• Kirsty Partridge

Most Important Tip for Blending Colored Pencil

Blending colored pencils can be a real challenge for lots of people. However, in this blog I’m going to go through an easy trick that ensures smooth shading. Let’s get started! If you would like a real-time tutorial of the eye study I used in this blog, then click here.


In order to show you guys the trick I’ve added a layer of skin tone values to my paper, going in vertical lines. When blending out the color pencil and adding your final burnishing layer, you should go in the opposite direction (perpendicular) to your first layers of colored pencil.



As you can see you get a really lovely, smooth look compared to the first layers of coloure pencil. When you want to glaze colors on top after that, make sure you are using the side of the pencil, so you don’t ruin all of that beautiful smooth blending.




You might think well, does going in the opposite direction really matter? I’ve quickly drawn a base layer with streaky lines and if I blend in the same direction as the color pencil those streaks don’t really go anywhere. Whereas, blending oppositely really does soften everything out.


I also have some tips for shading that will help to improve your blending. Try not to apply much pressure with your pencil, be very light handed. Work in light layers and build it up, don’t do everything all in one layer.




Keep your pencils sharp so you don’t have to vary the pressure. Hold your pencil quite far back (don’t hold it at the bottom near the nib), which helps you have less pressure on the pencil. This works really well with smooth paper. Personally, I love the Bristol Strathmore paper.



Now for a bit more detail about this technique. Here I am drawing a study of a baby’s eyes and I use burnishing to blend layers (in the opposite direction remember). In order to burnish you must apply more pressure to the pencil, which can flatten out the texture of the paper. Then, it can become difficult to apply more layers on top.


As a result, you need to really think about the colors that you want to apply first and build up your layers. Your first layers should have hardly any pressure on the pencil, but as you build more and more layers you apply more and more pressure.




Don’t burnish your first layer unless you are sure you want a block color. For example, I burnished black straight away for the pupil as I just needed black there.





With skin you have lots of different shades (pink tones, orange tones, golden brown tones etc.), so it’s important to go slowly and lightly to get everything in. Only when you are happy you can add that final layer on top and blend it all together.




Just remember to go in the opposite direction when blending them out, so you smudge your lines more and more until they become invisible. Circular motions in the opposite direction can also help to achieve that smooth finish we all want.

For more tips and ways to improve, check out my online colored pencil courses.


To see this tip in action, watch the video below:

Materials used:

Caran D'ache Luminance coloured pencils: http://geni.us/Luminance76Set

Strathmore Bristol Smooth 300s: http://geni.us/Bristolsmooth300s

Derwent Superpoint Sharpener: http://geni.us/DerwentSharpener

Disclaimer; some links are affiliated.

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