Colored pencils are very versatile artistic tools – you can achieve a lot of great art with them! But of course, it takes the proper know-how of secret techniques to make art with colored pencils look beautiful. Today, we will discuss how to make colored pencils look smooth.
Table of Contents
The Equipment Plays a Part
First things first, are your colored pencils of the highest quality? When making any work of art, the type of materials you use matters a lot! When it comes to colored pencils, the ones with the highest quality are those with the right blend of pigment and binder.
The pigment determines the color of the pencil and its intensity. The more pigment a colored pencil contains, the brighter, more vivid, and more intense the color it produces.
However, a colored pencil can only hold so much in its core. And it can’t hold only pigment. A colored pencil should also contain a binder mixed with the pigment. The binder holds the pigment together. Without the binder, the pigment will just crumble and fall apart.
There are two types of colored pencil binders – oil-based or wax-based. Oil-based binders are harder than wax-based binders. Though a colored pencil with an oil-based binder can layer and blend colors magnificently, its hardness makes it harder to achieve a buttery effect of blending.
Colored pencils with a wax-based binder, on the other hand, are soft. Wax-based binders make the pigments a lot easier to blend, layer, and mix.
When applied fully, a colored pencil with a wax-based binder can achieve a buttery texture that makes layering and blending super smooth!
As you can see, starting with the right colored pencil is essential to making colored pencil art look smooth.
How to Make Colored Pencils Look Smooth By Simply and Carefully Layering
With only just the suitable colored pencil material, you can make colored pencils look smooth. Colored pencils equipped with a wax-based binder are the best option. Now let’s get into how to make colored pencils look smooth by careful layering.
Apply Enough Color
Using the right tool – the wax-based colored pencil in your hand – apply enough color to the paper. Applying enough color does not just mean a stroke or a few strokes. If you want to achieve the buttery texture of a wax-based colored pencil, keep applying color until the paper does not peek through.
The color on the paper should match the color of the pencil. Applying enough color to make colored pencils smooth means making the color as opaque and vibrant as the core of your pencil. Keep layering; if a bit of the paper’s color is peeking through, you are not layering enough.
More Pressure Helps
When trying to apply enough color to totally cover the paper, applying more pressure on the pencil helps. More pressure on the pencil releases more pigment to the paper. However, taking the time to practice applying pressure is necessary. It takes skill to use just the right amount of pressure on your colored pencils.
Blending the Light Colors on TOP of Dark Colors
If you want to blend colors and make them look buttery smooth, here is a pro tip. I learned that it is best to lay the darker color first. It might seem more logical to apply the lighter color and then darken it with a darker color. But that is simply not true – laying down the lighter color before the darker ones rarely work if they ever work.
The natural effect of applying the lighter colors first is a blotchy and ugly texture on places where you don’t want them. But applying the lighter color on top of the darker colors works incredibly well. The lighter color blends with the color under it smoothly.
Don’t Just Press the Lighter Colors Harder – Be Patient!
Pressing harder when you want to mix colors also simply will not work. Though pushing harder might work if you are just laying down one color. It pays to be patient rather than wanting a quick result. Applying too much pressure on the space of the paper with a darker color already on it will mess that color. The sharp tip of the colored pencil you are holding will dig into the darker shade under it and mess up its texture.
If you want a smooth finish to the entire art project and not just on one color, you have to build each color gradually. Keep your hand light and all the layers will add up nicely.
To summarize how to make colored pencils look smooth, here are the key takeaways.
- Number one is to get the right, high-quality tools. High-quality colored pencils with a wax-based binder get the smoothest and most buttery effect.
- The next takeaway is to apply enough color to the paper. The color you are applying should match the color of the pencil exactly; applying pressure helps achieve this effect.
- The third takeaway is to apply the dark colors first then put the lighter colors on top.
When mixing the lighter colors, keeping a light hand and building the layers gradually achieves the smoothest effect.