How to Make Cheap Colored Pencils Look Smooth

One of the biggest concern that nearly every artist come across in their career is: will cheap colored pencils give extraordinary effects as artist-grade color pencils do?

This article will explain all the aspects that prove the above statement right. Yes, you can make smooth and quality colored pencil drawings by using any kind of cheap colored pencils. All of these brands are considered reasonable and affordable compared to others available in the market.

However, to achieve an extraordinary after-effect with cheap colored pencils, you need to follow a set of guides and tips. Doing so will result in such colored pencil drawings that will not only surprise you but also your fellow.

Moreover, this practice is highly recommended if you are a beginner or can not afford premium quality pencils. As these pencils can provide stunning artworks, the trend of using these affordable pencils is increasing day by day.

So, why not test it out and see what tips can be followed to get excellent results.

Cheap Colored Pencils

Why Do Colored Pencils Look Grainy?

Nearly all types of papers have numerous amount of grooves and crevices in them. The smooth surface that appears on white paper is, in fact not that smooth as you think it is. This is the reason why when you color on any drawing paper, it appears grainy.

Normally the empty spaces on the crevices do not appear on white paper. However, it looks grainy when you use colored paper or a lighter color on white paper. The same happens in the case of darker colors on cheap papers.

This can be improved with the usage of certain layering or blending techniques. Doing such tricks will make the actual painting look less grainy.

Best Ways to Make Cheap Colored Pencils Look Smooth

In the case of cheap pencils following are some ways you can use to make them look smoother.

1. Use Hardest Papers

Nearly every artist is aware that as there are many brands of pencils, there are also many brands of paper. So, remember that a cheap pencil along with the cheap paper will do you no good.

On the other hand, high-quality papers make bright colors look more prominent and vibrant.

Moreover, hard papers have fewer crevices in them which makes the base a smooth surface. If you are working with high-quality pencils, a compromise on a piece of paper is acceptable. But, in the case of hardly affordable pencils, upgrade your paper quality.

Important: Best Black Paper for Colored Pencils

2. Maintain the Pencil Sharpness

The points of your pencils should be sharp. Sharp as a knife you can use for stabbing someone and not for buttering.

This is important because a pointed tip can fill in the grooves more easily than a non-pointed one, thus reducing the grainy look and making your coloring process easy. You need to make sure that you follow this tip, especially if you are working with cheap pencils or cheap paper.

Moreover, the sharp edges of colored pencils make blending even smooth. Even if you are applying a light color or working with dark colors, make sure to maintain the pencil sharpener.

Read Also: Sharpen a Pencil Without Breaking the Lead

3. Layering is the Best Option

One of the main problems we face is the white grains on the paper we color on. In the case of high-quality pencils, achieving a perfect transition between colors is easier.

However, it is not impossible to get a smooth look with cheap pencils. There are two ways to overcome this situation: use watercolor pencils or add multiple layers of color.

Doing so will eventually fill out all the witnesses in your drawing, and your drawing will appear to have a vibrant and bolder color. To achieve a smooth pigment, you just have to add layer after layer by increasing the darker shade. You will start to notice that the lighter color has now converted into bright colors.

 Make sure to blend your colors properly while moving between different colors. By doing this you will get a smoother transition instead of a prominent color change. Doing this will require lots and lots of time, but the results will be worth it.

4. Apply Light Pressure

Make Cheap Colored Pencils Look Smooth

This is a tip that both beginners and experts follow. Work with light pressure and apply multi-layers of colors. If you avoid the heavy pressure, you will have complete control over the white patches and gradients of color.

But with using heavy pressure you will not only tear the drawing paper but also make blending difficult. If your layers are still too hard and you’re having trouble pressing lightly, consider moving your hand further toward the rear of the pencil.

5. Blending Different Colors

There are more than 10 million shades that a human eye can easily differentiate. However, no artist can have that many pencil colors. But, blending two or more colors to make a new shade is possible. As a result, you will depend less on the number of colors in your set and you will be able to blend different colors easily.

The technique here is patience. It is possible that only one of your paintings may take up to many hours, but you will be left with stunning artwork as a result. To achieve a smooth pigment, you just have to add layer after layer by increasing the darker shade. You will start to notice that the lighter color has now converted into bright colors.

Following are some of the common blending techniques you can follow:

Paper Towel

Using a paper towel or cotton swab is quite helpful when you are using cheap pencils or any other pencil for the record. The cotton swab can easily fill the crevices making the actual drawing much better.


A blending technique that uses heavy pressure to melt down the binders in pigment is known as burnishing. You can easily use colorless blenders for burnishing purposes.

White Pencil

For blending lighter colors such as light skin tones, haze, or sky, you can use a white pencil or light color pencil to blendKeepep in mind that this method lightens up the surface, so you may need to start with dark colors.


This is an alcohol technique that is often used by professionals. Solvents containing anti-binding properties are used that eventually meltdown the binders in pigment wax.

You can easily use solvents for blending oil-based colored pencils. Alcohol-based solvents can reduce pencil strokes and leave out grains making your drawing super smooth.

6. Going With Dark Color First

Light colors are the most prominent part of any painting. That is why when you are dealing with pencil colors or any oil-based colors, make sure to start with a darker shade first.

When you will move from Dark colors to light colors, you will be able to create smooth transitions between the two.

Moreover, it will give your light colors a lift, and they will appear as vibrant colors. However, when you are working with watercolor pencils, you need to follow the opposite. You will start with a light color and move forward to darker shades.

7. Applying Color till Solid

One of the main reasons why some artists can not make better drawings with cheap colors is that they stop after one layer.

However, if you see the tutorials of experts, you will e able to know that it is not the case. Professional artists keep applying layers of color until they reach a solid color point. It is a time taking journey, but the results are spectacular.

Relavant Questions (FAQs)


Q: How Do You Blend Cheap Colored Pencils?

Blending cheap colored pencils is not difficult at all. You just need to follow some of the simple ways of blending. Most of them are the use of cotton swabs or paper towels. Paper towels can remove the graininess from the drawings.

However, as the artists proceed with the coloring journey, the usage of colorless blenders and white pencils increases. Colorless blenders can be used on all brands of pencils and colors. However, white pencils can only be used in a light color. 

Moreover, you can also use alcohol techniques to melt the binders in color pigments and oil-based wax.

Q: How Do You Use Cheap Colored Pencils?

Cheap colored pencils have far more uses than you thought of. Firstly, they are perfect affordable pencils you can start your work with. Secondly, the usage of cheap colored pencils is common in kids who can break the pencils. And last but not least, you can present them as gifts to your younger siblings at birthdays or Christmas.

Is It Possible to Get a Quality Drawing With 12 Pencil Color Set?

It is not always about the high-quality pencils are but sometimes the blending techniques you use. So, yes, it is possible to get a quality drawing by using 12 affordable pencils color sets.

However, for creating stunning artworks, you need to make sure to use a sharp pencil on high-quality paper. Moreover, pencil strokes applied with light pressure can do wonders if drawn on the smooth surface of high-quality paper.  

Not only this, but you can also make new colors by mixing more than two colored pencils on drawing paper. By applying different layers of color on the piece of paper, you will become less dependent on big sets of colored pencils.

Final Word

If you’re looking for more information on drawing, there are plenty of tutorials online that may be able to help with your current skill level or interests. Or, if you want to make smooth, beautiful drawings with a set of cheap colored pencils, we have shared some practical tips for you.

However, if you want to master the blending and shading techniques by using cheap pencils, the only way is to practice!

Just remember that drawing is not easy – but if you follow these steps, your work will be that much more impressive! Have any ideas or questions? Let us know here.

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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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