How to Blend Colored Pencils

Have you ever wondered how to blend multiple colored pencils together? It’s the number one question people ask when they’re learning coloring techniques. We'll teach you!

By Cher Kaufmann

Have you ever wondered how to blend multiple colored pencils together? It’s the number one question people ask when they’re beginning to learn how to color. So, let’s go through a few tips that can help you.

In this example here you’ll notice that using multiple colors can not only add texture (like in the bark on this tree) but it can also help with shading and to add a little dimension in things like foliage. When using multiple colored pencils together, select a dark, mid, and a light color so that they will blend together more seamlessly. You’ll notice in the leaf example here, they are all green, but it still all works.

With the flower example here, we’re using three different colors — a red, a purple, and a very light purple, almost lavender, color to create a variation from dark in the center of the flower, to light purple on the tips of the petals. I’m going to show you some tips on how to move these three colors together so you end up with a seamless blending rather than clear lines where each color stops and starts.

I am going to start with my red color in the center of the flower. One of the things to think about when you’re beginning to move color onto a page is that you always want to start with very light layers. I like to do my layers in small little circles or longer ovals. This allows the color to overlap without creating a strong line across the image. I like to add each color in very light layers. That way I’m not putting too much pressure on the part of the paper that actually grips the pigment, (also called the tooth of the paper). When I want to add more pigment to the page, I can add a bit more pressure, especially in the area that the darkest color starts. As I move up to the lighter areas where I’m going to be adding my next color I use very light pressure. I’m doing little ovals so they can begin to overlap each other. I’m not so worried about covering all of the white spaces at this point because I still have to add many layers to the page.

As I move to my second color, I continue adding very light layers with little ovals, and I begin to overlap my purple layer and red layer. Coloring takes time, you don’t want to rush the process. Otherwise, you end up with a strong line that you might have a harder time blending. If you have the patience to maybe do some soft little layers, let them build on top of each other and you’ll end up with a nice variation in color.

As I move to my third color — the light purple lavender — I continue with my little circles and begin to fill the edges of the flower petals. Now, I’m going to begin to very lightly overlap the ovals. I’m also going to rotate my pencil so that the point stays sharper longer. This is my base layer and I’m going to repeat this process multiple times until I end up with a seamless blend from color to color.

Now that I have established a few layers of color, I can begin to vary my pressure to intensify my color in specific areas. For instance, at the center of the flower where the red pigment is, I can began to put some deeper pressure, but I’m still going to use  lighter pressure when I begin to move into the layers where the purple and red overlap.

Remember: Coloring is a slow medium—it takes time! You can see as I continue to blend, I’m putting more pressure at the base of the flower and keep rotating the pencil to keep the tip sharp. Next as I switch to my purple color, I’m adding in a little bit more pressure so I can bring in a little bit more of that intense purple color. I still want to have a nice blended affect so I want to go a little lighter as I move into the red and a little lighter as I move into this very light lavender.

Now, that I have some good layers down on the paper,  I’m going to do something a little different. I’m using this very light lavender pencil to begin to move and blend the darker purple. This is a blending technique that not everyone knows, but you can use lighter colors to help move and blend these other darker layers together to create a more seamless look.

One last tip: Maintaining a sharpened pencil is the best way to create good coverage and consistency to your coloring. It really allows those pigments of your pencil to get into the groves and tooth of the paper. You always want to make sure your pencil is sharp.


Tags: Tips & Techniques