How to Blend Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are perhaps the simplest materials for creativity. Both a child and a beginner can easily master drawing with them.

However, there are some features. For example, colored pencils cannot physically be mixed. And to create unusual and original shades, you need to use optical mixing. In this guide, you’ll find how to blend colored pencils below.

8 Tips for Better Color Mixing When Drawing with Colored Pencils

  • Apply colors in very thin layers on top of each other. The final result will depend on the order in which the colors are applied: both from dark to light and vice versa.
  • Create optical color mixing with crosshatching. First, draw parallel lines with one color, then apply another color.
  • Strengthen the color by pressing harder on the pencil or placing the strokes as close as possible.
  • Use the pointillist technique to paint small areas. Tiny dots of different colors are easily mixed visually.
  • Get a darker shade by overlaying a dark color over a light one. If you do the opposite, then there will be a lighter color. For example, if you apply blue on top of yellow, we get dark green, and if yellow is on blue, then light green.
  • Try to create all the rest from three colors. All you need is purple (red), blue and yellow.
  • Choose slightly rough paper. The pigment stays on better.
  • Use very soft pencils. They are easier to blend and blend.

Many people like to draw with colored pencils. They are extremely comfortable. A few colored pencils and a notepad are all you need to get started. Preparation and cleaning time is instant, materials are lightweight and portable, and no messy or toxic solvents are needed. In addition, a colored pencil drawing is a highly refining and elegant work of art. It can compete with paintings created by any other means.

Aside from their convenience and versatility, the great attraction of colored pencils is the control they provide. You can do light work, heavy work, or something in between. You can use a colored pencil to draw the design with light strokes that will allow the color of the paper to show through. In addition to using colored pencils, you can use them to create layers of solid coverage. Since the colored pencil is mostly a dry medium, you don’t have to worry about the drying time of the drawing. You can walk away from work, then come back and pick up where you left off. You can start and stop at any time.

Colored pencils are fun and do justice to both drawing and painting. You’ll find colored pencils worthy of your repertoire no matter what other medium you like.

These guidelines are ideal for beginners and artists who are new to drawing with pencils. Use these tools and these tips. Learn how to get started and how to draw with colored pencils.

Types of Paper Used for Drawing with Colored Pencils

paper for drawing

Any good drawing paper is suitable for colored pencils. Finely serrated, durable illustration paper or board best suited for extensive layering and polishing. Not all papers can withstand the pressure of a pencil, especially if you’re applying multiple colors by buffing and blending. Paper with a rough surface can create interesting textures, but uneven surfaces do not contribute to even layers of color. Experiment with different materials until you find the best for your work. Here are some good surfaces to start with:

Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper

It has a smooth surface and is suitable for work. Many layers of color can apply to such paper with pencils and get excellent results when mixed.

Bristol Board Is a Good, Lightweight Board With Two Types of Surfaces

One side is a very smooth plate, great for layering and blending, while the other side is parchment, which has a more textured surface and is less amenable to blending and polishing.

Charcoal Drawing Paper

It comes in various colors, with smooth and textured sides, suitable for multiple artistic techniques.

Tips and Tricks for Drawing with Colored Pencils

draw with colored pencil

With these tips and basic pencil drawing techniques, you’ll be ready to get creative right away. Discover techniques for shading and blending colors. You can also learn more about creating texture in your drawings with the Colored Pencil Texture Painting with Gary Green DVD.


Each stroke is applied from side to side and creates a smooth, even layer of color. For gradual shading, a light touch of the pencil makes a slight tint of color.


A series of evenly spaced parallel lines leaves little white or colored underlying surface visible. Colored pencil shading adds texture to your compositions.


Hatching is applying obliquely to create layers of color or achieve a specific effect. For thin, even lines, keep your pencil tips sharp.


Colors are applied with strong, even pressure, and they blend or blend to create a smooth, continuous coating on the paper. A drawing section polishes with paper pencils for shading or a smooth metal tool. This is done in circular motions and under strong pressure to give gloss. Light areas are sanded first.


Color pigments are applied with strong uniform pressure and mixed with a white or light pencil (for example, cream or light gray). This results in a smooth, evenly blended color. You can use a hard bristled brush to mix the colors. The method of mixing colored pencils will help add depth to your drawings. Blending or blending with pale ocher gives metallic surfaces an antique or antique look. Alternatively, you can use cloudy blue to show an atmospheric perspective. A clear marker can also use to blend layers of color. Permanent markers are suitable for erasing or touching up drawings.


Irregular or discontinuous overlay of one color on another, while the main color will be visible in the top layer.


A pattern scratches through the thick top layer of colored pencil with a sharp tool to reveal the base color or paper. This technique is useful for drawing cat whiskers, hair, or other fine line details. Be careful not to damage the surface of the paper.

Solvent Exposure

Using a solvent such as mineral spirits softens the color coating and creates a wide range of exciting effects. Apply with a cotton swab or brush.

Necessary Tools for Drawing with Colored Pencil

tools need for drawing

Drawings with colored pencils for sketching will require several additional tools, for example, a sharpener and an eraser. It is essential to take care of the proper lighting, seriously approaching the choice of a lighting device: improper lighting can adversely affect health.


Many drawing techniques require the lead to remain sharp, and to do this, it will have to undermine constantly. You can buy manual sharpeners that require you to rotate the pencil. However, with this option, the stylus may break.

Professionals recommend giving preference to modern electric sharpeners. Some models require a connection to the network or operate on batteries. With such options, lead breakage is minimized because there is no need to rotate the pencil: it is enough to fix it in one position.

When a manual sharpener is needed, it is better to purchase a metal one, in which the blades can change as they lose their sharpness.


Although it is more difficult to erase a trace from a colored pencil than from a simple one, it is difficult to do without erasers in work. Professionals use them not to erase but to soften tones, essential for almost any drawing.

To work, you need 3 types of erasers:

  • Plastic. It looks like a piece of raw rubber. It can effectively remove the initial line drawing while not adversely affecting the paper. After passing over it with such an eraser, the surface of the material does not look shaggy.
  • Pink Pearl. They are recommending for use when creating large drawings. One of their main distinguishing features is the pink color. These erasers do not adversely affect the paper.
  • Erasers for typewriters. These are products that resemble pencils and have small brushes at the end. Their main advantage is rigidity. With their help, you can remove those details of the picture that other erasers cannot handle. This is a great tool for creating clean edges. But it is only necessary to use such a tool with caution. After all, it is very hard, so it can leave significant damage to the surface.

Mechanical Pencils

With their help, you can create initial line drawings. Mechanical pencils differ from ordinary pencils because they leave light lines and are easily removed with a plastic eraser.

When creating a drawing, graphite lines can replace with colored ones.


Using stencils, you can draw circles. They are often used to draw eyes.

Colored Pencil

A pencil in the lead with no pigments will also require for work. It will help blend the colors as well as soften the edges. When using it, there will be no need to add more color.


Magazines are the best way to train drawing skills. Cut images can sort into groups and place in different folders. No need to try to copy the photo. They should only use for practice.

Nets on Transparent Tracing Paper

Creating drawings with colored pencils for sketching is more convenient when the image is divided into several identical squares. This will help a special grid, which is enough to impose on the original photo.

Cotton Swabs

They may be required if a solvent application is required.

They are also often needed to polish the image.

Drawing Brush

Colored pencils inevitably leave small crumbs on the surface of the paper. Subsequently, they are smearing on the canvas, resulting in difficult stains to remove. To prevent smearing, these crumbs must remove in time. Someone who does not have experience drawing with pencils will most likely try to do it with the palm of their hand.

However, in this case, the drawing will decay because the crumbs will rub into the paper. To brush off unwanted crumbs, it is recommended to use a special drawing brush, the bristles made of horsehair.

Pencil Extensions

Small devices called extensions help you change the length of your pencils when they are too short to hold in your hand while you work.

Pencils elongated with such a device are easier to sharpen.


It’s not enough to draw a picture. It still needs to be on paper. For this, special fixatives are used. They protect the finished drawing and prevent the wax from fading.

How to Shade a Colored Pencil

You can use several different approaches to mixing colored pencils. Each will have a different look, and some will require a few extra consumables. Again, experimentation is vital, so be sure to test each of these on the drawing paper you’re working with before applying any of them to a real drawing.

Layering Pencil

The easiest way to mix colored pencils is to use the same pencils. However, adding a colorless feather pencil to the drawing box makes this method much easier.

Blend the colored pencils by applying lightly applied layers of each color. Applying too thick a coat at first is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, so start slowly and build up the colors. When a gradual change requires, start with a slight overlap in the middle and gradually overlap each layer farther.

You can also use a colorless mixing pencil to blend colors without adding pigment. First, apply a thin layer of a colorless blender and then add your lightest color. Dark colors are difficult to blend if they stick to the paper fibers, so this base helps solve that problem.

Smearing with Paper and Tortillas

If you find that the crayon-only option does not give you the desired combination, you can use a paper product to blend the crayons. It doesn’t have to be unusual. A small soft cloth, paper towel, or toilet paper can help.

Tortillons (mixing stumps) are usually used for charcoal, but they are also great for smearing pencils. They provide precise shading and can be a valuable addition to your pencil set. For a cheaper option, you can use cotton swabs.

When using these dry blending tools, start with a thick layer of colored pencil for maximum effect. Buffing – adding as much pigment as your paper can hold – is often used, but you can get by with lighter layers with the right pencil and paper combination.

These methods lift the pigment slightly, creating a more grainy effect than a simple layered pencil. Try it along with the layering technique and experiment until you find the perfect combination for your drawing.

Mixing with Solvents

Another option for an even greater mixing effect is using a solvent. They are applied over colored pencil and should only be done on very strong paper. To make sure your paper can withstand your chosen solvent, test it and let it dry. Watch for any deformation or damage.

Solvent-based colorless felt-tip pens can soften and blend colored pencils, creating a watercolor effect. With watercolor pencils, you can get the best of both worlds by using water to smudge and overlay it with polished color. They are very different from drawings made with a simple colored pencil. They saturate and fill the paper, leaving less white paper fiber than a lighter application of a colored pencil.

Oil-based thinners such as turpentine can smudge colored pencils because they dissolve the wax. This is one of the strongest blends you can get. However, they are toxic and should use with care, so follow safety precautions.

For a lighter mixture, use no more than 70 percent medical alcohol (if it is stronger, the pigment will disappear). You can use a rubber cement thinner for an intense mix stronger than a skypenoid.

Each time you use colored pencil thinner, work gently with a brush, cotton swab, or cotton swab. The surface of the paper is easy to damage or erase the pigment. Also, the thicker your colored pencil base, the better the blending effect will be and the less likely you are to damage the drawing.

Different pencils and pigments will work differently with each solvent. Always test new combinations and take notes if you want to remember success. You might even consider making sample swatches in one of your sketchbooks.

Color Mixing

Start by creating the color wheel shown below. Violet, orange, and green are secondary colors, and they can make by mixing primary colors to achieve a wide variety of hues. So, for example, you may notice that dark ultramarine and cyclamen are closer to purple than other shades of blue and red.

Try mixing all the pairs of colors and pay attention to the shades of the resulting secondary colors – from bright to dull. Here I have shown some of the shades of green obtained by mixing three yellow shades with three blue shades.

Now try mixing colors in different proportions to get an even wider range of shades. Start with the brightest secondary colors – below are three shades of light orange, obtained by mixing golden yellow and scarlet. Try to get different shades of bright green (mixing lemon yellow and blue) and bright purple (cyclamen and dark ultramarine).

Now practice mixing dull tones of green, orange, and purple. They can vary very widely, approaching brown or gray, as there is a particle of the third primary color in each pair of colors. Thus, in the dull shades of purple shown below, blue and scarlet contain an admixture of yellow.

By mixing three primary colors, you can also get brown, gray, and even black. Reddish-brown has more red, light brown has more yellow, and gray (a bluish brown) has more blue. The darker the shade of gray, the more that color approaches black. Below is a color code that shows the ratio of one or another primary color (this ratio is adjusted by more or less pressure on the pencil).

Shades of brown, gray, and black shift towards specific primary and secondary colors. You can add these blends to your primary and secondary colors if you want to make them deeper, duller, or darker. Below is how the three shades of red change. The color specified before the dot (.) is applied throughout the sample, stronger or weaker, depending on what shade you want to achieve. The colors after the dot are used only on the sample’s dim and dark areas, leaving the rest of the sample lighter and paler.

Keep experimenting with color as you please. The more you do this, the sooner you will understand the nature of color, which will greatly help you when creating your drawings.


How Are Watercolor Pencils Different From Other Colored Pencils?

Watercolor pencils look and feel like wax-based colored pencils, but the core binder in watercolors is water-soluble. This allows the artist to use a wet brush to blend colors and create thin layers of paint, soft edges, and many other effects. You may shock when you see the result of drawing with watercolor pencils. You can discover even more possibilities for colored pencil drawing in Cecil Baird’s Colored Pencil Scenic Glow. Watercolor pencils are a fascinating tool that allows the artist to instantly switch from drawing to painting.

Are Different Brands of Colored Pencils Compatible?

Yes, but the hardness of colored pencils varies by brand. Softer pencils are easier to apply to harder ones. Wax-colored pencils can use with watercolors but will not react to water in the same way.

How Can I Fix and Prevent Wax Bloom?

Wax bloom is a whitish coating on the wax that appears due to the application of a wax pencil. To remove the wax bloom, wipe the paper’s surface with a soft cloth. To prevent this from happening again, lightly spray two to four coats of fixative onto the drawing. Keep the paper surface clean. Use a soft brush to sweep up scattered particles of color and dust, especially after applying a technique such as graffiti (scraping off a layer of color).

How to Store and Display Colored Pencil Drawings?

When your painting is finished, spray it with a fixative spray to keep it from smearing and flaking. Your artwork is best stored in boxes or a flat file. It is desirable to put cellophane sheets or tracing paper between the drawings. For better protection of paintings, consider matting. Colored pencil drawings should be displayed under glass to protect them from damage and contaminants.

Are Colored Pencils Durable?

A colored pencil drawing is only as durable as the surface it is applied to. Creating your artwork on acid-free paper ensures that the painting lasts longer. Protect pencils from sudden changes in humidity or temperature, and store them away from heat. We hope you find how to blend colored pencils helpful.

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