Watercolor and Colored Pencil Illustration Art Supplies
Caveat: this paper is not meant to be used for watercolor. (I’m sorry to be a rebel.) Borden & Riley plate finish Bristol is meant for illustration, pen and ink, and drawing – not wet, juicy media like watercolor. It works, and leaves some speckling (see below), which doesn’t bother me, and it’s tough enough to withstand colored pencil application and buffing. Have you ever used it for illustrations?
Paper and Paint
You can use the Borden & Riley paper, or I’d recommend trying traditional watercolor paper with your watercolor and colored pencil experiments too. Either cold press, hot press or rough paper will work. Use what you have. And if you’re not sure about watercolor paper, here is a primer all about the stuff.
The watercolors in this painting are a mixture of Winsor Newton and Daniel Smith tube watercolors, squeezed into a Winsor Newton metal travel palette I’ve had for 30+ years. You can get watercolor travel palettes quite affordably now like this one.
Brushes and Pencils
The colored pencils are Prismacolor Premier Verithin lightfast, like these. If you’ve used other brands of colored pencils, please leave details in the comments. Variations to consider from different brands shared among more experienced artists is always helpful for folks just getting into colored pencils. See a few articles on pencils below.
Colored Pencil Around the Web
- New York Magazine published an article in their Strategist section reviewing brands of colored pencils. Similar to the ModernMet colored pencil review in my recent post – they break down costs and harvest reviews from amazon to set a ranking for each brand. You can read it here.
- Will, from the youtube channel Behind the Mask, filmed a detailed colored pencil demo showing the effects of blending via burnishing, colorless blenders and solvents, etc. Watch that here.
- Here is a lovely 12 minute video demonstration by Claudia Cooper’s channel – using a 12 color set of Derwent ColorSoft colored pencils on the verso of Canson Mi Teintes paper, and Zest It Pencil Blend – a citrus solvent that is very effective for blending colored pencils. Watch to the end of Claudia’s video to see the results of too much solvent.
- If you’re interested in groups, this Colored Pencil group on Facebook has lots of active members, and they share tips, tricks and resources.
Fix an Old Watercolor
If making something new is hard for you right now, maybe it’s easier to fix something old.
Example: I recently spent a few months locked into my keyboard during the rebuild of my website, so I didn’t touch art supplies. Eight weeks is just enough time away from art for me to feel rusty and uncertain about where to start – even with a thousand ideas bouncing around in my head.
Playing with colored pencil on the watercolor illustration at the top of this post was just the right level of effort to loosen up, and remind myself that this art stuff is fun.
Colored Pencil Experiments
If you’re feeling a little rusty too, pull out an old, less than glorious watercolor, and play with colored pencil on it. If the watercolor didn’t sing to you when you finished it, there’s nothing to lose with some colored pencil experiments.
Try not to aim for a masterpiece when you’re launching straight out of the no-art-for-awhile cannon. Give yourself time to warm up to it slowly with some fun mini sessions using colored pencils on older watercolors. It could be just the thing to start your creative engines.
If you don’t have a failed watercolor, scan one of your beauties, and print it on smooth drawing paper from your computer so you can add colored pencil to the print. Either approach will liven your sensibilities about adding colored pencil to your watercolors.
There’s a round-up of previous watercolor and colored pencil illustration posts from this blog below.
Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post –
P.S. Deborah Paris is a landscape painter I admire, and she recently posted a brief essay about Why You Should Draw. She references landscape painting, but her observations apply to still life, figurative and all other genes of representational art-making too. Read that here.
Of all the tasks which are set before man in life, the education and management of his character is the most important, and, in order that it should be successfully pursued, it is necessary that he should make a calm and careful survey of his own tendencies, unblinded either by the self-deception which conceals errors and magnifies excellences, or by the indiscriminate pessimism which refuses to recognize his powers for good. He must avoid the fatalism which would persuade him that he has no power over his nature, and he must also clearly recognize that this power is not unlimitedWilliam Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life
Round-Up of a few Colored Pencil and Watercolor Illustration Posts
- Hahnemuhle paper supplied samples to test in this post, and I used watercolor, pen and ink and colored pencil on several papers meant for mixed media illustration.
- This tiger lily still life watercolor was enhanced with colored pencil and the video demo of that process is in the post as well.
- This post features a tiny portrait illustration in profile done with watercolors and colored pencil. There are several links to colored pencil resources and demos in the post too.
- A multi-figure portrait of children reading with a dog nearby started as a graphite drawing, with watercolor and then colored pencil. See the steps in photos here.
- A little variation on a theme: here’s what happens when you add colored pencil to a dark field monotype print.