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BKWYRM 03-11-2005 05:10 PM

Tips, Tricks & Techniques
I thought it might be fun if we shared our top 3 favorite or most useful colored pencil Tips, Tricks & Techniques.

It can be a gadget, an art technique, or an art product.

My top 3 are these:

1) Solvent! I adore the "painterly" look of colored pencil when the layers are dissolved. Turpenoid, odorless mineral spirits, rubber cement thinner--these work, but are toxic. Zest it is a natural, non-allergenic, non-toxic alternative. Works great!

2) Handi tak! AKA blu-tak, reusable adhesive, sticky tak. The names are endless, as are the uses. I love how it removes colored pencil. Now I'm not afraid to make mistakes.

3) I mount a paintbrush on top of my electric sharpener and run the newly-sharpened point through the bristles to remove the "crumbs" after sharpening. It has become a habit and I don't even have to look anymore. Keeps the "crumbs" and shavings near my sharpener and off my artwork.

Those are my favorite "tips". Looking forward to learning lots more from you guys! :D

RobinZ 03-11-2005 06:23 PM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
Love the last one. I have an old dishtowel and roll/drag through it, but the brush is even better.

I am having a lot of fun holding my pencil more like a steak knife and stabbing in fur and foliage, or using the side of the lead, throwing off that tedious layering for every single part of the painting.

I also am enjoying using pastel as my first 3 layers!

I prefer tape for my um, erasing!

gbritnell 03-11-2005 07:00 PM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
One of the tips along the way that I picked up from one of Ann Kullberg's books (I hope it was) is that when your pencil gets too small to sharpen and hold in an extender is to super glue it to a new pencil and therefore you are able to use the entire stub. I also save scraps of the paper that I am working with and tape them on my board next to my drawing that way I can try out color combinations or just roll my pencil to create a sharp tip.

RobinZ 03-11-2005 10:24 PM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
Ooo! I also like to work a little bigger than I need. Sometimes when I'm matting, a teeny little adjustment to my original crop just looks better. And I leave a large scrap to the right of my drawing to try out my color combos, like George. I use masking tape to separate my drawing from my scrap.

~artgirl~ 03-12-2005 02:40 AM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
I use a 'dust gun' like ppl use to blow the dust off their keyboard and computer. Blasts those crumbs right off!

DStaub11 03-12-2005 03:46 AM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
Sharpen my pencil about once a minute--I make myself stop and sharpen as soon as it loses its sharpest point.

Do Mi

Katherine T 03-12-2005 06:43 AM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
I'm having trouble here separating out:
  • tips for any sort of drawing/painting in any media (and then how they impact on coloured pencil if they do] - for example always make sure you work is adequately lit, using good natural light or full spectrum lighting
  • those that specifically relate to coloured pencil, such as the "brush your pencil free of sahvings as it exits the sharpener" - excellent tip that
..........and I'm wondering whether to include the former here or start another thread - what do people think?

Anyway - 3 top tips for using coloured pencils:
  • always work with a few sheets of paper underneath your work - the cushioning effect helps with laying colour and makes the whole process more.........tactile and enjoyable! :D
  • try using foam core as an art board; I've used this for years now and always when travelling or working outside / ' en plein air' as it cuts down on the weight you need to carry and provides a good support (with paper - see above) for your work. You can also cut it to different sizes. 5mm is OK, 10mm is better. It also provides a good base to secure your paper too when travelling so that you arrive with sheets in pristine condition and get back home again with them in the same state without having to take a portfolio with you.
  • sort your pencils by colour to help you make the right choices; I use small white plastic pots to accommodate all my pencils (except those that are sitting in the 'stock store' - in pencil tins). All the pencils of one hue go into one pot with their 'leads' pointing upwards. It makes it very easy to see what you've got and to move pencils from room to room if you're only using certain colour ranges. I then have all my short stubby ones in small glass tumblers and I make myself use these first when working on a piece - and as I begin to establish what colours I'm using I put them into an china mug which, having a handle, makes it easy to again move pencils around if you want to work in different places.
And I've thought of some more but I'll let others have a go first! :D


BKWYRM 03-12-2005 09:15 AM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
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Wow, guys, this thread is already very useful for me! I had a hard time deciding my top 3, because there are a lot of things that make it easier.

Hmmmm....I tape my paper to a masonite board. Haven't ever put anything soft behind it. Will have to try that.

George, what kind of glue do you use? I just bought a tube of Krazy Glue and glue my stubs together. I also love having 2 sharpened points!

Okay, I can't limit myself to just 3 things! Can't live without my drafting brush for crumb-sweeping. My value viewer (shown below) is the single cheapest tool I own and the most valuable. Plus, of course, my digital camera!

Okay, guys, your top 6 tips, tricks & techniques! :D

Rosa Weitzel 03-12-2005 11:07 AM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
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I think this is a great thread. Now for my favorites.

Clear tape
I very seldom erase I use tape to lift any mistakes I have made. All so It makes some wonderful effects in backgrounds and rock.

Foam borad and acid free glue
I buy lots of scrap foam board from the bin at my art store. They put it out after they frame things. I then take acid free scrapbook glue and glue my drawing on the board. Makes it easy to drag around with me and easy to frame.

Toilet Roll Pencil Holder ( idea by Janie Gildow)

When I took a work shop by Janie Gildow she had made her self a holder for her pencils. You save up the rolls ( Family thinks your nuts) clean all the scraps of paper off the rolls and glue them on foam board. On some I cut lower and put them in the front. Now I took it a step farther and painted mine nice colors and put the matching pencils in the proper color *see below. Its light weight fits in a carry all, for long trips I do take the pencils out.


Yowie 03-12-2005 11:59 AM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
i am new to colored pencil, so I use tips provided by others, so far.

I want to share one thing though -for the lack of terpoid in the beginning, I tried rubbing alcohol (isopropyl or ethyl/grain alcohol from any pharmacy) and it works very well. It evaporates instantly and dissolves layers - great for getting rid of white paper under strokes.

When I finally ordered terpenoid - i didn't like it (it had that heavy oily feeling) and went back to alcohol

I never read about anyone using just rubbing alcohol as solvent but I am probably just too new :cat:

wet 03-12-2005 12:12 PM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
One of my favorite things is my electric eraser. It amazes me how many beginners or kids (I have given talks at schools about art) think erasing means you are a substandard artist! I just laugh at this. I use it alot for fine whiskers or back lit areas of fur.
Second one is my full spectrum light I just purchased. I LOVE the closet studio my husband built for me but would find myself back at the kitchen table for the light. Now I could stay in my little closet all day! And I didn't get the high dollar one. It only cost $40.
Third is the sable brush that is alway in my left hand. For the crumbs.
Kathy that is funny you mentioned a value finder. I am working on a flamingo and really wanted to pay special attention to the mid tones that will be right next to the lightest areas. Sometimes I have gone too dark so I was going to make one of those things today. Could you explain how you made it and how you use it? wanda

BKWYRM 03-12-2005 01:13 PM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
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Wanda, it's too easy--it feels like cheating! My art teacher passed them out in our very first class. All she did was take some heavy paper in white, gray and black, punch a hole in the middle, and voila! This particular one came as part of a kit from Ann Kullberg. It's a piece of bright white paper laminated, then a hole punched in the middle.

I actually have two--one to hold on the ref pic, and one to hold on my artwork. I don't use the gray and black ones so much anymore, but they are very invaluable for checking out the values.

Wow! Some great ideas! Rosa, I always liked the idea of the tp rolls, but the color is so ugly I didn't want it in my studio. Duh--never thought of painting them! :D

Flame Lily 03-12-2005 02:05 PM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
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- Put some kind of slippery paper/cardboard under your hand when you're drawing so you don't smudge your colors all over the place, like a postcard or book cover from a notebook or glassine, if it's shiny/slippery then it works better because it'll glide along with your hand.

- [This I learned at a workshop by Elizabeth Holster a few weeks ago, several people in the class were asking her how to choose the right colors]
Put a few choices of pencils against the colors on your photo to find the right colors for the job. (See attached photo). Probably sounds like a 'no brainer' to most, but when you're a newbie sometimes you can learn from hearing something so simple.

- [Another great tip from Elizabeth Holster]
Draw what you love, love what you draw and then do a series of that subject/s.
So for me for example, I don't enjoy pets as much as other people do, I've done two cats in cp and I couldn't wait to get both of them finished as soon as possible, didn't enjoy it one bit. I still haven't found my "that's it!" subject matter, but I'm getting closer.

- Don't be scared to try new things, different brands of pencils, paper, strokes, etc., just because someone who is really good at what they do likes a certain kind of paper or pencil brand better, doesn't mean they're the best fit for you.

- Try to take a workshop if you can, you'll learn lots and lots of valuable information and it can be a great way to jump start, I'm pretty sure you'll walk away inspired by what you see and hear.

Brattgirl 03-12-2005 03:18 PM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
For brushing the "crumbs" off my drawing, I use a big blush makeup brush. I picked mine up on clearance a long time ago, and it's great. I think it cost me about 75 cents.

Also, when I can't get something right and I've drawn and redrawn it 16 times, I will resort to a lightbox. I didn't have one, so I made my own. A cardboard box, with a small lamp (no shade), the type with the switch on the cord, in the box (with the cord hanging out out), and a peice of glass from a picture frame on the top of it.

For keeping track of my pencils, I made a list of them in Excel (color name and number) and I print it out, color the square next to the color name with that color, and then write the number of sharpened ones I have, and the number of unsharpened ones. This way I know what I need to buy more of.

I can't think of anymore right now. But I probably will when I start another drawing. :)

RobinZ 03-13-2005 03:03 PM

Re: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
No surprise, I'm learning a lot here!

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