Colored Pencil Blending

When Prismacolor colored pencils are out of stock or out of budget, there are always tricks to make the cheaper tools work to your advantage as you build your skills as an artist. For many years, I used a mix of Crayola and only a few Prismacolor colored pencils to create my colored pencil badges. Only recently have I incorporated a 64 piece Prismacolor set of pencils into my tool box and routine (thanks to my mother-in-law!)

Through those poor-college-student years, I used multiple layers of color and excessive pressure to create a smooth appearance with the mixture of Crayola, Roseart, Prismacolor, and any other brand I found at my favorite junk shop S.C.R.A.P. in San Francisco. The pressure and layering method works quite well but it takes hours for a satisfying result, your arm may hurt for a day or so, and you will use more materials in the long run (considering the shear amount of pigment you have to lay down and how many times you have to sharpen your dull/shattered pencils!)

WolfMama-Badge-PreviewMore recently, I have used a combination of colored pencil (just about any brand) and a bit of Gamsol! Gamsol is an odorless mineral spirit that can be used on the end of a tortillion (a rolled up piece of paper in the shape of a crayon; comes in various sizes, available in most arts and craft stores) to dissolve the colored pencil on your paper enough to push it around to create smooth, effortless gradients. And although it is wet and oily to the touch, it evaporates and leaves the paper pristine in seconds! You only need a tiny amount of Gamsol at the very tip of the tortillion to dissolve and carry the pigment across your paper. With the Gamsol, the fluid helps the pigment go farther, smooth out nicer than you ever could with pressure, and takes much less time to apply. Plus it gives your arm muscles a break, the results are smoother, art is completed quicker, and you don’t waste as much!

If you can’t get your hands on some Gamsol or tortillions, give melted coconut oil with a Q-tip a try. Coconut oil has a waxy consistency (like a crayon without color pigment) when at room temperature but the warmed fluid state of coconut oil simulates the Gamsol nicely. Just be sure to set some aside in a microwave safe container to use for art so you don’t contaminate the larger batch that could be used for cooking!


Related reading:

How to Make a Tortillion by edelric666 of DeviantArt

Keep improving your skills and evolving as an artist by trying out my P.E.A.S. Method to Artistic Self-Improvement!


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