Testing coloured pencils and methods of blending them.

I have been reading much debate on various facebook colouring groups about the best pencils to use and so on, and some of the things that are said seem to put a lot of pressure on people who are on limited budgets to feel their artwork isn’t any good because they aren’t using the best, most expensive pencils or products or they don’t have loads and loads of products to use.

I may get slated and harangued for this, but I have to say it.

The thing that makes the biggest difference to the end product isn’t so much the exact pencils you use but the way in which you use them.

There’s an old adage that says a poor workman blames his tools, and to a degree this is true.

If you are going to make a work of art that is to last for aeons, then yes, it is important to use the best of the best – acid-free archival quality paper, canvas, board, paints,pencils, pastels, etc etc.

However, is this really what we are doing when we colour in templates on printer paper that is most likely not acid free, or the books we buy?  The chances are not. People colour for lots of different reasons, and you need to examine your reason for enjoying colouring – it is something that should make you feel good in some way, not bad.  It should be an activity that isn’t filled with worries and concerns, it should be an activity that is carefree, relaxing and meditative. It should allow you to take a break from your day to day worries. It is an activity that can fit into anyone’s budget, and no one should be made to feel less because they have a tight budget, and the worry about what others will think will take away from the whole purpose of coloring.

Anyway, getting back to the point …

While the more expensive brands of pencils may make it easier to achieve various effects, that they may be more highly pigmented, that they may be less susceptible to breakage, are the cheaper pencils really that bad?

I admit it.  I use Crayolas as well as Faber-Castell’s Polychromos.  I have Staedtler pencils of different price ranges in my collection.  I have kids pencils, Pentel pencils, all sorts. What makes me choose a particular colour pencil over another is the colour and the vibrancy of the colour more than the make or ‘model’ of the pencil!

Then, it’s down to my technique on how I get the colours to fade out or to blend one into another…

So, what I thought I’d do is to do a little test.  And this image shows the results of my tests!  And I’ll divulge some observations underneath!

Angela Porter Coloured Pencils Test 1

The first rows are just one colour of gradient colouring and various ways of blending out the gradient.  I tried to achieve the same effect, not being too fussy, in each case.

Surprisingly, the Crayola pencil layered onto the paper really easily, much less effort was needed than for the Polychromos pencils, which were the hardest to lay the colour down with.  The Polychromos needed a lot of pressure to get a thick layer of colour down.

The various forms of blending worked well with all the pencils, but the blending solution gave the smoothest blending of all. In all cases, there wasn’t much difference in the final blended version, which surprised me as you’d expect there to be when dealing with pencils from the bottom end and top end of the market.

I then tried the blending solution to see how well it blended heavily laid down colour out over clean paper.

Here, the higher pigment content of the Polychromos pencils showed a bigger area could be blended out.  However, Crayolas and the Art-Colour Pencils weren’t far behind.  The Art-Grip pencils, again by Faber-Castell, were the worst, yet they were the second most expensive pencils tested.

The last rows show how well various shades of pencils can be blended by the different methods.

I was really surprised at how well the Crayolas did – they blended far more easily and smoothly with all the different blending methods!

Of course, the best method of blending for smoothness is by using blending solution.

I will say it again, I did my best to make this a test that compares the different brands fairly and took my time to ensure that the colours were laid down with as equal intensity and with the same method in all cases.

I must admit, I didn’t expect Crayolas to do as well as the other, more expensive pencils.  However, the Crayolas did significantly better, in my opinion, in many instances. What a shocker!

The big advantage that the more expensive pencils have is the huge range of colours available, which makes finding the precise colour you want to use easy and you don’t have to worry about how to mix different coloured pencils to get that colour you want.

The thing going for the Crayolas is their price point, they are easier to lay down than other brands which have harder leads, they blend really well and easily.

I hope this helps.  As I’ve said (typed?), I expect a lot of criticism and haranguing for this, but so be it, I speak as I find, and I found that all the pencils I tried out worked more than good enough for me, and I’m happy with that!

My colouring day coloured design!


Admittedly not the best photo, but this was drawn yesterday.  I started to colour it yesterday, using various brands of coloured pencils, and completed it today.  An hour or so to draw, 10 hours to colour is my estimate!

I have also realised why I tend to use paints and markers and inks for colours so much these days – these media are kinder to my arthritic-y finger and thumb joints!  I do love coloured pencils, the intensity of colour you can achieve, but needs must.

I have ordered various designs of cushioned pencil grips to see if they help with keeping my joints ache-free in the future.

In the meantime, I return to designing and drawing colouring templates with drawing pencil and pens, which seem to cause very few problems with the old joints.

Happy colouring day!

It’s colouring day, if you’re taking part, have a lovely time with all your colours and templates.  Enjoy taking the time out to create, relax, unwind and reconnect with yourself away from all the busyness of modern life.

I’m just drawing my design to colour in, as colouring in is a bit of a novelty for me these days due to all the linework I’ve been doing for colouring templates for new books up and coming – a fourth in the Color Me line, two more for Dover Publishing’s Creative Haven series.

There’s also two projects I’ve yet to have the clearance to announce, but they are exciting, and as soon as I can mention them, I will!

So, once again, happy colouring and happy creating!

2nd August 2015 is Colouring Day


Get your pens, pencils, crayons and paints out and lose yourself for a little while in colouring a template and/or filling it with patterns.  Turn off the technology, give yourself some time and space.

One of my designs from Entangled is available to download for this event from Dover Publishing’s Colouring Day page, as are other gorgeous designs, as well as a specially designed one for the day.


You can also download one of my owls from Color Me Happy via Hobbycraft.

I’d love to see what you do with them, I really would!

Embrace change and fly – mixed media.

embrace change and fly 1 by Angela PorterThis is something I finished today.  It’s not my usual intricate, fussy kind of work, but instead I’m working with mixed media.

To create this I have used gesso, crackle paste, various acrylic paints, iridescents, stamps, stencils, pens, Gelatos and a whole heap of patience with myself and breaks away from it to regroup and return with fresh eyes and new ideas.

I’m quite pleased with the end result … and I think I have learned some things through doing this.

Another mention in the press!

I’ve been mentioned towards the end of this article in the Boston Globe.

Also, Color Me Calm has made another bestsellers list on philly.com in the Trade section. Color Me Calm comes in at number 5, between James Patterson and Jodi Picoult!  Who’d’ve thought it, eh?  Listed up there amongst such successful and popular fiction authors!