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How to use Water Color Pencils

Updated on February 8, 2014
This is my first water color painting. I found a video online as a guide. Now I can't find that video again!!!
This is my first water color painting. I found a video online as a guide. Now I can't find that video again!!!

It is so difficult to write a how-to guide when it involves art, but I remember when I first tried water color pencils, I was searching the internet for a few days. After all that searching and picking up techniques I created a beautiful picture, and now I love using watercolor pencils. So hang in there with me as I try to explain this the best way I can.

There are many techniques out there, so I suggest reading this article to gain an Idea and then doing some researching on your own if you are in the dark like I was. Or, you are wanting to try this for the first time.

Let me just start by explaining my experience. I was in an art store when I stumbled across the colored pencils, I picked up a set and went to check out when I discovered they were watercolor. After debating whether I should get the original pencils, which was the reason I went to the art store, I decided to give them a try. I get home, thinking to myself "what's so hard about this?"

Hahaha... all the pretty examples they gave, none of my drawing looked like them. Most were either too washed out, or I lost control and all the colored water dripped down the paper, or just completely soaked through the paper. So here is my first piece of advice:

ALWAYS USE WATER COLOR PAPER! It sounds obvious, but if you have the same thinking process as me, you are going to think like this. " As a kid I used normal paper." NO, it doesn't work.

OK, down to the real information. The color of the pencil dry, is not the color it will be when it is wet. So dump all the pencils out of the box and scribble with them on the paper making a color chart. Now, take a thin paint brush and wet half of the scribble. Try to take note of how light or dark each pencil will be when wet and how it will look when you want to fade colors.

Now that you have done that, notice how it even changes when its dry? These pencils are tricky in this aspect, the color is different than pencil when wet and dry! Now you have a complete idea of how the pencils work now. Some say its easier to full on dip the pencil in water and draw with it.. In my opinion I did not like that method, so I have nothing to say about that technique, but if you want to try it that way, use the same paper as your color chart to see how you feel about it.

Next, once you are ready to begin drawing your picture, start with a neutral color, like peach, to do your outline. Using a normal pencil is not a good idea. Or you can be like some of the "brilliant" people who suggest using a white pencil... I guess they have super eyesight to see their outline.

Ok, now that your outline is done. If you want a very watered out image, start drawing lightly coloring in the picture, then use a lot of water go over your drawing with the wet paint brush, fading the colors until you are satisfied. The best technique I found, was to use circular motions. I did a tree, so I started with the back round first, painting that in, and I wanted it to be more of a faded watery look, and this worked great for me. When I got to the tree, I wanted it dark, so I really colored it in hard, and used very little water, only enough to give it a solid appeal.

Bottom line, I always suggest doing portions of the pictures at a time. Starting with the background, then working your way through the picture. Its really easy to smear the colors, and ruin these pictures. So Really plan ahead in the order of how you want to do this. Keep a blow dryer handy so you can speed up the drying process.

Check out some of the links below to watch some videos on water color pencils.


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    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Lovely painting. My watercolour pencil work always comes about a bit wishy-washy.

    • FolliediVetro profile image


      8 years ago from Malta

      It's very impressive,I like very much the effect of the mix of colors you have chosen.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 

      9 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very useful information. I have used water-colored pencils a few times to highlight some small details in my ink drawings, but I have never given much thought to doing a complete piece in pencil. Now I am intrigued to try it!

    • ErinGorney profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Las Vegas

      It is no different than color pencils, other than using some water on a paintbrush to get a solid effect and waiting for it to dry; which can be speeded up using a hair dryer. So I didn't notice it taking too much longer than any other drawing I have done.

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 

      9 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      I do a lot of card making and used to do watercolor art. This would be cool to try. Does it take a lot of time to complete one picture?

    • ErinGorney profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Las Vegas

      Yes, it dries pretty fast, so when it was damp I went over it with a blow dryer and then went on to the tree portion, using less water on the paint brush for the tree, and more water for the background. It takes a few tries to get the feel for watercolor pencils, that's for sure.

    • NiaG profile image


      9 years ago from Louisville, KY

      That tree is wonderful! I am so intimidated when it comes to watercolor. I don't know why. So I'm assuming when you painted your background that you waited until it dried and then you painted in the tree? Great job!

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 

      9 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      I love your painting - and I admire that you just went for it - a lovely result!

    • ErinGorney profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Your work looks so pretty! You should enlarge it on top of the page :) I wish I could create something as nice. Anyhow, congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! This way


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