Blending Coloured Pencils

I’ve been working on a cute coloured pencil drawing the past couple days, and a few hours at a time because I’ve been so busy. During that time, I decided to experiment with a few blending techniques I’d like to share here! Wax-based coloured pencils, compared to water-soluble ones, require alternative blending methods. Holbein Artists Colored Pencils on Strathmore’s Coloured Pencils Paper were used for the drawing, so let’s get started!

Derwent Blender

This blender comes as a “pencil” except the lead is a hard colourless blending instrument. Comes as a set paired with a burnisher which I didn’t use for this exercise. Aiming to make the eyes greenish-brown, I firstly coloured with the reddish-brown and then some dark green on top. The blender was then rubbed in gently. Small light circular strokes would be best. And look at the results! Unusually stunning eyes. I would recommend this for smaller areas like, in this case eyes, as blending with this mechanical method could be tedious.

Holbein Meltz

This fluid is by Holbein and hence works well with the matching pencils. I’ve yet to try that with other brands. Although the pencils themselves are clearly wax-oil based, this formula dissolves the colours immediately as if they were aquarelle watercolor pencils. As you can see, the effect is like a watercolor painting! Useful if you’re looking for a fluid look of course. And a little goes a long way and dries quickly. All I did was add a drop directly on the brush. Soft but firm watercolor-type brushes work best, particularly a medium-sized round one. As the fluid gets quite runny, though, I would recommend it more for huge areas. The main drawback is that as typical of watercolor painting, the paper curls up and gets warped. In this case, I just weigh the area down with some heavy books on top once dry.

Odourless Turpentine

I emphasize “odourless” as ordinary turpentine not only smells strong but is also toxic! My art teacher recommended Sennelier’s Essence Sans Odeur which was quite pricey but odourless turpentine doesn’t come cheap anyway. Compared to the Meltz, quite a lot is needed to blend the colours effectively. I even had to use a small hard flat brush to dissolve the visible pencil strokes. Also you end up with some marks outside where you had blended but they fade away without leaving a residue. It takes a while for the turpentine to dry, say at least half hour depending on how much was applied. During that time, it’s not a good idea to add more colours on top unless you want the pencil leads to rub off! Not sure if I’m a fan of this technique, or maybe I need to practice more. That said, I quite like the effect. Well blended but unlike the Meltz, without the runny watercolour appearance and without losing the waxy finish of coloured pencils.

So three main techniques to blend your wax coloured pencils! Each have their characteristics. Depending on what effect you are looking for, you have to find what’s most suitable. With no preference, I decided to combine all three for this upcoming piece I’m working on, as each method gives a different result so we can see the difference. Also, one method suits one part of the painting and another method another part. So keep your eyes open for this piece I’ll be sharing soon!

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