Colored Pencils 101: A Comprehensive Guide to the Different Types

Colored pencils are a popular medium for artists, students, and enthusiasts to create vibrant and detailed drawings. They come in various types, each offering unique characteristics and advantages. Here are some common types of colored pencils:

1. Wax-Based Colored Pencils

Wax-based colored pencils are the most common type of colored pencils available. They are composed of pigments mixed with a wax binder, which provides smooth and creamy application. Wax-based colored pencils are known for their vibrant colors, excellent color blending capabilities, and the ability to create layers and rich textures. They are suitable for a wide range of applications and are widely used by artists of all levels.

2. Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Oil-based colored pencils are formulated with a binder that combines oil and wax. They offer a softer and smoother texture compared to wax-based pencils, allowing for easier blending and layering. Oil-based colored pencils often produce intense and rich colors, providing a more traditional “painterly” effect. They are favored by artists who prefer a more saturated and expressive approach to their artwork.

3. Watercolor Colored Pencils

Watercolor colored pencils are designed to be used as both colored pencils and watercolor paints. They contain water-soluble pigments that can be applied dry like regular colored pencils or activated with water to create watercolor effects. When water is added, the pigments dissolve and create a translucent and flowing color wash. Watercolor pencils offer versatility and can be used for both dry and wet techniques.

4. Pastel Colored Pencils

Pastel colored pencils have a chalky and powdery texture that mimics the appearance of soft pastels. They are made with a higher ratio of pigments to binders, resulting in a more vibrant and intense color payoff. Pastel colored pencils offer a unique blend of precision and blendability, allowing artists to achieve the look and feel of pastel artwork with more control and detail.

5. Water-Soluble Colored Pencils

Water-soluble colored pencils are similar to regular colored pencils but can be blended and manipulated with water. They are versatile tools that can be used dry for precise and detailed work or wet for soft and fluid effects. When water is applied, the pigments dissolve and spread, creating watercolor-like washes and gradients. Water-soluble colored pencils are popular among artists who enjoy the flexibility of both dry and wet applications.

6. Blendable Colored Pencils

Blendable colored pencils are specifically formulated to have a soft and smooth texture that allows for easy blending and layering. They are often marketed as “soft-core” or “blendable” pencils, offering artists the ability to achieve smooth transitions between colors and create subtle gradients. Blendable colored pencils are preferred by artists who focus on achieving seamless and realistic blending effects.

These are just a few examples of the types of colored pencils available in the market. Each type offers unique characteristics, allowing artists to choose the pencils that best suit their preferred techniques, styles, and artistic visions.