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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Benson

All About Colored Pencils

I've been exploring studio materials and thought a blog post all about colored pencils was in order (also it's an assignment for my 595 class.) I've gone and done all the leg work for you. I compared 4 different brands of colored pencils and tested them out on different papers.

First things first, the brands:

I picked out 4 different papers to try my colored pencils on, they included color pencil paper, black drawing paper, newsprint paper and a brown card-stock page from my sketchbook post.

Then I started experimenting with how the colored pencils handled each paper. You'll see the samples below:

Black drawing paper, pencils from left to right: Derwent, Koh-I-Noor, Prismacolor, Crayola.

Color sampling done on Colored Pencil Paper.

Color Sampling done on Newsprint paper.

Next, I wanted to see different ways of drawing with the colored pencils, I choose Prismacolor for this next exercise:

I drew some designs, I wanted to see how the colors blended:

I wanted to experiment with a wet paintbrush, when I attempted with water to see if I could get any variation or blending, not too much happened. But, when I used q-tips and rubbing alcohol, I got a very neat velvety blend.

Below is a video of me using the rubbing alcohol method of blending (you will hear my dog snoring in the background)

Once I felt comfortable using the pencils, I took the 3 top brands and created a sketch for a future project in my handmade sketchbook. I used the brown cardstock page for this exercise.

Project Idea:

Pick your favorite drawing surface, I chose the white color pencil paper.

Find a copyright free photo, use one of your own or find one on a site like I chose to use a Vespa. Grid out the photo (I used the edit function on my phone and then took a screenshot), divide your paper into the same amount of squares and start drawing your design in. Each block will contain the one main feature of your chosen photo. In the background of each block, create a different design. Color it in using your colored pencils and your most liked method of coloring (small circular motions, crosshatch, etc.) I chose to use the small circular motions.

I like the rubbing alcohol method of blending so much that I attempted it on this pieces as well:


I did not like Crayola's at all. They felt very brittle, muted in comparison to the other three brands I tried, and handled more like a number 2 pencils than anything. I liked the feeling of the Koh-I-Noop (also known as Progresso) but the colors were limited. I didn't have to sharpen them once during my experimentations. Derwent colors were smooth, vibrant and plentiful. They are pricey though! I sided most with Prismacolor. They handled smoothly, there is a lot of color choices, they erase with a regular eraser, they blend nicely and they are not the most expensive choice.

Famous Color Pencil Artists:

Last but not least, if color pencils are your medium of calling, you are not alone! There are some amazing color pencil artists out there. Check out the realistic still life works by Cecile Baird

or the works by young artist Cassidy Packard

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