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how to use watercolor pencils

how to use watercolor pencils

Watercolor pencils can help you create beautiful watercolor works of art without using paint. Draw with your pencil on watercolor paper or thick paper that will hold water. You can then apply water to your drawing by brushing or spraying it. You can also layer pencil color and water to intensify the watercolor effect. Feel free to experiment to see which effects suit you best!


[Edit]Sketching Your Design and Base Colors

  1. Draw a rough outline on watercolor paper with a regular pencil. Before you start coloring, you’ll need a rough sketch of your drawing. Don’t worry about being too precise or adding too much detail – that’s something you’ll do later when you layer colors.[1]
    Use a Watercolor Pencil Step 1 Version 4.jpg
    • Because watercolor pencils eventually require the application of water, you’ll want to make the material thick enough that it won’t tear. Watercolor paper or heavy board are great options.
  2. Add a base color to your sketch. Once you have a rough sketch, you can fill it in with base colors. Don’t use watercolor pencils as you would a regular colored pencil, filling your sketch in completely. Instead, apply the pencil in the general shape and direction you would apply with a regular pencil, but leave some white space in between.[2]
    • Although you don’t need a lot of detail at this stage, be careful about the direction of your strokes when you add the base color. Once activated by water, the stroke directions will still be visible.[3]
  3. Skip adding color to the areas where you want the lightest shade. Because you’ll be mixing the colors with the water later, areas that are white in your sketch will eventually pick up the lightest possible shade of nearby colors. Skip the areas where you want the lightest color when adding the base color.[4]

[Edit]Blending Your Sketch Colors With a Wet Brush

  1. Apply water to your rough sketch and base color. The size of the brush will depend on the size of your drawing and where you want the watercolor effect. Thinner brushes are better for precise, detailed work. Thicker brushes are better for a more abstract look. Dip the brush into a small bowl of clean water, then gently wipe it over the edge of the bowl.[5]
  2. Gently apply water to your pencil work. When using a brush to spread pigment with a watercolor pencil, use smooth strokes. As you apply the water, mimic the shape and direction of the pencil strokes. This will feel most like watercolor painting, except that instead of dipping your brush into watercolor paint, you are using water to spread the pigment already on the paper. When the brush dries in front of the paper, dip it back into the water.[6]
  3. Allow the first layer to dry before applying the second layer. You can layer on water to create an even stronger watercolor effect. Allow the first application of water to dry completely before applying the second. Use your fingers to test the paper – it should feel completely dry when you press down on it gently. Test your painting every five minutes.[7]
    • The amount of time it takes for the layers to dry will depend on how much water you used and how much area you covered.

[Edit]Adding Depth and Detail with Layers of Pencil and Water

  1. Apply another layer of pencil. This is your chance to deepen the colors of your painting. Once the first water application dries, you can either add more color to the same color to deepen your base color, or you can add a second color for a layered effect.[8]
    Use a Watercolor Pencil Step 7 Version 4.jpg
    • For example, if you’re adding shading to your painting, use blue and brown watercolor pencils layered on top of each other. Once the water is applied and the pigments are mixed, they will create a true black.
  2. Apply another layer of water. Which brush you use for your second application of water will depend on what kind of layering job you’ve done. If you worked on small areas to darken, use a smaller brush. Larger areas may take a larger brush.[9]
  3. Wet the tip of the pencil before drawing detail. Wetting the tip of your watercolor pencil will create a brighter pigment when applied to paper. Dip the tip of your pencil into the bowl of water, and then trace the contours of your painting to add detail and definition. You can also use the damp pencil to add details on top of the painted areas.[10]

[Edit]Use watercolor pencils with a spray bottle instead

  1. Draw your complete picture. Since you will only be applying 1 layer of water, make sure your drawing is completed with a watercolor pencil first. You can layer on all the colors you want and add as many details as you want.[11]
    Use a Watercolor Pencil Step 10 Version 4.jpg
  2. Fill a spray bottle with clean water. You don’t need to fill the spray bottle all the way. Unless you’ve done a major job, a few ounces should do the job. Then you might need the whole bottle![12]
    Use Watercolor Pencils Step 11 Version 3.jpg
  3. Spray your drawing with water. You should use enough water so that you can see the colors start to bleed into each other. Spray slowly and gently, as spraying too much water too quickly can cause the colors to mix completely on the paper.[13]
    • How close you place the bottle to the paper is up to you. Keeping it close will cause the colors to bleed a lot and lose a lot of definition. Placing it further apart will result in less bleeding and more definition.
  4. Let the painting dry for 1 hour. If your drawing is larger than this, it may take more than an hour to dry. Test the painting with your finger, pressing down lightly. You shouldn’t feel any moisture under your finger.[14]
    Use Watercolor Pencils Step 13 Version 2.jpg
  5. Add details with watercolor pencils. If you want, you can add details after the painting has dried. You can clarify boundaries, add words and do anything else that requires clarity and detail. Or you can just leave your painting as it is![15]
    • If you want your details to be heavily pigmented, dip the tip of your pencil in some water before you start drawing.



    • If you prefer a smoother surface than watercolor paper, you can paint on illustration boards. They are thick enough to handle water application, but much smoother than watercolor paper.
  • The water will color with each other. Keep this in mind if you’re starting in a darker area and moving to a lighter area.
  • To remove color, dip a cotton swab or ball in water and gently wipe away the color.
  • Consider making a test chart. Shade a small area with each pencil, then use a brush dipped in water to paint over half of it. This way you can see how the colors change when water is added.
  • Before tackling a scene or portrait, play with your watercolor pencils on scrap paper, then use a paintbrush to paint over what you’ve drawn to get a feel for the medium.[16]
  • Traditional watercolor paints are great for scenes and washes, and watercolor pencils allow you to render a level of detail not usually possible with traditional watercolor materials.[17]


  • Errors are difficult to undo.

[Edit]Things you’ll need

  • A pencil
  • A set of watercolor pencils.
  • a cup or bowl of water
  • watercolor paintbrush
  • drawing or watercolor paper

[Edit]Related wikiHows

  • take up watercolor painting as a beginner
  • acrylic paint


[Edit]quick summary

  1. https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/01/mixed-media-painting-technique-watercolor-pencil/?_ct=rbew&_ctp=83697
  2. https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/01/mixed-media-painting-technique-watercolor-pencil/?_ct=rbew&_ctp=83697
  3. http://thevirtualinstructor.com/watercolorpencils.html
  4. https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/01/mixed-media-painting-technique-watercolor-pencil/?_ct=rbew&_ctp=83697
  5. http://thevirtualinstructor.com/watercolorpencils.html
  6. http://thevirtualinstructor.com/watercolorpencils.html
  7. http://thevirtualinstructor.com/watercolorpencils.html
  8. http://thevirtualinstructor.com/watercolorpencils.html
  9. http://thevirtualinstructor.com/watercolorpencils.html
  10. https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/04/watercolor-pencil-techniques/
  11. https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/01/mixed-media-painting-technique-watercolor-pencil/?_ct=rbew&_ctp=83697
  12. https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/01/mixed-media-painting-technique-watercolor-pencil/?_ct=rbew&_ctp=83697
  13. https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/01/mixed-media-painting-technique-watercolor-pencil/?_ct=rbew&_ctp=83697
  14. https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/01/mixed-media-painting-technique-watercolor-pencil/?_ct=rbew&_ctp=83697
  15. https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/01/mixed-media-painting-technique-watercolor-pencil/?_ct=rbew&_ctp=83697
  16. [v162215_b01], 23 September 2022.
  17. [v162215_b01], 23 September 2022.


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