Bring Your Art to Life with These 8 Simple Pencil Coloring Techniques

Last Updated by Brandon F. on July 13, 2020

Our friends over at Chameleon Art Products wrote us a Guest Post outlining 8 simple techniques that you can use to make the most of your colored pencils.

Pencils aren’t just for kids or for when you need to do a quick, freehand doodle. They are essential tools that artists of all ages need to have in their supply drawer. With the right techniques, you can produce a brilliant range of color tones and ultimately, mesmerizing pieces of artwork. Here are eight simple pencil coloring techniques you need to know.

1. Hatching

Hatching is a linear drawing technique that can help you add texture and dimension to your artwork. It’s very similar to the back and forth technique (where you just move your pencil back and forth in one continuous motion), but you lift your pencil off the paper to create each new line.

To create it, all you do is make parallel lines on your paper. By adding more lines, you can easily add shading, depth, and dimension to your work.

It doesn’t matter which direction these lines go in and they can even curve (cross contour lines). But the two main things you need to remember are that these lines need to be parallel and not touch.

2. Cross Hatching

Cross-hatching is the cousin of hatching but instead of parallel lines, you draw intersecting lines – as the name suggests. The more lines cross over, the darker that area becomes.

Cross-hatching is more controlled than hatching and is capable of producing very clean, deliberate markings. That’s why it’s excellent for when you want to create precise shading and textures. However, for the best results, you’ll need a sharp point on your pencil.

3. Burnishing

Burnishing is when you draw with heavy pressure. The aim is to press your pencil as hard as possible against the paper to grind the colors right into the fibers of the paper. That means there are hardly any holes in the paper with no color in them. This results in more vivid, richer colors. They also typically appear to have a smoother and waxier finish.

For the best results, only burnish when you’ve nearly finished your drawing or when you’ve already put several layers on the paper. This is due to two reasons:

When you expose the paper to heavy pressure, it makes that section smoother. This means it’ll be harder to add color.
It’s more difficult to erase burnished colors. It’ll typically leave a stain or you’ll end up damaging the paper in the process. So, it’s best to add burnishing when you’re satisfied with your piece as there’ll be less chance of you needing to erase a section.

4. Stippling

This is when you build up the intensity of the colored pigment using dots. Stippling is more commonly used with pen-based coloring, but it’s still a great and simple way to slowly build color and texture in a small, precise area.

5. Circling

Parallel lines and dots aren’t the only ways you can build up color and tone when you’re working with pencils. You can also draw little circles with your pencil point. This is a fantastic way to create smooth textures, such as when you’re shading skin or backgrounds.

However, this technique can take a while to build up color, which can be stressful on the wrists, so you might want to reserve it for when you need it. Or, you can use hatching and cross-hatching to quickly build up color and then use circling to smooth the lines out.

6. Using Oil or Alcohol

Use rubbing alcohol or baby oil to change the way your colored pencils appear on paper. Take a cotton pad, soak it in one of these materials, and gently rub it onto your drawing. This will smear your artwork, blend the pigments, and give it a richer appearance.

7. Use a White Pencil

Never underestimate the white pencil. Just because it’s colorless doesn’t mean you can’t use it to enhance your artwork. The white pencil can help to emphasize the paler tones and help to blend layers without needing to use more of the pigment color.

For example, if you want to create a very pale blue, you can start with a layer of white and then blend a blue colored pencil over the top. This helps to control how much of the colored pigment goes down. You no longer need to shade very lightly with your blue pencil and risk creating patchy colored sections.

8. Blending

This one might seem like an obvious one but you’d be surprised at how many artists forget about blending! The techniques we’ve mentioned, like cross-hatching and stippling, are a great way to add texture and shading, but there’s no reference to blending the different tones.

When you blend colors, you’re smoothening the harsh lines between the different pigments and strokes out. Blending can be a time-consuming technique as you’ll need to switch between various pencils, from completely different colors to tones, but remember the benefits. A blended piece of work looks more professional and pleasing to the eye.

Double-ended pencils, like Chameleon Pencils, can help speed up the process though. These smart pencils come with two perfectly matched tones so you no longer need to rifle through your extensive collections of art tools anymore. You just need to flip to blend and can easily color between the shades.

Pencils are an important art tool that creative individuals of all ages need to have as an option. But to unlock the full benefits of coloring pencils, you need to be using the right techniques.

From cross-hatching to blending, these simple tricks are an easy way to create inspirational, aesthetically pleasing pieces of art. We hope it’s helped you.

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