How to Draw with Watercolor Pencils: a Lesson for Beginners

Aquarelle water-soluble pencils are a wonderful thing.

As you use them on dry paper, your work looks like a drawing, but just add some water, and lo and behold, the work turns into a painting.

Let’s Experiment: 4 Watercolor Pencil Techniques

I usually take the tool out of my big art box to finish an almost done watercolor. A sharpened pencil tip is ideal for creating detailed, delicate marks; the same effect may be hard to achieve with even very thin brushes.

The medium is capable of being basic, though.

There are a wide variety of techniques:

  • using aquarelle pencils as regular colored ones;
  • applying colors on a wet paper;
  • drawing with a wet point of a pencil on a dry surface;
  • smudging hatched areas with a wet brush (or, maybe, a sponge).

In my opinion, the last method allows getting the most interesting results. For example, look at the basset hound from the YouTube channel Art.

At first, the drawn dog was a bit inanimate. It has come to life after the artist had soaked its coat and intensified the watercolor effect.

Do something like that.

Step-by-step Instruction

Please prepare the art tools:

  • thick watercolor paper or heavy board;
  • a graphite pencil, three or five brushes of different size (both nylon and natural ones work well in the case);
  • a glass of water;
  • a set of 24 or watercolor pencils (Staedtler Karat, Derwent, Prismacolor or another)

I’m sure, that 12 colors set are too little unless you have been using a product of a specific brand for years: it will be too difficult for you to get all the necessary colors by mixing.

What about the model to draw from? If I were you, I would start with a bright multicolored object – a bird, a flower, a bowl of fruit.

  1. Sketch rough outlines of the object. Don’t worry about details, you’ll add them later.
  2. Fill the outlines with base colors. Mix colors through layering where it’s necessary. Be careful about the direction of your pencil strokes, especially if you draw hairs, grass.
  3. Shade some elements to get the effect of volume. Supposing that you want to picture a grey leaf…  Add some dark green and brown.
  4. Brush water onto your drawing activating the lighter areas first. Do it gently, without haste, otherwise
  5. The work will have dried in two minutes; then you can repeat the process.

You must spoil before you spin, that’s absolutely normal. The watercolor’s pigments often become darker and vibrant after wetting. All you need is time to adjust to it.

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Natalia Usanova
I am a poet and an amateur artist. A few years ago, it seemed to me creating works of art is a much more important occupation than reading books, visiting galleries, or listening to music. Now I don't think so. Let me share with you the masterpieces which have changed my life and can change yours. Follow me on Twitter!

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