Saturday, February 9, 2019

Exploring Colored Pencils Part #1

I am by no means an expert at using colored pencils. I’m still learning the ins and outs. However, I have been playing around with them for a while and I’ve learned a few lessons over the past year or two based off of trial and error. And today, I want to compare the different brands of colored pencils I’ve used. 

Artist’s Loft Necessities

I received a set of these colored pencils within another set. And when I looked for them online, I didn’t see these specific ones. I was also a little surprised by how much the other sets by the same company actually cost. I mean, these aren’t too bad—and I can’t speak to how the other sets work—but I still wouldn’t go in expecting them to behave like a better known brand like Prismacolor. The Necessities have moderately vibrant colors. They show up well, and I like the look I was able to achieve with them. However, the white pencil doesn’t do much. So, preserving as much white-space on the page as possible was essential to having a good contrast between the light and dark areas. And, if you like a smoother look that doesn’t show obvious pencil marks, then this wouldn’t be the set to go with. However, these do have their uses, and overall, I like using them.

Prismacolor Premier

Of course with all art mediums, it takes time to develop a piece from start to finish. These colored pencils are no different. However, the effort was worth it, because the end product for the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils is by far my favorite of the bunch. Prismacolor is the best set of colored pencils I currently own. They can be expensive, but these pencils have a lot to offer that makes them worth their price. The colors are very vibrant. They blend well even without a blender pencil. It’s also relatively easy to create depth with a strong contrast between light and dark, and I can achieve a smoother gradation between the colors. If you want a smooth finish with little to no pencil marks, then this set would be a good one to start with.

Artist’s Loft Fundamentals

When I decided to do this post, I knew I was going to go use at least three sets of colored pencils I had in order to compare the pros and cons between each one. And this list couldn’t be complete without Artist’s Loft’s Fundamentals colored pencils. And…whew, it was a rollercoaster trying to use these for anything other than sketches.

Honestly, this was probably one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had with colored pencils in a very long time. As I was building the layers, I noticed that it was creating an effect that looked similar to cereal milk—specifically Lucky Charm cereal milk, after all the colors have bled off the marshmallows and mixed together. And the shadows weren’t where I wanted them to be. I resorted to using black to try and deepen the colors. One thing I noticed with the Fundamentals set is that once you have one layer of color down and you try to go over with another shade…yeah, don’t. By the time I actually reached the hair and the background stage, I actually thought about cheating and using the other Artist’s Loft set to try and fix the areas that were particularly egregious. But, I was committed to the process and decided to tough it out for the sake of this post.

Don’t get me wrong, the final image looks fine. I can achieve something with these pencils, but I, by far, prefer the Necessities set if I’m going to use Artist’s Loft colored pencils. In the end, theses are going to be reserved for paint use instead—they’re pretty light and don’t show through as much after additional color from another medium has been added on top.

But then, my co-blogger pointed out that the shadows aren’t as deep on the Necessities picture as the other two. For the sake of being impartial, I decided to go for a second round with the Necessities pencils to see how they worked on a picture with sharper shadows. But, that’ll have to wait for the second part, because this post is long enough as it is. So, part 2 will have more art, some swatches, and my final thoughts about these pencils.

Do you regularly use colored pencils? What’s your favorite brand?

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