Colored Pencils 🖍️

There’s a lot to like about drawing with colored pencils. They’re utterly convenient—a handful of colored pencils and a pad of paper are all you really need to start creating. Prep time and cleanup are practically non-issues, the materials are light and portable, and you don’t need messy or toxic solvents. At the same time, colored pencil drawing lends itself to highly refined and exquisite works of art that rival those created with any other medium.

Colored pencils are relatively inexpensive, and the palette is extensive. The color is pure, clean and bright. The medium is permanent, and colored pencil drawings do not require elaborate care or storage. Along with hard and soft colored pencils, watercolor pencils and oil-based colored pencils offer more options for beginning artists.

Aside from their convenience and versatility, much of the appeal of colored pencils is the control they offer. You can do loose work, tight work or anything in between. You can use colored pencil to tint a drawing with light strokes that let the color of the paper show through, or you can use colored pencil to create a solid deposit of many layers of color. Because colored pencil is primarily a dry medium, there’s no drying time to worry about. You can walk away from the work and come back and pick up right where you left off. You can start and stop at any time.

Colored pencil offers the pleasures and rewards of both drawing and painting. Whatever other medium you enjoy, you’ll find colored pencil a worthwhile addition to your repertoire.

Colored pencil offers the pleasures and rewards of both drawing and painting. Whatever other medium you enjoy, you’ll find colored pencil a worthwhile addition to your repertoire.

Enjoy these colored pencil techniques & tips, perfect for beginners or artists new to colored pencil drawing and painting.

  • Shading: produced with an even, side-to-side stroke that creates a smooth even layer of color; a light touch will deposit a faint amount of color for graduated colored pencil shading.

  • Hatching: a series of evenly spaced, parallel lines that leave a little white or color of the underlying surface visible; hatching in colored pencil adds texture to your compositions.

  • Cross-hatching: hatching overlaid at an angle to build up layers of color or value; keep the pencil tips sharp to create fine, even lines.

  • Burnishing: layers of colored pencil applied with strong, even pressure so the colors blend or intermix, completely covering the paper with a smooth solid color; a stump or tortillion or a smooth metal tool rubbed with even, heavy pressure in a circular motion against a deposit of color will also burnish the color. Burnish light-colored areas first.

  • Blending: produced by applying heavy, even pressure with a pigmentless blending pencil or a white or light-colored pencil (such as cream or light gray), creating slick, evenly blended color; a stiff bristle brush can be used to blend colors as well. Colored pencil blending techniques can help add depth to your colored pencil drawings. Burnishing or blending with pale ochre creates an aged or antique look for metallic surfaces. Alternatively, you can use cloud blue to suggest atmospheric perspective. A colorless marker can also be used to blend layers of color together. Permanent markers are good for making washes or underpaintings in colored pencil drawings.

  • Scumbling: an irregular or broken deposit of one color over another allowing the underlying color to be visible through the top layer.

  • Solvent effects: using a solvent such as mineral spirits — applied with a cotton swab or brush — softens the colored pencil deposit and creates a wide range of interesting colored pencil effects.


  • Colored Pencil Tools | Drawing with Colored Pencils
    Good sharpener: A good quality hand-held sharpener is a must; an electric sharpener saves time and energy.
  • Colorless blender: A colored pencil with a core made of pigmentless wax can be used to blend colors or soften edges without adding more color.
  • Erasers: White plastic erasers will remove or manipulate colored pencil marks; eraser pencils and sticks are useful for concise erasure.
  • Eraser shields: This small, flat metal tool with openings of various shapes can be used for precise, controlled erasure.
  • Cotton swabs: These can be used for burnishing or for applying solvents.
  • Knives: Use these or other sharp instruments for sgraffito.
  • Spray workable fixative: Use fixative to protect a finished drawing and prevent wax blooms.
  • Sturdy storage box: Keep your pencils orderly and protected.