How To Blend Colored Pencils The Right Way

Michael Daly
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Colored Pencil Composition Is Key To Better Blending

Blending colored pencils can seem like a bit a of a mystery if it’s your first try at it, but it’s actually not as complicated as it looks.

First of all, it is important to remember that the basic food groups for colored pencil blending are, of course, colored pencils and wax. The tool you are going to use is none other than a blending tool (or finger, for the more experienced artists!).

As for the color and composition of the white wax, that’s something every artist needs to decide on a case-by-case basis.

There are no rules, so feel free to experiment with your invisible blending pal. Add as much as you think the piece needs, or remove a bit of it if you’ve over done it.

If you’re thinking about the best brand to use, well, that’s not something we can help you with. In our humble opinion though, Prismacolor are a great option.


Or Oil Base Colored Pencils ?

You can use any colored pencil brand in your artwork. The most important thing is the quality of the pencil. Artist grade pencils are more expensive than the average pencil but they have a great color. I highly recommend using artist grade or better colored pencils for the best results.

On the other hand you can also use wax-based (Crayola) or oil-base (Prang) colored pencils. No matter what pencil you use, you need to clean it as soon as possible while it’s still loose on the paper because once you add water or glue it’s going to be more difficult to clean.

You can get away with using more inexpensive colored pencils but the colors will be less vibrant and strong than the artist grade ones.


Water, and Wax.

There are a lot of ways people use pencils, and if used properly, they can produce amazing results. But only if used properly.

How should you hold your pencil in order to color the pages of your sketchbook?

No matter what kind of drawing material you hold in your hand, you can use two different grip styles: the pen-style and the brush-style. Pen-style means that you essentially hold the material like a pen, using the end of the pencil to draw small, fine lines or color dots. The brush-style grip, on the other hand, is when you hold your instrument horizontally just like you would use it to apply makeup to your face.

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In order to play it on the safe side and get a smooth result, I suggest you try both of them and see what works best for you.

In general, the way of applying the pencil depends on the type of drawing material too. Pencils have different levels of hardness (from 6B to 3H) and different types of material can be used according to what you want, when you want. If you’re just starting out, it’s best to use an HB or, if it’s available, an F pencil because it’s the most versatile one.

Techniques To Blending Colored Pencils Effectively

How to blend colored pencils comes down to color choice. Of course other factors will affect the blending of your colored pencils, such as speed, amount of pressure, and paper.

But understanding the different types of color and how they work together is the first step to creating different techniques and effects.

Try out different colored colored pencils instead of using standard colors. By using color with opposing properties, you can make the blending process really easy.

For example, using the two different type of blue will work well together. Instead of turquoise and a cobalt blue, try using a light blue and a dark blue. Darks look great paired with darks and lights with lights.

Other simple combinations include a green and a yellow or a yellow and an orange. These colors are going to give you a vibrant look.

Complex combinations can be made by combining multiple colors that work well together. The use of purple and yellow make a good combination of colors. Purple and blue also work very well together much like orange and green.

You can use a combination of light blue and light yellow or orange for a subtle background effect. Try combining a light turquoise and yellow together and using this as a base color on your paper. With this you can add a light blue with the base color to create a shadow.


Now let’s take a look at some solvents most people may not be familiar with. Used for blending pencils, these are in no way related to artists’ products.

Airliners Solvent: This is for big jobs. If you need to blend a large area, this is the stuff to use. It’s a petroleum distillate solvents, and it will strip the wax coating on your pencil so that you can apply a new layer. You may have to buy it at a larger airline supply stores, but you should be able to find it somewhere.

Mineral Spirits: I’ve seen this at the hardware store. I don’t recommend using this unless you have to. It is actually paint thinner, and it will strip off the colored coatings from your pencils. Good thing is that you can rejuvenate the pencil by rubbing hard with a paper towel.

Rubbing Alcohol: Just ask for rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol at your pharmacy. It’s the same stuff. This is probably what I use when I’m in a pinch.

Weeping Solution: This is for wiping away the lines in pencil art.

White Colored Pencil

One of the classic techniques with colored pencils is layering.

While drawing in colored pencil, apply some lighter white pencil as highlights on top of your darker colors. These highlights can be on top of the hair, eyes, lips, and other reflective places.

Work with the lid down so that you can see the colors–‗this will also help prevent smearing.

How do we recommend you apply this highlight? Using the white pencils with the sharpest points is the best way.

Sharper pencil tips allow you to add some shining colored pencil sparkles in your artwork.

You can even use it to create some sparks in the background.

Colorless Blenders

If your intention is to blend colored pencils as opposed to layering them, you can use very mild solvents.

Let’s say you are working a piece that contains elements of multiple pencils. The existing colors could be ashy or not as vibrant as you would like. In this case, there are a couple of fixers in the form of colorless oil blends, that you can use to mix the colors smoother and mix in new layers of color without having to remove the old layers first.

I love to use a colorless blender by Ambasti pencils. You can also use any kind of essential oil or baby oil with out the smell.

The result will be a very subtle effect in the final painting. If you want the effect to be more pronounced, you can continue to add more colorless blender or even layers of color made with colorless blender.


The first time I was told to use tortillons, I was given a set of surprise. My art teacher would only pull out the tiny pencil case when you were attempting to paint with straight color. However, I soon realized there was nothing tortuous about these tools, and they came in extremely handy.

When tortillons go on sale, my art supply budget is happy. I use the 3B ones for preliminary work on larger pieces.

If I want a really smooth blend, I use tortillons.

Keep a jar of Zest-It in your art drawer.

It’s ideal for helping all your pencils glide across paper. Paper is an art supply, you know. And sometimes it can be as bad as rotten fruit that won’t let some colors play nice with the others. Zest-It is the answer.

Practice good, old pencil maintenance.

Before your pencils go dull, sharpen them up. A blunt pencil can ruin even the best sketch. Keep an extra sharpener handy, and refresh your pencils frequently.

A sharp point lets your pencil glide over paper. It makes for clean lines and smoother blends, too.

Video Of How To Blend Colored Pencils

What Is Art?

Does art relate to anything that has been created by man? Or is it something we are yet to discover? Does a drawing need to be on paper? Can we consider sculpture or painting as arts? The definition of what is art will give different answers to different people.

In the modern world, art is mostly associated with drawings, paintings and sculptures. Anything from photographs, to various forms of murals are subconsciously put in the same category.

There are many schools of though on whether art requires a physical representation or not. There is a notion on the lines that if all the details are expressed without material existence, it is still art.

But let us focus on pencil art for a while, which is something still practiced quite often these days. You can find lots of people drawing, painting and sketching with pencils, which is something that was popular even centuries ago.

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