Saturday, July 10, 2021

Moores Art Gallery Blending, Burnishing and Layering Colored Pencils

Colored Pencil Tips & Techniques:

Blending, Burnishing, and Layering

It's All About Colored Pencils!


Blending is the process of layering colors and merging the layers of colors together by using layering techniques and or using a combination of blending tools. As a result, you can achieve rich photo-realistic type works.

Some Tips On Blending

  • To blend colors try using a stump or tortillion. Tortillions come in 3 sizes: small, medium, and large. Stumps are very similar to tortillons but are much bigger. Blend the colors in a circular motion. Make sure you keep the tips clean if you are using them to blend selective colors.
  • Colored Pencil Artist, Linda Lucas Hardy uses a dry brushing technique for blending her layers of color. She applies multiple layers of colored pencil gradually, using up to heavy pressure, and then takes a stiff-bristle paintbrush or pastel brush, no longer than 1/2 inch, and blends the colors together.
  • Colored pencil artist Ester Roi has invented the Icarius Drawing Board. The board has a warm side and a cool side. The warm side of the board is used for mixing, blending, and burnishing layers of colors. You use the cool side of the board to work on the details and other layering techniques.
  • The colorless blender pencil is a very effective and valuable tool for blending colors, creating rich, vibrant colors, or giving layers of color a polished look. The colorless blender pencil base consists of either a non-pigmented wax or non-pigmented oil-wax that blends and burnishes the colored pencil pigment. I have used the following four colorless blender pencils to blend colors and to help in completing finishing touches on detailed areas: Prismacolor's blender pencil (PC 1077), Lyra's Rembrandt Splender Blender, Derwent Blender, and Caran d'Ache Full Blender-Bright.


Burnishing with colored pencils can create a beautiful rich glazed look. Burnishing is the process of layering multiple colors and then applying heavy pressure with a light-color pencil or with an artist tool. The wax then melds together and causes the drawing surface to become slick, filling up the entire tooth of the paper's surface. 
For example, after layering several colors, apply heavy pressure with Prismacolor Cloud Blue . Repeat the process again if necessary until a polished or vivid effect is achieved. Burnishing is ideal for creating sparkling glass, polished surfaces, and metals. If you intend to burnish your drawing, make sure you wait until the end, as burnishing will take all the tooth out of the paper.

Some Tips On Burnishing

  • By burnishing with specific colors, you can achieve various effects, such as burnishing with Prismacolor Pale Ochre, you can give the illusion of an aged or antique look.

  • Try using a metal scoop part of a ceramic clean-up tool, a spoon, or any other smooth metal device and apply heavy pressure in circular-like motions to the colored layers to be burnished.

  • Burnish light areas first so that the dark pigment fragments do not land on unwanted areas on the surface of the paper.

  • Burnish colors by using a stump or tortillion. Blend the colors in a circular motion while applying heavy pressure. Make sure you keep the tips clean if you are using them to blend selective colors.


Layering is the process of gradually building layers upon layers of colors using light to medium pressure to create different colors, values and hues. It can give your works an illusion of depth, can deepen colors, can modify colors, and can even give your work an impression of light or luminosity.

Some Tips On Layering

  • Layer colors using crosshatch, horizontal, diagonal, vertical, or circular strokes. Start with a single light layer of color, then keep adding different layers of color on top of one another, using light to medium pressure, until the desired results are achieved

Keep on Creating!

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