Friday, November 30, 2007

Tips for using Watercolour pencil Crayons

Performance & Cost:

Water colour pencil Crayons are my favourite method of adding colour to line images. To be honest, I prefer Rexel Derwent artist's pencils to Stamping up--for one main reason: you can pull more colour off with the Derwent pencils when you add water and that gives a more painterly effect. ETA: What I mean is that--with the Derwent pencils--after you fill all the colour in with pencil, it actually lets you pull off a little colour and show the paper underneath (when you apply water.) In contrast, with the Stampin Up ones, the paper was kind of stained--the pigment wouldn't pull off the same way.

However, I may be just heavy handed with the Stampin Up ones, because I've used the Derwent for many years. Try building up colour with lighter pressure if you have the Stampin up ones. I must admit, SU's pencils are much more affordable & actually have the matching colours. To get the matching SU colours, you'd have to buy the Derwent 72 pencil set at 100.00 or more. SU's set of 27 is just $27.95.

How to Water colour with Pencils (I'm going to give lots of pointers that make it sound complicated, 'cause I'm nuts.) :0) But it really is fun & easy--It's well worth trying):

Step 1: Water colouring embossed images is easier. The raised embossing keeps you from going out of the lines & holds the water in. Stamp a sheet of embossed images for practice or to make several cards. I find Naturals card stock to be the most forgiving since it has dots in it. (If I make a mistake, it looks like a dot!) ;0) I prefer to work with my sheet on a clip board or a hardcover book with a smooth textured cover.

Step 2. Keep your pencils well-sharpened to get into nooks & crannies of your image. Hold the pencil at a 90 degree angle (or colour as straight up & down as possible.) This will prevent embossing from flaking off, but if it does flake, don't fret: the colour should still be there and no one will look that closely. :0)

Note: Below is an example of different sketch techniques you can use. All of these except "smooth ovals" leave a bit of textured look to your work. The softer you press the easier it will be to erase the penciled look. I personally LOVE a bit of that sketchy look though. This photo below shows the sketch techniques after the water:

This next photo below shows the sketch techniques before the water.They're in the same positions as above--sorry, I didn't think to label them until after I watered them down.)

You can add a little or a lot of pigment, & don't be afraid to go in with more penciling after your water has dried well. You can also mix colours to get different hues or to do shading.

Step 3: Colour the image. I coloured this one with small smooth oval strokes that overlap one another. It's a good idea to begin by choosing where your imagined light source will be. I chose upper left here, meaning the light appears to be shining from above and to the left. This will help you place shadows by concentrating more pencil colour to one side & leave blank or light areas as highlights on the opposite side. (The balloon is the most obvious example of this.)

Step 4: Go in with water. An Aqua painter is ideal, because it puts a small amount of water on the paper. I don't squeeze the aqua painter; Just use enough water to give rich colours that look painted, but not enough to be sloppy and wash out your colour (or warp your page.)

Leaving some white/light areas creates interest. The best way to do this is to work from light to dark penciled areas. (Your brush will pick up pigment as it moves along.) For instance with the balloon, I started at the top and worked my way down, then I removed a little pigment off the brush & blended the middle area in. This is handy for removing pigment to make lighter areas. If you are trying to lighten, be sure to clean your brush. (I use the back of my hand for removing excess colour, since it helps me work quickly.) If you make a mistake and go over the line, you can clean your brush quickly and go back in with water. It is a very forgiving medium in that way.

The squirrel's face in this picture above shows the result of my favourite brush technique for adding pigment: When blending the middle areas, I like to use a pouncing or stippling motion to get rough natural deposits of left over colour instead of lines. Left over pigment on your brush is also a great way to get into areas your pencil couldn't reach. If you want a finer tip roll your brush along the back of your hand until you can see that it is less spread out.

As I said earlier, go ahead and add more pencil after it is dry. I like the grainy softness of pencil added on top of water-coloured images and not watered down a second time. If you look closely at the balloons & hearts, you can see the effect of adding more pencil sans water:

I'm not expert by any means, but I've had tonnes of fun playing & finding my favourite tricks. If you've tried water-colour pencil crayons (or you decide to give it a go) I'd love love love to hear any tricks you use.

Thanks for stopping by,
:0) Mel


Cathrine StClair said...

Hi from a new member of SBS2!

What wonderful coloring - and a great tutorial too.

Looking forward to getting to know you and seeing more of your work.

Tejal said...

I loved the squirrel card. Looks so darn elegant. The embossed patterns look so rich....LOVE IT!!

Tina said...

Thanks for the great tut, "Sister".


Savitri said...

Oh this is great! What does this mean though: you can pull more colour off with the Derwent pencils.

Thanks for the tutorial. I've always wanted to learn how to paint better. I might just trying something this week. I'll let you know if I do :D

mel m. m. mccarthy said...

Ya, I guess that's not so clear about the pulling the colour off. What I mean is that after you fill all the colour in with pencil, it actually lets you pull off a little and show the paper underneath (when you apply water.) In contrast, with the Stampin Up ones, the paper was kind of stained--so the pigment wouldn't pull off the same way. (If I'm still makin' no sense let me know) ;0)


Dina Kowal Creative said...

Great tutorial! I love the Derwent pencils too - I haven't used the SU ones, only the Prismacolor ones, and the Derwents are definitely the best - creamy color and they blend so well. You can see some of my watercolor work at to have you visit!


Alhambra Club said...

I am so glad I found your blog, you are so creative. Loving your blog.