Looking for tips on how to blend colored pencils the easy way? This article is made for you then!
Drawing and coloring using colored pencils is a great way to destress and let your creative juices flow. Colored pencils are portable, easy to use, and can create the most delicate and detailed masterpieces when you know how to use them well. They are also very versatile as they can be used with other mediums like watercolor, markers, pastels, and more.
Colored pencils are easy and fun to use, however, learning to blend them can take a little time and effort to master. It’s an exciting process so you’ll never get bored because you get to learn so much about how you can work this wonderful medium at its maximum potential.
(Some links are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.)
Helpful Tips on How To Blend Colored Pencil
Use good quality pencils
To create a perfectly blended colored pencil artwork, you’ll need good-quality pencils. Low-quality pencils will only give you smudgy results while high-quality pencils give you wonderful pigment and are easy to lay down on paper. Wax-based pencils like the Prismacolor Premier have very bright and vibrant colors that glide smoothly on your paper.
Mind your drawing surface
A good drawing surface can affect your art as much as the quality of your pencils. So when you start a project, remind yourself that the quality of your drawing surface can make or break your art piece.
Consider how much pressure you use
When blending colored pencils, the amount of pressure you place on your pencils can affect the results. By now you should already know that pressure influences how intense your pigments are laid on the paper. And just like coloring, the pressure you use while blending can affect your end result.
Our Favorite Colored Pencils
Before we dive into the heart of this post, let me just share with you a list of our favorite colored pencils!
- Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
- Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists’ Color Pencils
- Staedtler Karat Aquarell Workshop
- Caran D’ache Luminance Colored Pencils
- Derwent Lightfast Pencils
Related Article: 10 Of The Best Colored Pencils for Artists
Techniques on How to Blend Colored Pencils
There are a few approaches you can do to blend colored pencils and each approach will produce a slightly different result from the other. Some techniques will just need you to use your colored pencils but others will require extra supplies. Experimentation and testing are key here so make sure you have extra pieces of paper to test out in.
The first method on how to blend colored pencils is easy and it’s called burnishing. You’ll only need your colored pencils and pressure to blend the colors. Burnishing is applying and blending your colors to the entirety of the white sections of your paper. Just remember that once you’ve filled the page with color, you won’t be able to add more pigment after burnishing so it’s important that you choose the right colors before starting.
Pros to this blending method: It’s quick, it retains the vibrancy of the colored pencils, and it doesn’t require any extra blending tools.
You can blend colored pencils by layering one color on top of another, just make sure to apply light pressure only. If you apply the colors too heavily at your first layer, it will ruin your work and you won’t achieve your desired effects. Just start light and slow and build up your colors gradually.
If you have a colorless blending pencil, you can use it to help blend out the colors without adding more pigment.
Another blending method is by using a white pencil. Lay down your colors on your paper with light pressure and slightly overlap them with one another. Then using a white pencil, apply a hard pressure on top of the colors to burnish out the tooth and blend the colors.
This blending method will nicely blend out the colors without streaking and will leave you with a soft and muted finish. However, the colors will be desaturated and will end up looking very light and milky.
Smudging With Paper and Tortillons
You can also use a paper product to blend colored pencils if you’re unsatisfied with the first three blending methods and are looking for more alternatives. You can use a piece of soft tissue, a paper towel, or even a toiler paper to do this technique.
Blending stumps or tortillons are commonly used for charcoals but they can also be used for smudging colored pencils. This tool is a valuable addition to your kit and if you want a cheaper option, you can always use cotton swabs.
When you use dry blending tools, start with a heavy layer of colored pencil to maximize the blending effect.
Blending With the Help of Solvents
Another technique that produces a great effect is blending with the use of solvents. The solvent is added at the top of the colors and should only be applied on sturdy paper, one that can stand your chosen solvent. Before using this technique on your actual artwork, make sure to test it out first on another piece of paper and watch out for any warping or damage as it dries.
You can also use solvent markers to soften and blend colored pencils. This method will give you a watercolor-like effect.
Oil-based solvents, like turpenoid, can also be used as they can dissolve the wax from wax-based colored pencils. These kinds of solvents are great to work with because they create the strongest blends although utmost care should be observed because they are toxic.
When you use solvents for blending colored pencils, always remember to work gently whether if you’re using a brush, a cotton ball, or a cotton swab. These solvents can easily disturb the pigments and disrupt your paper. Also, different pencils work differently with each solvent so test it out first and keep notes on new combinations to avoid making mistakes in your work.
Blend with colorless blenders
These colorless blenders are pencils or markers that have fillers like wax in them. These are essential tools for artists as they can be used for moving and fading colors, and when it comes to colored pencils, they can also be used to blend the colors. Using extra wax on your already full of wax drawing can help mix in the colors nicely resulting in a seamless color blend.
Colorless blenders are ideal to use for smaller works because they can be very time-consuming when used in larger drawings.
Blending with Rubbing Alcohol
For light blends, rubbing alcohol is ideal to use. It easily breaks the wax binders of colored pencils and it can lightly move the pigments around to fill in the holes creating a smooth blend. Fill your paper in a good amount of pigment for better results, although rubbing alcohol can also work with less pigment.
To blend, use cotton swabs or paintbrushes. Rubbing alcohol is mild so you can be a little aggressive just as long as your paper can stand the little abuse.
Blending with Odorless Mineral Spirits
Odorless Mineral Spirits work a little better than rubbing alcohol. It breaks down wax quicker and more completely that will free the pigment for a thorough blend. Just like other solvents, this technique will produce better results when there’s more pigment on the paper.
Here’s a hack: for an even lighter tint, you can mix in a little pigment in the odorless mineral spirits and then wash it over the paper.
To blend colored pencils with odorless mineral spirits, use soft brushes and medium pressure to avoid scuffing the paper and removing the pigment.
Blend with water
If you’re using watercolor pencils for your artwork, you can blend them easily with water. Professional artists love using watercolor pencils because of their versatility. They can create amazing pieces without using messy paints. Although using water for blending pencils can be a little tricky at the beginning, you’ll easily get the hang of it after a few practices.
It’s easy to blend colored pencils with water, just use a paintbrush and spread water over your drawings. Let the first layer dry before you brush more water onto the next layer. Remember to always work on the lighter and brighter colors first before working on the darker shades.
Also, the colors will tend to look darker when wet, so make use of extra paper to test it out first before diving into your actual artwork.
Blend with baby oil
You can also use baby oil in blending colored pencils. Baby oil is great as it can help enhance the overall aesthetic of your work. Using cotton swabs, dab baby oil all over your colored pencils and blend them well.
Some solvents are toxic so you’ll have to take caution when working with them. Make sure your workspace is well-ventilated and that there are no children or pets in the area. When you’re done, tidy up your workspace and clean your tools thoroughly. Close all solvent containers when your finish using them.
Let your artworks dry thoroughly so that you avoid messing them up.
Blending can seem a little intimidating at first. It can seem complicated and hard to do, but, just like drawing, practice will make it easier over time. Experiment with the blending techniques laid above and discover which one you best prefer.
Don’t forget to observe safety measures and have fun in the process.
Visit our blog for more articles like this!