Using Metallic Colored Pencils

Using Metallic Colored Pencils

My thanks to Teresa, who asked about using metallic colored pencils in her work. Here’s her question.

I am doing a colored pencil of a Maltese.

When picking colors, I use a program that helps me identify the colors in the picture.  Several of the colors in the shadows of the hair, the program is identifying as Silver and Gold. The colors have a sparkling look to them……

The pencils I use are Faber-Castell Polychromos. I wish to use OMS on the base layer.

Will the colors and OMS work well together?

Not sure if I should just choose a similar shade to the Silver and Gold, or if it would be OK to use the metallic type colors and OMS together.

What would you recommend?

Thank you, Teresa

Using Metallic Colored Pencils

Since Teresa actually asked two questions, let me tackle each question separately.

Metallic Colored Pencils and OMS

All of the Polychromos colors blend with odorless mineral spirits (OMS.) The solvent dissolves the binding agent the same way no matter what color of pencil you’re blending. That suggests that you should be able to blend metallic colored pencils the same way you blend non-metallic colored pencils.

But since I’ve never tried blending metallic colors with OMS, I decided to give it a try.

I layered a swatch each of Polychromos Metallic Copper, Metallic Silver, and Metallic Gold. I used Canson Mi-Teintes Steel Grey because that was the darkest paper I had in stock.

Then I used a sable round brush to blend a strip through the middle with Gamsol.

As you can see, the Metallic Copper blended the best. The other two colors also blended, but not as smoothly. The Gamsol lifted quite a bit of Metallic Silver and Metallic Gold.

To be fair, this was a quick test. The results will probably be different on a paper that handles solvent blending better. Results could also vary if you layered color the way you would in an actual drawing.

But after seeing this test, I’m even more reluctant to use metallic colors in my work.

What I Recommend

The difficulty with the metallic colors is that the “metallic-ness” of them is visible only in the original artwork. The colors are the same on digital images and the original, but you won’t get the “glitter.” If showing the glitter in digital images, photos, or reproductions is not important, then you can go ahead and use the metallic colors recommended by your color picker.

Here’s a drawing I did with metallic Prismacolors. From left to right, the colors are Metallic Gold, Metallic Silver, and Metallic Copper. I also have a Metallic Green, but didn’t think to try that on this piece.

They don’t look metallic, do they? I could get the same digital results using non-metallic colors on black paper, so that’s what I would most likely do.

Having said that, if I didn’t plan on selling reproductions and if it didn’t matter if the “glitter” showed up on digital images, I might use metallic colors to add a little zing to the original. Let’s say I wanted a bit of “glitter” on a horse’s bit or on a buckle. I might add a metallic color to those places.

But I wouldn’t use a metallic color in the horse’s mane or its eyes or in its coat. Why? Because a metallic glint would look right on a piece of metal, but not in an animal’s hair.

Keep in mind, this is just my opinion. You might think otherwise and you might be right!

Additional Thoughts on Using Metallic Colored Pencils

If you’re interested in learning more about using metallic colored pencils, let me suggest a couple of other posts on the subject.

Metallic Colored Pencils on Black Paper describes an experiment I did a couple of years ago. In this post, I shared the results of those experiments, including two “mixed media” experiments.

Metallic Colored Pencils: My Thoughts is a more recent article, but is more of a review. I didn’t do any new work, but instead talked about how I used them, what I liked about them, and what I didn’t like.

There is some repetition, but if you’re really interested in learning how to use metallic colored pencils, you’ll want to read these two articles.

One comment

  1. Thorough answer. I have a TON of coloured pencils, supplies, paper etc. and am still hesitant to give it a try. Such a switch of thinking – layering, solvents, using them like paint instead of just how we did in colouring or for geography in high school. Your work inspiring so one day I’ll do it.

    I have a question about these colour-picker programs. Could you do a post on them? Do they list colours only for Faber, or also for other brands (I have a few)? Thanks!

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