Art History Lab

Unlock Your Creativity: Exploring the Magic of Watercolor Pencils

Watercolor pencils are a wonderful tool for artists and coloring enthusiasts alike. They provide a unique way of creating art by using a combination of colored pencil and watercolor techniques.

In this article, we will take a closer look at watercolor pencils, their differences from regular colored pencils, their benefits, and versatility. Watercolor Pencils vs.

Regular Coloring Pencils

At first glance, watercolor pencils and regular coloring pencils might look the same, but they are quite different. The primary difference between them is that watercolor pencils are water-soluble, while regular coloring pencils are not.

This means that watercolor pencils can be used like regular coloring pencils, but when water is added to the image, the colors become more vibrant and blend together in a way that creates a watercolor effect. Another difference between watercolor pencils and regular coloring pencils is their texture.

Watercolor pencils are softer and have a higher pigment concentration, which allows them to dissolve more readily when wet. Regular coloring pencils are harder and do not dissolve easily when exposed to moisture.

Differences between watercolor pencils and regular coloring pencils also extend to paper compatibility. Watercolor pencils require thicker, more absorbent paper that can hold the water used to activate the colors.

Regular coloring pencils, on the other hand, can be used on a wider variety of paper types.

Benefits of Watercolor Pencils

One benefit of watercolor pencils is their versatility. They can be used in a variety of ways and for a variety of purposes.

Artists can use them for everything from creating complex and detailed pictures to simple sketches. Watercolor pencils also allow for more precise detail work than traditional watercolor paints.

Artists can use them to create everything from fine lines to large washes. Another benefit of watercolor pencils is that they are less messy than traditional watercolors.

With watercolor pencils, the artist can control the amount of water used and can easily mix colors on the page. This reduces the need for multiple pots of paint and brushes.

Versatility of Watercolor Pencils

Watercolor pencils are very versatile and can be used in many ways. They can be used dry for drawing or coloring like traditional colored pencils.

When water is added, they can be used as watercolors, creating beautiful washes, blending colors together or even creating new colors by layering. One way to use watercolor pencils is by applying them to wet paper.

First, dampen the paper with a brush or spray bottle. Then, apply the watercolor pencils to the wet surface, allowing the colors to blend as they react with the moisture on the paper.

Another way to use watercolor pencils is by applying them dry to dry paper and then adding water with a brush, using the water to blend the colors and create a watercolor effect. When working with watercolor pencils, there are many techniques that can be employed.

Some of these include layering colors, lift out techniques where color is removed from the paper, and dry brushing where the pencil is used without water. Watercolor pencils can also be used with other mediums such as acrylic paints.

Simply apply the watercolor pencils, then add the acrylic paint and continue blending the colors with water.


Watercolor pencils are a wonderful addition to any artist’s toolbox. They can be used for a variety of different purposes, offer a unique combination of colored pencil and watercolor techniques, and provide a level of control and precision that traditional watercolors do not.

When it comes to watercolor pencils vs. traditional colored pencils, there are a number of differences from the texture of the pencils to the paper required but the unique color effects achievable with watercolor pencils make them a favorite among artists and coloring enthusiasts alike.

If you have decided to purchase watercolor pencils, there are some important factors to consider before making your purchase. Additionally, it may be helpful to look into the best watercolor pencil brands available on the market.

In this section, we will discuss these factors and recommendations for purchasing watercolor pencils.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing Watercolor Pencils

When purchasing watercolor pencils, there are several important factors to keep in mind:

1. Pigment Concentration: Look for brands with high pigment concentration, as these will provide more vivid and brighter colors.

2. Color Range: Check for brands that offer a variety of colors that can be blended to create new colors and shades.

3. Lightfastness: Lightfastness is the ability of a color to resist fading when exposed to light.

Look for brands that offer lightfast watercolor pencils to ensure the longevity of your artwork. 4.

Softness of the Pencil: Soft watercolor pencils will dissolve more easily and allow for greater coverage. Hard watercolor pencils, on the other hand, can be used for more precise detail work.

5. Price: Watercolor pencils range in price, but generally, higher-quality pencils come at a higher cost.

Take into account your budget and the quality you desire as you make your selection.

Best Watercolor Pencil Brands

Some of the best watercolor pencil brands include:

1. Derwent: Known for their high-quality, professional-grade watercolor pencils, Derwent offers a vast range of colors and a reputation for producing pencils with excellent lightfastness.

2. Faber-Castell: Faber-Castell’s Albrecht Drer watercolor pencils are highly regarded for their lightfastness, rich pigmentation, and texture.

3. Prismacolor: Prismacolor offers watercolor pencils that are known for their smooth texture, blendability, and intense colors.

4. Staedtler: Staedtler’s Karat Aquarell watercolor pencils are known for their excellent lightfastness, vibrant colors, and impressive blending capabilities.

Additional Supplies Required for Watercolor Pencil Art

In order to create beautiful watercolor pencil art, it is important to have the right supplies on hand. Here are some supplies that you may need:


Paper: As previously mentioned, watercolor pencils require thicker, more absorbent paper. Look for paper labeled as “watercolor paper,” or high-quality sketch paper.

2. Brush: A fine-tip watercolor brush can be used to blend and activate the pigments in the watercolor pencils.

3. Pencil Sharpener: A pencil sharpener that can sharpen soft pencils is necessary as the softer texture of watercolor pencils requires a sharper point for fine-detail work.

4. Water: A container of water can be used to activate the pigments in the watercolor pencils.

A small spray bottle with water can also be used to uniformly wet the paper. 5.

Tape: Masking tape can be used to secure the edges of your paper to prevent the paper from curling when it becomes wet. 6.

Paper Towels: Watercolor pencils can be messy, so paper towels or rags should be kept on hand to clean brushes and dab away excess water. By keeping these supplies on hand, you will be ready to create beautiful watercolor pencil art that is sure to shine.

In conclusion, take time to consider the various factors when purchasing watercolor pencils. Look for high-quality brands that offer a variety of colors with excellent pigment concentration and lightfastness.

Don’t forget to also take into account the softness of the pencil and the price. With the knowledge of the best brands and additional supplies, you are now ready to create beautiful watercolor pencil art that is both unique and elegant.

Once you have all the necessary supplies and have chosen the watercolor pencil brand that works best for you, it’s time to get down to creating your watercolor pencil masterpieces. In this section, we will discuss the steps to effectively use watercolor pencils as well as tips and tricks to take your artwork to the next level.

How to Use Watercolor Pencils

When using watercolor pencils, there are a few basic steps to follow:

1. Stretching Your Paper: Before getting started, it is recommended that you stretch your paper.

This can help prevent the paper from warping and buckling once it becomes wet. To stretch your paper, soak it in water for a few minutes, then tape the edges down to a flat surface and allow it to dry completely.

2. Planning Your Work: Plan out your artwork in advance.

Consider the layout, the composition, and the color scheme you want to achieve. 3.

Bringing on the Color: Start with light layers of color and gradually build up the intensity by layering more pencil strokes on top. Keep in mind that watercolor pencils are transparent, which means that they can be layered to create new shades and hues.

4. Sample Chart: It can be helpful to create a sample chart that demonstrates how different colors will look when blended together.

Use the chart as a reference to guide your color choices as you work.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to help you create beautiful watercolor pencil art:

1. Detail and Depth: To create depth and detail, use a light touch when applying the watercolor pencils.

Build up the colors slowly and blend them together using a fine-tip watercolor brush or a shaper. 2.

Working from Light to Dark: Start with the lightest colors, blending them together to create dimension and texture. Work your way up to the darker colors, applying them with heavier pressure to create shadows and contrast.

3. Blotting Techniques: Use a clean, dry brush or a paper towel to blot out excess water or color from your artwork.

This can be especially helpful when working on small details or when trying to create texture. 4.

Test Colors First: Before applying a color to your artwork, test it on a separate piece of paper first. This will help prevent mistakes and give you a better idea of what the finished product will look like.

5. Use a White Pencil: The white watercolor pencil can be used to add highlights to your artwork.

Apply it sparingly to the areas where you want to create a few sections of intense light. In conclusion, using watercolor pencils can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it does require practice and patience.

Follow the recommended steps when using watercolor pencils and don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques. With some practice and a few tried-and-true tips, you’ll soon be creating masterful watercolor pencil artwork that is sure to impress.

As with any art medium, there are frequently asked questions (FAQs) surrounding the use of watercolor pencils. Additionally, specialized paper is required for watercolor pencil drawings to achieve the best results.

In this section, we will address these two topics in more detail. FAQs: Using Watercolor Pencils Like Regular Coloring Pencils

One common question is whether watercolor pencils can be used like regular coloring pencils.

The answer is yes, watercolor pencils can be used like regular coloring pencils, but there are a few differences to keep in mind. When using watercolor pencils as regular coloring pencils, apply light pressure to the pencil to create a soft and subtle effect.

Instead of wetting the paper, use the pencils dry to create a more traditional colored pencil drawing. Keep in mind that the colors used dry may be slightly different than those used wet, so be sure to test a few colors first.

Another important thing to consider when using watercolor pencils like regular coloring pencils is the type of paper used. Watercolor pencil drawings require special paper that can hold up to the wetness of the pencil, so regular sketch paper may not be the best choice.

Specialized Paper for Watercolor Pencil Drawings

It is recommended to use high-quality, specialized watercolor paper when working with watercolor pencils. This paper is thick and absorbent, allowing the paper to hold the water used to activate the pigments in the pencils.

High-quality watercolor paper also allows for smoother blending and better color saturation. When choosing watercolor paper, look for paper with a high weight, texture, and surface characteristics to ensure the best results.

Cold press watercolor paper has a slightly rough texture and is preferred by many artists for its ability to hold the water in the texture of the paper. Hot press watercolor paper has a smooth surface and is ideal for drawing fine details and precise lines.

Watercolor paper can be expensive, but it is worth the investment for the quality of the results it can produce. Additionally, there are different sizes and shapes available for watercolor paper, including pads, blocks, and loose sheets to suit your needs and preferences.

In conclusion, watercolor pencils can certainly be used like regular coloring pencils, but it’s important to keep in mind that specialized paper is required to achieve the desired results. High-quality, specialized watercolor paper provides the perfect surface for the watercolor pencils to be activated and blend together.

So, invest in a good quality watercolor paper, whether you are a beginner or professional, to create stunning watercolor pencil artwork. In this article, we have explored the world of watercolor pencils, discussing their differences from regular coloring pencils, benefits, versatility, and best brands.

We have also covered the factors to consider when purchasing watercolor pencils and the additional supplies required for creating watercolor pencil art. Furthermore, we delved into the steps to effectively use watercolor pencils, tips and tricks to enhance your artwork, FAQs about using watercolor pencils like regular coloring pencils, and the importance of specialized paper for achieving the best results.

By understanding these concepts, readers can embark on their watercolor pencil journey with confidence, unlocking the potential to create stunning and unique works of art. So, choose your watercolor pencils carefully, experiment with techniques, and let your creativity flow freely on specialized paper.

Happy creating!

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