How To Blend Colored Pencils

Drawing and sketching is a form of self-expression that anybody can indulge in no matter how good or bad they are in it. Since it has no rules, you can go all out and let your fingers create anything you wish on a piece of paper. Plus, it can be a mood booster especially if you use colored pencils to bring your favorite objects, sceneries, food, or anything else you desire, to life! 

In this article, we will guide you on the best ways to blend colored pencils. These blending techniques are useful to beginners, but it will also help advanced sketchers brush up on their skills.

Versatility Of Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are one of the most versatile forms of drawing tools because you can create varied outcomes based on the blending techniques used as well as the paper you use to create sketches on. Using colored pencils you can make crisp and clear sketches easily as opposed to painting or other drawing mediums which would require more effort. This is why it’s suitable for amateurs.

Also, the lightweight feature of colored pencils makes them portable so you can easily carry it anywhere you go. This drawing medium is quite safe to use as well since it does not contain any chemicals.

Which Paper Is The Best For Blending Colored Pencils Perfectly?

The type of paper is as important as the quality of the colored pencils when you want to create the best results. Plus, it’s important to opt for a paper that can easily grab the color from the tip of the colored pencils you’re using. For example, if you go for colored pencils that are meant to lay dense you have to choose a paper that works well against the dense wax of the pencils otherwise the outcome wouldn’t be great.

Using the right kind of paper is crucial for blending colored pencils perfectly. To find one for a specific type of colored pencils, you can check the review of the Top 5 Best Paper for Colored Pencils in 2020.

The Best Ways To Blend Colored Pencils 

Layering Colored Pencils

The simplest way to blend colored pencils is by layering them. Layering a colored pencil with another one leads to automatic blending. Burnishing is a form of grinding colored pencils which means putting heavy pressure on the paper.

Although you can opt for any color combination, burnishing works well when you’re using a lighter color on top of a darker color. Also, you should keep in mind that if the tip of the colored pencil is really sharp you should not put too much pressure on it. 

Blending Colored Pencils with Water

If you want to obtain results similar to paint without using it, you can opt for watercolored pencils which can be blended easily with the use of water. If you are a beginner, blending with water colored pencils can be tough but with a few tries, you should be able to create beautiful drawings.  

To achieve this, wet the brush with water and spread it over the first layer of color. Make sure it dries before you apply water on the second layer of color. Also, please note that the pigmentation of colors will reduce once you brush them with water as it gets diluted. 

Smudging with Paper and Tortillons

You can also use paper products to blend colored pencils. Tortillons which are also known as blending stumps can be used for smudging pencils. You can also opt for a cotton swab for a much more affordable option. This form of dry blending will work the best when you have a heavy layer of color on the paper. This way, once you smudge it, the pigmentation will remain almost similar. Please note that since a light layer of the colored pencil is smudged the outcome will be a little grainy but this in itself is an artistic look.  

Blending Colored Pencils with Baby Oil 

Using baby oil to blend color pencils is a creative way to enhance the look of your artwork. You can easily achieve this by using cotton swabs, baby oil, and colored pencils. After you’re done coloring you can dip a cotton swab in baby oil and smudge it lightly over the areas you want to blend. 

Blending Colored Pencils with Solvents

If you want to maximize your blending effects, use solvents. Suitable to be used only on thick paper, you can apply solvents on the tip of the colored pencils and achieve an effect similar to watercolor. You can also utilize these methods combined with watercolored pencils to obtain a 3D effect on the paper. 

You should be cautious will blending colored pencils with solvents because it can easily ruin the paper. Turpenoid creates one of the most effective blendings but it is toxic so you should be careful with your use of it.  

Blending Colored Pencils with Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits break down the wax binder therefore it allows the easy blending of the colors. To achieve the maximum pigmentation in the results, use more pigment on the paper. Turpentine is one of the most potent mineral spirits and you should use soft brushes to blend it. Also, please note that you shouldn’t blend them more than twice otherwise it will just remove color off the paper instead of blending it. 

Blending Colored Pencils with Alcohol 

Rubbing alcohol will help you achieve a lighter effect of blending colored pencils if that’s what you’re going for. It also helps to fill in holes as it allows you to move around the pigments in nearby areas on the paper. Even in this case, the paper should already have a good amount of pigment so that the color doesn’t get too diluted when you’re blending it with alcohol. 


Although any sort of drawing depends on self-expression, a blended output will make the art look seamless. Therefore, you should utilize one of the ways to blend colored pencils mentioned in this article especially if you’re a beginner. If you do not want to purchase any additional supplies, simply go for pencil layering or water blending. 


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