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Prismacolor Verithin Pencils

Prismacolor Verithin Pencils

Today I want to talk a little bit about Prismacolor Verithin Pencils and how best to use them. The topic was suggested by a reader question, so let’s begin by taking a look at the question.

I am very much a beginner and enjoy your weekly blogs immensely.

My preference is starting to go towards [the] Prismacolor series, and I’m learning layering and scraping or slicing… whatever it is called.

When I layer the Verithin pencils I have, I seem to have zero effect for [anything but] skinny stroke lines. Am I doing something wrong or is this normal because of the softness and/or hardness of the lead?

Am I never going to be able to use my Verithin pencils with my Premier?

Thank you

Sally

Thank you for your questions. My experience has been that not many people use Prismacolor’s Verithin line of pencils or know the best way to use them. I have Verithin pencils and have used them quite a bit, but even I have moved away from them in favor of other methods.

However, they are still very useful for certain techniques, so let’s talk about what these pencils are, how they differ from the Thick Core line of Prismacolor pencils, and how you can make the best use of them.

Prismacolor Verithin Pencils Box

Comparing Verithin and Thick Core Prismacolor Pencils

Verithin and Thick Core pencils are both manufactured under the Prismacolor name. They use the same pigments, and they share color names. Dark Brown in Prismacolor Verithin is the same color as Dark Brown in Prismacolor Thick Core.

That’s about all they have in common, however.

Most of us are very familiar with the smoothness and softness of Prismacolor Thick Core pencils. That’s what most artists think of when they think “Prismacolor.”

Prismacolor Verithin pencils are thinner, harder, and less waxy. They sharpen to a very fine point and they hold that point much longer. They also leave less wax on the paper.

But they do not layer as easily. Nor do they create the same kind of rich, saturated color as their thicker, softer cousins.

They also come in a limited collection of 36 colors.

It is possible to create complete works of art with Verithin pencils, but they will have a totally different look than the same art created with the same colors in the thick core line.

Because of these differences, they don’t perform the same way as Prismacolor Thick Core pencils.

But they do perform extremely well in certain applications.

How to Make the Best Use of Verithin Pencils

Fine Details

Because they are thinner, harder, and hold a sharp point longer, Prismacolor Verithin pencils are perfect for drawing fine details. For years, they were my go-to pencil for drawing long, flowing manes on my horses, or for adding detail to grassy fields and similar applications.

Etching Details

Sharp tips and hard lead also make them great etching tools. You can “slice” through heavy layers of softer color with a Verithin pencil AND leave a bit of color in the mark at the same time.

You can’t do as much detail work this way as you could do with a Slice tool or knife, but adding subtle details is much easier with a Verithin pencil.

And you’re less likely to cut through the paper!

Under Drawings

Even today, I most often use Verithin pencils at the under drawing phase. They leave less wax on the paper, so I can add almost as many layers of color as a I want without filling up the tooth of the paper.

It’s very easy to layer softer pencils over them to finish a piece.

Sanded Art Papers

I’ve even found them useful on sanded art papers such as Clairefontaine Pastelmat and Lux Archival. I don’t use them as much for under drawings on sanded art papers, but they’re excellent for blending layers of color and for adding details over layers of color.

In fact, in the last horse portrait I did, I used Verithin pencils over many layers of color to add flyaway hairs in the mane and forelock, eyelashes, and other details.

You’re Not Doing Anything Wrong with Your Prismacolor Verithin Pencils!

Prismacolor Verithin pencils can be extremely useful if you understand what they are and how they work. They have a very specific area of usefulness.

Once you find that place in your drawing process, you’ll be able to create wonderful art with them by themselves or in combination with other types and brands of pencils.

So continue practicing with them, and try a few of the techniques I described above.

Do you have a question about colored pencils? Carrie answers a reader question every Wednesday. Click here to ask your question.

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Getting Started with Colored Pencils

Getting Started with Colored Pencils

There are a lot of new colored pencil enthusiasts in this audience. There are probably many others who are interested in colored pencils, but haven’t yet taken the plunge. So I want to talk about getting started with colored pencils.

Let’s begin with the reader question.

Carrie,

What would be a good starting point for doing color pencils? I am not much [with] drawing skill.

Steve

Thank you for your question, Steve! I’ve used colored pencils for so long, I often forget what getting started was like!

Getting Started with Colored Pencils

When you first start thinking about using colored pencils, it looks like there’s a lot to learn. And there is.

There are also dozens of tools and accessories on the market, and more are launched every month.

So where do you begin?

The truth is that you can start using colored pencils with only the basics. What are the basics? Pencils and paper (and a sharpener!)

When it comes to getting started with colored pencils, focus on the basic necessities.

Pencils

You have to buy pencils, but everybody’s budget is different. The number and type of pencils purchased differs from artist to artist.

However, the best thing you can do isbuy the best pencils you can. That’s why I always recommend you buy the best you can afford.

I also suggest you buy a few colors open stock (single pencils instead of sets.) Each pencil will cost more, but you can make a good start with half a dozen artist-grade pencils.

Why artist-grade?

Because artist-grade pencils contain more pigment and perform better than scholastic- grade (grade school quality) and student-grade. You’ll get a better feel for the medium with better materials.

And if you decide colored pencils aren’t for you, then you haven’t spent a lot of money on a full set of pencils.

Another alternative is to buy smaller sets. Most brands and grades of pencils come in 12-color sets and 24-color sets for a fraction of the cost of full sets.

So find the best combination of quality, price, and selection.

Paper

Paper is the same way. Skip the fancy or colored papers. Start with a pad of good, white drawing paper, and go small. A 9-inch by 12-inch pad of paper is the largest size I’d suggest. Smaller is better. They’re usually less expensive, and a better fit for sketching, doodling, or just experimenting with your new pencils.

But don’t skimp on quality. As with pencils, starting with good paper is your best option for getting a true feel for the medium.

If you can, try a pad of Bristol and a pad of regular drawing paper like Strathmore or Stonehenge. Bristol is very smooth. Regular drawing papers have a bit more texture and a softer feel. By trying both, you’ll discover which basic type of paper gives you the best results.

Dick Blick offers a wide selection of good drawing pads and they’re customer service is excellent. They also sell pencils in sets and open stock!

I Don’t Have Much Drawing Skill

Steve also mentioned not having much drawing skill. That’s okay! You don’t need drawing skill to experiment with colored pencils. You need pencils and paper!

But there many options available to you if you want to try colored pencils that allow you to begin without having a lot of drawing skill. Here are three ideas.

Doodling

If you have an adventurous personality, try just playing with your new pencils and paper. Make marks on the paper. Try drawing lines, and shading shapes. Doodle!

You can learn a lot about colored pencils just by shading one color over another, by pushing the pencil against the paper with different pressures, and so on. If you have a question about how a pencil performs under certain conditions, then try it and see!

Believe it or not, you can learn enough about colored pencils through this kind of experimentation to know whether or not colored pencils are a good fit for you.

Adult Coloring Books

If you’re not adventurous by nature, or if you prefer trying your new colored pencils with pictures, designs, and patterns that someone else has drawn, try adult coloring books.

Adult coloring books are available in all subjects from very simple patterns to complex, draw-by-number versions of Classical Masterpieces. Some specify colors. Some allow you to make your own color choices.

The biggest disadvantage to adult coloring books is that most of them are not printed on a good drawing paper. For the most part, the paper is good enough to give you a fairly accurate feel for colored pencils, but that’s all.

However, some books are available on higher grade papers, and they are a good way to learn colored pencils.

Then there are free coloring pages. Simply search for “free coloring pages.” Chose one you like, and then download and print it. You can print designs as often as you like on any paper your printer will print on.

Tutorials

Tutorials usually offer you a line drawing to start with. They also provide a color list, so if you haven’t yet purchased pencils, a tutorial gives you a place to begin!

Beyond that, if you prefer learning a new medium with a specific project, tutorials are the perfect place to begin. When you buy a tutorial, you get a project, step-by-step instructions, and a supply list (usually quite inexpensive.) You also can choose beginner, intermediate, or advanced level projects.

And the best part is that most tutorials are under $20!

A variety of tutorials are available right here, at Colored Pencil Tutorials, including tutorials for beginners. But many artists and companies publish tutorials. Ann Kullberg is one such artist. Dozens of beginner tutorials are available by a number of artists. The collection includes a selection of projects designed for beginners.

Getting Started with Colored Pencils Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

Or expensive.

Start small and with the basic supplies.

If in doubt about what supplies to purchase first, take a look at tutorials, choose a subject, and then see what supplies you need for that project.

You can always buy more colors and tools as you need them.

However you start, just starting is the most important part. After all, you can’t come to enjoy colored pencils as I do if you don’t start!

Do you have a question about colored pencils? Carrie answers a reader question every Wednesday. Click here to ask your question.

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Watercolor and Traditional Colored Pencils

Watercolor and Traditional Colored Pencils

Have you ever thought about combining watercolor and traditional colored pencils in the same work? Do these two types of colored pencils work well together?

You’re not the only one who wants to know. Here’s today’s reader question.

I have dabbled in watercolor pencils combined with regular colored pencils and I wonder if you would ever be willing to give some tips or do a tutorial combining the two? I am only just starting to do more of this and I love the rich colors that you can get when these two mediums are combined.

What a great question.

And what a great observation. You can get rich colors when you combine watercolor pencils and traditional colored pencils.

Combining Watercolor and Traditional Colored Pencils

Whenever you consider mixing mediums, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind.

The most important thing to remember whenever you combine traditional colored pencils with any other medium is that all colored pencils contain some wax. The pigment that gives them color is mixed with a binding agent that allows them to be shaped into lead form. The binding agent is a mix of wax, vegetable oil, and other ingredients. In wax-based colored pencils, the binding agent is mostly wax. But even oil-based colored pencils have some wax in the binding agent.

That’s important because wax and water don’t mix. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using watercolors, watercolor pencils, inks, acrylics, or some other water-soluble medium. Traditional colored pencils stick to water-based mediums, but water-based mediums will not stick to wax-based mediums.

Now let’s discuss a few other basic tips.

Choose Appropriate Paper

Whenever you use a water-based medium, it’s smart to use a paper designed for wet media. Watercolor paper is designed to handle repeated applications of water and it usually stands up well under lots of layering.

Regular Stonehenge paper can handle limited amounts of water without warping or buckling. If you tape it down first, it even dries flat. I’ve used it for small, experimental pieces and find it quite satisfactory.

Watercolor and Traditional Colored Pencils

For larger pieces or pieces in which you use watercolor pencils for most of the work, watercolor paper is best. Stonehenge Aqua is designed for watercolors and watercolor pencils, but it also accepts traditional colored pencils very well. It’s a great paper that feels like regular Stonehenge paper, but is much sturdier.

Tape the paper to a rigid support before you begin, unless you choose a paper that’s 140 lb or more. Most of them are thick enough to withstand repeated applications of water without being taped down.

Start with Watercolor Pencils

When you want to use watercolor pencils and regular colored pencils, always start with the watercolor pencils. They’re a great time saver and a great way to create color with no paper holes, but use them first.

No matter how you use them, do all the work with them that you want to do. It doesn’t matter if you paint with them wet, or if you layer them dry, then blend them with water. Take your time and make sure you’ve done everything you want to do before layering traditional colored pencils over them. Once you start with the traditional colored pencils, you can’t go back.

Think of the work you do with watercolor pencils as the under drawing (or under painting, if you prefer.) Do as much detailing or as little as you like. I blocked in color and a few details on this piece (above,) but I’ve seen other artists do watercolor work that looks almost like a finished piece. They use traditional colored pencils for detailing.

Let the Paper Dry

Before you finish with watercolor pencils, it’s important to let the paper dry completely before layering traditional pencils. Using a pencil on wet paper can scuff the surface of wet paper, and it’s possible to puncture wet paper.

The fact is that you should let the paper dry between applications of watercolor pencil, unless you’re applying wet color. Then you can work wet-into-wet. Just remember that wet watercolor applied into wet watercolor will run. The colors will mix. Some great, spontaneous affects are possible with this method, but they may not suit your overall style or the specific piece.

Some artists do light work on damp paper, but I’ve always found it safer to let the paper dry first. I’m not always that careful!

Finish with Traditional Colored Pencils

Once you do everything you want to do with watercolor pencils, finish with traditional colored pencils. For some projects, that may mean you’re doing only the detailing.

Other projects may involve more work.

I did most of the layering and detailing with traditional pencils with this landscape. The watercolor pencils provided the base layer, as shown above.

Apply traditional colored pencils over watercolor pencils normally. Use the same layering and stroking techniques. Watch the amount of pressure you use, and so on.

The only difference is that you begin with a layer of color that fills in all the paper holes without filling in all the tooth of the paper.

And that’s the beauty of mixing watercolor pencils with traditional colored pencils.

Combining Watercolor and Traditional Colored Pencils

Those are a few basic tips for combining watercolor and traditional colored pencils. If you follow those basics, you can create vibrant, richly colored artwork that lasts for years.

As for the reader’s second question about a tutorial, the answer is yes. Not only am I willing to write such a tutorial, I’m preparing to release one as I write this words.

So stay tuned!

Do you have a question about colored pencils? Carrie answers a reader question every Wednesday. Click here to ask your question.