Unlocking Your Inner Artist A Guide to DIY Art with Colored Pencils

Are you looking for a new creative outlet? Do you want to explore the world of art and unleash your inner artist? Look no further than colored pencils. These humble tools, often associated with childhood coloring books, possess a depth and versatility that can surprise even seasoned artists. With their rich, vibrant colors and precise lines, colored pencils offer endless possibilities for artistic expression. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the fascinating world of colored pencil art and equip you with the knowledge and techniques to create your own beautiful works of art.

From Beginner to Master: Mastering the Basics of Colored Pencil Art

Before diving into the various techniques and projects, it’s important to understand the basics of colored pencil art. This section will cover everything from choosing the right pencils and paper, to understanding color theory and blending techniques.

Essential Tools and Materials for Colored Pencil Art

The first step to creating any art is to gather the necessary tools and materials. For colored pencil art, you will need:

  • Colored pencils: There are countless brands and types of colored pencils available on the market. It may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, but investing in high-quality pencils will make a significant difference in your artwork. Some popular brands include Prismacolor, Faber-Castell, and Derwent.
  • Paper: The type of paper you use can greatly impact the outcome of your colored pencil drawings. It’s best to choose a smooth, heavyweight paper specifically designed for colored pencils. Some artists prefer a toothier paper for more texture, but this is a matter of personal preference.
  • Eraser: It’s always helpful to have an eraser handy for correcting mistakes or lightening areas of your drawing.
  • Sharpeners: Colored pencils tend to dull quickly, so having a good sharpener is essential. You can choose between a handheld sharpener or an electric one for quicker and more precise sharpening.
  • Blending tools: While colored pencils are known for their ability to blend easily, having some blending tools such as a blending stump or tortillon can create even smoother and more seamless transitions between colors.
  • Fixative: Once your drawing is complete, it’s important to seal it with a fixative spray to prevent smudging and preserve your artwork.

Understanding Color Theory and Blending Techniques

One of the most exciting aspects of using colored pencils is the ability to create depth and dimension through layering and blending colors. Understanding color theory and applying different blending techniques will elevate your artwork to new levels.

Color Theory

Color theory is the study of how colors interact with each other and how we perceive them. This knowledge is crucial in deciding which colors to use together and how to achieve specific effects. Here are some basic principles of color theory to keep in mind when creating your colored pencil art:

  • The color wheel: The color wheel is a visual representation of the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. It helps identify different color schemes and how different colors relate to each other.
  • Complementary colors: These are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and purple. Using complementary colors next to each other can create a vibrant contrast in your artwork.
  • Analogous colors: These are colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, such as yellow, green, and blue. Using analogous colors can create a harmonious and calming effect.
  • Warm and cool colors: Warm colors (red, orange, yellow) tend to stand out and create a sense of energy and excitement, while cool colors (blue, green, purple) are more soothing and calming.

Blending Techniques

There are various ways to blend colors with colored pencils, each producing a different effect. Here are three basic blending techniques to try out:

  • Layering: This technique involves applying layers of different colors on top of each other to create new tones and shades. The more layers you add, the more vibrant and rich your artwork will become.
  • Burnishing: This technique involves pressing down hard on the paper with your colored pencils to create a smooth, waxy layer. This creates a polished and vibrant look.
  • Solvent blending: By using a solvent such as rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits, you can dissolve the pigments in the colored pencils, creating a watercolor-like effect. This technique is best used on a non-porous surface like vellum or illustration board.

Beyond the Lines: Exploring Different Techniques for Colored Pencil Art

Unlocking Your Inner Artist A Guide to DIY Art with Colored Pencils

Now that you have a good grasp of the basics, it’s time to get creative and explore different techniques. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

Creating Depth and Dimension: Achieving Realism with Colored Pencil

Colored pencils are often associated with cartoonish, flat drawings. However, with the right techniques, you can achieve a realistic and three-dimensional effect in your artwork. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Use dark values in the shadows: To create depth and dimension, it’s essential to use darker values in the shadows and lighter values in the highlights. This will give the illusion of depth and make your drawing look more realistic.
  • Pay attention to details: Adding small details such as wrinkles, pores, and textures can make a huge difference in the overall realism of your artwork. Take your time and pay close attention to the subject you’re drawing.
  • Experiment with different papers: As mentioned earlier, the type of paper you use can greatly impact the outcome of your artwork. Consider trying out different papers with varying levels of toothiness to see which one works best for your desired effect.

Adding Flair and Personality: Incorporating Color Theory and Composition

While realism is a popular style in colored pencil art, don’t be afraid to let your creativity shine and add your own flair and personality to your drawings. Here are some ideas to help you take your artwork to the next level:

  • Experiment with unusual color schemes: Don’t limit yourself to using traditional color schemes. Use your knowledge of color theory to create unique and eye-catching combinations.
  • Play with composition: Composition is the arrangement of elements in your artwork. Consider experimenting with different compositions, such as the Rule of Thirds or leading lines, to add interest and guide the viewer’s eye.
  • Use reference photos: Drawing from imagination can be challenging, especially for beginners. Use reference photos to help you with details and composition, but feel free to use creative license and change things up to make it your own.

Inspiring Ideas for DIY Colored Pencil Projects

Unlocking Your Inner Artist A Guide to DIY Art with Colored Pencils

Now that you have a good understanding of the basics and various techniques, it’s time to put your skills to the test and create your own DIY colored pencil projects. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Nature-inspired drawings: Colored pencils are perfect for capturing the vibrant colors of nature. Try drawing flowers, landscapes, or animals using layering and blending techniques.
  • Portraits: Create realistic portraits of people or pets using reference photos and paying attention to details.
  • Still life drawings: Set up a still life scene with objects of varying shapes, textures, and colors and challenge yourself to capture it with colored pencils.
  • Abstract art: Let your imagination run wild and experiment with different color combinations and techniques to create abstract pieces.

Preserving Your Artwork: Framing and Displaying Your Colored Pencil Creations

Once you’ve completed your colored pencil masterpiece, it’s essential to preserve and display it properly. Here are some tips for framing and displaying your artwork:

  • Use acid-free materials: When choosing a frame, make sure to use acid-free matting and backing board to prevent yellowing or damage to your artwork.
  • Consider UV-protective glass: If your artwork will be displayed in an area with a lot of natural light, consider using UV-protective or museum-quality glass to prevent fading.
  • Mount it properly: To prevent wrinkling or warping, mount your artwork correctly using archival tape or adhesive.
  • Frame it with care: When framing, handle your artwork with clean hands and avoid touching the surface. Use gloves if necessary.
  • Display it proudly: Hang your framed artwork in a place where it can be admired and appreciated. Remember to keep it away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture.

The Joy of DIY: Exploring the Benefits of Colored Pencil Art

Aside from creating beautiful works of art, there are many other benefits to practicing colored pencil art as a DIY hobby.

  • Stress relief: Drawing and coloring have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels, making it a perfect activity after a long day.
  • Mindfulness: Engaging in a creative activity like colored pencil art can help you practice mindfulness and be present in the moment.
  • Self-expression: Creating art allows you to express yourself in unique and meaningful ways that may not be possible through words.
  • Sense of accomplishment: Seeing your finished artwork and knowing that you created it can be incredibly satisfying and boost your confidence.
  • Continuous learning: There is always something new to learn and experiment with in colored pencil art, keeping your mind engaged and curious.

From Hobby to Passion: Taking Your Colored Pencil Art to the Next Level

If you’ve fallen in love with colored pencil art and want to take your skills to the next level, there are various ways to do so. You can:

  • Join an art class or workshop: Learning from others and receiving feedback can greatly improve your skills and techniques.
  • Participate in challenges or competitions: Engaging in challenges or competitions can push you out of your comfort zone and inspire you to create new and exciting artwork.
  • Start selling your art: If you’ve received positive feedback on your artwork, consider selling it online or at local art shows. This can not only bring in some extra income but also give you a sense of validation and motivation to continue creating.


Colored pencils have come a long way from their humble beginnings as a child’s art tool. With their versatility, vibrancy, and unique characteristics, they offer endless opportunities for artistic expression. By mastering the basics, exploring different techniques, and letting your creativity run wild, you can use colored pencils to create beautiful DIY art that will bring joy and fulfillment into your life. So go ahead, pick up those colored pencils, and unleash your inner artist!

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