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Top Tips on Using Watercolor Pencils by Over 15 Artists

Top Tips on Using Watercolor Pencils by Over 15 Artists

Using watercolor pencils is a game-changer for people who love watercolor. It is a combination of using watercolors and colored pencils in one. You can create some easy watercolor pencil drawings, especially by reading the insights shared by these artists. 

Watercolor pencils react and adjust to the water, which allows you to create very similar effects and patterns you can get with traditional watercolor. 

When you’re using watercolor pencils it feels like you’re painting and drawing at the same time. You will get the flow, unique response, transparency, and all the other characteristics of watercolor painting, and you’ll be able to add a level of detail you could never achieve in traditional watercolor painting.

You can get this next-level type of detail by using a watercolor pencil because you can sharpen it to a fine point like a colored pencil.  

I got the chance to speak with artists that love using watercolors, and I’m going to share their top tips in using watercolor pencils. There are common themes in all these responses, and I’ve grouped them accordingly.  

You can click on any of the below categories to go to that section. 

Paper

These tips for using watercolor pencils are centered around the paper you use. Whether it’s choosing the right paper or the way you use the paper you choose.  

using watercolor pencilsSui

Hey there! I’d say, do not add too much water to it. Depending on the result you want ofc. They definitely behave differently. The good thing about them is that you don’t necessarily need watercolor paper to use them. 

They can go in any paper as long as you use little water. I like using pentel brushes to have better control. 😸

pelicans art
Pelican’s Art

I like to use regular drawing paper instead of watercolor paper.  To keep it flat between layers after getting wet, I press it with the back of another pad and books or something similar on top.

stelkaStelka

Layer and use the right paper xD

Process

The way you use watercolor pencils is just as important as the tools you use to create your art, and these watercolor pencil tips cover how to make watercolor pencils part of your process.   

joaquin herreraJoaquin Herrera

It’s hard to decide which one is the number one tip! But I think that I would recommend using water brushes, for practicality. 

For anyone who doesn’t know about them, they’re brushes with a plastic container that can hold water and keeps the bristles moist. 

Wet media is usually very messy and it’s a pain in the butt to clean up. However, I like using water brushes combined with watercolor pencils because you don’t need a water pot, you don’t have to load the brush every few strokes and you also don’t need that much space. 

So, they are both less messy, and much easier to clean and put away than traditional watercolors. I think they’re amazing for that only! And because they’re so handy and easy to use, I like having them loaded in my pencil case. 

So, if you’re an avid sketcher, I would recommend putting your sketchbook and these materials in your backpack. That way, you can easily sketch with watercolor anywhere!

rachel raisinRachel Raisin

My top tip to using watercolor pencils is to experiment with different methods to find what you like. They can do a lot, from detail work to vibrant color addition to outlining. 

Experimenting with how much water you use, the amount of pressure and the number of layers will help you find your groove and learn what works best with your style.

kingaKinga

Don’t try to make it perfect, watercolor does what they want, and that’s why I love them so much! Each time you get a different effect.

dank in normies clothing
Dank in Normie’s Clothing

My tip would be: patience. The thing is that with watercolors and sometimes watercolor pencils (which I mostly use) you shouldn’t expect to obtain a certain result right away. Of course, this is also true for basically all drawing/painting techniques. 

Experience has taught me that using watercolors, in particular, requires the application of many, MANY layers of paint (side tip: starting with lighter shades is easier 😉 ), sometimes even ones that might seem ‘useless’. 

You might not see the drawing as you pictured it for a long time. The key is to just, and I can’t stress this enough, KEEP DRAWING! Your hard work will pay off in the end.

rebekah
Rebekah

I would say my tip is don’t use too much water. When I tried colored pencils for the first time I used way too much water, it really dilutes the color and can be hard to control. I now use just a slightly damp brush when working with watercolor pencils. =)

Colors

One of the most breathtaking aspects of using watercolors is the colors. These tips all deal with choosing the right colors, the way you use colors, and more when it comes to using watercolor pencils.

nneda artNneda Art

Don’t be afraid to mix and layer different or bright colors, it creates magic ✨.

antigone damigou
Antigone Damigou

I mostly paint with watercolors and more rarely with watercolor pencils, but some obvious tips for watercolor pencils that unfortunately I didn’t have in mind when I first started using them, are:

#1 It’s always better to make a sample chart to be sure how a colour looks in both cases (dry and wet), because watercolour pencils usually look very different and more intense after adding water.

#2 watercolour pencils need for sure a quite heavy paper (even better if it’s a watercolour one). We add water, so we have to be careful not to ruin our painting.

#3 Also obvious, but worth mentioning, we should always start adding water (with a brush) from light to dark colours.

using watercolor pencilsDrawings Wonder

My tip is that you should always take the time to blend all the colors together. Then the colors look softer and not so rough.

joanne chen
Joanne Chen

My #1 watercolor pencil tip is to layer colors! The great thing about watercolor is that it’s transparent. 

You can create more depth in your pieces by incorporating complementary colors. But be careful when the bottom layer isn’t completely dry because the pencils can scratch and damage the paper!

janinaJanina

I think my top tip would be to always blend from lighter to darker colors and add layers if you want it to be more intense!

sumaira khanSumaira Khan

So basically what I do with watercolor pencils is that I first colour the drawing using many different watercolor pencils, and then I apply water on top of all the colours using a brush to blend them all together. It gives the drawing a very beautiful, natural, and realistic effect.

rebekahTania Daymond

My top tip is based on my botanical art style but will be different for every artist and their unique style. 

Firstly, you should apply the pencil color/pigment with all the control and precision you need to enhance your work. This will be the foundation of your color so it needs all the care and attention you can give it. 

Secondly, when applying the water the process is quite the opposite ‘ Go with the Flow’! Let the water application be loose and liquid … let go of the control and this will add character to your work.

Watercolor pencils are so much fun to work with and can give spontaneity to your work if you let it. 

Happy watercolor penciling!!!

Pencil

This section covers how you use a watercolor pencil. The way in which you use your watercolor pencil will help you create easy watercolor pencil drawings. 

rimjhim dewanganRimjhim Dewangan

My top #1 tip would be to check each pencil of how much you have used it on the paper for the exact color outcome for your painting then start applying it.

using watercolor pencilsKamalpreet Aulakh

Work with patients. And Don’t give pressure on the pencil when you use it.work in layers to get a more realistic touch.

using watercolor pencilsGustavo Racca

For me, the first and essential tip I can give you for using colored watercolor pencils is to be aware that they are not like conventional watercolors and that is a good thing. The pigment will behave differently.  

Dissolving in a different way it is possible to explore textures and traces that watercolor cannot give. That way, I always think it’s a good idea to explore the association between the two techniques.

Linework

This tip highlights the manner in which you create lines using your watercolor pencils. Your linework is really important and will help you with how to make watercolor pencils stand out. 

natalia tomas segoviaNatalia Tomas Segovia

Start using soft lines to give structure to the visage, and start overlapping them so that you can achieve contrast and solidity of shapes. Combining watercolour pencils with gouache or white tube watercolour offers the chance of obtaining interesting textures when mixing them.

Other Topics Related to Watercolor:

 

Conclusion

If you’re a newbie to using watercolor pencils or if you’ve used them for a long time, I hope these tips from other watercolor artists help you create easy watercolor pencil drawings. 

If you love the look of watercolor or the effects you can achieve with watercolor, but maybe hesitant to dive into watercolor painting then I encourage you to try using watercolor pencils. 

I want to thank all the artists featured in this post. Each one of them was extremely cool to collaborate with and gracious with their time. 

I recommend clicking on their names to visit their Instagram accounts and engage with their work! They have shared so much wisdom that will surely help you in using watercolor pencils!

Question of the Day: What is your favorite tip in using watercolor pencils? Comment below.

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