Blending with Color Pencils

How do I blend color pencils?

In this tutorial you will five different ways to blend colour pencils

1. Layering and Burnishing – for smooth shading

Layering: Whilst applying little pressure with the pencil, use fine circular hand movements. Keep doing this to build up the layers until you get a smooth coverage and overlap the circles so there won’t be any harsh edges. When we create circles in this way with circular hand movements it’s impossible to notice where the lines start and stop. By doing it in this way, you can avoid scribbly lines which can also be avoided by using your pencil in the same direction.

Tip: Make sure to use a sharp pencil so it can get into all the crevices of textured paper so that the graininess won’t show as much.

Burnishing: This is when you apply a heavy pressure with your coloured pencil to flatten out the tooth (texture) of the paper. This technique allows you to create smooth and vibrant colors but because this damages the tooth of the paper it’s difficult to apply layers or amend any mistakes. Take rests in between your work when burnishing as it can be painful for the wrist.

Tip: Burnishing is better with Wax-Based color pencils (Caran D’Ache and Prismacolor) rather than Oil-Based (Faber-Castell Polychromos) since they don’t have a creamy tendency.

2. Solvent

Solvent allows you to blend colours without damaging the surface of the paper and you can add many layers over the solvent; unlike burnishing. This means that your initial blending doesn’t need to be perfect. However, don’t add too much pressure with your pencils because once it has dried you can’t blend the lines smoothly. If you add to the drawing with pencil after the solvent has dried you will damage the paper. Subsequently, solvent helps to speed up your drawing process.


Tip: I recommend this technique for animal and landscape drawings but I would avoid using it for skin.


3. Pencil Blender

 A Pencil Blender can be used to blend any colour pencil. Different brands have their own

Pencil Blender, an example is the Caran D’ Ache colourless blender and the Prismacolour

Blender. Though, these both work in the same way as they are both wax-based. To achieve a good result with a Pencil Blender, you need to make sure you have created enough layers with your colour pencil and have applied it smoothly to the paper. It’s important to only use a light pressure as a Pencil Blender doesn’t always achieve the desired result so you will need to add more layers and then use the burnishing method.


4. White Pencil

You can also use light coloured pencils for blending. Apply multiple layers with a color pencil as usual but instead of using the same colors for the burnishing method, use a white pencil or a light colored pencil. You will notice that the colors will appear lighter after using the white pencil. Yet you can go over the colors again with the side of the color pencil and this won’t affect the smoothness that you have just created with the blending.


Tip: The Caran D’ Ache white pencil is the best for this method.


 5. Pastel Powder

You will need to scrape some powder off the pastel and then, using a brush, spread the powder onto your paper. The amount of powder you use depends on your preference and your model. You can add layers over the pastel layer with color pencils.


Tip: If you are creating an abstract drawing with color pencils, using a brush or stump for blending is a great option as it creates a beautiful effect on the paper.


Do you want to learn more about color pencil drawing and blending with color pencils? Browse my other free tutorials and complete my Masterclass of Drawing, Design and Creativity with Color Pencil and Pastel.

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