Watercolor pencils are an interesting medium to work with in art. While they take out some of the guess work for color blending and water-to-paint ratios, they still require some practice to get the hang of. I bought my first set of watercolor pencils thinking that they would be a piece of cake to use and would cut my work time in half. Turns out I was only partially correct.
There are still tips and tricks to know in order to use watercolor pencils effectively. It’s difficult to just draw a picture and then spray it down or use a wet brush to magically make a watercolor painting. This technique can really only be used with very simple drawings. Below are some of the tricks I have learned for my own “paintings”.
You still need watercolor paper!
I am not sure why I assumed you wouldn’t, but I quickly found out you do still need to use watercolor paper when using watercolor pencils. Regular printer or sketch book paper tends to wrinkle and even fall apart when you use water on it. This affects the texture of your image, and therefore effects the overall quality of it. Plus, watercolor paper is easier to work with as the colors will actually spread the way they are supposed to.
Only draw where you want the darkest shade.
Don’t use watercolor pencils just like any other colored pencil by filling in areas completely with color. Instead, try to decide where you will want the darkest colors to lay (normally heavy color indicates shadow), and then draw lines in those areas only. Once you have laid those lines down, you can use a brush and water to pull color out from them, and give you that classic color wash look.
Layer colors in crosshatch fashion
To achieve fantastic color blending, lay down your first watercolor pencil in a loose cross hatch fashion, and then lay down another color or even two on top of it in the same fashion. When you go over the area with water, the colors will blend together and give your painting a professional look very easily. Use colors that complement each other well to quickly give the painting a complex look with very little effort.
Working with wet paper
If you want a very light indication of color in an area, such as for the sky or background, it helps to lay water down on that area before using the watercolor pencils. But you will only want to dampen the paper, not over load it with water or the colors will run out of control. once the area is wet, lightly draw with the watercolor pencils and then use the brush again to smooth out the lines and even out the color.
Draw important detail lines with something else
Before using water on the image, it is important to draw detail lines, or lines you do not want to blur, with another medium such as a pencil or regular colored pencil. Ink works sometimes, but I’ve had problems with it running in the past so I don’t normally use it. I prefer to use colored pencils which will not run or smear once water is used on them. Don’t try to draw these lines after you have used the watercolor pencils and water, though. The texture of the paper will change and be a bit harder to draw on after it is wet.
Highlights in a watercolor painting are normally shown by just leaving that area blank and not painting it in at all. Sometimes that is difficult in small areas though, as the paint may run into the areas. if that happens, i like to wait for the paper to completely dry, then use a white gel pen or charcoal pencil to lightly draw over the area I want to show highlight. This is a quick correction so you wont have to start your painting all over.
People who have been using watercolor pencils for a while probably assume these are pretty common sense tips, but for someone who doesn’t have a teacher but still wants to learn, these basic practices can help alleviate many hours of frustration. As someone who likes to learn everything on her own, I chose the hard path. I hope these will help others learn more quickly and easily!
Drawing and sketching for realism is much more involved then picking up a yellow number 2 pencil, the same as those that were required throughout your elementary and high school career. There are several types of pencils, from graphite, to charcoal to colored and watercolor. All have different uses and provide different shades and tones as well as texture.
So you think you’re ready to start drawing, so let’s make sure you have all the tools you need, or at least the essentials. I am going to assume you already know the proper techniques for drawing, but perhaps are just lost when you look at the array of pencils when you visit the arts and crafts store, so here I will help you in choosing the tools you need.
Graphite is the simplest form of pencil. This is what your old standard number 2 pencil fits into. However, there are many types of graphite pencils. Graphite ranges from 2B, HB, 4B, 6B, 2H, H, 4H, and 6H and so on. As with anything, quality is a factor. Obviously the more you spend on a pencil or set, the more likely the quality is better and therefore your tones better and pencil will be less likely to scratch.
As for the ranges, and what the numbers mean, 2H is going to give you a much sharper line but lightest tone then 6B. The range starts at the hardest “lead” (graphite pencils contain no lead) of 9H and continues counting down to 2H, then mediums begin, H, F, HB and continue through the softer “leads”; 2B on through 9B which is the softest.
A number 2 pencil, often used in school classrooms, is an HB pencil. This would be considered of medium tone and hardness. If you’re a beginner probably the only ones that you will regularly use are 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, and 6B. Start with those and add to them if you feel you need more tonal range. You can buy box sets of graphite’s as well.
Some artists also prefer to use mechanical pencils for their beginning sketch lines. This will be personal preference. Mechanical pencil “lead” tends to break easy, but it does give very light lines. You can do just as well with a 2H pencil.
For most artists you will choose a pencil that is encased in wood; however, there are other varieties of graphite pencils. These include, graphite sticks, crayons, and lead which are not housed in wood casings. Graphite sticks can be messy to work with (are not covered in wood) and can be used for large areas. Woodless pencils (lead not covered in wood) can give you more for your money by way of having an entire pencil of graphite without the wasted wood as well as give you use of the whole pencil in a single stroke; these will be more expensive however. Graphite crayons are much thicker leads and tend to be used for layouts. You can also use an ebony layout pencil which is a dark black graphite pencil.
As the name states, charcoal pencils are made of just that. They tend to be much messier then graphite. The “lead” is very soft and will give you much darker lines then that of graphite. It can take practice to learn how to use this type of pencil. Of course there are varieties of this type as well.
Full fledged charcoal pencils will be encased in wood like traditional graphite’s, however they are normally labeled only from soft, medium to hard, sometimes they do come in 2H, 2B, 4B, and 6B. Closely related to charcoal pencils and often contained in the same set, is a carbon pencil. Carbon pencils can be an asset to you. They are generally a mix of graphite and charcoal and will have darker lines then graphite, but will be smoother than that of plain charcoal.
Charcoal also comes in willow form, which is not housed in wood, and tends to break easy and be very messy, may crumble and will smudge easily. It will take practice to use willows. Compressed charcoal is similar looking to graphite sticks. Compressed charcoal is charcoal that has been bound with gum binder and the amount of binder determines the hardness. Basically compressed charcoal sticks are the woodless version of charcoal pencils. They can be sharpened and shaped to fit your needs. They are easier to handle then willows.
Colored pencils are typically pigmented wax. This makes them similar to a crayon. Like any other pencil there will be quality differences with the higher end (and more pricey) pencils containing more pigment and less wax for brighter colors. Traditional colored pencil leads tend to be on the harder side ,but many artists have mastered the technique of blending these pencils in the same manner as graphite and charcoal.
There are also oil based colored pencils, erasable colored pencils (non-wax based) and watercolor colored pencils. Erasable colored pencils are easily erased from paper as opposed to wax based pencils. Oil based colored pencils don’t seem to be very common but are easy to use when drawing on wood. Watercolor colored pencils can be fun to use as they give you the look of watercolor and pencil together, and the pencil lead itself seems to be on the softer side as opposed to traditional colored pencils which makes blending easier.
Get out there and create a masterpiece either in smooth gray graphite, rich black charcoal, or stunning realistic colors. Be sure to pick up the other tools that are essential for all pencil artists, such as a good gum eraser, kneaded eraser, white rubber eraser (one in pen form is my choice), and of course a pencil sharpener (any will do). Added tools will be a soft cloth for cleaning or smudging, tortillons, and stumps, and possibly a sandpaper pad. Most importantly, paper. Use the correct kind of paper for the medium that you choose.
I’m not an artist, but every now and then I like to pretend that I am. Thankfully, when looking for some art supplies for my children, I stumbled across Berol Prismacolor colored pencils and serendipitously found a product that brings out what little artistic talent I possess.
Many people feel they have no artistic abilities, and although that is true in some cases, at times the problem may be more a result of not having the right art supplies. If you’ve tried creating beautiful works of art with colored pencils you’ve purchased in the neighborhood drugstore for a few dollars per box, the problem may not be so much a lack of talent as much as it is an attempt to create great art with an inferior product. Berol Prismacolor Colored Pencils are definitely not an inferior product!
Berol Prismacolor Colored Pencils come in the following varieties:
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
These are my personal favorites! These colored pencils consist of a very high pigment quality which results in an extremely rich and deep color saturation. Their soft and thick lead causes the color to go down smoothly, they shade well, and blend beautifully with other colors. You won’t ever have to worry about not being able to find the right color pencil when working with Berol Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils: they come in 132 colors, and as I mentioned, they blend beautifully giving you countless color variation options. The Berol Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils are sold individually and also come in sets of 12, 24, 36, 48, 72, 120, and 131. If you can only buy one type of Berol Prismacolor Colored Pencils, I’d recommend the Premier Colored Pencils.
Prismacolor Premier Lightfast Colored Pencils
Berol Prismacolor Premier Lightfast Colored Pencils are great for the serious artist. As the name implies, this specific type of colored pencils are lightfast, and in fact have the highest ASTM (American Society of Testing and Material) ratings possible. (They have a rating of I. which denotes excellent lightfastness and II. which denotes very good lightfastness.) They are made of high quality pigment which provides excellent color saturation and are soft and smooth and therefore blend beautifully. The Premier Lightfast Colored Pencils come in 48 colors, are sold individually and come in sets of 12, 24, and 48. Berol Prismacolor Premier Lightfast Colored Pencils are the type of colored pencil a professional artist, who is going to have his work in exhibits and exposed to light on an ongoing basis would use, but they can be well used by even the casual artist. If you want your colored pencil artwork to still look bright and sharp for generations to come, I’d recommend the Premier Lightfast Colored Pencils.
Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils
Berol Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils are for the artist who enjoys detailed work. The Verithin Colored Pencils have hard leads that can be sharpened into a fine point. They are great for outlines, details that cannot be accomplished with the other types of colored pencils, lettering, and so on. They come in 40 colors, and are sold individually or in sets of 12, 24, and 36. Thankfully, they match perfectly and completely with the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, Prismacolor Art Stix, and Prismacolor Watercolor Colored Pencil palettes. They are best used in combination with the other varieties of Berol Prismacolor Colored Pencils, rather than being used alone.
Prismacolor Watercolor Colored Pencils
The Berol Prismacolor Watercolor Colored Pencils provide the artist with the control that colored pencils enable along with the softness, blending and translucency of watercolors. The artist simply draws with the Berol Prismacolor Watercolor Colored Pencils and then uses a paintbrush with water to create watercolor effects. The Prismacolor Watercolor Colored Pencils come in 36 colors that match the colors of the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil, the Prismacolor Art Stix and the Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils. They are sold individual or in sets of 12, 24, and 36. This is a true blending of two art forms: colored pencils and watercolors and is a great option for the person who wants to dabble in both types of art.
Prismacolor Col-Erase Erasable Colored Pencils
One of the drawbacks of many art mediums, including most colored pencils, is that they cannot be erased. That’s bad news for those of us who make mistakes! Thankfully, there is a solution to that problem: Prismacolor Col-Erase Erasable Colored Pencils! They have a strong, medium-point pencil lead that can be easily erased. They are useful for many artistic uses, and some not so artistic uses such as accounting. The Col-Erase Erasable Colored Pencils come in 24 colors and are sold individually or in sets of 12 or 24. The Prismacolor Col-Erase Erasable Colored Pencils don’t have as much of an artsy feel to them as the other types of Berol Prismacolor Colored Pencils, but they are a great option for the person who wants to be able to easily erase and change their colored pencil masterpieces.
Prismacolor Art Stix
The Berol Primacolor Art Stix are a different breed than what you generally think of when you hear the term, “colored pencils.” As their name implies, they are in stick form rather than a typical pencil format. They measure 3 1/4 ” x 1/4″ (82mm x 6mm), and although they are flat, they can be sharpened to a point for detailed work. However, their strong point is the fact that the do not have the typical wooden exterior but rather are all lead. This particular trait enables them to be used especially well for covering large areas with vibrant color. They have a soft and creamy lead with high quality pigment which provides excellent color saturation. Berol Prismacolor Art Stix come in 48 colors, 24 of which are sold individually. They can also be purchased in sets of 12, 24, 36, and 48. Berol Prismacolor Art Stix match the palettes of the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils, and the Prismacolor Watercolor Colored Pencils.
Berol Prismacolor Colored Pencils aren’t cheap; they generally run about $1 per pencil. To make them moreaffordable, keep your eye out for half price sales at stores such as Hobby Lobby, or hunt for them online on places like eBay. But even if you have to pay full price, you won’t regret it. Berol Prismacolor Colored Pencils make even a novice like me feel like a real artist, a feeling I never experienced while using inferior quality colored pencils.
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