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Introduction To Colorless Colored Pencils Blenders

Updated on May 29, 2012

What is colorless coloured pencil blender and why should you use it?

They're pencils made up of colourless core, designed to be used with your colour pencil artworks to blend and/or add gloss to your colour pencil strokes. I've read that they're made from the same binder ingredients as the softest colour pencil range of that corresponding brand, minus the pigment, i.e. the Prismacolor Colorless Blender is made with the same binder as Prismacolor Premier, and the Derwent Blender is made with the same binder as Derwent Coloursoft. There are of course more brands on the market but these are the two blenders I will talk about and use for this article.

When you lay colour down on paper, the colour tends to catch mostly on the 'hills' of the tooth of your paper (unless you are very heavy-handed with your application), while the 'valleys' are left white, giving the stippled white flecks look.

Derwent Coloursoft in Fuchsia
Derwent Coloursoft in Fuchsia

Using a colourless blender will help spread the colour around and pushes colour into the 'valleys' of the tooth of the paper, creating a smoother, more even look.

Derwent Coloursoft in Fuchsia, blended with Derwent Blender
Derwent Coloursoft in Fuchsia, blended with Derwent Blender

Why not just layer colours instead?

Sometimes, when you already lay own a few layers of colour pencils and you think you've achieved a satisfactory colour mixing, adding any more layers right then may unnecessarily alter that delicate balance and you may end up with a different hue than you originally wanted. In this case, a colourless blender may be the preferred choice in achieving the desired result, because of the minimal (if any) alteration of the hue, because it just mixes the pigment that are already present on the surface.

Both are made with Prismacolor Premier pencils in Spanish Orange and Hot Pink in a few light layers.  The left is unblended and the right is blended with Prismacolor Colorless Blender.
Both are made with Prismacolor Premier pencils in Spanish Orange and Hot Pink in a few light layers. The left is unblended and the right is blended with Prismacolor Colorless Blender.

Note, however, that when you apply blender onto the coloured pencil strokes, it will appear to intensify the colours, because the mixer evens out the spread of the pigment across the surface of the paper, distributing the pigment into previously unfilled areas such as the 'valleys' of the tooth of the paper. More pigment contact with the surface creates appearance of greater colour intensity.

Colourless blender vs. tortillion/ blending stumps

Tortillion and blending stumps are made very tightly wound up paper, commonly used for blending in pencils, charcoal, pastels and oil pastel works. In my opinion, I prefer using colourless blender when it comes to blending colour pencil artwork because the blender adds a layer of wax, which makes the pencil glides a lot easier on the surface and blending a lot smoother. The wax also gives a richer look as well.

sample on the left is blended with tortillion, right is blended with Derwent Blender.
sample on the left is blended with tortillion, right is blended with Derwent Blender.

What is a burnisher and why should you use it?

The only colour pencil burnisher that I am aware of that is specially made and marketed for this purpose is the Derwent Burnisher.

Burnishing, in the context of colour pencil art is overlaying layers of colour pencils, applied with heavy pressure so that the tooth of the paper is filled, resulting in a smooth surface.

The burnisher pencil is a pencil made out of hard wax core, it is made specifically for use near the end of completion of a colour pencil artwork to to seal the imagine under heavy wax and give the image added richness and shine.

I've found one by Prismalcolor on open stock from a local art store. It's a pencil with colourless core encased in an unlacquered wooden barrel, similar to the Prismacolor Colorless Blender, but the print on the pencil says, "Colourless" and in Spanish, "Incolore" - note the British spelling of the word colour (Prismacolor is an American company).

the top pencil is "Colourless" pencil, the bottom pencil is the Colorless Mixer
the top pencil is "Colourless" pencil, the bottom pencil is the Colorless Mixer

I thought it was very strange, and even more so when I came back home and tried to looked it up and there is absolutely no mention of this pencil on the Prismacolor website or on the web as far as my Googling skills will let me. If anyone can explain this, I would really appreciate it!

Anyhow, when I played around with it, I found that it performs exactly like the Derwent burnisher pencil, and can be used as such.

For further information on these pencils, please take a look at these excellent instructional videos made by representatives of Derwent and Prismacolor respectively:

Derwent: Using Blender and Burnisher Pencils

Prismacolor Colored Pencils Tips & Techniques

Originally, this Hub was meant to be a preface to another Hub I was writing, but it became very long-winded, so I decided to make this its own Hub and link to the other Hub below.
Thank you for reading!


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      6 years ago

      It's probably not a British/Spanish pencil, but rather came from Canada. We spell colour that way here, and incolore is French for colourless (anything sold in Quebec must have French on it as well). :)

    • profile image

      Morrie Tan 

      6 years ago

      I think I bought the wrong thing from the store. I bought the Prismacolor Colorless pencil instead of the Colorless blender I think :( what does the Prismacolor colorless pencil do?


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