Burnishing with Colored Pencil | A Demonstration by Gary Greene

Burnishing involves layering and blending until no paper tooth shows through the colored pencil layers. To avoid contamination of lighter colors, the artist paints lighter areas first, using minimal pressure to layer lighter colors on top of darker colors. After all colors are layered, the artist mixes—or burnishes—all but the darkest color in a given color area, using white or any light color, depending on the desired effect. The same sequence of colors is then re-layered over the entire color area. This process is repeated until the colored pencil areas completely cover the paper beneath them, allowing no tooth to show. All colors in this demonstration are Prismacolor.

Burnishing with Colored Pencil Gary Greene demonstration image
Layer color areas in the following order. Starting with the petals, layer cool gray 30%, 20% and 10%; magenta; process red; hot pink; pink; deco pink and cream. Then layer the stems with grass green, olive green, apple green, spring green and cream. Finally, layer the leaf with grass green, olive green and cool gray 30% and 20%.

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Burnishing with Colored Pencil Gary Greene demonstration image
Burnish each color area with white, avoiding the darkest (shadow) hues.

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Burnishing with Colored Pencil Gary Greene demonstration image
Re-layer the colors as you did in the first step.

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Burnishing with Colored Pencil Gary Greene demonstration image
Repeat burnishing and layering until no paper shows through the colored pencil. Finish the work by burnishing each entire color area with a colorless blender pencil.

Gary Greene has been a full-time artist since 1967 and is the author of four books and videos on colored pencil techniques, including No Experience Required: Colored and Watercolor Pencil. This demonstration is an excerpt from his article “Uptight is All Right” in the November 2008 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Click here to order your digital copy.


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