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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

colored pencils: a few tips and tricks

Most of the time I use watercolors to add color to my drawings but I have a special place in my heart for colored pencils. I've been using them to draw since I was a kid- they are affordable, easy to use and great for creating on the go. Today I thought I would share a few of my favorite tips and tricks for creating with colored pencils.

There are all kinds of different brands of colored pencils out there but I prefer Prismacolor Colored Pencils- they are vibrant, really easy to layer, blend and come in 132 colors.

Something that is really important to consider if you have a collection of colored pencils is to make sure you store them in a place where they won't get dropped. Dropping or knocking them around can break the lead inside and lead to problems with breaking when sharpening. I've found that storing them in their original packaging (typically a tin box) keeps them safe.

When it comes to sharpening I only use a hand held sharpener- I love the Kum sharpeners. They are made from magnesium alloy and have a really sharp blade that can be replaced.

TIP: When sharpening pencils twist the pencil around in a circle- instead of rocking it back and forth. If you are sharpening correctly and if your sharpener is sharp, you will produce a long round shaving.
There are all kind of ways to use a colored pencil- you can lightly shade back and forth, press hard for smooth saturation, stipple, scribble, crosshatch, blend and more! 

TIP: Different papers will produce different results when using colored pencils. A smooth paper will result in smooth color while a rougher surface will show lots of texture.

One of the best things about colored pencils is that you are able to add color to detailed line work. That sharpened lead is perfect for filling in tiny lines!

TIP: I like to start with a light layer of color and then I go back and add a more saturated layer by pressing harder. 

You can also layer and blend different colors on top of each other.

TIP: Prismacolor also makes a really cool colorless blender pencil that enables you to go over the top of your color and soften the edges for a smooth blended look. 

You can achieve the same smooth blended look by using baby oil to soften color. I start by filing my surface with a light layer of color.

TIP: If you are adding color to a drawing, make sure your drawing is permanent. Water soluble (or non-permanent ) pens will bleed with the baby oil technique. I use Micron pens for most of my line drawings because they are permanent. 

Using a cotton swab or a blending stump, dip into baby oil and blot on a paper towel. The trick is to make sure you don't have too much oil on your swab. 

Next, lightly rub the oil into the color.

You will be able to blend and soften all those rough edges and use colored pencils a little like a watercolor (or water soluble) pencil.

TIP: Reverse this technique by covering the surface of your drawing with a light layer of baby oil and then shade over the top with your pencil for rich, velvety color.

I really enjoy adding white highlights to my drawings and I use a tiny brush and little bit of white paint to add those few last details.

TIP: A white out pen (or a squeezable correction pen) also works great for adding highlights!

76 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing such a helpful post! I've been using Prismacolours in my work and was thinking I had to invest in the blending pencil so its great to find out baby oil works! I love the wonderful, colourful photographs of the pencils too :)

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  2. livethegoldenrule2:36 AM

    Don't you just love all these beautiful, vibrant colors ?!!! I have heard that if a colored pencil has been dropped, and breaks when you sharpen it that you can put the pencil in the microwave for a few seconds and that is supposed to help. Something I have been meaning to try, I have a few that does this. Beautiful work Alisa as usual...and great tips as usual. Thank You so much. :D

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  3. Thanks for the tips ! I use them a lot too because they are easy to take with me in my hand bag. I like to draw during work meetings because it keeps me focused and prevent me from falling asleep ;) I always have a sketchbook and color pencils in my handbag.

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  4. This is a great post! I knew about using baby oil with oil pastels, but never thought about using them with colored pencils! I love my Prismacolors, too!

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  5. Anonymous3:17 AM

    Colored pencils + black ink have become my absolute favorites lately. So glad to see these tips -- can't wait to mess around with the baby oil techniques!

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  6. I had no idea of anything you mentioned above & I'm so curious to try out coloured pencils & baby oil. Happy creating! x
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  7. I am loving color pencils lately, so I appreciate the tips. Have used baby oil...unsuccessfully. I think I was using too much. Lol

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  8. how absolutely cool!! will need to show the kiddos this! xoxo

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  9. Have you ever considered making coloring book pages for adults? Your flower drawings look so fun to color in!! You could sell printable downloads...

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  10. Thanks for the baby oill tip x

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  11. Anonymous10:01 AM

    Gah, makes me want to dig out my colored pencils again. My mom finally bought me a new "good" set because my old ones were dropped too many times after years of school and several moves. I've never heard of the baby oil trick - awesome! I second the request for a coloring book of your flowers. = )

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  12. I use them on cotton cloth and seal with Jacquard textile paint colorless extender.

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  13. I am heading to the shore for a week and I know what I am packing to play with while I am gone! Thanks so much for all the fun ideas.

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  14. What a great post, I have always used Sansador to blend my colours...and now I can use baby oil..thanks for the tip.

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  15. so fun to read these tips...i love pencils...somehow they are not as intimidating as markers! the baby oil technique is especially intriguing...i've got to try it...thanks for the great tips!

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  16. Anonymous5:56 AM

    I love to use colored pencils & I can't wait to try the baby oil!! Thanks for sharing! ~Connie in VA

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  17. Alisa--I love all of your blog posts, whether they be of art, family, or a combination of both. I especially love your handmade art journals. I just ordered one with your art on the front and back covers, feeling very lucky that I got it for $15! I use leftover paint to complete the pages in these journals, so it feels like a collaboration to me! However, I would never do anything that is originally designed by you. It's just too special. I really love journal 17, which I just received yesterday. I tape your business card to the back of each journal that I have purchased from you.

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  18. I made a mistake in my URL. It's debpierrostudio.wordpress.com. Sorry!

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  19. Don't forget about Gamsol... i happen to like the results better than with babyoil...

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  20. Alisa, your blog is awesome! Thank you for sharing this great technique. xx

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  21. great, nice tips. good job

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  22. Thanks for the great tips!

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  23. Thanks for the great tips!

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  24. Gracias por tan buena explicacion!

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  25. Thank you for the GREAT tutorial! Love the pictures!

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  26. Great tips and tutorial! You are coloring is beautiful. Thank you!

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  27. Julie8:03 AM

    Thanks for the tips! I never had any success getting a pointed tip while sharpening my Prisma Color pencils before the lead broke off until someone suggested holding the pencil and turning the sharpener instead. Wish I'd learned that 20+ years ago.

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  28. Thank you for posting these great tips. I look forward to trying some blending techniques.

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  29. I love these tips. Your work is amazing.

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  31. Thank you so much for your wonderful tips. I'm new to adult coloring pages and I'm loving it. Your tips will help make my coloring's more "mature". Thanks again.

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  32. Emily8:16 AM

    Thanks heaps for the tips these will make blending so much easier and help me to expand my talent and knowledge of colouring in

    I have a couple of questions

    What is the long term effect of using baby oil? and What kind of paper is the best to use if you were considering to use baby oil to blend?

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  33. Thank you so much for sharing these tips and techniques. I am sure it will help my coloring in the future.

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  34. Fantastic tips and techniques that you've provided to us. Great job!

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  35. won't using baby oil make the paper look oily?

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    Replies
    1. When I tried the technique, my paper did get oily, and I'd like to know about this, too, because I love the idea!

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  36. i loved the baby oil technique, thanks for sharing!

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  37. I have the large set of Prismas and have used them with Gamsol, but find I get headaches from the odor if I work for any length of time. I'll now try baby oil. Thanks so much for an alternative!

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  38. I was just searching for new ideas for my drawing when I saw your picture with baby oil and I thought to myself...I have to try this! I am in loove with color pencils and using this idea glued me to them even more. Who needs brushes, when all you need is a color pencil, drop of baby oil? Amazing! :))

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  39. Hey...umm what paper do u recommend for using colour pencils on?

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  40. I have my pencils for years on end and never really know how to use them. I'm not an artist but love trying out new things that's why I bought the pencils. Now I'm going to color my pages. Heartfelt thanks for this tips!!! Marie.

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  41. Virginia11:03 PM

    Just got back into coloring for relaxation so the tips will really come in handy. Have a cruise coming up and I can't wait to sit on the balcony, watch the water and color.

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  42. Anonymous7:51 AM

    Quick tip for broken pencils! If your colored pencil keeps breaking when you try to sharpen it (meaning the wax inside probably broke due to being dropped or something), microwave it for 5-10 seconds. It melts the wax back together. :)

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  43. I have a Michael's coupon and am headed out to get some Prismacolor Pencils now! BUT, I don't know which kind to get! Soft core center? Scholar? Verithin? can anybody help?

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  44. Does the oil just absorb into the paper and dry? Does it leave any sign of oiliness?

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  45. I would like to thank you for your nicely written post
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  46. Primas are junk quality wise though.. just look at your pencils.. the cores aren't even close to centered in the wood.. and they tend to pull right out.

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  47. Thank you for a great post.

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  48. what a great tips! i'm going to subscribe this blog!

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  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  50. Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time, today i find it finally. this post give me lots of advise it is very useful for me
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  52. Anonymous4:05 PM

    Thank you for such a wonderful post. I will be following all your suggestions. I cannot wait to start coloring!!

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  53. This is extremely helpful info!! Very good work. Everything is very interesting to learn and easy to understood. Thank you for giving information.
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  54. Thank you for the tips! I have just started about a couple of months ago with adult coloring and reading all these tips and tricks have really change how my pages look. So now I'm going to try the baby oil! Thank you

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  55. Anonymous7:24 PM

    Thank u so much for all of the information. I use colored pencils but I didn't use Gamasol. The pictures looked colored, instead of smooth. Now I know why the don't have the smooth look.

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  56. Maggie3:03 PM

    Even cheaper than the white out or white acrylic paint for highlights? A set of two white Jelly Roll pens. Works wonders, and I bought my two pack for $3, I think.

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  57. Oh my!! i'll try these tips on my Grownups Coloring Book. Thanks!!!

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  58. Wow! Who knew?! Thanks for the great tip. I can't wait to try using baby oil to blend. I've also heard turpentine can produce a neat result, but I haven't tried that one yet, either. Thanks again!

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  59. Awesome ways of being unique in colouring
    I love the idea of mixing the colours and using the oil to spread the colour !!
    thank you for sharing this with us !!

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  60. I would love to share this on my blog page that is all about coloring. Here is my link, please let me know if it is okay to link back to your page, thanks! http://atreasurechestofserendipity.com/giveawaay-contest-thank-you/

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  61. loving this, I have been looking into getting better pencil crayons, I have had a pack of crayola, and i hate them to be honest. I have been looking at prisma and I will prob. check them out. :)

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    Replies
    1. I like prisma but the good ones are REALLY expensive. Berol is another brand that are better than crayola.

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  62. Can you use any kind of colored pencils or just prismacolors?

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  63. Roger2:20 PM

    I use mineral spirits for blending colours works great and when it dries you can add more colour

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  64. i purchased derwent intense pencils a while ago. i must admit i am very hesitant to try them. i would like to use them on fabric. dont see too much info about using the intense pencils on fabric. any tips.

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  65. Anonymous11:11 AM

    I found out the hard way just throw out the prismacoLors because of extreme splitting from cheap wood that isn't even even through the Centre making them easily broken even an added problem of the intended problem with r
    The soft leads use Crayola or the cheaper scholar product instead I spent a few bucks more a prefer Faber Castell but the blending with b oil has worked for me

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  66. Anonymous3:37 AM

    This was super helpful and i got a lot accomplished with it.

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  67. This is a great post! I knew about using baby oil with oil pastels, but never thought about using them with colored pencils! I love my Prismacolors, too!
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  68. Thanks for your post! Through your pen I found the problem up interesting! I believe there are many other people who are interested in them just like me! Thanks your shared!... I hope you will continue to have similar posts to share with everyone!
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  69. The crayons are so beautiful, and the picture created from it is also beautiful.

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