Colour pencils are beginning to experience a whole new level of appreciation among artists and amateurs alike. They are a new magical tool for people who want to achieve a high degree of realism in their art. Compared with other mediums, coloured pencils create a minimal mess and require little to no prep or clean-up. That being said, they are very economical and don’t require any extra supplies. Just get yourself with a good quality artist color pencil, paper, eraser and pencil sharpener and you are ready to create your piece of art. They are easy to carry and you can work with them almost everywhere.
Coloured pencils have been used in classrooms for many decades now and were long seen as art tools for youngsters and teenagers, just like the markers that were overlooked as a fine art medium for many years. In the 1930s when the first high quality coloured pencils emerged, they were mostly used by graphic designers and humble illustrators. Later on, during the 1960’s many artists began to use them because of their versatility and ease of expression. Today they are considered as a legitimate art medium and are hugely appreciated among professional artists.
The Benefits of Using Colour Pencils & Why Are They So Popular?
Throughout the years, pencils for colouring have been steadily gaining respect among artists, collectors and galleries. More and more artists have started exploring the creative potential of this fascinating art medium, while enthusiasts and collectors marvel at their output. Colour pencils are capable of rendering any art style, from expressive to abstract, photogenic, detailed and more. They may be a little bit slower to use compared to other media such as paint, but there can be no comparison when it comes to control and detail. That being said, colour pencils are also the perfect medium for miniature art, which is a special art all by itself.
Furthermore, they are very practical and easy to use. They are very light and portable and can be used anywhere at any time without requiring some special preparations. Also, they last a long time and you don’t have to worry whether they will dry out like watercolours, oil paint or markers.
Another advantage of using pencils for colouring is that they can be blended in order to create smooth tonal gradations, which can be achieved with burnishing or layering, or with the help of blender pencils or baby oil. This way you can create blends so smooth that the final picture can look exactly like an oil painting.
Colour pencils can be mixed with other media too, such as graphite, gel pens, watercolours, markers, pastels, crayons and more. One perfect combination is to use markers to lay down vibrant colours and then to draw on top with a colour pencil to add more precise details and make your art look more organic.
If you want to draw more professionally, then it is advisable to purchase artist-grade coloured pencils. It is true that they cost more than school pencils, but since they come with greater quality and last longer, they will pay off in the long run. What makes them different from other colour pencils is that they contain a higher proportion of pigment that yields richer and bolder colours. Moreover, artist-grade pencils are more lightfast and softer and are easier to blend with. They usually come in a wider colour range and it is also possible to buy them individually as needed.
Every brand has a unique combination of prices, colour ranges, pigment concentration and more. Even though it all comes down to personal taste, it is always advisable to look for proven brands that offer high-quality artist-grade products. So, when you are going to buy a new artist color pencil, look for brands such as Mont Marte, Faber-Castell, Derwent, Prismacolor and similar ones that have proven track records and offer pencils of great quality.
However, it is always advisable to buy a few different colour pencils from different brands. That way, you can make a difference and decide which one you like the most and continue buying from it.
Different Types of Colour Pencils
There are three main types of colour pencils: oil-based, wax-based and water-soluble. The beauty of these different types is that, unlike oil paint and acrylics, they mix perfectly and you don’t have to buy the same brand or pencil type.
Oil-Based Pencils For Colouring
Most oil-based pencils are medium-soft, which means they are a little bit firmer than wax-based pencils but softer than water-soluble pencils. They use oil to bind the pigment and distribute it on the surface. They are versatile, very hard to break and don’t require sharpening often.
Oil-based pencils can sometimes scary beginners because they require greater skills to produce a masterpiece. Also, they can be a little bit tricky. That being said, you may notice that upon application the core feels hard but the colour is easy to smear. So, if you are a beginner you may get easily confused and ruin the drawing. However, stay calm and use this type of pencils to blend colours easily and give your work a more sophisticated look. Since they are specialized tools meant for artists who know how to work with them, your experience with oil-based pencils will depend on your skillset.
Wax-Based Pencils for Colouring
Wax-based pencils have a smooth texture which helps the pigment flow across the surface. They can be either hard-leaded colouring sticks made for students or soft-cored pencils designed for professionals. These pencils are slightly less specialized and more affordable than oil-based pencils. They come in different shapes and sizes and in a plethora of colours. Because the wax core is so versatile, they are adaptable to many different styles and types of casting.
Water-Soluble Pencils for Colouring
These are also called watercolour pencils and they are a lot more different than wax or oil-pencils. They can be used just like regular colour pencils, but the difference is that they contain water-soluble gum that allows the pigments to be thinned out with water. In other words, when combined with water and a brush or sponge to blend colours, they can produce beautiful watercolour paintings.