How to Color with Colored Pencils for Beginners

Colored pencils are one of the primal things any artist comes across with. You must have used basic colored pencil techniques in a coloring book or on white paper as a kid. As a matter of fact, colored pencils are one of those art mediums where you can have unlimited exploration and find new things.

Did you know that colored pencils were originally used for checking and labeling before they were used as an artistic medium? It was not until the early twentieth century when Artist-grade colored pencils came to the market. This evolution resulted in high-quality pencils with rich colors and brighter pigments inside. 

The artists invested their lives in making a colorful transition of tones and created beautiful artwork. This process took time, some tips, and practice. You will need these. To sharpen your basic knowledge learned from your elementary school into amazing artwork. You need to follow the below-mentioned beginner’s guide.

Color with Colored Pencils

Ways to Color with Colored Pencils for Beginners

Following are some of the ways that you can opt while making a colored pencil drawing.

Select the Pencil Types

Just to let you know that there are three types of color pencils.

Wax-based pencils: These pencils contain a wax binder inside the pigment to glue them together. Most of the time, the children’s pencils are made of wax-based colored pencils.

But now they come in artist-grade pencils as well. They are a good choice for beginners and blend easily on drawing paper.

Oil-based colored pencils: The actual pigment is held together by vegetable oil rather than wax. As a result, consider using oil-based colored pencils if you’re seeking long-lasting, easy-to-use drawing pencils. Made with oil-based pencils, your actual drawing will contain a vibrant color.

However, you will need the help of blending materials for quality artwork.

Watercolor pencils: Gum arabic, instead of wax or oil, is used as a binder in these pencils. Water is all you need to obtain the watercolor effect. Watercolor pencils are popular among artists and crafters because they are convenient and easy to use. By using them, you can produce stunning artwork in a matter of minutes.

Choosing among these three depends on which type of artwork you want to create. So, after you make your mind about the drawing, choose your art pencils.

Choosing the Right Paper

Choosing the right paper is essential for making amazing artwork. The preferred method is: consider the textures and materials used, along with your budget, before making a final decision.

Paper’s texture may range from plain to rough. You should select the paper with a little texture and grain as it will be ideal for better drawings.

Moreover, in the case of an oil-based and wax-based colored pencil, you can choose light white paper. on the other hand, when dealing with watercolor pencils, use heavy cotton paper.

Keep Your Pencil Sharpened

With the help of a sharp pencil, you will be applying lighter pressure on the paper and getting a smooth result. It is a preferred method for filling out the grainy texture of paper while avoiding heavy pressure.

So, make sure to keep a manual pencil sharpener or electric sharpener close by when dealing with colored pencils.

Read Also: How to Sharpen a Pencil Without Sharpener

Hold the Pencil Sideways

We are always taught to keep the pencil sharp and apply light pressure. However, no one talks about how to maintain both.

It is done by holding the pencil sideways instead of sitting upriDoingoing this will avoid useless pencil shavings and blend colors beautifully.

Practice Shading

Shading is one of many techniques; it will do wonders when used on colored paper or any kind of paper. You will notice a prominent after-effect in the drawing with shading and the one without it.

So, start practicing this technique right away if you plan to stick on this road.

Try Blending Method

 Blending Method for Colored Pencils

If you do not have hundreds of colors, invest your time learning this technique instead of spending money on art supply stores. To save a bit of time, keep track of the layering of a lighter color on dark colors or vice versa for the record.

A blender of choice can also be used to make smooth transitions between tones of the base color. Basically, pencils can be blended by following two ways:

Dry Blending:

The use of soft tissue, paper towel, cotton swab, toilet paper to blend artwork is known as dry blending. Beginners can use any of the mentioned material and create a beautiful transition of tones between colors.

Wet Blending:

The use of rubbing alcohol, turpentine, mineral spirits, rubber cement thinner, or any other solvent blender used for transitions between tones will be known as wet blending. Most professionals opt for these blending materials for the best results.

There is also another technique called Burnishing that either uses basically pencils or a colorless blender. Color burnishing is the process of pressing down on the paper to blend the layers and totally cover the paper grain with color.

This will provide a highly smooth and polished effect of color on your artwork.

On the other hand, if you are using wax-based pencils, you can use a dual-tip blender for better results. It can easily break through the wax binder and give you smooth results.

Use Kneaded Eraser

Erasing the solid color from the paper grain or from a blank paper is quite difficult. Erasing a light color will be easier than erasing darker colors, and you might be left with underlying color on your adult coloring book.

However, with the use of a kneaded eraser, you will be able to eliminate or lighten the pigments nearly. That is why it is recommended to invest in good quality erasers. Or you could also use our guide to keep your kneaded erasers soft for longer times.

Practice and Practice

The final step that is the only step between you and perfection is PRACTICE. Without practice, it is impossible for you even to draw a simple leaf.

However, with lots and lots of practice, the day isn’t away when you will be able to draw the whole universe with the very tips of your hands.

Techniques for Using Colored Pencils Like a Pro

Now let me tell you some of the cool tips that will make you a pro at using colored pencils. You can use these as a blending method as well.


Scumbling is a shading method that is done by layering a great number of little circles. You might have heard the name now, but you have been trying this technique since a very early age.

The size of the loops and the amount of pressure applied to the pencil define the texture produced by this method.

Rather than using only small clean circles more random scribbles, spidery-type lines may also be used to produce scumbling. This method is quite adaptable, and it may be used to produce areas of distinct texture as well as areas of smooth, blended texture.


Among the most common color pencil techniques is layering. With the help of artist pencils, first, use a single color and apply a layer with light pressure.

After that, use another color of the same tone and apply another layer on top of that. Remember to avoid the On heavy pressure, or you will not see any prominent effect.


Shading with regular and equally spaced parallel lines is known as hatching. This all-in-one-direction shading allows you to swiftly apply color while also controlling the direction of the coloring design.

Hatching is a kind of shading that can be applied to any surface. The tip of the pencil is generally the most effective tool for this.


Cross-hatching with pencils

Cross-hatching is nearly the same as hatching but in two directions. Start by drawing a layer of straight lines in one way, and then go back across the same area with the lines pointing in the other direction.

This is another excellent way of adding texture to a surface. Moreover, it also removes the white patches in drawing more effectively.

Back and forth stroke

The back and forth strokes are one of the most common colored pencil methods. Moreover, it is also one of the most effective. Do you remember practicing this back and forth technique yourself as a kid? Put your colored pencil on the blank paper and drawback and forth in a continuous motion without pulling it off of the paper.

Due to the continuous appearance of pencil strokes, this is an excellent method to add decent color to various parts of your picture.


Stippling is the process of applying a large number of small dots to a surface in order to color or shade it. The region will look darker the closer the dots are together, and it will look lighter if the dots are farther apart from each other.

It is important to note that the size of a dot produced by a sharpened pencil might change significantly from that of an unsharp pencil. As a result, it is suggested that you should always use a sharp pencil while stippling an area.

How Do You Use Colored Pencils (Step by Step)

For better use of colored pencils, you first need to find out the type of artwork you want to create. You can either use artist-grade supplies of oil-based pencils or a wax-based colored pencil.

Moreover, using watercolor pencils is also an option if you want to have a lighter touch of watercolors.

After selecting the pencil, you will be following the above-mentioned colored pencil techniques. Choose a paper with good smoothness, weight, and paper grain ratio.

Then using basic pencil holding techniques, grab the pencil sideways and use a sharp tip. After filling out one layer, you can add another. The use of a colorless blender is preferred to have smooth blending effects.

In the end, you can add shading and lightening for some realistic hair and better results. Keeping a handheld sharpener and kneaded eraser at arm’s length is suggested.

Do Colored Pencil Works on Fabric?

Colored pencils are not only used on blank paper, but some artists also use them on Fabric. For using a color pencil on fabric, first, you will need to draw a trace of the whole drawing.

The next step is to stitch the tracing with a thread of the desired color back into the fabric. Then you will use the colored pencil of any high-quality brand to fill in the drawing.

In the end, the painting is secured with a textile medium or a colorless extender to make the colors permanent.

Low-Cost Colored Pencils

Nearly all artists are concerned over the high prices of artist-grade color pencils. However, you don’t need to go for premium quality pencils right at the beginning of your journey.

You can take the start with low-quality colored pencils and apply the mentioned blending techniques to make them look smooth. Just make sure to apply all the necessary tips and tricks to get the results of your liking.

Quality Papers is important

A quality paper is as necessary as high-quality pencils are for beautiful artwork. If you do not have good-quality pencils, you can improve the texture by using blending techniques.

However, there is no alternative to a bad-quality paper. This is the area where you need to invest some money in. You can use spare paper for blending colors as a test to avoid wasting expensive and quality paper.

Just make sure that the paper grain and smoothness are in proper proportion to the type of pencil colors that you are using. It is not important to have heavy-weight paper for wax-based pencil colors and oil-based pencil colors.

But, on the other hand, in the case of watercolor pencils, you do need heavy cotton paper.


Following are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions related to colored pencils.

Q: How to Blend Colored Pencils for Beginners?

Beginners can use dry blending materials for practice. For example, working with a paper towel or cotton ball will be easy and recommended in the beginning.

Moreover, layering more than one color in a cross-hatching manner can fill in the paper grain and give an overall smooth appearance.

Digging further in, the use of a colorless blender is suggested even for beginners. With the help of this blending material, you will be able to break the bond between the wax binders and they would blend more easily.

Q: Are All Colored Pencils Permanent?

The simple answer is no. Colored pencils are not permanent. No matter which brands of pencils you are working with, the actual pigment will fade away with time.

However, high-quality pencils can ensure that this time period is longer than those of low-quality pencils.

However, colored pencils are permanent on fabric but with the help of a colorless extender. For this, you first have to apply color to the fabric and then you will apply a layer of this colorless extender as a paint.

Once the extender is dried, you can use an iron to set it properly and tadaa, you have a permanent color on fabric.

Read Also: Removed Colored Pencils from Fabric

Q: How Do Watercolor Pencils Differ From Other Colored Pencils?

The presence of Arabic gum binder in watercolor pencils separates them from other types of pencils, which is the primary distinction between them. Professional oil-based color pencils, on the other hand, have a wax binder inside.

Because of this difference, the blending procedures used by each will be different. Watercolor pencils may be readily mixed with a little help from a little water.

The use of a colorless blender will be necessary for the best results when using wax-based pencil colors.

Final Thoughts

With the help of color pencil techniques, you can make fantastic artwork. The only thing you need is practice that will make your drawing artist-grade quality. Give your painting your time and heart, and the results will amaze you.

Now that you have gone through the beginner’s guide of colored pencils, let us know if any of your queries are left unanswered.

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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