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How to Use Watercolor Pencils

Pragya T
Here are various techniques of how to use watercolor pencils, and important tips that will guide you in selecting these pencils. Using watercolor pencils is the best way to give your sketches a water painting effect without ending up with a mess.
So, what makes a watercolor pencil different from a normal graphite pencil? First of all colored pencils are made using a binder, which dissolves in water.
You can differentiate if a pencil is colored or normal by looking at it. On a colored pencil there will a symbol of a paintbrush, while this symbol will be not displayed on normal pencils. Watercolor pencils don't come in grades like 6B, 9H, etc. But they have different softness according to the brands.
You can buy few good brands of watercolor pencil to check which color pencils suits you the best. My favorite is Staedtler Luna which comes in a small box of 12 to a large set containing 48 pencils.
Another good choice is Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils. You can start with a small set of 12 pencils to get a feel of these pencils or borrow a friend's watercolor pencil set for a day. Now, check out the mentioned below cool techniques...

Drawing and Coloring Techniques

Using a Brush on Pencil Drawings

This is a simple technique and all you need to do is regularly sketch the subject and fill it by pencil shading. Then use a wet brush (not dripping wet!), and apply it in a stroke over the drawing pencil.
Practice on patches of watercolor pencil drawing first, and then on a complete sketch to get the watercolor painting effect.

Scraping Color Technique

This is a very fun pencil technique, which doesn't take much effort. Take 4 - 5 watercolor pencils and scrape off some tiny bits of color of the pencils using a cutter. Let them lie in a random colored manner on the paper. Then add few drops of water on the paper and check the beautiful mixing of colors.

Dip Pencil Technique

This technique gives a much sharper effect than the above technique. The smudging is less and you get to see more fine lines. Sharpen a pencil well, then in a bowl of clean water dip the tip of the pencil and draw with the pencil. So, follow this process of dipping, while drawing to finish your drawing.

Using Pencils Dry

This is the original technique of using watercolor pencil. Just use the watercolor pencils dry, these pencils are softer than graphite color pencils and so sketching with these pencils is more fun.

Pencil on Wet Paper Technique

Here is an interesting technique for you to try out. Wet a sheet of paper and then draw on this paper. To use this technique you will need to draw faster and keep wetting the paper at intervals. Use a thick paper, while using this technique.

Useful Tips

  • Use a watercolor paper like Arches 140 lb, while trying wet techniques using watercolor pencils.
  • You can tape down the paper using small bits of sticky tape, so that the paper won't buckle when you are drawing or using wet brush.
  • Instead of using a wet brush, you can also use wet sponge, toothbrush, cotton swab, or cloth.
  • Always, keep the tips of the pencils clean, so that you don't end up with undesired merging of colors.
  • To get details, you can use a smaller size of paint brush.
  • If you wish to get a denser color effect, then you will have to sketch darker with pencils.
  • Don't add too many layers, while going with wet techniques using watercolor pencils.
  • If you wish to get a sparkly effect, apply salt to the wet area.
These were the techniques and tips of watercolor pencils. So, try out the above techniques to check out the beautiful blending of colors. Wondering, what next? Try watercolor crayons.