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Using watercolor pencils

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Watercolor pencils (or watercolor crayons) resemble ordinary color pencils, but, when diluted with water, they can produce a broad number of pictorial effects. they are perfect for detail work in watercolor painting: light sparkling and reflecting on water, the interplay of shadows and light, foliage, etc.

They can be used by themselves when working outdoors: sketching from life or illustrating a travel diary. 

What you need to know

• soft leads are recommended for creating washes; hard leads are good for details and lines.

• When getting started, a few basic shades are enough. Soft leads are better because they dilute more easily. 

  • Doing a wash

Hatch a small area of paper with a watercolor pencil. Then moisten with a paintbrush: the more vigorous your gesture, the more you lighten the pencil lines to obtain a homogenous color area.


  • Drawing on a wash

Apply a wash in the color of your choosing to the paper. Then scribble on the still wet surface with a watercolor pencil: preferably, use close shades. The wash will seem more intense


  • Creating textures on wet paper

Moisten the paper with the paintbrush, then scribble away with a watercolor pencil. Alternate the pressure applied to the pencil as you work: this produces a somewhat blurry, slightly washed effect, in an especially intense color.


  • Blurring lines

Dip the tip of the watercolor pencil in a jar of tap water, then hatch a corner of the paper quickly: this will produce a slightly blurred line.