Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tutorial: Shading with Colorless Blenders (Pencils)

One question that comes up over and over again is how to create nice, seamless blends with marker and pencil. It’s really quite simple. The trick is the colorless blender pencil. This walkthrough article describes how to use colorless blender pencils and markers to create stunning results. I love to use markers and colored pencils for making my Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). I find them the perfect tool for a quick and easy illustration and best of all, they’re not messy.

My pencils of choice are Faber-Castell Polychromos (Prismas too) and my markers of choice are Prismacolor or Copic brands. However, you can use any sort of permanent marker or pencil crayon as long as you have a blending tool. I love to use the Prismacolor brand  colorless blender as it works almost like a pencil.

Using a Colorless Blender

I start off with a base of marker only. (top)

I’ve added a few layers of rough pencil here from light to dark shades. I’m very heavy with the pencils as I prefer my colors saturated. You can clearly see my pencil marks and that’s fine as we’re about to get rid of the marks and the seams. (mid)

I use the Colorless Blender like a pencil and press fairly hard from light to dark, slowly blending the colors together until the seams and pencil disappear. You should start with the light colors and work to dark as the blender will drag colors from one spot to the next, so you need to be careful what you’re dragging. (bottom)

Tips & Tricks for Using the Colorless Blender

Prismacolor pencils and other brands can easily build up to a waxy layer and it becomes hard to add new color. If you find you can’t add new color on top, you may be applying the pencils too thickly. Try to lighten up the pressure on areas where there is a lot of color and/or shading to be done.

If you find you can’t add more color or shading because of build up, spray your card with a matte finishing spray (I use Krylon Clear Matte). Once dry, you will have a hard surface to work on once again. It will be somewhat difficult to use your blender on top of the matte finish so don’t spray until you’re nearly finished. The matte finish will allow you to add those highlights of light or dark pencil without fighting a waxy buildup.

ATC Walk-through with Marker, Colored Pencil & Blender

In summary, here are all the steps for you to view at once:

Step 1 – Line art
Step 2 – Markers
Step 3 – Adding colored pencil
Step 4 – Using a colorless blender
Step 5 – Finishing touches after a matte spray

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