Tools for the Colored Pencil Artist




Drawing Pencils


  • Regular drawing pencils in a variety of hardness degrees; a good range is from 2H to 6B
  • High-quality mechanical pencils are a pleasure to draw with and make a fine line .5mm makes a nice line for CP work, and you don't need to sharpen it

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




Pencil Sharpeners


  • Hand-held
  • Battery Operated
  • Electric
  • Multiple size openings for different pencil sizes

Click HERE for a more detailed look at sharpeners.


Keep a hand-held pencil sharpener or battery operated one with your  colored pencils to take with you on trips and to art workshops.


Keep a good electric or battery operated pencil sharpener on your desk, that has multiple size holes for different sized pencils.


Clean a sharpener by sharpening a regular graphite pencil in it.


Sharpen water-soluble pencils with a knife if you want to capture the shavings to dissolve in water or to add as splatter to a painting.


Faber-Castell's hand held sharpener is good, and has one side made for colored pencils. It captures the shavings.


The X-Acto School Pro is a nice electric sharpener that lasts for years.




Erasers


  • Kneaded
  • Vinyl
  • Pencil form
  • Battery operated

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.


Chris Wicklein removes wax based pencil, with care, with Scotch extreme mounting tape.  There is a risk of tearing the paper if you are not very careful!

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 Shield


  • Erases small areas with accuracy
  • Easy to lose
  • Inexpensive

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 Board


  • Variety of sizes
  • Portable
  • Inexpensive

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.



Drafting Brush


  • Brushes off crumbles
  • Brushes off eraser mess
  • Keeps oil from your hands off the paper
  • Quick due to the size
  • Does not cause streaks as brushing with your hand or a tissue does

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.




Brushes


  • Pointed for details
  • Flat wash brushes for large areas
  • Angled flats to go next to straight lines
  • Natural bristles hold more water

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.



Light


  • Saves strain on your eyes
  • Good when you work with small details
  • Shows colors better

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.


Projectors

  • Enlarge or shrink your original drawing
  • Work directly from your photograph
  • Avoid having to transfer your drawing and get carbon paper smudges on your original

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.



Heated Table


  • Heat helps waxed-based colored pencils and crayons build up in layers and blend
  • Glass surface is nice to draw on without heat
  • Takes space
  • Expensive

The Icarus heated table is a wonderful tool for colored pencil artists who use wax-based pencils such as Prismacolors. It is a nice glass table, not very thick, that has an area heated by electricity, and the rest stays at room temperature. The heated area is where you work when you want your pencils to blend together. The partial melting of the wax allows colors to lay down quickly, and we love the fact that beautiful painterly effects can be created without toxic solvents.