Want to know why your colored pencils are producing dull and lifeless colors? Or perhaps you are looking for some tips to improve your pencil coloring skills? Or maybe you are a beginner looking for the rough guide to coloring with pencil? Well, whatever your questions or experience, our guide – How to Color with Colored Pencils aims to answer these questions and more! So grab yourself a coloring page, sharpen up your pencils and prepare to put some of our coloring tips and tricks to the test!
Not all colored pencils are the same. Cheap colored pencils tend to have harder wax leads and less pigment which mean they produce less vibrant colors and have a tendency to leave some white spaces uncovered in the grain of the paper. Because the lead is hard, cheaper pencil leads often have a tendency break and if the lead breaks throughout the length of the pencil you can be left with something that is unusable.
Mid-range pencils from brands like Staedtler or Faber Castel offer softer application, which allows you to get more color into the paper. This can produce a more vibrant color and reduces the chance of white flecks of paper showing through. Softer wax pencils are also better for shading and blending.
With practice the best coloring results can even be achieved with the most modest tools!
Professional level pencils like Derwent or Prismacolor offer the best quality and typically are the most expensive pencils to buy. The wax in these pencils is softer and the colors are a higher pigment providing brighter colors. The soft application allows blending and shading.
Whilst most colored pencils are wax based, some brands use an oil based lead, like Faber Castell’s Polychromos. These pencils are very soft to apply color so will cover every fibre of the paper with their bright hues, but they are also very expensive and should only be considered if you are looking to take your art to the highest level.
For beginners I would suggest either the Staedtler or Faber Castell brand of pencils. These produce significantly better results than bargain bin pencils, provide good colors and allow you to try some simple shading and blending techniques. With practice the best coloring results can even be achieved with the most modest tools!
The Tips and Tricks to Coloring with Pencils
Now you know which pencils are good for coloring we will give you some tips and tricks, that everyone who picks up a pencil should know.
Add paper and get smoother coloring!
It is a simple rule, but get into the habit of adding two or three sheets of plain paper underneath your coloring page.
These extra sheet of paper will stop your coloring being affected by the texture of the surface you are working on. Colored pencils will easily pick up even the smallest dents, divots or wood grain textures. For smoother coloring give your page that little extra cushion! It is also useful to add paper between your page and the next when you are using a coloring book, the paper protects the design underneath from being damaged.
Good quality pencils will allow the lead to be sharpened regularly. Needle sharp tips on your pencils are perfect for applying detail and getting the precision required to color intricate areas of a design.
Thinner points will give you more control over the color produced, big fat rounded ends on your pencils make it difficult to get the brightest colors.
Concentrate on the basics.
If you are just starting to color, keep things simple. Forget shading, burnishing, details and texture – start off by block coloring and concentrating on keeping between the lines.
Block coloring is simply the practice of taking your colored pencil and filling an area completely and evenly with that color. Get to know your pencil, feel the weight of it and practice control. Simply filling those spaces with color whilst trying not to go beyond the lines will help you master control and prime you for learning more advanced techniques.
Producing a nice even color with your coloring pencil is all down to pressure. Push harder on your page for darker coloring, applying little pressure will producer a much lighter color. It is tempting to put lots of pressure on the pencil to produce the darkest color – don’t do it! Too much pressure will likely cause you to break your pencil leads, produce a scratchy finish to your coloring and give you less control.
Instead, try applying your pencil with a little less pressure and use small circular motions with the pencil to get an even finish.
Applying less pressure to the pencil will produce a lighter color, so how do you get that darker hue of the color on the page without pushing too hard? The answer is layers. Once you have mastered coloring between the lines with a nice even shade, you can take the same pencil and go back over that coloring again to provide a second or even third layer of color.
Applying extra layers of color will remove some of the white grain that was missed in the first layer and bring depth to your color. Mix up the direction you color each layer to produce a smoother finish.
Quality Matters but Practice make Perfect!
We started this guide to How to Color with Colored Pencils for Beginners by suggesting that investing in higher quality pencils produce better results, well higher quality coloring pages can only be achieved by investing the time to practice! If you color regularly, following these simple tips in this guide, you will soon see your coloring pages getting better and better. Don’t rush – coloring is a relaxing not racing pastime!
Start by downloading the free bird themed coloring page for February and try your hand at putting some of these tips into practice.
Stay sharp, keep it simple, get even and be the brightest color in the box!
Wanna go further?
Take a look at Five Tips for Colored Pencil Shading to go beyond block coloring and achieve some blending and shading with your colored pencils.
Do you have some tips for coloring with pencil you think we missed? Share them with us in the comment section below.