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View Full Version : Watercolor Pencils vs. Colored Pencils


Garden Maker
07-25-2012, 12:29 PM
Hi, all!

Long-time lurker/admirer here and I'm starting to gin up my courage to try some more advanced techniques, like Karen and Annie use on their wonderful animals. I have an ancient set of Staedtler Watercolor pencils (25 years old?) that I've been playing with and they are great for sketching and adding bits of color, but I've been disappointed in their blending ability as dry media. They're still OK as water soluables. The only other colored pencils I have are student grade; also fun for playing, but not blending well.

I've ordered a MiTientes drawing pad (Daniel Smith - only $9.72!) but am still waffling on the pencils. The Derwent Coloursoft set looked interesting but I know a lot of people prefer the Prismacolors. The cost is not different enough to matter, so what would you folks recommend?

Many thanks!

Edit - forgot to add - does anyone here use watercolor pencils just as dry media pencils? Do you recommend a particular brand?

RobinZ
07-25-2012, 12:41 PM
Hi Shari, (ha, ha we got another convert!!! :D)

They are two different animals.

You will not get the blending that wax and oil based colored pencils give you with watercolor pencis.

They are more like pan watercolors shaped into rods than colored pencils.

I would recommend that you purchase a starter set of decent colored pencil, I use prismacolors and coloursofts, but there are others as well. All you HAVE to have to get started are a true yellow, blue and red along with white. Everything CAN be blended from those three, but you'll enjoy it more if you have others, too.

If you are interested in animals, you'll want some browns for sure. I do animals and have every shade of brown made. Makes it real easy!

RobinZ
07-25-2012, 12:42 PM
I personally, btw, prefer Prismacolors. You can mix and match, though, I do all the time.

Garden Maker
07-25-2012, 12:48 PM
"Hi Shari, (ha, ha we got another convert!!! )"

Uh, oh - am I lost forever??? :lol:

ManedWolf
07-25-2012, 02:16 PM
They are two different animals.

You will not get the blending that wax and oil based colored pencils give you with watercolor pencis.

They are more like pan watercolors shaped into rods than colored pencils. I dare to disagree. There is a difference, but the best watercolour pencils (Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer, Caran d'Ache Supracolor Soft, recent Derwent Watercolour with dark blue shaft) are as usable as their non-soluble siblings. You just have to be more careful not to touch the paper with your hands (or nose or anything) as these water-soluble ones don't like greasy paper. If you've just scrubbed your hands with surgical soap, they are still greasy and dirty!

If you don't like your old Staedtlers, it probably has more to do with their general quality than with their solubility. A lot has been happening over the years and many pencils are better now than 25 years ago.

And of course, there is no such thing as "the best colour pencils in the world" -- there are just pencils you like and pencils you don't like as much.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jul-2012/151084-%21PAW.JPG
Heikki

RobinZ
07-25-2012, 04:51 PM
I'd like to see an example Heikki, of watercolor pencils using the same blending techniques as wax and oils.

I sure could be wrong, but would love to see that.

Kiwi Girl
07-25-2012, 06:36 PM
I use watercolor pencils exclusively. I can use colorless blenders to smooth out pigment, probably not just as good as wax or oil based. I use Faber Castell and Caran d'Ache. I don't reccommend Lyra watercolor pencils though- very harsh, scratchy, tend to break and don't lay down colour very well.

Here's an example of what I can do.

RobinZ
07-26-2012, 10:41 AM
Interesting Kiwi, thanks. I stand corrected!

I don't understand the logic of it, though. Why do you use them if you don't intend to wet them? Is there an advantage? Are they translucent? Can you create other colors by layering?

Garden Maker
07-26-2012, 11:10 AM
That's a great picture, Kiwi - what cute kids! I wonder if the colorless blender would affect the watercolor effect if you chose to use water on it. It might act as a resist. Hmmm . . . bet you could get some neat effects doing that.

The main advantage I can see is the versatility. Why buy 2 sets of pencils if you can make one do both dry AND wet drawings? For myself, I would like to continue using the Staedtlers in my field kit and have another set of good pencils for special work in the house (no studio, unless you count the kitchen table! :o )

Maybe I'll just pop over the art store and grab a bunch of each kind before commiting to a brand. Seems to be the SOP for these things! :lol:

Thanks, all!

ManedWolf
07-26-2012, 05:48 PM
It might be added that there's a long tradition of watercolour pencils in Europe. The Caran d'Ache's original water-soluble Prismalo brand was introduced in 1932 and its short-lived successor Prismalo II and then Supracolor Soft were launched only in the late 1980s -- and finally the non-soluble Pablo a couple of years later. Also, such well-known medium-quality watercolour pencils as Staedtler Karat and Stabilo Original do not have non-soluble medium-quality siblings, just cheap kid sisters / brothers.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jul-2012/151084-!PAW.JPG
Heikki

Kiwi Girl
07-26-2012, 06:51 PM
No worry about wax bloom and having to spray fixative.

Being able to put down pencil and the wet to create underpainting and to fill backgrounds easily.

Not having two sets of pencils.

I usually wet the bottom layers and then add unwetted pencil ontop so yes, when the pencil is been wetted it does set and doesn't move. Actually a real advantage in underpainting.

Plus with watercolour pencils I can do watercolour stuff like adding salt, using materials to "stamp" textural effects, blend washes really well. Best of both worlds really!

KarenESP
07-26-2012, 07:41 PM
:clap:Prismacolors ;) :clap:
:thumbsup:

RobinZ
07-26-2012, 09:55 PM
Kiwi, yeah, I understand the use of watercolor pencils as a wet media and a combination of wet and dry media. But that wasn't the question. So I'm really confused now. The original question regarded blending watercolor pencils as dry media.

Kiwi, or Maned Wolf, do you use them strictly dry, as the OP was asking? If so, can you create another color by blending them dry?

Kiwi Girl
07-26-2012, 11:58 PM
Yes totally can make different color when blended dry. It's great that they can do this both ways. However as I mentioned I cannot get the absoltely creamy blend of oils and wax, it tends to go a little grainy in texture with the colourless blender, but I don't mind that.

ManedWolf
07-27-2012, 05:05 PM
I admit that it may be impossible to create the most dense, the most opaque surfaces with watercolour pencils when used dry. I haven't thought much about it. Anyway, watercolour pencils come in many forms, and such as Derwent Inktense and Derwent Aquatone need water if you want to get the most out of them. Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer, Staedtler Karat (upper middle class) and Caran d'Ache Classicolor / Fancolor (lower middle class) on the other hand, behave very well without water too.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Jul-2012/151084-%21PAW.JPG
Heikki

RobinZ
07-27-2012, 06:40 PM
Interesting!

Garden Maker
07-29-2012, 10:54 AM
Well, I went to the art store yesterday and bought a handful of Prismacolors since those seem to be very popular. I am terribly disappointed. I can't tell you how well the colors work because I can't get the darn things sharpened!! :(

The leads must be shattered the length of the pencil. I was just getting a good point and that section of lead fell right out! One pencil is now half its original length because I got stubborn and it kept dropping lead.

What should I do? Bring them back to the store? Try another brand? Try another sharpener? The one I have is a hand sharpener made by Prismacolor, for Pete's sake! I'll take a few to work tomorrow and see if an electric sharpener makes a difference.

The trip wasn't a total loss. I also got a Strathmore Visual Journey sketchbook for watercolor and I'll be using it to test wc mixes and individual paints.

Thanks for listening!

douglass
07-29-2012, 04:41 PM
so sad for you! the breaking leads can happen with any pencils, if they are treated badly (by dropping eg). You can pop them in the microwave for a few seconds and the core kind of all melts together again! Or just leave them in the hot sun for a while, see if that helps!

RobinZ
07-29-2012, 06:26 PM
Yes, absolutely take them back. I use a battery operated sharpener.

mayhaps
07-29-2012, 08:44 PM
Well, I went to the art store yesterday and bought a handful of Prismacolors since those seem to be very popular. I am terribly disappointed. I can't tell you how well the colors work because I can't get the darn things sharpened!! :(

The leads must be shattered the length of the pencil. I was just getting a good point and that section of lead fell right out! One pencil is now half its original length because I got stubborn and it kept dropping lead.

What should I do? Bring them back to the store? Try another brand? Try another sharpener? The one I have is a hand sharpener made by Prismacolor, for Pete's sake! I'll take a few to work tomorrow and see if an electric sharpener makes a difference.

It is your preference, however, I would of said anything artist grade other than prisma. They do blend well, but, if they fall apart they are a waste of money. Only have prismas because I am using them up. One of my favorites are kor-i-noor woodless pencils. Hardly anyone mentions them but they are easy to sharpen and I don't think I have ever had one to break. They are not terribly expensive and used to come in sets at Hobby Lobby. I have just about all of the others which I like also. The kor-i-noor take a beating and keep on working. You can try to fix them but would you buy something broke and have to fix it? Most people would say no but if you like them then go for it.

Garden Maker
07-30-2012, 10:31 AM
It turns out it may have been the sharpener. I brought them to work and used the electric sharpener and it worked perfectly. Go figure!

Thanks for the microwave fix, Douglass - I never heard of that!

Robin, I have a battery operated one that doesn't work either. I begin to think I'm just not meant to use pencils that need sharpening! :lol:

Cindy, I'll keep an eye open for them. I love the woodless graphite pencils I have and didn't know they made colored pencils that way. Thanks!

KarenESP
07-30-2012, 10:40 AM
GREAT portraits!