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Using colored pencils for drawing

Using colored pencils for drawing

Question from Ann Marie

When drawing with colored pencils, should I use hatching and cross hatching the same way as with a graphite pencil without using a blending tool? I have seen so many people blend colored pencils with Vaseline, mineral spirits and mineral oils. I don’t like blended colored pencils and I am looking for a better way to use them.

Ann Marie

Feedback from Vladimir London, Drawing Academy tutor

Dear Ann Marie,

Many thanks for your question.

The main reason why it is not a good idea to blend graphite pencil is because it results in mud. This is an amateur technique used by self-taught artists and hobbyists. There are many “how not to draw” videos on YouTube where smudging graphite pencil is the main way of achieving smooth gradations. The result looks lifeless and uninteresting, therefore you don’t have to follow those types of directions.

However, with soft drawing materials like sanguine, chalks and charcoal it is different. Blending produces a smooth transition of colors and tonal values without the muddy appearance. So, it is perfectly fine to blend soft drawing mediums because you essentially draw with colored dust particles.

When it comes to colored pencils, it depends what a pencil is made of. In most cases pigment particles are bounded in waxy clay that is not easy to smear, therefore some artists use liquid mediums to help the process. This is a personal choice. Personally, I don’t like blending colored pencils; after all, hand-drawn pencil strokes is a “personal style signature” that is unique and recognizable. I don’t see the point in smudging a style hallmark.

I hope this gives you enough information to make your own decision on “to smudge or not to smudge”.

Using colored pencils for drawings

Using colored pencils for drawings

Using colored pencils for drawings

Using colored pencils for drawings

Response from from Ann Marie

Hi Vladimir,

I’m going to use the cross hatching technique when drawing with color pencils. I started a drawing using coloring pencils and cross hatching while waiting for your response and I like that look so much better. I really don’t like the blended look of color pencils at all. I’m glad I found your Drawing Academy Website. I am learning a lot about drawing that they just don’t teach here in the New York City area.

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