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PENCIL TECHNIQUES -
This topic was originally written 5 years ago ( in 2010 ) when my main need was to try to cover the use of wax type pencils to work a sky background. Since that time I have been teaching students to use Watercolour pencils for skies and clouds -
Firstly using wax or oil based pencils
One problem with Coloured Pencil is the fact that it is a ‘linear’ medium –
that is, it is designed to produce a line, and a line is not always what you want.
One technique used to get around the fact that you don’t always want a line, is to transfer colour from the pencil to the paper by means of an intermediary. This is a good way of doing skies, smooth water and out-
This method relies on you making up a 'paint box' or palette, on fairly rough watercolour paper by working an area or areas of very strong colour from your pencils. The paper needs to have a good tooth so that you get a thick layer of pigment to work with.
With a piece of white felt or similar fabric, you transfer pigment from the 'palette' to the felt and then gently rub the felt over the paper. This transfers a thin layer of pigment on to the paper. The darker the colour the more obvious the transfer, with lighter colours you may need several coats. I used a Polychromos Ultramarine for the sky in the example (above) which went down with a relatively light result. I then refined the detail with a Light Ultramarine pencil which was very close to the resultant transferred pigment and blended well.
Because you have not impressed the pigment into the paper in any way, you can lift it off easily with an eraser to show woolly white tops to clouds. You can also re-
By using white felt you can ensure that if you use it for another colour, you don't get the wrong colour transferred and a green patch (say) in the sky. I have a piece of felt which already has quite an area of blue on it and it works better and better all the time. Ideally the felt needs to be reasonably substantial, a thin piece will break up more quickly with rubbing. I have found an ideal source in the felt pad to a replacement ironing board cover. This was shortened to fit the board and the piece left over found a good home.
This technique is also good for backgrounds where the area behind the main subject needs to be out of focus. If you do this blurred area first, you can erase up to the edge of the subject and then work your detail.
If you are working with a soft surfaced paper, like Stonehenge or Canaletto Liscio, the surface can be lifted slightly by the rubbing action, so more care will be needed.
It isn't usually a problem with ordinary HP watercolour papers like the Fabriano as they have quite a hard resistant surface. If the surface does start to lift, then a burnish with a white pencil can often apply ‘first aid’.
If you are erasing surplus pigment from the surface, always work with a clean eraser and from ‘within’ the area you will want to apply detail to. For fine work, it is best to use a battery eraser as these have a narrow point and can be more accurate. They cost very little – under £5 -
Blurred Backgrounds in general are now covered in a separate section which follows.
Clear sky -
Layers of cloud
They form narrower and narrower bands as they
come down towards the horizon
There is a huge range of colours in clouds, and the most impressive skies often have very little blue sky,
Dark cloudy skies with lots of purples and greys also provide a sharp contrast to sunlit areas of landscape
These two sky shots show also how the blue of the sky is so much deeper above and fades back to a light blue nearer the horizon
Using watercolour pencils
The whole task become easier, quicker, but more random -
If you are using stretched Hot Pressed watercolour paper of around 300gsm (140lb) weight, then the operation is simply one of getting the paper thoroughly wet in the sky area. We don’t need to worry about overlapping distant land with blue sky as the blue pigment will not be strong and it will provide a good distant blue underpainting for the far parts of the landscape.
If we are starting from scratch and don’t want to stretch paper, then I recommend using a heavier weight paper ( 425gsm or 200lb) which will take the water treatment without buckling. You will need a piece of rough watercolour paper to act as a palette and hold the dry pigment.
Firstly lay down a substantial layer of clean water over the sky area of your paper and let the paper absorb some of this water for a few seconds. Check that there is still a glisten of water visible on the surface and then pick up a dab of Ultramarine Blue from your palette. I find Ultramarine Blue the best of the blues for this, but obviously skies around the world in different climates differ, so you may need to practice. Bear in mind that the darkest blue sky will be overhead and the sky on the horizon will be much paler blue ( see below ).
I usually tilt and play with the bits of blue with the tip of a small brush and let the water on the paper surface work it’s magic in moving it about. See the example below
The Blue of Skies
Remember to graduate the colour of your skies.
The density of blue in the clear unclouded sky changes from a deeper blue overhead where there is little dust in the atmosphere, to a pale blue as the sky is seen near the horizon and where dust particles obscure the colour. This is also known as Aerial Perspective, where the dust reduces the crisp definition of distant scenery and also cuts down the depth of warm colours seen at a distance.
Make sure that your clouds reflect the direction and position of the sunlight ( if any ).
The opposite side of a cloud to the sun will have shadowed areas -
Look at clouds and skies and look at these photos.
I have encouraged the blue to travel across the paper in lines. Some areas are darker than others and at some point, later in the development of the picture, I will work some of that same blue pencil dry, to intensify one or two areas of sky and also work some warm grey shading into the cloud bases. In this picture a lot of the sky will be covered by tree foliage so I will do the branches and leaves first and tinker with whatever sky is left at the end
Here are one or two more watercolour pencil skies
Latest revision August 2015
As you can see in the finished picture ( above) you can’t see a lot of blue sky through the trees, but you are aware that they are there
and Wax type pencils
|Glossary of CP Terms|
|Introducing step by steps|
|sbs basic shapes|
|sbs fruit bowl|
|sbs polperro B|
|sbs rectory garden|
|The Bowerman Stone|
|sbs to come|
|Price and Content|
|Papers for Wax type pencils|
|Papers for Watercolour pencils|
|Papers for Pastel pencils|
|Papers for mixed media with CP|
|Black Paper Fade|
|Non standard papers for wax pencils|
|Application of colour|
|Density of Colour|
|Results on Different Papers|
|Ways of using Aquarelles|
|Why Underpainting ?|
|Backgrounds with Aquarelles 1|
|Backgrounds with Aquarelles 2|
|A Brush with W/C Pencils|
|Foliage in W/C Pencil|
|Step by Step - Coventry Canal|
|Cottage Garden - Step by Step PDF|
| Italian Street step by step 1|
|Italian Street step by step 2|
|Brokken Bridge Step By Step PDF|
|Coventry Canal 2|
|CP & Pastel|
|CP & W/c Pencils|
|CP & Other media|
|Archway - Mixed Media sbs|
|Cottage Entrance Mixed Media sbs|
|Annecy Reflections 1|
|Annecy Reflections 2|
|working on coloured paper|
|Still Life Points|
|BURNISHING, Blenders and Burnishers|
|Landscape Tutorial- Grand Union|
|clouds & skies|
|Brick, Stone & Tile|
|Brick stone and tile 2|
|Colour and complementaries|
|Boats & Water|
|Form & Space|
|Drawing from Life - introduction|
|using a camera|
|transfering an image|
|keeping a record|
|printing 2 - layout|
|Life Drawing 1 - the basics|
|November 2011 Landscape SBS|
|July 2012 - Kitten Step by Step|
|Old Blog Posts as at Dec 2014|
|Aix En Provence series|
|New input ( from Dec 2014)|