When you pick up a coloring book or sheet, you probably reach for a pack of colored pencils.
They were a staple in third grade art class, and they still have a place in your artwork today. Unlike in elementary school, you probably want a little more from your colored pencils though — like the ability to add more dimension, color and texture to your work — even if you're utilizing the pencils for a relaxing practice like a coloring page.
There are so many ways you can take a pack of colored pencils and create elevated drawings. Even coloring pages can look worlds different when you use colored pencils differently and implement a few simple techniques. Look at the page holistically and see where you can implement different techniques, you can go as bold, as abstract, or as minimal as you want.
The best part about colored pencil techniques is that they are easy to master and you don’t need fancy tools.
You also don’t have to spend a small fortune on good colored pencils — though artists swear by these Egoshop oil-based colored pencils — you can use your standard pack of Crayola pencils and still get more artistic drawings or coloring pages.
Layer Your Colors
Sometimes a 12-pack of colored pencils just won’t cut it for the look you’re trying to achieve, but don’t think you have to spring for the 100-pack with all the colors. The basic colors will work just fine. You can build from there. Instead of cluttering your space with a bunch of colors, try layering colors you already have in your pack. This is maybe the easiest way to up your game when you want to add a little bit more to your coloring sheets or sketches.
Layer colors like orange and red to create a rust color, or layer blue and green when you’re trying to get the perfect water scene. There aren’t really any limits here, you have all the freedom.
You can even add more than two colors. This technique not only gives you the exact hue you want, it helps create dimension in your work.
Remember, to go lighter at first. Start with a gentle hand. Too much pigment from one color will make it difficult to add on more color.
If you need a little bit of texture in your work, try avoiding solid blocks of color. Instead try criss-crossing lines, drawing in circles (technically called circulism) or drawing a bunch of little lines in a row to achieve a different look.
There are a lot of ways to hatch with your colored pencil. The technique literally means drawing a series of parallel lines. Hash them, draw them diagonal, draw them horizontal. There are so many options here.
To go a little bit further, you can layer colors here too! Alternate colors or use two or more colors to hatch. This technique will look great when illustrating clothing or other textiles.
Like cross hatching, stippling can be a great way to get a great texture when using colored pencils. Instead of coloring in sweeping motions, make a bunch of little dots.
You have a lot of freedom with this technique because you can put the dots close together to create a very tight look or you can place the dots further apart and it’ll look completely different. You can experiment here, starting out with wide dots and then adding in more if you wish.
This technique will give your art a more organic look and also look great when you add more colors together, like yellow, orange and red.
You may not think that colored pencils are great for blending, but think again! There are actually so many more uses for the elementary school supply. You can blend the colors to create a smoother effect, and this works great with layers.
There are a few ways to blend colored pencils. First, you can use a tortillon, or a blending stump, to achieve the look. This is a technique often used with charcoal, but will work equally as well with your pencils. Make sure your page holds a lot of pigment, you’ll be adding a lot of colored pencil to get it to blend. If you don’t have a tortillon, try a Q-Tip — this works especially well in small spaces.
Another way to blend is to use a solvent. Make sure you’re using really sturdy paper here, though. Even using just a little bit can leak through the page.
Rubbing alcohol will work great here. Apply a little bit to a Q-Tip or small brush to achieve the look you want. Remember to use rubbing alcohol that’s 70 percent or less, something stronger will probably cause your page to lose pigment.
Now that you're a colored pencil pro, try out your new techniques on our free downloadable coloring page!
The stunning floral design was inspired by designs that you'll find in the Ink+Volt Coloring Book, which releases at the end of November!