Using Watercolor Pencils on Adult Coloring Pages

Using Watercolor Pencils on Adult Coloring Pages

Today’s question concerns using watercolor pencils on adult coloring pages. Here’s the question.

I’m sure that you’ve posted about this, but I would like to know about how to use watercolor pencils for coloring in my adult coloring books. I normally scan and then print the pics on card stock. So, basically two questions:

1 what type of paper do you recommend?

2 what are some basic techniques?

This is a good question whether you do adult coloring pages or not. Watercolor pencils can be a great way to speed up the drawing process and get unique effects you couldn’t get with regular colored pencils.

Using Watercolor Pencils on Adult Coloring Pages

I have addressed using watercolors and watercolor pencils, but not in the context of using them for adult coloring books. So let’s talk about the papers to use for this type of art, and a couple of basic techniques.

Types of Paper to Use

I like the idea that this reader is printing coloring pages. Printing your own coloring pages gives you a lot of control over the kind of paper you color on, and that makes a huge difference.

When I answered the reader’s question by email, I said that the bad news is that card stock is not going to stand up under wet media. If it doesn’t fall apart, it will probably warp and buckle. Even taping it down before you apply the watercolor pencils won’t help it dry flat.

A Quick Test

But I didn’t know that from personal experience, so I got out a piece of card stock, scribbled some color on it with a couple of Derwent Watercolor Pencils. Then I brushed clean water over the colors. You can see the results below.

Using Watercolor Pencils on Adult Coloring Pages

The color went onto the paper very quickly and nicely, despite my scribbling.

It also blended better than I expected and with less immediate buckling and warping than I expected.

But there was some damage. Drawing over the two blended areas would require some care because the paper felt a bit thinner in those areas. And when I turned the paper over, there was evidence of damage on the back. The damage is on the front, too, but the color disguises it.

Granted, I used inexpensive card stock. If you use a higher quality or thicker card stock, your results may differ.

Papers to Try

The good news is that there are a lot of good drawing papers that will work in a printer and that will handle watercolor pencils.

Stonehenge is a good drawing paper that’s thin enough to be used in a printer (unless you have a really inexpensive printer.) Stonehenge will also dry flat if you tape it to a rigid support before applying water and if you don’t completely soak the paper.

Watercolor paper is the best recommendation because it’s made for wet media and performs well with watercolor pencils. 140lb is the lightest weight watercolor paper available in most brands, but if you have a good printer, you should be able to print on it. Brands I’ve used and liked are Stonehenge Aqua and Canson L’Aquarelle Heritage.

Both are ideal for wet media and once the paper dries you can draw on it like regular drawing paper.

Basic Techniques

There are basically two ways to use watercolor pencils.

The first method is to layer them onto the paper the same you layer regular pencils. That’s what I did in the test sample above. You can layer different colors one over the other, or you can blend them together as I did above.

Then wet them with clean water and a brush. Let the paper dry completely, and then add more color.

The second method is to dampen the pigment first, then paint it onto the paper with a brush.

For this method, you can dip the pencil point into water or stroke it with a wet brush, then paint color on the paper.

You can also scrape pigment off the pencil, then mix it with water to make liquid pigment. This method is best because it doesn’t damage the wood casing of the pencil. But you do have to be careful not to get wood into the pigment shavings.

Using Watercolor Pencils on Adult Coloring Pages

This is also a good option if you want to mix two colors together.

Beyond that, shade and layer watercolor pencils the same way you do regular pencils. They work pretty much the same way, and you can get beautiful results with or without adding water.

About Scanning and Printing Adult Coloring Pages

There is another issue to be addressed here, though. I said above that I was glad the reader is printing her own pages because that gives her control over the page she uses.

But she needs to be careful about what pages she’s scanning and printing.

Most adult coloring books are copied righted. That means copying them in any form without the written permission of the artist and/or publisher is illegal.

Yes. Even if you bought the book the pages are in. Your purchase gives you permission to color in the book yourself, or to give it as a gift to someone else to color.

It does not give you permission to copy those pages and print them unless there is a disclaimer in the book that allows you to do that.

There are a lot of artists who give coloring pages away. Sarah Renae Clark is one*. You can also search Pinterest and other places for free downloadable and printable coloring pages.

In other words, you’re better not to print anything from any book you’ve purchased.

Using Watercolor Pencils on Adult Coloring Pages

I hope that helps. I haven’t done much work with adult coloring pages or with watercolor pencils.

Got a question? Ask Carrie!

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  1. Dan Murray

    Another big problem in printing pages for coloring is that the inks/toners inn printers and copiers are almost never waterproof. A wet brush simply smears the black on the page, thus leaving a muddy looking mess.

    I have printed a few pages on which I used watercolor, but I traced over the black lines with India ink. India is not water soluble. Of course, it does stand out somewhat.

    Most of my work is in CP. I have also used watercolor ground over a workable fixative to watercolor small areas. The fixative keeps water away from the ink and paper, and the watercolor ground is transparent enough that the printed lines are visible. I’m still looking for a good way to do water color on a page printed on a ink jet or laser printer.

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