Colored Pencil Techniques for Beginners

There are many techniques you can use to color and draw with colored pencils. Such techniques often offer different results in regard to how the pigment coverage happens on your drawing surface. Coloring techniques include cross-hatching, back and forth strokes, hatching, and more. You might even wind up creating your very own technique. When you draw, you'll also need to follow the textures and contours of an object to create portrayals that are more realistic.

1The Hatching Approach

Hatching is one approach that you can apply to all facets of your drawing. To create hatching, you make parallel lines up onto your paper. You can have them be angled, vertical, or horizontal, just so much as they never touch. Instead of the back and forth method, this means you pick up your pencil every time you need to create a new line.

2The Cross-Hatching Technique

Cross-hatching is like the cousin to hatching; rather than using parallel lines, you form lines that intersect instead, which is why it's named what it is. This particular technique proves ideal for creating texture and shade. To make sure that your cross-hatching appears precise and clean, be sure your pencil has a sharp point.

3Back And Forth

This basic coloring technique is so basic that you've likely already done it many times. You just move the pencil back and forth in continuous motion on your surface. You do this until the entire area is covered.

4Applying The Colors

You'll want to work from light hues to dark ones since light colors won't be as apparent on the dark ones. It's a lot harder to fix darker colors than lighter ones. You also should be mindful of the pressure you apply in terms of color. Stronger pressure means more intense colors. Given this, you'll want to start off using light pressure to avoid applying dark colors too fast.

5The Art Of Highlighting

You should also outline any of the artwork highlights before you color so that you'll avoid applying darker colors accidentally in such areas. Depending on your drawing surface or paper, you might also omit the application of colors on your highlights and use the paper color instead. For instance, leaving certain sections open on white paper can portray the many spectacular highlights you have on a shiny object. You may also create highlights if you use a white-colored crayon, pastel, gouache, acrylic paint, or pencil.

6Shading Is Key

When you shade, you must avoid using any blacks; select darker hues of your color instead. Using blacks can mean the hue is too strong, which makes the artwork colors look a bit off if you are hoping for a realistic portrayal. When you color, it's a good idea to complete smaller areas first before you work on the entire artwork all at once. This will substantially reduce the smudging that you have to deal with.

7Blending With Pencils (Burnishing)

Burnishing is an act of applying pressure to combine layers, so the paper is filled entirely with color. The result is a somewhat shiny and smooth appearance of artwork color. Use sharp-colored pencils for this so you can saturate your paper with color faster.

8Scraping Your Art

Scraping only happens from doing burnishing. Once you get a lustrous area, get an X-ACTO knife to scrape away the parts you hope to remove. This technique can likely look scratchy, so be sure that you use it only in places that you would like to be highly textured. Animal fur is a common example.

9Solvent Blending Of Colors

Solvents disrupt colored pencil binding so that you get a blending of colors. This helps you decrease the coloring strokes' appearance so that you get a smoother appearance. There are a number of various styles of solvents that can be used in conjunction with colored pencils.

Regardless of the solvent that you use, be sure you test it on another paper first to see how it holds up against your paper. You make sure that you wait for the solvent to dry completely before you apply color again. If you want to give the drying process a hand, be ready to wipe off excess solvents using a cloth or paper towel.

10Erasing Colored Pencils

Colored pencils get a lot harder to erase than graphite artwork, but it's still very possible. Rather than erasing, you'll need to use the blotting method to lift the color off of your paper so you can eliminate your mistakes. The heavier layers are going to be harder to have their colors lifted off of the paper. That's why you need to start with light applications of color until you get more experienced in this particular art medium.

Scotch tape and white vinyl erasers are good choices for lifting colors off of your paper. Kneaded erasers won't erase fully but might help lighten up the colors on your artwork. Irrespective of what kind of eraser that you choose, you need to test it first on a different piece of paper so you can learn what impact it could have on your current artwork.

11Keeping Debris Off The Paper

Colored pencils are able to leave residue on the artwork, particularly more so for wax-based than oil-based. That debris can wind up interfering with your current artwork by getting lodged in the tooth of your paper before contaminating the color. If you want to avoid this, keep your artwork clean throughout the whole creation process. Use cosmetic brushes, small dusters, or cans of compressed air to routinely keep eraser debris and wax off of your paper.

Kristen Johnson

Kristen Johnson, a resident of Danbury, Connecticut, is a high school guidance counselor and has two children. In an effort to find a calming activity for her kids, Kristy and her mom Milly stumbled across one that works for adults, too - coloring!