How to Use Watercolor Pencils Like a Pro (Even If You’re a Beginner!)

Apr 16, 2021 05:30 PM

How to Use Watercolor Pencils - Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
SHARE - If this is your first time to watercolor pencils, then you are in for a great treat! You may underestimate it at the first sight as a set of watercolor pencils do look like ordinary coloring pencils. However, be ready to be enchanted by the magic happening right before your eyes as you add just a little bit of water to your drawing!

So, if you’re interested in exploring watercolor pencils as a medium for your creations, Tripboba has got your back! In this article, we’ve wrapped up the best techniques on how to use watercolor pencils as well as some set recommendations for you.

So, make sure to keep reading!

How to use watercolor pencils for beginners

How to Use Watercolor Pencils - Photo by Peter Olexa from Pexels

To learn how to use watercolor pencils, you’ll need to prepare watercolor paper, brushes, and a graphite pencil alongside the watercolor pencils of your choice. The first technique on how to use watercolor pencils widely used by artists is to create a drawing and add water afterward or in stages as they draw.

Start by outlining your subject lightly, either with a graphite pencil or the dominant color of your subject. Note any areas that you want to keep white or very light and outline the highlights. Then, the color in the subject with the main color followed with other colors starting from the lightest to the darkest. Don’t forget to add shading.

You can then begin painting water onto your drawing. Wet your brush, and dab it on a paper towel to remove excess water. Start working on the lightest areas. Don’t forget to rinse and wipe your brush before adding water to a new color.

The second technique is dipping the watercolor pencils directly into the water. This will result in a thicker, more vibrant line. Note that the water’s effects don’t last long, so you have to dip frequently. Don’t forget to dry your pencils after use.

Another technique on how to use watercolor pencils is drawing onto wet paper. This is equal to the “dry-on-wet” technique. First, wet the paper by brushing down a light, even coat of water, sticking to the area you plan to draw on first. Then, draw on top of the area using a dry watercolor pencil. 

This works almost the same as the one where you dip your pencils, but the effects last longer. You’ll see brighter, more intense colors with a textured, grainy look. Note that you have to work quickly before the paper dries.

You can also use the “wet-on-wet technique” when it comes to learning how to use watercolor pencils. Using a wet pencil on a wet surface causes the colors to run.

The lines you draw will look fuzzy and spread across the page. You’ll see more pigment fragments. Also, this technique produces a lot of texture and very bold color.

How to use Prismacolor watercolor pencils

How to Use Watercolor Pencils - Photo by

With Prismacolor’s Primary Watercolor Pencils, you’ll get deep, creamy, saturated, thick, and highly blendable colors. As they are only available in sets of 12 to 36, blending might be a necessity.

No worries, though, it’s quite easy to blend these and, after a bit of practice with water application, a wide range of colors and color densities can be achieved. 

It can be a bit burdensome to do color control in high-detail areas so it is recommended to stick to conventional colored pencils for those spots. However, in areas with consistent colors such as the sky, monotone walls, and buildings, etc., these work quite well.

You can lay color on pretty thick without having to worry about a lot of wax bloom. The rich pigments may have a tendency to bunch up in spots but it is easily spread around without causing too big of a mess. They can even be used well without incorporating water, so you can totally be creative with how you’re going to use it for your drawing.

The Prismacolor’s Primary Watercolor Pencils are one of the best bets for anyone starting to use watercolor pencils for the first time for their work.

How to use Derwent watercolor pencils

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Derwent Watercolour Pencils are a great choice for beginners. The color goes on with ease, even with light pressure. They have a soft almost creamy feel when used dry. Not quite as soft as Prismacolor, but much softer than Faber-Castell Polychromos, for example.

They’re also great to use when you apply color wet. You can wet a brush and stroke it across the sharpened pencil, then brush the color onto wet or dry paper.

And though some complained about broken pigment core, pieces of pigment core can easily be dissolved in warm water to create liquid pigment. It makes a great way to blend colors before putting them on paper.

Basically, the pencils are so easy to use dry and wet. The colors lay-down very smooth, the pencils are highly pigmented. The earth tones, blues, and greens are perfect for landscape and animal art, even in just the 12-pencil set.

How to use watercolor pencils Faber Castell

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The Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils is a professional-level offering whose sets ranging from singles all the way up to 120, allowing you to explore any color desired.

These colors come off in a lovely thick, somewhat chunky application and with the addition of a little water, you can experience a fantastic blending. 

You can achieve intense and vivid colors as well as great control with a combination of applied pressure and water or a solvent. Blending is a breeze with these pencils which helps to make the smaller sets quite versatile as it is much easier to fill on color gaps that may exist.

You’ll also love the pencils’ impressive ability to spread a relatively small amount of color over a very large area. The color intensity can be easily lightened if desired, or you can layer the color to darken things back up.

More complex color features can also be achieved by layering different colors. In addition, these pencils are extremely lightfast thanks to their quality pigments and should stand the test of time quite well.


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