Choosing the Best Watercolor Pencils

The best watercolor pencils combine the ease of working in pencil with the convenience of not needing a water source to create a watercolor painting. Watercolor pencils are available in a wide selection of colors and some brands have qualities of being rigorously tested for light fastness, an important consideration for sketching essentials for the advanced water colorist. The pricier pencils earn their high marks. They are manufactured with professional artist grade pigments, the colors mix and blend together seamlessly and they offer excellent coverage.

An endless combination of colors can be attained by merely blending pencils, but if your budget allows you to buy a large set, there is no need to fiddle around with mixing colors. No matter how many colors you own, it is hard to find just the right hue, shade or tint to match that elusive color in your mind's eye.

How to Use Watercolor Sketching Pencils
Use watercolor pencils as you would a crayon. Stroke the color on a paper surface that is sturdy enough to take the addition of water. You will need to experiment with papers. A watercolor paper with a very rough surface tends to look very grainy and harsh under the creamy, soft pencil layer. A smooth, plate finish paper will make the colors puddle up and not move around. A thin paper is never a good choice, no matter how perfect the paper surface feels, since it will simply buckle under the addition of water. Be sure to experiment. A medium to heavy paper weight watercolor paper with a finer tooth (velvety smooth and not slick) will generally yield the best results.

The magic of the watercolor pencil is simply this: Draw with these sketching supplies, dip a watercolor brush in clear water and sweep it across the strokes of color. A staid color drawing is transformed into a glistening watercolor painting before your eyes.

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