Skip to main content

art & design

Getting Started with Colored and Graphite Pencils

Lesson 6 of 9

Demo: Explore Colored Pencils

Mary Jane Begin

Getting Started with Colored and Graphite Pencils

Mary Jane Begin

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

6. Demo: Explore Colored Pencils

Lesson Info

Demo: Explore Colored Pencils

I want to shift our gears from the graphite pencils to the colored pencils now because even though they're both pencils, there's different structure because you're dealing with color. And the first thing that I want to show you because again I'm a firm believer in colored charts. Whenever I introduce a medium, you know I'm gonna talk about color charts because it's the go-to way, my hands I should probably wash them, it's a go-to way to connect with and learn about a medium. Now I made this chart because I wanted to show it to all of you and I've used colored pencils many times. But what was really delightful was to test all of this different colors and I have a couple different blues, which I recommend a variety of primaries, a variety of blues, a variety of yellows, a variety of reds. Those are your three primaries. I have three blues here, cobalt blue, this is actually cobalt blue dark, and Prussian blue, sort of a purpley blue, a greenish blue. I have carmine and a carmine red, whi...

ch is one is orangey tones and one is kind of more pink. You have dark orange, dark olive green, which are two secondary colors. Dark grass green, another secondary. Secondary colors are the second colors out in the color wheel. They're made from combinations of primaries, a red and a blue you know makes green typically. Excuse me, a red and a blue makes purple. A red and a yellow make green. And yellow and red make orange. So those are, you can buy of course those pencils as pure pigments but you can also make those colors with your color chart. I also have what's called the tertiary colors, which are the neutral colors in your palette. And those are burnt amber or black or burnt sienna. Those colors are helpful in the palette because they tend to neutralize other colors. So you can see I've cross pollinated these colors like a math chart. If you look at dark orange and you look at dark grass green, what is the color that they make? And this is a really useful tool for two reasons. One is that when you make the chart, you then have it to refer to for as long as you want. And I have my students make these color charts at RISD in order to reference these colors because you don't remember, how did I make that green? How did I make that purple? You forget how to make specific colors and if you have a chart, you just refer to it. It's a great tool for that. It's also a fabulous way to get to know your colors. If you buy a set of pigments and here we've got sets, presets of different types of colors. This is one very large, beautiful set of wax-based Prismacolor. And then it's actually called, well I say Prismacolor because that's what I have always worked with in the past but I tested these Blick Studio wax-based pencils and they're wonderful. I also tried Stabilo, which is another wax-based pencil. These on the other side are, this is a Derwent watercolor pencil, and this is Faber-Castell watercolor pencil. It means, just like what I showed you with this Graphitone pencil, you can add water to them and I'll show you that in a minute, to move the color around. The difference between these two, water-based have no wax, no wax in them at all, the traditional colored pencils do have wax, so they react a little differently to surfaces because of that. In this case, I used the Blick Studio colored pencils, the wax-based pencils to build this chart. So the other thing I want to mention is you get to know your colors when you make a color chart and unlike with paints, you can buy a kit and it usually has a pretty nice range of reds and blues and purples and the primaries in particular. This set is very complete, it has several yellows, a variety of each color, the primaries plus the secondaries. This is more expansive kit, it comes with a lot more pencils. This is a kind of basic set. The same with these two. This is the most limited, the Faber-Castell. These are beautiful pencils, they're one of my favorite pencils to use that are water-based. But the Dewent is also really nice and it comes with a slightly more expansive palette. You don't have to have every color in your repertoire, just to test these things. You can get a small kit, see what you think and then add to with pencils that you can buy individually. That's what I've done through time. I started with a kit and I just keep adding new colors in. So the chart is a really nice way to go. Put this aside. So in testing the colored pencil, I did a bunch of pretests so you could see what the color does, what it looks like. And in this case, I have some sort of water-based reactions with, I believe it was this purple pencil, again I'll use my water that I won't drink from, and we can see that very much like the Graphitone pencils, you can wet it, it has a fairly good tip, and you can move that color around. You can actually use a brush if you wanted to, to move that color around, but then really what you're doing is you're kind of creating watercolor and you might as well just use a brush and watercolor. But it's really an interesting feeling and sensibility and it creates a very unique look to the tonality. It's very unusual, it doesn't feel like your standard way of drawing with a dry tool. I'll try a dry one. Look at that versus this has this loose sort of open feeling and this is a little crisper and cleaner. Now these are both, these are water-based obviously because I just added water and I can show you what another color. This is a wax-based and it doesn't look terribly different. If I show you the same sort of color with a wax-based tool. This is a smooth, hundred pound Blick Bristol paper, really beautiful for this kind of work. Let me grab the same color but not the one that's wet. I'll grab this one. This is the water-based. They feel a little different on the surface. They look very similar I'm sure to the eye, but they feel different. The wax-based has a little more resist on the surface. I'm gonna make kind of a color here by layering. And you can see I've done a bunch of tests up here to show you, this the Blick wax pencil, all the different marks you can make, the layering you can do, the lines. This is the Faber-Castell water-based pencil. And the Derwent water-based, where I've added water. So they don't look dramatically different to the eye. It has more to do with how they layer and how they feel. So here's the water-based. I'm going to pull another color on top of that, maybe a kind of, I might use a pink, or no, what else could we use here? Maybe a blue. We'll add a blue to it and I will add a blue from the Blick set, which is the wax-based. So when I layer this color of watercolor pencil on top of the blue, it glides pretty smoothly and it layers really, really nicely. When I do the same thing with the wax-based, what's happening is you can't necessarily see it, but I have to press really hard to get that color to hold onto the color below it. The wax feels like it resists the other wax, so it's kind of an interesting thing. It makes for nice deep tones, but you really have to press hard. With my water-based, I can press really hard, but I'm not a big fan of using colored pencils like it's a crayon. I don't like crayons personally. I find crayons to be way too waxy. You can use them in this kind of dense, dense, dense way but I think the grain of the colored pencils layered is just yummy. I think it's wonderful. I also like when you add water and you can get this gestural thing. When you press really hard, you get a deep tone (blows), but it almost, you know, you can't really layer that much on top of it easily because it's a lot of color there and it starts to get especially with the wax-based colored pencils, it tends to get densely waxy and what happens over time is the color turns white, it gets really white and like a coating of white, it's very odd. And that's just the wax, if there's too much wax in the color as you build it, the color kind of gets this chalky looking. So if you're going to use your wax-based colored pencils, try to use them in gradations rather than (mimicking scraping) pressing really hard and using it like an old style crayon.

Class Description

Are you interested in drawing with color or graphite pencils but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to color or graphite pencils. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a drawing practice. By the end of this course, you will be equipped with the know-how to start experimenting and drawing with color or graphite pencils!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about the different types of color or graphite pencils and how they work
  • Which supplies and papers to use when working with color or graphite pencils
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium

Thank you to our sponsor

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Blick Art Discount

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes