Remember me
Back to forum: Art/Design Forum

Search forums via Google

3 Users appreciate this thread.

Utilizing Colored Pencils: Tips & Techniques
Started by Mephistopheles
(2014-09-13 15:29:53)
Mephistopheles (2014-09-13 15:29:53)
I've noticed that a lot of users here on Plaza like to post their tangible paper art as opposed to digital art. Drawing on paper with actual writing implements requires different physical techniques and finesse with whatever tool you are using. This guide is for artists who wish to improve their art and make the best out of the tools given to them. Specifically, I will teach you how to correctly utilize a colored pencil so no stroke is wasted.

Types of Colored Pencils

Many of you may think that a colored pencil is just a colored pencil. But in fact, there are many different types and varieties. Here are the most common.

Wax/Oil Based- These are the most widely used and are readily available at nearly every store. Common brands such as Crayola and Roseart are usually wax or oil based. More expensive brands have these too.

Water Color- These usually come are a higher price and could be blended and smeared with water, which is a benefit if you're looking for this style. Most large scale brands such as Crayola make these, but it's better to go for brands such as Prismacolor.

Now that you're familiar with what type of pencil you may be using, let's move on, to tips and techniques.

Pressure Variation

With any technique and stile of stroke, controlling your pressure on a colored pencil is important.

Hand Placement

While everyone has their own ways of handling something, it's best to use technique in order to produce the best results. By all means, if you are uncomfortable with changing your hand placement, it's fine as long as you work on applying stead pressure.

Here is a diagram of recommended hand placement on a pencil/colored pencil:

This is optimal position because all of your fingers are applying pressure evenly to the pencil, which translates to a steady hold allowing you to evenly apply pressure to the paper.

Pressure and Results

It's a given that the harder you press, the darker your lines will come out and vice versa. It's important to practice keeping the same pressure and color in the desired areas, like so:

Notice how color is uniform where needed according to light, skilled control of pressure is illustrated.

Different Strokes and Techniques

While just coloring with even pressure heeds attractive results, there are many different ways you can color or shade something in.

Blending Colors

Blending colored pencils is a bit challenging, but it usually gives a piece more dimension. Blending usually works better with water color pencils, but it's possible with wax/oil based ones.

Pressure is key when blending. If doing a lighter blend, keep it gentle. If doing a darker blend, keep it hard.

Tip: Rubbing with a clean finger or a tortillion can help you with the blending process.


Take a look at this diagram illustrating the most common pencil techniques.

Stippling- A very stylistic way of coloring something, stippling is basically using tiny or large dots to fill in a space. The amount of space between the dots changes the texture in a piece. Size of dots is usually dependent on how sharpened your pencil is.

Hatching- Hatching is basically coloring with a series of parallel lines. The evenness between lines generates texture and depth.

Cross-Hatching- Similar to hatching, this is technique is just drawing another series of parallel lines in the opposite direction to create a cross-like pattern. Great for texturing.

Back & Forth- The most common and self-explanatory technique. It just requires even back and forth motion, with controlled pressure. While it seems simple, this technique is often rushed and executed poorly.

Scumbling- Not to be confused with scribbling, this is achieved by executing even circular strokes being careful not to leave any stray white areas.

Thanks for taking your time as a blossoming artist to look at this guide. I hope you can take what you learned here and apply it to your own colored pencil art.

The colored pencil is not only your tool, it's your friend. Treat it right and it'll treat your art right in return.

This post has been edited one or more times, the last time was:
2014-09-13 23:02:01

little5 (2014-09-13 15:44:42)
This is a great guide, and it's very helpful for those who want to use colored pencils.

ToXiPhObE (2014-09-13 17:34:23)
"Stippling" more like lazy af
little5 (2014-09-13 19:48:26)
It takes a while to stipple a full drawing, jus' sayin'.
Mephistopheles (2014-09-13 19:58:17)
This was make with 2.1 million dots.

carlos11 (2014-09-18 13:49:39)
"When I'm not a lazy [removed] "

Damn foul mouthed eleven year olds these days.

This post has been edited one or more times, the last time was:
2015-09-02 23:04:09

Language is a tool for efficient communication. The internet is a tool for fast communication. Do not defy both intents by posting incoherent writing.
carlos11 (2014-09-21 03:26:49)
[removed] is the most vulgar word there is. It's worse than the F-bomb. Sure, we can use it here, but you're a little girl. Don't call yourself a [removed] , you [removed]

This post has been edited one or more times, the last time was:
2015-09-02 23:04:18

Language is a tool for efficient communication. The internet is a tool for fast communication. Do not defy both intents by posting incoherent writing.
Nutsy (2014-10-01 04:03:35)
Prismacolor makes pretty good colored pencils. All of them show up on black paper, too.

I know this because my Art teacher likes to have us color on black paper because white is "too basic".

PhoenixDawn (2014-10-07 22:01:15)
I use pencil and paper.
Stone age.
FluxerCry (2015-01-29 03:41:23)
I have deemed myself incapable of using coloured pencils to any great effect. It may simply be that I'm bad with colour as a whole, as I also have zero talent in the world of paint or pastel.
Draught (2015-04-10 20:32:30)
Headphanie. ∞
AlexRose (2015-05-19 14:44:00)
this is very helpful and i looooooooove drawing

Naira (2015-07-12 15:09:14)
^^^ Agree.
Popstar20 (2016-02-18 16:56:37)
Thanks for creating this guide. It really helped me with a lot of my drawings/sketches.

Log in to submit a comment

This topic's ID: 76251

Back to forum: Art/Design Forum