Using watercolor pencils for basic drawings. How to use watercolor pencils to make the most of them? It is a question that many people ask themselves. Those who have been using “normal” colored pencils to create their illustrations for years ask this and now want to vary a little, using different techniques. Even some watercolors ask how to use watercolor pencils, who have heard that with these special pencils it is possible to obtain results very similar to those obtained with the classic godets, without however having to carry too many accessories. Which, for those who want to apply drawing ideas, is not bad at all.
And if even those people who, without even knowing it, find themselves in the hands of watercolor, colored pencils, which yes, they can use like regular colored pencils. But it would be a real shame not to experiment with their specific use at least once. So now, we need to allow you a guide that will teach you how to use watercolor pencils. Enjoy the reading!
What are watercolor pencils?
Before seeing how to use watercolor pencils, let’s understand what they are and how they differ from colored pencils. Well, in themselves, on the outside, watercolor pencils are all similar to traditional ones. The difference lies within them, at the level of the mine. Together with the colored pigments, it is, in fact, also provided with particular water-soluble waxes, which allow associating the use of these pencils with that of water. And here, precisely, is a big difference: wet the stroke of a regular colored pencil means potentially ruining the work, being a dry medium.
Watercolor pencils are an effective hybrid between ordinary pencils and watercolors. Like the former, they allow you to draw with a decisive and linear stroke without requiring anything else. And like watercolors, they can be used to “paint” to create more or less transparent glazes. The result, in any case, is a lively and bright color, even if it does not reach the characteristic intensity of watercolor colors.
Coloring with watercolor pencils: everything you need
What are the accessories for using watercolor pencils? Well, in case these are used as regular colored pencils, the answer is straightforward: all you need is to have with you a set of colored pencils, sheets of drawing paper, an eraser, and a sharpener, unlike the case in which you want to use watercolor pencils to “paint,” thus exploiting their hydrophilic component. In this case, first of all, it will be necessary to have the right card. And here we are no longer talking about any sketchbook: we must instead opt for watercolor paper, and therefore suitable for the “wet” use typical of this medium. You can choose between smooth and textured paper, according to the effects you want to achieve: in the case of smooth paper, for example, it will be possible to add more minute details.
It is also advisable to have some adhesive paper tape with you, to fix the sheet of watercolor paper to the underlying surface – stopping the edges of the sheet – to prevent it from bending when it comes into contact with water. You also need brushes, which must be soft and of quality (if you do not want to find yourself with the marks of the brushstrokes or with hairs deposited along with the entire sheet), as well as containers for water (better to use more than one, so as not to have to change the dirty water continuously). And again, you will need some rags to dab, dry, and clean the brushes) and, at the end of the job, a fixative spray.
How to use watercolor pencils
I must say that watercolor pencils are quite versatile accessories: they can be used in many different ways.
Like normal colored pencils
As anticipated, it is possible to use watercolor pencils as regular colored pencils. Not a few people also prefer pencils with hydrophilic waxes, which are much less complicated than others.
Use watercolor pencils: dry on dry
Let’s see how to exploit the soluble component of watercolor pencils specifically. The dry-on-dry technique, first of all, involves drawing the outlines of the figures we want to paint: a flower, a landscape, a still life, and so on. To trace these outlines, you can use a graphite pencil or a watercolor pencil of color consistent with the painting you intend to do. Once this is completed, you can choose in the ways and color our drawing, typically with watercolor pencils, using the sheet’s white for the lighter areas.
To obtain shading and color gradations, already in this phase, it is possible to proceed with a pressure difference in using the pencils or in a second crossed past. Once you have finished the actual work with the pencil, you will move on to the brush: you will have to moisten the tip in clean water and pass it on the colored areas to obtain the shades and veils sought. By doing so, the pencil strokes will disappear, and the work will fully assume the typical characteristics of watercolor.
Use watercolor pencils: wet on dry
Instead of using a brush, you can also dip the pencils directly into the water. The result is a thicker, more vibrant line. Using this technique, however, the effects of water will not last long. It is essential, once finished, to dry the pencils with a paper towel so that you can keep them in top condition.
Use watercolor pencils: wet on wet
In this case, watercolor pencils are used as real watercolors. We proceed by wetting the sheet as seen for the dry-on-wet technique, but then, instead of using “dry” pencils to draw, we proceed by dipping their tip in water. A variant that brings pencils even closer to watercolor godets involves drawing colored squares with watercolor pencils on a separate sheet. It will allow you to use the latter as a “palette” to dip wet brushes.
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