Color Pencil Drawings are Real Art!
Color pencil drawings may not be consider finished works of art by some artists; however they are and are usually very stunning vibrant pieces of artwork.
There are many different ways to use color pencils. They can be diluted with water, scratched,even diluted with turpentine. Any medium you use is only limited by your imagination of how to use them. Some color pencil artists are very particular with how they use them. Some always having five or six finely sharpened pencils of the same color ready to go as next goes dull.
I once put off using color pencils and color all together because it was too much of a hassle and it took too long.
I could finish 3 pieces in graphite before I could even be done with half of a color pencil drawing. This was partly from not knowing enough about the techniques and how to use color and partly from just shear denial of using color at the time(mostly because of the first reason).
As you can imagine this created a nasty little cycle. Granted these obstacles can be intimidating or frustrating especially if you have never used any type of color medium or a have used lower quality color medium but hopefully you can get past some of those fears with these color pencil tips.
The best tip I can give to start off creating color pencil drawings is to get yourself a good starter set. It doesn’t have to be a 120 color set. A simple 12 or 20 pencil set will do just fine and help you to not get overwhelmed.
The Basic Tips
One of the easiest techniques to master in your color pencil drawings is tone and saturation. This techniques is identical to using graphite. If you are already familiar with using graphite then you already know this one. You can create many different gradations and effects using this simple techniques.
Lighter pressure will produce a lighter tone and heavy pressure will of course create a deeper richer tone especially when used with multiple layers. You can also use this techniques with water soluble color pencils to create a dreamy watercolor effect.
This one can create some very cool effects. Optical mixing creates one color or tone from two when viewed from a distance. For example: red and blue when viewed from a distance will optically mix to look like purple. This techniques can be very effective depending on how you use it. You can use it with intersecting line or even dots which is call pointilism.
One of the most common techniques used when creating color pencil drawings is burnishing. Burnishing will create a shiny smooth surface. You will first apply the darker color and then you will go over that color generally using a lighter color with a lot of pressure. This will ingrain the pigment into the paper.
“Think of burnishing as buffing or shining up the color.”
You can use this for creating great glass reflections or any surface that has a shiny or smooth finish such as a freshly waxed car.
The wax in the pencil will build up creating this finish. This can lead to the infamous wax bloom which will make the finish hazy as the wax rises to the surface of the picture.
This can be prevented by using fixative to seal in the finish. You can use a blending tortillion to blend this away. Then use fixative to stop it from “blooming” back up to the surface.
Tip: Unless you plan on using Sgraffito(see below) for a further effect you will want to use burnishing as a final step. After it is done it is hard remove the pigment from the paper. This technique will basically remove the tooth from the paper.
This technique is best used with multiple layers of color as you will be scraping off the top layer.
A very cool effect can be achieved with this method.
One of the best ways would be top lay the lighter colors down first then darker over the top. Then scrape away the top layers to reveal the lighter colors below. You can create lines, textures and some really cool effects.
The main thing to be aware of with this technique is to make sure that you don’t scrape too hard as you can easily go thru the paper. The paper will flattened more and more with each layer of color you lay down making it thinner. You can use anything to scratch the surface just make sure that you don’t get too aggressive and rip the paper. That will be a whole other project to tackle.
These are not specific to color pencil drawings. It is worth mentioning however that even though color pencils use wax as their binder they can still be blended using all of the same tools that you use for graphite. They will obviously not blend as easily as graphite as it is essentially blending and pushing wax around but there are some pretty good methods to consider.
Tip : Using you finger to blend is never a good idea with color pencils as is doesn’t really blend and it can put oil on the paper making it look “dirty and used”.
When I blend I use either blending stumps/tortillions and/or A great little tool that PrismaColor puts out.
It is the colorless blender. It looks just like a wooden pencil but only contains wax in the center. There is no pigment. You can actually use it for burnishing and blending. It is made especially for use with color pencil drawings. Once you start blending color pencils you will quickly realize that burnishing and blending are practically the same.
Those are some of the basic techniques to creating some spectacular color pencil drawings. I would first test each out individually to get a sense of what they can do and explore each one. Then you will start to see how they can be used together. This is where your drawing will begin to evolve and really take shape. Practicing with each new techniques helps you gain confidence and “own” that technique. Then you can customize it and that is where your own style begins to form! Happy Coloring!