Moores Art Gallery & Design

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Colored Pencil Tips & Techniques:

Blending, Burnishing and Layering

It's All About Colored Pencils!

Blending, Burnishing and Layering


• Burnishing with colored pencils can create a beautiful rich glazed look. Burnishing is a process of layering multiple colors and then applying heavy pressure with a light color pencil or with some type of artist tool. The wax then melds together and causes the drawing surface to become slick, filling up the entire tooth of the paper's surface. For example, after layering several colors, apply heavy pressure with Prismacolor Prismacolor Cloud Blue PC1023. Repeat the process again if necessary, until a polished or vivid effect is achieved. Burnishing is ideal for creating sparkling glass, polished surfaces, and metals.

• Burnishing works best with a light colored pencil, such as Prismacolor Cream, Prismacolor White, Prismacolor Light Gray or Prismacolor Cloud Blue, apply heavy pressure over layered colored area to be burnished.

• By burnishing with certain colors you can achieve certain effects, such as burnishing with pale ochre you can give the illusion of an aged or antique look.

• Try using a metal scoop part of a ceramic clean up tool, a spoon, or any other smooth metal device and apply heavy pressure in circular like motions to the colored layers to be burnished.

• Burnish your light areas first so that you do not drag any dark pigment where you don't want it.

Blending & Layering

• Blending is the process of layering colors and merging the layers of color together using layering techniques and/or using a combination of blending tools. As a result, you can achieve rich photo-realistic type works.

• Layering is the process of gradually building layers upon layers of colors using light to medium pressure to create different colors. It can give your works an illusion of depth, can deepen colors, can modify colors, and can even give your work an impression of light or luminosity.

• A very effective and valuable tool for blending colors, creating rich vivid colors or giving layers of color a polished look is the colorless blender pencil. These four colorless blenders Prismacolor's blender pencil (PC 1077), Lyra's Rembrandt Splender Blender, Derwent Blender, and Caran d'Ache Full Blender-Bright are also great in completing finishing touches on detailed areas.

• To blend or burnish colors try using a stump or tortillion. Tortillions come in 3 sizes: small, medium and large. Stumps are very similar to the tortillons, but are much bigger. Blend the colors in a circular motion and apply heavy pressure to blend the colors. Make sure you keep the tips clean if you are using it to blend selective colors.

• A colorless marker or pen can be used to blend layers of color together. The marker or pen is great for making washes, or under-paintings in color pencil paintings. Some top rated brands are Tombow Colorless Blender Pen, Prismacolor Colorless Blender Marker, Finesse Colored Pencil Blender Marker or Copic Colorless Blender Sketch Marker.

• Try using makeup sponges, q-tips or an Alvin Dry Cleaning Pad, for blending layers of color.

• Layer colors using crosshatch, horizontal, diagonal, vertical, or circular strokes. Start off with a single light layer of a color, then keep adding different layers of color on top of one another, using light to medium pressure, until the desired results are achieved.

• Try applying mineral spirits with a q-tip or paint brush to blend colors together.

• Colored Pencil Artist Carlynne Hershberger has discovered a "new blending tool called the Crayon Eraser." It is similar to Prismas colorless blenders, however, it does not change the saturation of the colors as the blending markers and pencils can do.

• Colored Pencil Artist, Linda Lucas Hardy uses a dry brushing technique for blending her layers of color. She applies multiple layers of color pencil gradually, to a heavy pressure, and then takes a stiff bristle paint brush or pastel brush, no longer than 1/2 inch, and blends the colors together.

•  Colored pencil artist Ester Roi, has invented the Icarius Drawing Board. The board has a warm side and cool side. The warm side of the board is used for mixing, blending and burnishing layers of colors. You use the cool side of the board to work on the details and other layering techniques.

Keep on Creating!

Colored Pencil Artist Carol Moore