The Creative Plan – Day 1 Colour Pencils


I don’t recall ever buying a colour pencil set, they were always birthday or Christmas presents, so I’ve had my collection since I was ten! I never liked colouring-in as a child – too many memories struggling to get colour to adhere to crappy colouring-in books printed on newspaper print.



Before I set off I wanted to do a quick comparison check with all the different brands I owned looking mainly at quality and colour. I picked a light colour because they’re the ones that usually frustrate me, having to always put some elbow grease in to get results. col_pencil_brand_test_s&b_paper



Applies really well. Smooth, soft and not to taxing.


col_pencil_brand_test_rexel_cumberlandNice, but a bit scratchy, occasionally coming across a bit of grit in the lead. Though it’s quite soft and smooth.


col_pencil_brand_test_FC_polychromosReally nice and soft, works fluidly with very little effort.


col_pencil_brand_test_FC_Classic_colourSmooth and soft, easy to apply.

STAEDTLER (Packed in Australia, made in Indonesia)

col_pencil_brand_test_Staedtler_AustraliaFine but got a bit scratchy at times. Pencil lead is quite firm so doesn’t blunt as fast.


col_pencil_brand_test_unknownPretty good, much like the Faber-Castell Classic Colour even in shape and size…hmmm? 

My samples were done on Stillman & Birn Heavyweight Paper Rough and a Canson Drawing Pad which has a smooth surface.

col_pencil_brand_test_both_papersThe major differences between the two types of paper (apart from the price) was that some of the colours looked different – darker on the S&B possibly because the paper was darker. Despite that all pencils took to both papers well but it does highlight the value in creating your own colour sample chart if it’s important to you, as some colours will look different on your paper of choice (see post).


colour_pencils_in_jarsI haven’t created a colour wheel since my graphic design course and it was a pretty dismal affair. We did it with gouache paint and had to mix up our own colours. I got 7 out of 10 which I’m sure one was purely out of sympathy, or pity. 

Despite the psychological scars, colour wheels are very handy tools and I highly recommended them even if you at least become familiar with the layout of one. When I don’t physically have one nearby I’ll draw a little sketch of a colour wheel to work out the complimentary colour to the colours I’m designing with.


What’s a complimentary colour you say? In the world of colour wheels it is the colour directly opposite. So technically you can throw together a bunch of blue and orange stripes together and they will all work in balance with each other. 

complimentary_colour_example_1However, if designing bright, garish rugby jersey’s isn’t your thing the true value of using the complimentary colour is that when applied sparingly it will add accents to your picture. It will give your composition body, depth and anchor everything together.


col_penc_day1_still_life_set_up_1I didn’t know what to call this technique but I named it merging, it was the first word that popped into my head – in all likelihood it’s probably just called plain old drawing. The technique was to NOT blend the colours but have them sit next to each other so that the individual colours kept their integrity.

After spending the last couple of months working predominantly in black & white it was refreshing to use bright colours again. It also reminded me of how colours or colour choices can create atmosphere in a picture.

col_penc_day1_ex1_still_life_2By using this technique it allowed me to draw the way I would with a graphite pencil as opposed to concentrating on blending the colours. 


col_penc_day1_still_life_set_up_2As one might expect this technique is layering the various colours on top of each other to create seamless tonal values and shape.

col_penc_day1_ex1_still_life_5I had to work a lot harder to get definition in the shape and as I was building up the colours it got a bit confusing particularly with the mid tones. Unfortunately I ran out of time and natural light to be able to do a layered sepia version.

col_penc_day1_ex1_still_life_4The results look a bit muddied and messy for my liking, and for all the extra time spent on it it wasn’t any more effective than my merging technique. The former approach has more character and animation to it as it allows the white of the paper to come through. 

Your_thoughts_post_itThe reason why I still have all my childhood pencils is because they’re not my favourite medium, I’ve hardly touched them. However, as previously mentioned, having spent the first two projects working mostly in black & white it was refreshing to use them. Despite my exercises being on a small scale I felt more physical wear and tear in my hand and wrist than if I spent an entire day using a graphite pencil. If you are a colour pencil enthusiast, do you suffer the same fatigue? Am I doing it wrong? Do you find better quality paper or pencils alleviates this? It would be great to get some insight.

Thanks for stopping by.

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The Creative Plan – Day 2 Colour Pencils

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2 thoughts on “The Creative Plan – Day 1 Colour Pencils

  1. Great. Are you doing watercolour pencils next? I love the F C Albrecht Durer ones.

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