Tools for the Colored Pencil Artist
Some artists really dislike the drawing process, but good drawing pencils can make your work a joy.
Col-erase can be used to draw directly on your paper, and erase easily. These can eliminate graphite lines.
You can draw directly from a projector in the color that you want your object to be
Water-soluble graphite pencils should not be used under CP work, especially if water will be added later. The w-s graphite will dissolve and make a muddy mess of your nice colors.
I can no longer live without my Pentel GraphGear 1000
A variety of erasers are useful for colored pencil work. Kneaded erasers are good for removing pigment, and shaping to get into small spaces. White vinyl erasers are useful for erasing larger areas. Small erasers in the core of a pencil that can be sharpened are great for erasing small details. Battery operated erasers are great for removing a lot of pigment quickly and can get into small spaces.
Electric erasers are generally too powerful and can quickly make a hole in your paper.
Blenders- also called Colorless Benders. These are typically made the same as the cores of colored pencils, only without pigment. They therefore give you a similar effect to burnishing, but without the added white or other color.
Prismacolor makes a colorless blender in stick form and in an art stix form, that is good for blending wax-based colored pencils.
Lyra Rembrandt makes a blender called the Splendor Blender that is good for oil-based pencils.
Erasing shields are small metal templates that you can place over a mistake, and erase the area without messing up the surrounding area. I keep buying these, and never can find where I put them. They are small!
Drawing boards are very handy, and come in a variety of sizes, from large to small. Most come with a thick rubber band to quickly hold the bottom of your paper, while the top clips in place. They are portable, sturdy, and not very expensive. They can be used on a table or in your lap while you watch Netflix.
If you can't find one of these in an art supply store, check a drafting supply store.
The Alvin Draftsman Duster is a good brush.
Good watercolor brushes are a must when working with water-soluble pencils. A good brush will hold it's point for a very long time, and hold a good load of water.
Natural fiber brushes tend to hold more water than synthetics.
Inexpensive brushes will splay out, and not hold water, really turning your painting from a pleasure to a nightmare.
Good lighting is essential for any artist, and one of the best studio lights is the OttLite, which comes in a variety of styles, from a floor model, to a small detail light, to a clip-on light. The nice thing about the OttLite is that they show you more of the true color of your work.
Fluorescent lights are also good at lighting up a room. We recently replaced the standard household type light fixture with a fluorescent light, and it is amazing how much better we can see now!
Fixatives- are used to spray finished colored pencil artwork and help protect the piece from UV rays (fading) and to prevent wax-bloom. Both gloss and matt finishes are available. A variety of fixatives are available. Both Prismacolor and Caran d'Ache make their own fixatives, and Krylon makes several fixitives that are easy to find. They spray on the finished work, in several applications. Make sure your fixative protects against UV, and double check before you spray...make sure you have not grabbed a similar can of spray paint or spray adhesive.
Solvents- used to blend and saturate the paper with traditional colored pencil. Gives the colored pencil drawing a more painterly look. Solvents are applied with a Q-tip or a brush. Some are toxic and even flammable, so care should be used with them. They include Eco-House Extra Mild Citrus Thinner, Liquin, Best Klean, Bestine rubber cement thinner, isopropyl alcohol, lighter fluid, mineral oil, odorless mineral spirits, turpentine, turpenoid, and Zest-it.
Some people love using projectors to get accurate drawings of their subject very quickly, and others think you are not creating 'real art' unless you draw your subject free-hand. But many many professional (prize winning) artists are using the highest quality digital projectors they can get. They literally save hours worth of drawing time, and allow them to get down to the application of color faster. Perhaps we need a 'don't ask don't tell' policy about the use of projectors! We have tried the sort that allows you to put in a picture on paper, and were very unhappy with them. But artograph makes a really nice small digital one that is fantastic, and you can attach a flash drive, not a computer if you wish. You can mount it on your ceiling over your drawing table and project straight down.