Colored Pencil Tips

I'd like to share several colored pencil tips that would save you some time and efforts and avoid unintended consequences as you are learning the techniques.

  • Colored Pencil Tips #1 - Clean Up Debris On The Go

    Colored pencils are not known as a messy medium, but small crumbs or debris given off from the pencils can build up as you work. Prismacolor wax-based colored pencils produce more debris than oil based colored pencils. The tiny debris bits can sit in the tooth valley of the paper, causing potential problems like smudging and contamination to other colors.

    Since colored pencils can't be erased easily, you should diligently remove the debris as soon as possible. A soft brush or a spray can of compressed air can do the job.

  • Tips #2 - Smooth Out Rough Edges

    To ensure the smooth layering while using soft pencils on a very toothy surface, I suggest you use Verithin pencils. These are known for their hardness and thin cores. The rough edges are even more imperative to be smoothed out first if you are going to incorporate burnishing

  • Colored Pencil Tips #3 - Prevent Smudging

    Most artists lay the heel of their hand on the paper while they work, to steady the page. If the heel is in contact with the paper, smudging or color contamination may occur.

    To prevent this from happening, lay a sheet of tracing or wax paper under your hand. Even better, lift your hand off for a short period of time and rest often between paintings. If light smudging does happen, remove it as soon as possible with a kneaded eraser.

  • Tips #4 - Fix Wax Bloom

    With wax-based colored pencils, you will find a thin layer of powdery white film that becomes apparent shortly after you apply it on the surface. Darker colors seem to bloom more quickly than light colors. To fix this problem, spray it with a fixative to darken it again when the colored pencil artwork is totally completed.

    For this purpose, I recommend either Prismacolor Fixative or Krylon Workable Fixative. Three or four layers of fixative are sufficient for small paintings. Make sure the room is well ventilated when you spray fixative over your finished artwork.

    Caution for wiping off wax bloom -

    Do not wipe the bloom off while the painting is in progress. Doing so only removes the layer you just have created and the bloom will reappear. That's why I emphasize the importance of using fixative until the painting process is completely done.

  • Tips #5 - Burnish On The Right Surface

    Burnishing on a surface with improper tooth paper will make the colors bunch up. They will fail to stay in place when more colors are added, since there is not enough tooth to hold it down. So, avoid using smooth paper if you're going to burnish your colors. I've found that burnishing is only possible on some toothy papers, but 'toothy' does not mean it has to be rough like some watercolor papers.

    When it gets too rough, the valley of the paper will leave tons of white space to fill in and the coloring will take forever. Rough paper definitely does have its limits taking on more burnishing layers.

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