pencils.

One of the projects currently on my list is a drawing in which I use this method with different colors, to see if I can work through all seven of the steps of the Flemish method of oil painting.

Stay tuned!

A Personal Note

I did this work early in the week and intended to work on it again the next day. I really wanted to tone down that white triangle in the foreground.

But an altercation with a cat resulted in six stitches in my right hand and four of them were in the heel of my right hand. Right where I rest my hand when drawing or painting. Result? No more art for the rest of that week or much of the following week.

That happened Wednesday of the second week of January. The stitches were removed Friday of the third week. I had hoped to dabble enough to get a drawing for the third week, but that did not happen. I either have to adjust the way I draw, or wait until the heel of my right hand heals.

In the meantime, I hope you try painting with watercolor pencils.

Drawing with Black and Gray Colored Pencils

In today’s tutorial, I’ll show you my first drawing of the year. The topic isn’t the drawing itself, but how to do a complete drawing with black and gray colored pencils.

Since I made a few mistakes with this drawing, I’ll also show you how to avoid or fix those mistakes.

Let’s get started.

Drawing with Black and Gray Colored Pencils

The 2018 Weekly Drawing Challenge

I was so busy with special projects in 2017 that I got out of the habit of drawing on a regular basis. Only seven drawings completed and two of those were for special projects. That’s not very encouraging.

So one of my December activities was finding a way to get back into the habit of drawing on a regular basis. Two personal art challenges emerged.

The first challenge is to finish one drawing 4×6 or smaller every week. That challenge directly affects this—and future—posts.

I really hoped to have 52 new, gallery-quality drawings by the end of the year, but I didn’t have to do very many to realize that probably wouldn’t be possible. One, in fact, was all it took.

The first week’s drawing went very fast and turned out well, as you can see below. But it’s not what I consider gallery quality. I did some things I shouldn’t have done, and although I like the results, the drawing is more suited to teaching than exhibiting.

So rather than plan an exhibit, I started planning a series of posts. I don’t know if I’ll cover every weekly drawing—some of them might actually turn out well—but whenever I can explain a mistake and show you how to avoid it or fix it, that’s what I’ll do.

Beginning with the first drawing of the challenge.

Drawing with Black and Gray Colored Pencils

The first drawing for the weekly challenge is a 6×9 on watercolor paper. I began with the idea of using one water-soluble pencil (black) and my cool gray Prismacolor Soft Core pencils to create a landscape from imagination.

I did use an old painting as a pattern, but that’s all.

Weekly Drawing Week 1 - Gray Scale Landscape WS

My Purpose

Lets get this started right by describing the reason I decided to do a drawing with black and gray colored pencils.

I also decided to start the drawing with water-soluble colored pencils because I didn’t get started until Wednesday and water-soluble colored pencils are faster.

So the goal was to see how realistic a landscape I could do with a water-soluble under drawing in half tones, and an over drawing of wax-based Prismacolor cool grays.

The drawing is poorly composed.

The Problem

The first problem is the basic composition. That’s not surprising, since I did no planning before hand. I just started painting.

While I consider myself an intuitive painter, meaning I compose by instinct, that doesn’t always work. In this case, I put the tree on the right too far to the right. I didn’t need to divide the composition into thirds to know that, but here’s how it looks.

Drawing with Black and Gray Colored Pencils - Bad Composition

The foreground tree, which is the center of interest, should fall on or near one of the four places where vertical and horizontal lines cross. Instead, it’s nearly entirely to the right of the vertical line on the right.

What’s worse, the towering, white cloud is also too far to the right, so the overall drawing was overbalanced to the right.

The Solution

To correct the composition, I added the smaller trees in the left background and the tall grass in the left foreground. The wind is blowing toward the tree, so the direction of the grass leads the eye to the tree. A suitable correction, but is it the best option?

I could also have turned the main tree into a group of trees expanding to the left.

A more drastic option is to crop the image so the center of interest is closer to the right spot. Below is a digital crop and it is a more balanced composition.

Drawing with Black and Gray Colored Pencils - New Composition

Visual Temperature Differences

The Problem

Faber-Castell  Art Grip Aquarelle Black is a warm black. It looked great on the paper, and dried to a very nice shade of gray. But I didn’t realize it was a warm black until I began layering cool grays over the sky.

The difference wasn’t drastic, but it was noticeable enough to prompt me to look for solutions.

The Solution

The easiest solution would have been to go over the sky with warm grays and finish the drawing with warm grays instead of cool.

Instead, I choose to add the Faber-Castell Aquarelle gray to my palette and do more work with that instead of dry pencils. I chose that option because it was faster and I needed to have the drawing finished that day.

Streaky Clouds

The Problem

The first color I put on the paper for the clouds on the right came out streaky and I was unable to cover it completely, even with dry pencils. Unlike watercolor, these pencils do not completely re-activate when you put water on them. Once a mark or edge is dry, it’s difficult to cover.

Drawing with Black and Gray Colored Pencils - Streaky Clouds

The Solution

The solution is to either wet the paper first and stroke color wet-into-wet so it flows together, or to use a bigger brush. One large enough so that a single stroke covers the area. Neither solution is likely to fix this drawing, even if I did want to continue working with it.

But they are good options to remember the next time I try a water-soluble under drawing.

No Reference Photo

The Problem

I almost always draw with my subject in front of my, either something from life, or in a good reference photo.

This drawing was drawn from an old painting, which was painted from my memory and imagination.

It looks detailed, but it could be much more detailed had I used a reference photo.

The Solution

Don’t be afraid to refer to photos when drawing. You can’t neither see nor remember every detail in whatever you’re drawing, even with simple subjects. You’re drawings will either lack detail, but become generic in detail, as happened with this drawing.

Dry Over Wet

The Problem

I tried adding water-soluble color after laying down dry color. The new color beaded up or run off. Water just doesn’t stick to either wax or oil, even in colored pencils.

The Solution

When mixing water-soluble and traditional colored pencils, always begin with water-soluble pencils.

For that reason, it’s best to work through the entire drawing with water-soluble colored pencils and do as much of the work as you want to do before layering traditional colored pencils over the drawing.

Getting Dark Values

The Problem

Water-soluble colored pencils lighten as they dry. Even Black. What looked very dark when it was wet, dried quite a bit lighter.

Drawing with Black and Gray Colored Pencils - Dark Blacks

The Solution

Keeping layering. Let the paper dry completely between layers, and continue adding more layers until you get the value you want. For dark blacks, do several layers, letting the color dry completely between layers. I did four or five layers on the darkest parts of the main tree.

Also use less water. The more water you add to water-soluble color, the thinner (and lighter) the color gets.

Adding Details

The Problem

I found it difficult to draw the kind of detail I wanted. Part of the problem was the paper I was using. It was a cold-pressed paper with a lot of tooth. Actual watercolor paper, I suspect. It was a scrap, so I don’t know for sure.

The Solution

Use smoother paper. Hot pressed watercolor paper is just as sturdy as cold-pressed and is much better for colored pencil uses.

Use a small brush and short or stippling strokes to add fine detail. I used a small sable round to “dot” in the leaves on the right side of the tree, especially around the edges.

I drew the shadows on the trunks and branches with a traditional colored pencil after I’d finished with water-soluble pencils.


So that’s my first weekly drawing. Will I do another drawing with black and gray colored pencils? Yes. Will I use both water-soluble and traditional pencils? Absolutely. Despite the problems with this drawing, enough went right to convince me it’s a combination worth exploring further.

And learning new methods is as good as getting a gallery-quality piece of art. Better, actually!

2018 Drawing a Week Gallery

I’m also posting each of the challenge drawings on the 2018 Drawing a Week Gallery page. At present there’s only one drawing there, but I’ll be adding to that collection as drawings are presented.

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil

Today, we’re finishing a drawing started with water soluble colored pencil (finally!) We almost got there last week, but there was just too much to finish.

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil

This is how the drawing looked at the end of last week’s tutorial.

Finish Drawing Over a Water Soluble Under Drawing Beginning Image

Step 1

Layer Olive Green over all of the foreground except the brightest highlights.

For most of that layer, I used small circular strokes to draw an even layer of color, then added accents with short directional strokes, or stippling strokes. I didn’t want to draw too much attention to what I was drawing—I just wanted to even out the color and reduce the “drama” of the hill.

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 1

As it turned out, that worked pretty well!

Step 2

Next, layer Yellow Ochre over all of the foreground except the brightest area using a sharp pencil, light to medium-light pressure, and closely spaced strokes. Work toward even color.

Then add another layer of Yellow Ochre with light pressure, but hold the pencil in a horizontal position and use the side of the exposed pigment core. This time, layer color over all of the foreground including the brightest areas.

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 2

Yellow Ochre is an earth tone, so it will subdue the greens if they get too bright.

But it also adds a yellow cast to them, resulting in a green that looks a little older and more faded than the bright greens of spring.

Step 3

Layer Light Umber, Olive Green, and Dark Green over the foreground. Use very short strokes in the background, and longer strokes in the foreground. Mix the colors to create the color and value that satisfies you.

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 3

Finally, I drew a very light layer of Olive Green by using the side of the pencil and light pressure.

Step 4

Using a colorless blender held horizontally, stroke with the side of the exposed core, working in horizontal strokes across the foreground, beginning with the treeline.

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 4a

The illustration above shows the foreground about half burnished. The illustration below shows it completely burnished. You’ll notice that I burnished through the highlights as well as the shadows, letting color mix and blend from one area to another.

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 4b

One of Those “Happy Accidents”

Every once in a while, you’ll make a mistake that looks disastrous at first. Don’t despair! They happen to every artist, and most of them are recoverable.

Some of them are Providential!

While I was burnishing, I laid down my colorless blender. When I started burnishing again, the color became very golden. At first I thought that was because Yellow Ochre was the last color I’d put on the paper. Wrong!

It was because I’d picked a Yellow Ochre pencil instead of the colorless blender. The area burnished with Yellow Ochre has the red box drawn around it.

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 4c

Why is this not a disaster? Because after looking it on the drawing, and after looking at the scan of it, I realized burnishing with color would be a better way to finish the foreground.

Step 5

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 5

Burnish the foreground with a combination of Jasmine, Powder Blue, and White. Burnish the highlights and into the lighter middle values with Jasmine throughout the foreground.

Then burnish the lighter values in the background with Powder Blue. Lighten some of the darker values with Powder Blue if you wish, but only to deepen the illusion of distance.

Use horizontal strokes applied with blunted pencils for both colors.

Burnish the highlights with a blunt White pencil. Use a vertical zig-zag stroke to mimic the growth of grass. Don’t add very many white highlights; a few will get the job done.

Follow up with Light Umber in a few of the darker areas, but don’t burnish. Instead, use a sharp pencil and lighter pressure. A vertical zig-zag stroke, especially in the lower corners of the composition, will still work, but don’t make it too bold or dark.

Also burnish the road with all three colors, then darken the darkest part of the cast shadow with Light Umber if necessary.

Step 6: Back to the Trees

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 6

Layer Light Umber over all of each tree except for the brightest highlights. Use a sharp pencil and light-medium pressure. At this stage, it’s not important to draw smooth layers of color. The fact of the matter is that “spotty” color can help create the look of foliage.

Followup with a layer of Olive Green over every part of every tree, except for the brightest highlights. Use medium pressure and a combination of strokes. For example, you might consider stippling around the outside edges of the large shapes, or around the edges of the smaller shapes within the trees, then using a squiggly stroke in other areas.

Use Beige and White to draw a few tree trunks, and White to stipple highlights in the foliage. Make sure to keep the highlights on the parts of the trees directly lighted by the sun.

Step 7

Stipple Olive Green into the middle and dark values, and Dark Green and Light Umber into the dark values. Overlap all three colors so you don’t draw hard edges. Use more of the darker colors in the shadows and less of the dark colors in the middle values, but use all three in all of those areas.

Stipple Olive Green and Cream or Powder Blue into the tops of each mass of foliage. Cream should be stippled into the sides facing the sunlight, and Powder Blue into the shadowed sides, but again, don’t be afraid to add dots of each color in the other areas, too.

Finally, stipple White into the highlights. Add scattered White highlights randomly throughout the rest of the trees. These “pin points of light” give the drawing a sparkle you might otherwise miss.

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 5b

Step 8

This is the complete drawing. I’m not sure, but I think it’s finished. The most significant reason I think it’s finished is that I just don’t know what else to do with it!

Finishing a Drawing Started with Water Soluble Colored Pencil Step 8

When your drawing reaches this point, you have one of two options.

Option 1 is to simply sign it and move on to the next drawing.

The second option is to set the drawing aside for a few days or maybe a week. Put it out of sight. That way, when you view it again, you can view it almost like someone would see it who has never seen it before. If you think it’s finished at that point, then it’s finished.

And it’s entirely possible that whatever doubts you had before will have vanished!


That concludes this tutorial. Did you follow along? If so, do you have any questions? How did your drawing turn out?