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

 

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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Drawing With Corrina – Session 1 – How To LAYER With Colored Pencil

 

Welcome!

As you may know, I have begun creating short tutorial videos for YouTube as part of a series called, Drawing With Corrina. Each session is meant to teach you one technique about drawing with colored pencil or graphite, or go through a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to draw something specific, like an eye or cherries, etc.

If you want to watch the 12-minute video, you can do so here:

 

I know, however, that many of you prefer reading to watching videos. That’s why I’m pairing each video release with a blog post explaining the video for those who’d prefer to read about it!

 

Drawing With Corrina – Session One

How Do I Create Vibrant Color In Pencil?

When people are looking at my artwork, one of the questions I get the most is: How do you create such vibrant color in pencil?

The answer: Layers.

That’s why Session One of Drawing With Corrina is all about layering! I find that layering is the number one most important thing to know and learn in order to create vibrant, opaque color with colored pencils.

A selection of my colored pencil drawings, showing the vibrant color you can achieve!

 

How Does Layering Work?

When I say “layers,” what I mean is how many times you go over the same area of the paper with the colored pencil, whether it’s with one color, or many.

In the video, I start by showing you how I layer reds to get a bright, opaque color. I start with a light red/orange, and then move to a slightly darker red, and then a slightly darker red, until I’ve made layers with all 5 of the pencils I had of reds.

As I began making layers with the reds, from light to dark.

As I’m coloring in each color, one over the next, I’m going over that area multiple times to make sure the color is even and try to make my pencil strokes show up as little as possible.

As I add layer after layer of color, you notice two things: 1.) The color is getting more opaque as each layer fills in more and more of the grain of the paper. 2.) The pencil strokes of the darker colors show up a little more and are more difficult to keep even.

The layers are filling in the paper, but pencil strokes are showing up more.

 

How Can Layering Create Smooth Color?

After the initial layers of red, I took the second darkest red and did another layer at a SLIGHTLY different angle. YOU DON’T WANT TO GO PERPENDICULAR. If you try to color one direction and then start to color the next layer at the opposite (perpendicular) angle, it will show as a crosshatch and won’t blend as smoothly as you’d like (you’ll learn more about blending in Session Two)!

So instead, choose a slightly different angle with that layer, and then add another on top with the darkest red again.

Then go from a slightly different angle yet again, this time from the bottom in order to fill in the rest of the stubborn white grain of the paper.

Vary your pencil strokes by going in slightly different angles.

 

How Much Pressure Should I Use?

Everyone has a different amount of pressure they naturally prefer to use while drawing. Some are considered “hard-handed” and some are softer.

I tend to fall in the middle of this scale, but you want to learn to use all sorts of different amounts of pressure to create different effects.

For these layering purposes, I suggest using a medium amount of pressure for most of your layers, and a little bit lighter pressure for your darker layers, as they show up more.

Then, your last few layers can have more pressure as you fill in the grain of the paper completely.

 

What About Other Colors?

Next I did the exact same thing with blues. I took 5 different shades of blue and layered them from light to dark, just like I did with the reds.

A few layers in to the blues.

Then I took the second darkest color and the darkest and added layers with my pencil strokes at SLIGHTLY different angles again, filling in the white grain of the paper to make a bright, opaque blue.

Filling in the last of the remaining white grain of the paper.

 

What About A Light Color?

The next part of the video is me showing you how to create a light blue, with only two colors of blue. I use the lightest and second lightest blue in order to layer and create an opaque light blue.

I start with the lightest blue and then add the slightly darker blue on top, and then go back to another layer of the lightest, and back and forth. Again, I use slightly different angled strokes in order to create a smoother color.

Layering just the two lightest colors back and forth creates a lighter blue.

 

What If I Just Want One Color?

That works too! Even if you want just one color, for example the darkest of the blues that I was using before, it works the same way. Instead of going from light colors to dark, you just use that one pencil and color in the section, remembering to go at slightly different angles, to fill in all the grain of the paper and make that opaque color.

Still use layering even with a single color until the paper is fully saturated.

Remember: This is the same dark blue I used before to make that vibrant, brighter blue, but as you can see, when I used it on top of the lighter colors, it wasn’t nearly as dark. So when you’re drawing, KEEP IN MIND: drawing on top of lighter colors will lighten that color, and drawing on top of darker colors, which isn’t really recommended, will drastically darken the lighter color.

Just remember, if you decide you want to lighten that area up later on (shown in the upper left corner of the last image), light colors DO NOT show up very well over the top of dark colors, so even if you use white, that area is not going to lighten up very much. This is one of the reasons I teach people to go from light to dark when layering.

Final Thoughts

Layering is the best way to make that bright, vibrant color with colored pencil. It can make the process time consuming and you need to have patience. But it’s worth it!

Some of my colored pencil drawings.

So practice using different mixtures of colors and different angles with your pencil strokes until you get comfortable knowing how to fill in the grain of the paper. 

 

IMPORTANT: Different papers have different tooth, or grain amounts. So  smoother papers will fill in more quickly, and some that are rougher will take more layers to fill it in!