Beginners Guide to Drawing with Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are a versatile and relatively affordable medium that can be used to create stunning artwork.

The materials required can be easily acquired, plus clean-up time is minimal, which is always a plus.

You won’t have any problems creating masterpieces that rival those created using other mediums either.

This guide will teach you the basics of how to get started with drawing using colored pencils.

colored pencils

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The Best Paper for Colored Pencils

You don’t need fancy paper to get started with your colored pencil drawings. Any decent drawing paper will do.

However, if you want to produce the best results, it’s worth investing in high-quality drawing paper specifically designed for use with colored pencils.

The type of paper you choose will have an impact on the final look of your drawing.

So take some time to experiment with different types and weights of paper until you find one that you’re happy with.

When choosing a paper for your art, be sure that you choose heavy-weight paper.

Heavier papers are better able to withstand repeated erasing and heavy shading, while lighter papers are great for delicate work or for use with softer pencils.

There are two main types of paper that are commonly used for colored pencil drawings: bristol and toned paper.

Bristol Paper – Bristol paper is available in two surface types, smooth and vellum.

The vellum surface is the best type of paper to use for colored pencil drawings, as it has more texture than the smooth surface paper.

This texture allows the surface to take hold of the colored pencil as the artist is drawing, giving them a greater depth of tone.

The Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Vellum Pad is a great option for colored pencil drawings. It’s a high-quality and heavy bristol weight paper (270 gsm) that’s acid-free.

bristol paper

Toned Paper – Toned paper is a popular option for colored pencil artists because the paper has a light-colored background (tan or gray).

Some artists believe that there should be little to no white space left in your finished drawing.

Toned paper provides a middle point that would otherwise have to be colored in by the artist.

The Strathmore 400 Series Tan Drawing Paper is a great choice for your drawings. If you want to experiment with light and dark media, you’ll enjoy using this tan drawing paper.

toned paper

Additional Colored Pencil Drawing Tools You’ll Need

  • Colored Pencils: You’ll need a set of colored pencils to get started. If you’re just beginning, try a set of 24 colors. As you become more comfortable with drawing and coloring, you can add more colors to your collection.
  • Erasers: You’ll need erasers to fix any mistakes you make while drawing. A kneaded eraser is a good choice for erasing small mistakes.
  • Pencil Sharpener: A good pencil sharpener is essential for keeping your pencils sharp. A handheld sharpener is a good choice for beginners.
  • Ruler or T-Square: A ruler or T-square is helpful for drawing straight lines accurately.
  • Paper Stumps: Paper stumps are soft, paper-wrapped cylinders that help you blend colors and create gradients.
  • Pencil Box: A pencil box or pouch is a good way to keep your supplies organized.

Basic Colored Pencil Drawing Techniques

When getting started drawing with colored pencils, there are a few tips and techniques that you should be aware of.

Hatching – Hatching is a technique used to create shading with parallel lines. To hatch, simply draw a series of parallel lines close together. Hatching is a great way to add texture to your drawing.

Crosshatching – Crosshatching is a technique used to create shading with intersecting lines. To crosshatch, simply draw a series of intersecting lines.

Blending – Blending is a technique used to create smooth transitions between colors. There are several ways to blend colors with colored pencils.

One way is to blend them together with a paper stump. Another way to blend is to use a colorless blender pencil (perfect for colored pencil art). A colorless blender pencil has a waxy core that can be used to blend colors together.

Burnishing – Burnishing is a technique used to create very smooth, even transitions between colors. You can use a colorless blender or regular colored pencils to burnish.

To burnish, you’ll need to add your colors using very heavy pressure, making sure the colors are blended together and the tooth of the paper is completely covered. This technique yields brighter and more vibrant colors.

Shading – Shading is a great way to add depth and dimension to your drawings. To shade with colored pencils, you’ll need to apply different amounts of pressure. For light shading, use gentle pressure. For a dark shading, press harder.

Scumbling – Scumbling (sometimes called the “brillo pad technique”) is a great way to create textured effects. To scumble, you’ll need to color an area with light pressure using a circular motion.

Stippling – Stippling is another way to create texture. To stipple, you’ll need to color an area using tiny dots. The more dots you use, the darker the effect will be.

If you’re looking for a fun and relatively affordable art medium to try out, colored pencils are definitely worth considering. The wide range of colors available, and the minimal cleanup time are always a bonus.

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I'm Tiffany, author of the 30-Day Drawing Challenge Workbook. I'm a crafting expert and writer with over 12 years of experience. I love sharing my passion for crafting, which includes crocheting, drawing, painting, and DIY projects.