Layering and Blending Colored Pencils

There are two colored pencil technique secrets to building up layers of colors. The first is to maintain the texture of the paper. Choose a paper sith some tooth or fine texture for pencil drawings. The tooth of the paper catches and holds the pencil. As long as this tooth exists, you can add layer after layer of color. Use a light or medium touch when applying color.  If you press hard, you will burnish the paper smooth creating a platform of pencil wax. Subsequent strokes will either skip across this surface without leaving color or will deposit irregular blobs of pencil wax and pigment.

The second secret to succesful layering is to use complementary colors in your shadows instead of reaching for the black pencil. Complementary colors sit on opposite sides of the color wheel: magenta and green, cyan and orange-red, yellow and violet-blue. These colors will combine with the principal color of the object to make a low chroma brown or gray shadow. The black pencil shadow is often too jarring and does not feel like a part of the shaded object.

Click on the first image to start a step-by-step sideshow.