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Old 07-26-2015, 07:29 PM
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Delofasht Delofasht is offline
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Tips and Tricks

It's been a few years since I've seen a tips and tricks thread, and over the years I've learned quite a few new ones that I thought I would share with everyone.

Most I've mentioned in other threads, but oftentimes we as artists are unable to look through every thread and get all the information from them. It's hard to keep up with every post in all the subforums that we may follow here on WC.

First, blending with walnut oil, oils break down wax and oil binders alike, allowing them to be spread very easily to almost watercolor like finishes. The major drawback to the most commonly used oil is the strike through that happens (oil seeps through the paper), account for this by sizing the paper with a glue, PVA or clear Acrylic Gesso work well for this. Several thin coats will effectively stop strike through issues. Colored pencil work tends to be smudgy already, and when you add walnut oil the binder is further reduced and moved around resulting in a nearly powdery finish, so take care to varnish at the end of your work, you wouldn't want it wiped off by accident. This is more so true on prepared paper than on just straight paper, but remember most oils will supposedly destroy the paper eventually (there is a lot of debate about this when we view a few pieces of paper that have been preserved with oils from hundreds of years ago, Koreans. . . I don't know how they do it).

Second, for dry blending of colors try a cheap pH neutral craft foam for kids crafts under your paper. The thinner kind provides a minimal cushion, the thicker kind gives a bit more cushion and feels a bit sturdier. This is very similar to having several sheets of paper under your main paper (or a rubber cutting mat), the difference is that it's slightly softer than rubber cutting mats, and slightly firmer than paper. The result is a lovely soft blending that happens as the tooth of the paper squishes around your pencil as you move it, keeping hard strokes from appearing. I remove this near the end of a sketch or drawing and put it on a hard surface to get crisp sharp lines, but even those can be done on the craft foam.

Here is a picture of the craft foam piece, I've cut it in half to share with my daughter so she can use the same technique I do:



Next, remember that how you hold the pencil will make a difference to the kind of strokes and pressure you can exhibit on the lead. I have been doing quite a bit of sketching from life with hand sharpened pencils these past few years. Doing so has resulted in my having a very long tip that is easy to break with normal pressure, but has made my pressure control go amazingly up. I can build up much more quickly with minimal pressure changes, I showed a picture of one of my current grips, I use various grips for a pencil though. Here is a picture of the pencil grip I most commonly use:



Combining these two techniques results in this kind of blending, done quickly without fanfare:



Adjusting your pencil pressure and angle on the tip with the foam underneath will allow for more or less very tight filling, but for gradients this is one of the smoothest applications I can find. All of 30 seconds of scribbling there, VERY fast, that was done with Prismacolor pencils (because I found nubs the other day and want to get rid of them).

A couple other tips, trying clipping your paper (and foam) down to a board of the right size to give it a bit of weight and the ability to be portable. Being able to spin the entire board quickly to get a different angle on the paper allows for some quick blending. Those cheap office butterfly clips are very handy for this, I bought a bunch at target for a couple dollars (like 20 of them) and they have served a ton of purposes around the house. Blending drawings with paper tortillions (rolled up pieces of paper that taper to a point) are very handy on the craft foam, so give that a try as well, it's better with oil based pencils than wax, as the wax doesn't seem to want to move quite as much.

Lastly, I've found over the years that colored pencils can be used almost haphazardly with strokes without major concern with erasing much. Most of the colors are quite transparent and so can be layered over fairly easy, loosen up a bit with your work, colored pencils do not have to be super tight, hyper realistic works.

If anyone else has some great tips to share feel free to join in on this. Perhaps after awhile we can get these added to one of the older threads that have tons of great tips in them as well.
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Old 07-26-2015, 07:48 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delofasht
. . loosen up a bit with your work, colored pencils do not have to be super tight, hyper realistic works . .
. . .
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Old 07-26-2015, 10:30 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

Very informative post! THANKS Delofasht!!
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Old 07-27-2015, 01:26 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

The best "tips" I've picked up over the past months is, first, the use of Strathmore smooth paper, and, second, blending with plain ol' mineral spirits.

Can't say enough good about the Bristol smooth paper, 100 lbs., 20 sheets to the pad in 11x14 or 9x12 . . takes my Prismacolor and other pencils wonderfully . . layer upon layer.

Plain ol' mineral spirits blends superbly . . I use a wad of cotton cloth for large areas, a Q-tip or a very fine brush for smaller areas. Colors go down beautifully over the dried, blended area. Very time-saving for underpainting large areas of background.
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Old 07-28-2015, 06:20 PM
brownblackandwhite brownblackandwhite is offline
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Re: Tips and Tricks

Thanks for starting this thread Delo.
Lots of new ideas that I had not considered.
Thanks for sharing.

Olaf … I have used Bristol Vellum that you mention almost exclusively … so I am one of the converted.
And I agree that paper is very influential in terms of results, and should be one of the first decisions for materials.
I think it might even be more important than pencil choice or selection.

Richard
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:09 AM
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Delofasht Delofasht is offline
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Re: Tips and Tricks

I'm glad to know this thread is being helpful, Richard and artdude.

I thought I would share a trick that I'm currently running through some rigorous testing. I recently have been adding a tiny bit of dry marble dust over my colored pencils in some areas to add atmospheric effects. It's a nice way to knock back some areas of a piece into clouds or the background without using white pencil. It also works well with my other techniques and allows for some interesting results. It has a nice way of smoothing out the tooth of an area and giving the pencils a bit of something to grip to on especially smooth areas as well. So if you have burnished too hard wipe a tiny bit of marble dust in and it should recover some tooth for you.
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Old 07-30-2015, 02:16 PM
Crabby2 Crabby2 is offline
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Re: Tips and Tricks

As a learner I've been struggling with solvents. Perhaps it's because I use turpenoid. I don't know. But, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Some pencils seem to 'melt' much easier than others.

But I have found that a watercolor scrubber brush works wonders. Doesn't damage the paper. Great way to get full coverage when doing light layers. And a great blender. It's a quick, easy way to cheat! 😉😁 You can get a set of three at jerrys artarama for about $5. the really tiny one, size 2, is less than 1/4 inch wide, which is perfect for tiny areas. And if, for some reason you don't like them , they make great cleaning tools for miniscule nooks and crannies.

Thanks for the tips. I have a thin sheet of foam that I'm going to try....
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Old 07-30-2015, 04:37 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

I also prefer to blend with brushes, I use trimmed bristle brushes.

Anyone know of any long term studies of thinners on paper and how the paper holds up?
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Old 07-30-2015, 04:43 PM
Pingpongfan Pingpongfan is offline
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Re: Tips and Tricks

Is marble dust somewhat like chalk? Do you get it from a sculptor or from a hardware store. Lots of reading about it on the Internet. If I was seriously interested, I could spend a lot of time reading what different people have to say about it. Sounds as if it would be a good idea to use a mask when using it. How do you personally use it?
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Old 07-30-2015, 04:46 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

Wonderful tips! I have been dying to try the Bristol, and now I definitely think I will have to!

I have never used any solvents on my pastels or pastel pencils... I may have to try that as well...

Great ideas!!
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Old 07-30-2015, 04:50 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

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Originally Posted by RobinZ
I also prefer to blend with brushes, I use trimmed bristle brushes.

Anyone know of any long term studies of thinners on paper and how the paper holds up?
How is blending with brushes different in effect from blending with a colorless blender?
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Old 07-30-2015, 05:48 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

Colorless blender is wax, and can intensify the colors underneath, also changes the layering. I use a very hard paper (Mi Tientes) and sometimes I can't get more layers on, then I use the colorless blender and can.

I also think since it's so waxy, that it creates more wax bloom in dark colors with prismas, so never use it with darks.

The brush is more to get the little tiny pits in the paper filled.

I use a flat pencil "point" or sides of the pencils to get my first 3 layers on, then brush it, then I can start detailing it.
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Old 07-30-2015, 05:51 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

I should add that the eraser is my best friend in the beginning. I would rather refine with it than with a darker shade of pencil. I use both a white plastic eraser and "typewriter" type sharpenable erasers. Which is another reason I love Mi Tientes, it's tough enough to take erasing. I've ripped holes in Stonehenge, hate it.

I use masonite cut in different sizes for portability. In the summer, I rarely work on colored pencil indoors!!!!!

And I love cps because no matter what your style, tight, loose or in between, it performs beautifully.
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Old 07-30-2015, 07:35 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

Has anyone ever poured from the cans of Mineral Spirits without half of it being wasted?
I have tried in vain to find a pouring spout. You would think that the places that sell the cans, like Lowes, would have them, but no luck.
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Old 07-30-2015, 09:35 PM
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Re: Tips and Tricks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pingpongfan
Is marble dust somewhat like chalk? Do you get it from a sculptor or from a hardware store. Lots of reading about it on the Internet. If I was seriously interested, I could spend a lot of time reading what different people have to say about it. Sounds as if it would be a good idea to use a mask when using it. How do you personally use it?
Vena

Yes, marble dust is like chalk, same chemical composition, slightly different crystalline structure. I buy mine from the art store, normally ordered from Dick Blick, I get the Fredrix Powdered Marble Dust, it is of a very high quality. I normally use a tiny amount and just rub it in with a paper towel, the best kind is paper towel is a very absorbent soft kind, I use Scott's Shop Towels, the blue kind you buy in rolls. It's super handy for rubbing in, you can also use a paper tortillion or a number of other things (including a finger). Indeed as a dust a 'mask' is a good idea, for which I just pull my shirt up over my nose until I have it rubbed in, once absorbed or pushed into the paper surface or wax/oil of the pencil on the paper it's totally safe. The quantity I use at a time is also so low that I do not overly worry about inhaling the dust, it's so minor that it's likely not to negatively affect the body anyhow. Calcium carbonate, which is what marble dust is, will often be used as a filler for medications in pill form, or as an antacid.

There is a huge amount of information about it's uses, and I have used it for many purposes, including polishing wood surfaces. (like pumice, but finer, for this purpose) It's also a filler found in paints, colored pencils, and makes a fine molding paste with acrylics. Hundreds of uses, very economical, and very helpful for achieving a wide range of results.
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