A beginners guide to coloured pencils

I first started using coloured pencils about five years ago. I was looking for different mediums to try and it was coloured pencils that caught my interest.

My first set of pencils was a skin-tone set because I loved to draw portraits then.

ARE THEY AS TOUGH TO USE AS PEOPLE SAY?

Personally, I think any art medium is challenging until you start to master it.

The coloured pencil medium can be problematic in the beginning because:

  • You want fast results
  • It seems to take forever
  • Blending the colours out can make your wrist ache
  • You cannot afford the larger sets with more colour choices

If you want fast results, then I am sorry to say that coloured pencils may not be the right medium for you. It is a slow medium because you have to build up many layers of colour for depth before blending. This can take a long time depending on the project you are working on.

As with blending, there are ways around having to suffer from the dreaded wrist ache and that is by using a blending solution.

I use Zest It Blending Solution quite a lot and it helps to blend out seamlessly and also gives my drawings a painterly look to them. Although, some artists do persevere without using a blending solution. (they are the ones with wrists of steel in my book).

FOCUS ON IMPROVING YOUR SKILLS

Instead of worrying and stressing over your mistakes, think of them as learning curves.

When I look back on my earlier work I can see how much I have improved. If I had given up at the first hurdle, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I still watch YouTube videos and tutorials for hints and tips from other established artists and I have also bought a few tutorials in the past.

WILL THE EXPENSIVE PENCILS MAKE YOU A BETTER ARTIST?

Christopher Durant says:

“I suffered from this concept when I was starting out. I would ask many artists what pencils they used in the hopes that if I could buy them I would instantly become better, sadly it doesn’t work that way. While more expensive artist-grade pencils are much better than standard coloured pencils, they will not instantly gift you the ability to use them. You wouldn’t pass your driving test and instantly buy a Ferrari, and if you could afford to, you would still probably crash.”

https://www.artssupplies.co.uk/blog/advice-for-beginners-drawing-with-coloured-pencils/

I think Christopher Durant answers that question perfectly.

WHAT ARE THE TOP THREE ARTIST-GRADE COLOURED PENCILS THAT ESTABLISHED ARTISTS USE?

  1. Polychromos
  2. Prismacolor
  3. Caran D’Ache

WHAT ARE SOME CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES?

I always find that buying smaller sets to start with is a more budget-friendly option.

Black Widow sets are a budget-friendly option because each small set has completely different colours from the others and collecting the sets can be fun. The sets that I have at the moment are:

PATIENCE IS A MUST

Patience is definitely a must as a coloured pencil artist. This medium is a slow process: you have to build the layers of colour lightly and carefully to achieve depth and allow for blending.

YOU CAN USE ADULT COLOURING BOOKS TO PRACTICE SKILLS

I think this is a great idea and a fantastic way to practice skills like layering, blending, adding texture and creating realistic looks etc.

I wish I had done this in the beginning because it would have helped me so much. I have lost track of how many times I have wasted good quality artists-grade paper by making mistakes.

And mistakes will always happen, so the best thing to do is to learn from them and move on.

DO YOU NEED A CERTAIN TYPE OF PAPER WHEN USING COLOURED PENCILS?

Yes! Paper is so important with this medium. You need a good quality piece of paper with a bit of texture. It is the tooth (texture) of the paper that grabs the colour when applying layers.

Also, if you are going to use a blending solution, you will want the paper to allow for this without buckling or warping from the wet medium. 

Watercolour paper works well for me when I know that I will be using the Zest It blending solution.

WHAT OTHER TOOLS WILL MAKE BEING A COLOURED PENCIL ARTIST EASIER?

FOR MORE HINTS AND TIPS COME AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY ON FACEBOOK:

Coloured Pencils Help And Community

Leave a Reply