March 3, 2017

Drawing With Corrina – Session 2 – How To BLEND Colored Pencil

by Corrina Thurston


Hi Everyone! Welcome to Session 2 of Drawing With Corrina!

For those who don’t know, I’m in the process of creating a series of quick tutorial videos for YouTube that each either teach you ONE technique for creating realistic, vibrant colored pencil drawings, or teach you how to draw something specific, like an eye or fur, etc.

Session 1, which you can read about and view here, was all about LAYERING.

Session 2, which you can watch below, is all about BLENDING!

I’m creating a blog post for each of these tutorial videos, both to explain them and to give my audience more options for learning. I know some of you would prefer to read about these topics rather than watch a video, and that’s what these blog posts are for!


How To BLEND With Colored Pencil

1.) Using A Lighter Color To Blend

One way to blend with colored pencil is to use a lighter color, or white, over the top of what you’ve drawn, with a good amount of pressure to blend those colors together.

Using the lightest green to color over a green gradient to blend.

Things you want to remember with this method of blending:

  • It WILL lighten your piece, so you may want to go back over it, or prepare beforehand for that lightening effect
  • You NEED to use either white or a color that is a lighter shade of the color you’re blending. For example, use a lighter green to blend greens, or a lighter blue to blend blues, but do not use a lighter blue to blend greens, etc. White is good for this purpose.
  • You NEED to have enough layers down to blend. Like you learned in Session 1, layers are important for creating that vibrant color. The more layers you have, the easier it will be to blend them together with any of these methods.


2.) Using A Blending Stump To Blend

This is my personal favorite, although I use the method above a lot too. It always depends on what effect you’re trying to get for each individual piece.

A blending stump is something you can buy at an art supply store, and it’s a pencil-shaped tool made of tightly packed paper. When you use it like a pencil over the top of colors of pencil, it helps blend the color by smearing it into the little white grain of the paper that may be showing.

Using a blending stump to blend a green gradient.

Things to remember with this method of blending:

  • You NEED enough layers in order for this method to work. If you don’t have enough layers down, you won’t have enough pigment on the paper to fill in all the white of the paper. The more layers you have, the easier this blending method will be.
  • It DOESN’T change the color of the layers below. So where the previous method lightens the drawing, this method leaves the colors the way they are without changing them.
  • BE CAREFUL if you have used the blending stump with one color and are then blending another. The blending stump will pick up the color your blending, so if you blend a dark color and then move to blend a lighter color, it will transfer and you could end up with a dark streak across your lighter color. So make sure to wipe the blending stump off or sharpen it and get rid of that risk. Test it on a side paper to make sure it won’t leave a streak on your drawing!
  • This method MAY reduce the amount of detail you have in the drawing. But that’s okay! Use this blending method not at the end of your drawing, but about 75% of the way through, when you have enough layers and want to fill in the grain of the paper. Then you can go back over it and create the fine details that will give you your finished drawing.
If you don’t clean/test your blending stump after using one color, you may end up with a dark streak across your drawing!


3.) Using Layers Of Color To Blend

As you saw in Session 1, you can get a good amount of blending from colored pencil if you use enough layers. The colors will naturally start to blend together as you add more layers, especially if you vary the direction (slightly!) of your pencil strokes to really fill in the grain of the paper.

So you CAN use just layers and layers of color to blend.

Using layers of color can blend naturally by themselves.

Things to remember with this type of blending method:

  • This can be tedious. If you have a large area you’re wanting to blend, it may be faster and easier to use one of the methods above to blend after you get a certain number of layers down on the paper.
  • It’s harder to make sure that you get ALL the little white specks of the paper covered with this method.
  • Pencil strokes may show up more with this method, if you’re not really careful to keep your strokes really even and vary the direction of your strokes slightly to fill everything in.


4.) Using Oil Or An Odorless Paint Thinner To Blend

One way that a lot of people use to blend colored pencil is by using linseed oil, or turpenoid, or some other paint thinner.

When you do this type of blending, you can use a paintbrush, a tissue, or a q-tip, etc. for the application. Choose whichever one fills your needs the best. And experiment! Try each and see which one you like best.

This method has you wet your applicator (q-tip, paintbrush, etc.), which for me was a q-tip, and then use it lightly over your colored pencil. This will turn the pigment on the paper into a wet paint, which you can then use to cover all the white grain in the paper.

Using a q-tip dipped in odorless paint thinner to blend.

Things to remember with this blending method:

  • This method turns your colored pencil into a PAINT. So it is wet, and you need to be careful with that. Don’t smear it, because it will leave paint-like smears that cannot be erased.
  • Because this is more like paint, it may be more difficult to get clear, crisp edges, so be careful with your applicator.
  • Also because this is more like paint, you NEED to let it dry before applying more layers on top. Otherwise your next layers won’t lay down properly.
  • The NICE thing about this method is: you don’t need many layers. You can only have a couple layers and still blend and fill in the grain of the paper. This is because of the paint-ness of it. So this method could potentially be a major time saver for you.
You don’t need as many layers to blend with the paint thinner or oil.


BONUS! (Not In The Video): Using Heat To Blend

This is something I didn’t include in the video, but there are also a number of people who LOVE using heat to help blend the pencil in their drawings.

There’s a woman and fantastic artist named Ester Roi, and you can check out her website here, who has invented a drawing tool called the Icarus Board. You can read more about it by clicking on the link.

This is a drawing board that has different amounts of heat. To use it, you lay your drawing paper down on it and use the heat to lay down color more quickly, because it essentially melts the pigment.

I have never used this method before, so I can’t tell you much about it. But I know a lot of people who do use it, or heat in general, and I wanted to let you know it’s an option too! Feel free to experiment and let me know what you think!


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