How to Use Watercolor Pencils on Coloring Pages

Learn five techniques to kick up your coloring pages with one of our favorite tools: watercolor pencils!

Watercolor pencils are incredibly versatile. Today, we’re going to show you some of our favorite techniques for this fun and unique medium!

Dry on Dry

Let’s start with the easiest technique: dry on dry. I’m going to choose a more open section of my coloring page and start coloring, filling the shape about halfway. I’m only coloring it halfway because with these pencils, after the color is on the page, I can use a wet brush to start to drag the color from the colored section up to the section that I left white. See how I drag the color to the edges of the outline, filling the space with a kind of reverse ombré look that’s darker on the bottom and lighter on the top?



On to the next technique: how to use a sponge with watercolor pencils! First, take a separate piece of paper and color a solid circle or square about an inch wide with the watercolor pencil. To transfer it to the sponge, make the spot you colored into more of a traditional watercolor paint by adding water with a brush. Now it’s wet which is what we want! Take your sponge and dab it onto the wet color. Next, move to your coloring page and dab the wet sponge. The result is a really cool texture on your paper! Let this layer dry completely, and come back to it a few minutes later.

To get the most interesting texture from the sponge, you want to add a few layers. Again, start by making yourself a little blob of wet watercolor on a piece of scratch paper. You want it wet enough so that there’s water sitting on the surface of the paper so that your sponge soaks up the pigment. Dip your sponge in the wet paint and start dabbing the sponge on top of your first layer. You’ll see that more pigment is added to the page.


Dry on Wet

The next thing I’m going to do is show you is how to use a dry watercolor pencil on a wet piece of paper. I’m going to start by rinsing my brush to make sure there’s no pigment in it. Then I’m going to take my brush and put some water down on the page in a clean, uncolored section. Before I give the water a chance to dry, I take a dry pencil and start coloring over the wet section of the paper. When you’re doing this technique, you can really feel it working. See how the color to the right of my hand is more pigmented, while the color to the left of my hand is a bit more muted? As you’re coloring, you can feel the water sort of melting the pencil and when you drag it across the paper, you can see the way the pencil behaves differently depending on how much water is on the page.


Wax Resist

Now we’re going to do a wax resist. It sounds technical, but you’ll probably remember doing this as a kid! For this technique, you need a clear or white wax crayon. (A clear wax candle would work, too!) I’m going to start in a new section and  use the crayon to add a little background, giving the page some texture and pattern. I’m going to draw a checkerboard shape using crisscross lines. Next, I’m going to make a palette of watercolor pencil so I have a place to dip my brush into the paint (just like we did with the sponge for that technique). Once I create my watercolor palette, I’m going to start painting over the area with the crayon background. As you add paint, you’ll see your pattern appear — like magic!



Now I’m going to show you a weird technique—something a lot of artists don’t even know about! It’s mixing salt with watercolor to get a really interesting texture.

Again, I’m making another watercolor palette and using my brush to pick up the pigment and paint another section of my coloring page. Then, while the paint is still wet, I sprinkle salt on top of it. Now—this is very important—don’t do anything with this until it’s completely dry! Even if it’s damp and you try to shake or wipe the salt off, it can affect the look.

After you’ve waited for the paint to dry completely—this can take anywhere from 10 to 30+ minutes—wipe the salt away. You can take your fingers to wipe it away or use a cloth. Keep wiping until all of the salt is gone. If you look close, you’ve got a really neat texture like nothing else that’s on this page!


I hope you had fun and that these techniques teach you something to give your pieces depth. Go to town, layer things, have fun, and don’t worry about things being perfect. Have a great time and enjoy the process!


Have you tried any of these techniques? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

Tags: Teresa Roberts Logan, Tips & Techniques