Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Versatility of Colored Pencil

Well, okay, most people have heard of colored pencil, but I thought perhaps I would introduce some of my readers to the versatility of the technique and show some examples of what can be achieved. "Stinky Cat" to my left was rendered in colored pencil in a somewhat typical manner, layering a few colors together in places, with a certain amount of the white tooth of the paper showing through. For a few of the details, I have used various burnishing techniques to make the colors blend smoothly and achieve more detail, for instance, in the eyes and the nose. Burnishing is a technique that uses a neutral colored pencil (white, cream, or a colorless blender) layered heavily over other colors to blend the colors together and create smooth transitions. Burnishing differs from regualr drawn lines as the technique involves pressing the pencil into the paper and blending it as you go, without showing the individual lines. In the case of the cat's nose here, I used a white pencil over the dark and mid-tones to create the smooth appearance with white highlights. The eyes, on the other hand, were burnished using a colorless blender. Colorless blenders come in pencil form (basically the plastic-y wax the colored pencils are made from) or in marker form, and they will each produce their own qualities, and each has their own pros and cons. The pencil form can blend incompletely or leave a slight bloom (waxy residue) on the image, but is overall my favorite for most work, as it has the same properties as any other colored pencil. The marker style blends very smoothly and evenly in most instances, but can soak up the first color you use it on, making it difficult to get back out in order to avoid transferring it to the next color. The markers also do not seem to last terribly long in my experience. It is also common to burnish with a white, cream, or grey colored pencil. Each of these will necessarily change the tone of the colors underneath, but makes some very nice effects. I have successfully pulled off some great experiments in burnishing two or more non-neutral colors together, but, strangely, some colors mix together well while others do not. My advice is to use a secondary sheet of the same type of paper your main work is drawn on, try out several variations of two or more colors blended together, and be sure to label your experiments, in case you forget later how you achieved a great combination.

The picture to the right was created almost entirely by burnishing together bright colors with one another. The sky is a gradation made up of various shades of grey, then burnished with white, to give it a grey-sky appearance. If you look closely you can see how hard I pressed the pencil into the paper in order to mix it together and seal the tooth of the paper at the same time.
Both of the images shown in this post are for sale in my Etsy shop!


sherry said...

I love reading about other artists techniques, so interesting. As a jeweler, burnishing, and the tool, a burnisher, is quite a different thing.

Lovely work.

La Alicia said...

cool explanation of technique! great job!