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How to Blend Colored Pencils

Blending with colored pencils is one of the most basic and satisfying skills to learn in coloring. Seeing those stunning colors seamlessly melt between each other is so satisfying. I can help you master the skills and concepts you need to get beautiful colored pencil blends.

3 Quick Tips to blending:

  1. Layers are your best friends.
  2. Start with a light, medium, and dark tone of a single color.
  3. Paper matters.

BLENDING QUICK TIP 1

Layers are your best friends.

Colored pencils are a controllable and slow art medium. With most colored pencil brands, the strokes you lay down are difficult/impossible to erase. Keeping your pencil sharp and working in light layers will allow you to correct and refine your blends, resulting in fewer frustrations and more gorgeous results.

Here at Coloring Bliss we teach a technique called Jennifer’s Rule of Blending Thirds. This technique is built on the idea of layers. Regardless of the brand of pencil, this technique delivers amazing results…every time!

BLENDING QUICK TIP 2

Start with a light, medium, and dark tone of a single color.

While it is possible to blend 2 colors together that are far apart on the color wheel, or far apart in value (light to dark), it is a difficult task for even the most advanced artists. Mastering the blending of 3 pencils that are the same color, but have different values, will help you gain confidence and master the basic skill of blending. You can successfully blend ANY colors, but it’s important to learn to walk before you run.

BLENDING QUICK TIP 3

Paper matters.

A quick story…In the beginning of my own art journey, I was so excited about all the different art media available to me, and all the amazing effects and techniques I could learn. Somehow, in this rush of color excitement, I failed to grasp the importance of the paper I was working on. It didn’t take long before I felt very discouraged and blamed my lack of natural talent for any results that didn’t turn out perfect. I finally started to really listen when an artist described their tools, and realized that my paper was often very different from the paper they were using. Being stubborn, I convinced myself that paper choice couldn’t possibly help me get better results…I WAS WRONG! When I finally embraced that the paper choice was just as important as the coloring medium, creative magic began to happen. With almost every lesson I teach now, I find myself saying “Match the correct paper with your art medium.”

To make your blending easier, faster, and more seamless, choose a paper that has a little texture. In the art world, this is called “tooth.” Go down the paper isle at your local art store and touch the papers. You will begin to feel a huge difference. Some are super slick (great for markers) and others almost feel like sandpaper (great for chalk pastels). Colored pencils love a toothy paper to grab onto as you work your layers. This kind of paper will make dynamic blends and detailed art much more achievable.

WHERE DO I START?

STEP 1: Learn Jennifer’s Rule of Blending Thirds.
Jennifer's Rule of Blending Thirds

Why learn this?

  • It will set you up for success and get you coloring beautiful blends quickly!
  • It teaches you the importance of coloring with light layers.
  • It teaches you the importance of choosing 3 values of one color when blending.
  • It is a perfect foundational skill that will help you become proficient at blending (even difficult color combinations.)

CLICK HERE: https://www.coloringbliss.com/jennifers-rule-of-blending-thirds/

STEP 2: Organize and swatch your colored pencils either by the artist color wheel or by specific purpose (portrait, floral, etc)

Why does this help?

  • You will gain a deeper understanding of the colors in your set of pencils to help with color choosing.
  • You will be able to accurately choose the best colors for every situation.
  • You will be able to quickly pick blending trios and pairs with confidence.

Free Swatch Pages

Prismacolor Col-Erase Colored Pencils - 24 Swatch Page

CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD

OR CLICK HERE: https://www.coloringbliss.com/category/swatching-pages/

STEP 3: Achieve proficiency in blending by…practicing, allowing yourself to make mistakes, and track your progress.

Ways to achieve proficiency

  • Choose something to color that has large open spaces where blending can be practiced…I recommend a simple mandala as a place to start.
  • Mistakes are normal, even for professional artists. Remember, the more proficient you become, the easier it is to correct mistakes and improve.
  • Track your improvement by dating all your work. This will create a record of how your practice is leading to blending proficiency.

Download Mandala Coloring Pages

Mandala Coloring Session - Gray on Black

CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD

OR CLICK HERE: https://www.coloringbliss.com/category/mandala-coloring-pages/

STEP 4: Learn more! With art, many skills are transferable. By taking a break from colored pencils and focusing on something else, you will learn new skills and techniques that will help you with your blending when you return to colored pencils.

Where to learn more…

  • Coloring Bliss has many FREE resources and coloring lessons on almost EVERY art media you can imagine. Check out our YouTube channel and visit our website (use the search feature to find a specific subject you are learning about.)
  • Join the Coloring Bliss Partners for hundreds of hours of video lessons, real time color alongs, worksheets, and resources (including a private Facebook group.) These lessons will guide you through learning almost every medium and multiple art skills like using a light source, creating contrast, and the power of color theory.

Learn More About Bliss Partners

Bliss Partner

CLICK HERE: https://www.coloringbliss.com/bliss-partner/

Wording to use:

Learning how to blend with colored pencils can help enhance your artwork. There are several ways that you can blend your colored pencils and we can help you to master these skills.

Common questions asked about colored pencil blending…

What skill level do I need to learn how to blend pencils?

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an advanced artist, you can learn how to get beautiful blends.

Do I need artist quality tools?

No, it doesn’t matter if you are using cheap or professional grade colored pencils.

How will I use my newfound blending skills?

It doesn’t matter if you are coloring in a coloring book or creating commissioned artwork, blending is a must-have skill; that once learned, you will use nearly every time you color.

What can you use to blend colored pencils?

Popular colored pencil blending tools include: a colorless blender; a white colored pencils; odorless mineral spirits (Gamsol); petroleum jelly; and baby oil. Download my free colored pencil blending worksheet for more blending ideas.

Jennifer's Rule of Blending Thirds Worksheet

CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD

How do you smoothly blend colored pencils?

The trick to getting smooth blends is to use multiple, light layers. Remember blending quick tip 1? Layers are your best friends.

How do you blend cheap colored pencils?

It’s true that some colored pencils blend more easily than others; however, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get beautiful blends even with the cheapest colored pencils. Using what you’ve learned about multiple, light layers, combined with Jennifer’s Rule of Blending Thirds, you can successfully blend any brand of colored pencil!

2 comments… add one
  • Diane McGhie Feb 23, 2022 @ 4:32

    I find your posts very informative, being a newbie and wanting to learn brought me to your YouTube channel and then to your blog. You explain everything simply so nothing feels daunting. I love that you remind us that mistakes are learning curves and not a big deal. It really does help. Thank you.

  • Leticia Acevez May 31, 2022 @ 9:43

    I work with special ed it is hard to find art project that will satisfy their needs and keep their interest so far, I have loved all your blogs and downloads so have the students. I can easily simplify your tutorials for them. Thank you!

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