Are you an artist looking to break into watercolor? Or maybe you’re a watercolorist who wants to try something new?
Either way, watercolor pencils are perfect for you!
Watercolor pencils are ideal for beginners because it gives you a crash course in the way the pigments work and lets you get familiar with the medium before investing a lot of time or money in it, but seasoned watercolorists can benefit from them too! If you’re plein air painting, or need to add just a quick touch of a color to a finished painting, you can grab a pencil a lot more quickly than your whole palette!
In this week’s post, I’m going to show you how a beginner could use watercolor pencils to create a work that looks like it’s straight from the tubes–aka faking it!
My tools this time were my trusty Sakura Pigma Micron Pens and a handful of Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils I grabbed from the Outlet Store.
First, I did a test to see what the colors would look like once I added water–since, unlike regular colored pencils–the color of the dry pigment in the pencil can be deceiving. I recommend this kind of test to anyone who’s new to watercolor pencils or are using a line that’s unfamiliar to them.
Now that I knew what my colors would look like, I jumped right in!
Since the first day of Fall is next week (even though it already feels like Fall is upon us, here in the mountains), I decided to paint a little patch of pumpkins on this 6×6″ tile of 300lb Kilimanjaro Watercolor Paper.
I wanted my first pumpkin to have a lot of different hues and values, so I went kind of nuts with color combinations: crimson, orange, yellow-orange, goldenrod, and terracotta.
Looks just like a half-finished colored pencil piece, right? But when I add water…
It comes alive! I’m like the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.
Watercolor pencils are so easy to use. As you can see, I simply layered a few colors together and it gave me tons of depth and variety. With regular watercolor, I’d have to spend a lot of time going back and forth from mixing in my palette to putting down color on my paper to get something like this.
Plus, a little goes a long way! I didn’t even have to fill the tooth with pigment in order to get these super-rich tones!
My next pumpkin was just a layer of yellow-orange with goldenrod on top, and a little bit of orange thrown in.
You can see that the places I colored a little bit harder came up darker. But all I had to do was add water, and my layers blended smoothly!
For this guy, I wanted a bit of a shadow around the top. So, much like regular watercolor, I had to wet the different colors separately, that way they wouldn’t bleed together.
Perfect! You’ll find that watercolor pencils also dry more quickly than regular watercolor, which makes waiting for color blocks to dry pretty painless!
This lil’ dude was a combination of my yellow-orange, goldenrod, and a hint of terracotta. Again, I applied the darker colors in the areas I wanted some shadows, but they still blended together seamlessly!
For this one, I went a little zany and just threw some blocks of color down. Because why not?
But like the big guy in the corner, I needed to wet the colors separately to prevent bleeding.
I went with my oranges and the little sliver of yellow-orange on the edge because none of them were touching.
While those dried, I made an overlapping pumpkin using mostly crimson.
Added some water and boom! So much red!
(That big blob of red didn’t just magically manifest itself, I threw it in while I was waiting for the others to dry and my brush still had crimson on it.)
Let’s add a few more overlapping punkins…
And one more splotch of orange, for good measure.
Great! Now came the details.
I wanted to give the appearance of using a pen nib dipped in a jar of ink, so I made my lines uneven in some places and “faked” ink pools.
The great thing about Microns is that they come in an array of sizes, making it super easy to create thick and thin lines on the fly.
With some more stems and a few purely-inked pumpkins, I was finished!
Just in time for fall!
Got any other tips for watercolor pencil users? Let me know in the comments below!