Water color pencils are very similar to color pencils in that, they allow you to have precise control, achieve great detail, they are very flexible, very portable and inexpensive. The difference between regular color pencils and water-soluble pencils are their leads. Color pencil leads are either wax or oil based, whereas watercolor pencil leads have a water soluble base.
One thing to remember, when working with water color pencils, is after you have layered several layers of color, and begin to apply water, a solvent or use a blender, the results will not be the same, as if you were using color pencil. The colors will be darker, sometimes more vivid, and they can change to a color you were not trying to achieve. So experiment before you start layering, to see if it is actually the color you want for your project or portrait. Try mixing watercolor pencil with other mediums, such as color pencil, ink or graphite. You will be surprised with the results!
Watercolor Pencil Tips and Techniques
- Apply the color dry.
- Wet the paper first to produce a bleeding type effect and/or soft lines.
- Use various tools, such as a sponge or toothbrush or shaking the pencil, to create different effects.
- After your wash has dried, apply dry layers of color for detail.
- Create glazed washes (transparent layers of color over another) with either water or solvents.
- Use a colorless blender marker, such as Tombo’s, to blend the colors.
- To achieve a thick opaque look, dip pencil in water or solvent first (eats the lead of the pencil up quickly).
- For detail, try using a small wet paint brush.
- Try breaking a small piece of lead off into a palette and add couple drops of water.
- Try creating a graded wash, from dark to light with water or solvents.
- Try back wash technique by wetting your paper, apply one color at one end, and then another color at the other end, watch the colors blend and bleed together.
- If you are going to be using a wet technique, tape down your paper to a board, to prevent buckling of paper.
- Try dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and dot the wet colored surface of the paper, creates a cool effect.
- Try applying salt to wet area, can create sparkly and different effects.
Best Watercolor Pencil Paper
If you mix watercolor pencil with color pencil the best papers I have discovered the following papers work best: Arches watercolor paper, Strathmore watercolor pads and Rising Stonehenge drawing paper. All three brands are acid free and Strathmore also has ATC/ACEO size watercolor paper. Stonehenge, out of all the drawing papers, it is the most durable and holds up well to watercolor pencil applications.