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Colored Pencils - The Basics!

Ah, colored pencils, the approachable artist tool. They are easy to work with, very portable (even if it's just from your couch to the dining room) and they don't require any preparation, which means you can grab them whenever motivation strikes and get right to work. So what's holding you back? If you're wondering where to start, see below for some basic techniques.

Keep the Pencils Sharpened

A sharp tip lets you work on the drawing precisely, giving you more control over the outcome of each stroke. The best example of this benefit is when working with outlines and filling in the little details. A dull tip leaves messy trails beside the actual lines and requires you to apply pressure which can ruin the tooth of the surface. Use a blade as opposed to a sharpener. But with a blade or a knife, you have control over sharpening the tips to prevent waste.

The Right Surface

Colored pencils also require the right surface to produce an archival quality piece.

Working on the right paper helps highlight the best performance of those colored pencils. A multimedia paper works well. KIN makes a paper specifically for colored pencils.


The pressure you apply on the colored pencil decides how your painting will look like in the end. And the problem usually comes up while layering – not all layers need the same amount of pressure to be used.


There are times when you’ll notice that a single color does not give full coverage to the area in the artwork because it can either be too thin or too dull. In such cases, applying more layers is necessary. Layering can help the artist get satisfying outcomes as it provides the piece with more depth, hence, making it appear more real. To get the best layering results, choose colors that are close representatives of each other or those which are of similar shades. You can also use colors that are total opposites to each other.

Strokes Direction

The same way brush strokes are important in painting, so are colored pencils. In order to get this technique right, it’s important to first decide where the strokes should face, especially when working with life-like pieces.

Mix the Colors

The benefit we get from mixing colors is that they appear to be more natural.

With a wet medium, we can always blend two colors together and create a totally different tone. But in the case of dry mediums such as colored pencils, we are required to layer the colors. For example, if we want to produce a natural shade of red, we can try mixing the colors yellow and purple by layering them. "Optical mixing’ is a technique that involves progressively mixing the right shades by dotting them in the area where you want to.


Since blending is a major part of colored pencils, there are many ways to get it right.

Try using a white colored pencil or a blender. Gently going over the other colors with the white pencil or blender pencil can help smooth and cover the empty areas.


Burnishing is what makes a drawing turn into a painting through colored pencils. What it does is letting the colors seep into the surface’s texture to help make the drawing appear more compact. When using either wax or oil-based colored pencils, the process of burnishing automatically happens because the composition starts to build up.

All you need to do is use a light-colored pencil and apply it on the spot using pressure. The best colors to perform burnishing with are cream, white, and similar light colors.

Another way to burnish your drawing is to use Turpentine over it with a brush after the drawing process is done. This will take more effort but the results are pretty much similar to when using manufactured blenders.

Hope this helps! Share your creations with us at @kohinoorusa!

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