Colored Pencil Blending Techniques

Welcome the Legion of Teddy Bears

I don’t mind admitting that quite some time ago I believed more in the supplies I bought than I believed in myself.  I also believed more in the supplies than the idea of techniques, I guess.  Techniques are actually something I’ve recently come to respect, and learn for all sorts of things.

Green blue, and blue green

Colored pencil was my thing in high school.  I didn’t have any supplies for digital coloring, and Copics were WAY out of my price range.  It’s a good thing, too, because I’d have killed those beautiful markers *cringe*.  I used layering back in the day, but it was more in the form of “smash a color into an area, and then smash a 2nd done to make a new color”.  Blending is not a word I would use here, LOL.  I remember coloring quite hard back in the day.

After high school I went more digital with  my coloring and quit ruining my colored pencils.  About a year or so ago, I dug them back up again and really learned to appreciate them!  I now have a few different kinds of colored pencils that I love for different reasons, which always seems to be the way of art supplies.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite colored pencil techniques.  Many of these can be used on coloring books, though you’ll need to check the quality of your paper first for some of them!  There are a couple of specific products that I have linked in here to Amazon through their affiliates program.

Blending with Colors


toothy paper

The different techniques all have to do with blending, so we’ll start with the one that doesn’t require anything extra.   Blending just with your colored pencils :).  It’s really more like layering than blending.  Try to remember to use a light touch with your colored pencils.  If you need more/brighter color, color longer, not harder!  As far as blending effects go, it doesn’t much give you one, because you’re not smashing your pigment into the tooth of the paper.  This works better on smoother paper so that you have less area without color in it.  I should have remembered that when I did my first bear.



Blending with the Colorless Blender

My main colored pencils are my Prismacolors.  Prismacolor makes a colorless blending pencil that is pretty nifty.  I find that blending in any way other than the color layering mentioned above does something to make the color pop a bit.  It can also smush your color around to cover a large area, or maybe the strokes weren’t even when you initially laid own the color.  The core is waxy, and softer than a normal colored pencil.  They are sold for finishing your piece, which makes the colors pop and makes the drawing shiny/glossy.

So smooth and pretty when it’s done.

Blending with Paper

Blending stumps (or stomps, depending on who’s talking)  and tortillons are a fun way to mash around your pigments.  Basically that is what you are doing, smushing your pigments into each other, and into the tooth of the paper.  Blending this way seems to work best when you layer your colors, and then use the stump or the tortillon last, or almost last.  Each time you blend this way it works less well with the next layer of color.  The next color doesn’t lay on as well, in addition to not blending as well.

Blending with Solvents

I’ve tried a few different methods of solvent blending.  I experimented with these more before I got my colorless blender for Christmas, but I still go to them. I have used rubbing alcohol, baby oil, and mineral oil.  Fun fact for folks like me who don’t pay much attention: baby oil is scented mineral oil.

Blending with Mineral/Baby Oil

The back of my oil bear

To do this I get my colors down on the paper.  You can lay color on top of the oil, but you should do that on scrap paper first to see if it’s going to give you the texture and effect that you want. I did do that here with the shadows.  After I am done coloring the area I want to work on, I barely tap my blending stump into the mineral oil.  The blending effect is very quick and doesn’t require too much pressure.  I push a bit hard with this blending method.  I find the oil spreads farther this way and and I don’t need to use quite as much.  Using less is good, because the oil makes the paper greasy.

The bear below got pretty smudgy, but if I paint a background around her it won’t be a problem at all.

Blending with Rubbing Alcohol

Blending with Rubbing Alcohol is quite a bit different than the oil.  It evaporates away, which is always nice, no splotches.  I want to practice this more myself, because I’ve seen some folks do some very cool things with it.  In additional to blending the colors the way I’ve been doing, you can also put down just a bit of color in the shady areas of your picture, and pull it toward the lighter areas.  I will do a video of this at some point, because it’s a pretty neat subtle color effect.  Oh, and I use a cotton swab for this one.  I tried my blending stump but it didn’t work any better than the stump with no alcohol on it.

I think one of the most amazing things with all of these methods, is that I used the same pencils of all of the above bears.  There’s a pretty wide range of end results, considering that.

Bonus Bear: Watercolor Pencilswaterccolorbear

I mentioned multiple kinds of colored pencils earlier.  These are my watercolor pencils, blended with a water brush.

I enjoyed sharing my bears with you today!





Author: Sarah

Wife and mom, artist and website administrator.

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