Water-Soluble Colored Pencil Demo | Gary Greene

Gary Greene shares his step-by-step wet-on-dry technique for creating Flower Power (water-soluble colored pencils and wax-based colored pencil on paper, 17¾x24), as seen in the August 2013 issue of Watercolor Artist.

This attention-getting side view of a brightly colored dahlia consists of a combination of glazes of gray and yellow water-soluble colored pencils with burnished layers of wax-based red pencil on top. Although this painting is 50 percent “dry” colored pencil, it demonstrates how well water-soluble colored pencils work in combination with wax- or oil-based colored pencils.



  • 22×30-inch sheet of 140-lb. Lanaquarelle cold-press watercolor paper
  • Nos. 6 and 8 round sable brush
  • Paper towels
  • Lyra Splendor pencil
  • Hair dryer



  • Caran D’Ache Supracolor: Canary Yellow, Golden Ochre, Golden Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Spring Green, Yellow
  •  Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer:
  • Warm Grey II, III, IV, V, VI
  • Sanford Prismacolor: Crimson Red, French Grey 30%, 50%, 70% and 90%, Goldenrod, Indigo Blue, Orange, Poppy Red, Pumpkin Orange, Scarlet Lake, Tuscan Red, Vermilion, Yellowed Orange, Yellow Ochre
  • Sanford Verithin: Black, Carmine Red, Lemon Yellow, Orange Ochre, Tuscan Red



The original transparency was projected onto paper, and the image was traced with a Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Warm Grey II water-soluble pencil.




With strokes that follow the petal’s contours, apply Faber-Castell Warm Grey III, IV or V (depending on value) to establish shadows. Wash with a medium-dry No. 6 brush.

Step 1
Step 1
















Working one petal at a time, apply Caran d’Ache Golden Ochre over the gray shadow areas (as described in Step 1) and to the areas of lighter dark values. Wash with a medium-wet No. 6 or No. 8 brush, depending on the size of the area to be covered. Dry thoroughly with a hair dryer. Apply Caran d’Ache Spring Green to some grey shadow areas at the center of the flower. Wash with a medium wet No. 6 brush. Dry thoroughly with a hair dryer. Apply, in sequence: Caran d’Ache Golden Yellow, Yellow, Canary Yellow and Lemon Yellow. Wash with a No. 6 or No. 8 brush and dry with a hair dryer between each application of color, extending the color into the body of the petal.

Step 2

Step 2















Working one shadow area at t time, enhance the cast shadows as needed with Prismacolor French Grey 30%, 50% or 70% (depending on value) using light to medium pressure. Apply Prismacolor Goldenrod or Yellow Ochre (depending on value) over the gray. With heavy pressure, burnish with a Lyra Splender pencil until all of the paper surface disappears. Reapply Goldenrod or Yellow Ochre, as required. Working one petal at a time, lightly apply Prismacolor French Grey 70% or 90%, Tuscan Red and Pumpkin Orange for the darkest cast shadows of the red areas of the petals. Omit French Grey for light cast shadows and contour shadows. With light to medium pressure, apply (in sequence) gradations of Prismacolor Crimson Red, Scarlet Lake, Poppy Red, Vermilion, Yellowed Orange (to center petals only) and Orange. Red wax-based pencils give off a significant amount of debris; keep the paper surface clean at all times. With heavy pressure, burnish with a Lyra Splender pencil until all the paper surface disappears, leaving some of the orange areas unburnished. Reapply Crimson Red, Scarlet Lake, Poppy Red, Vermilion and Orange, as required. Sharpen petal edges with Verithin Tuscan Red, Carmine Red or Orange Ochre.


Step 3
Step 3

















All strokes, both wet and dry, should be applied in the same direction: vertically. Apply Faber-Castell Warm Grey VI, stopping approximately 1/32 from the edge of the petals. Wash with a medium-wet N. 6 or No. 8 round brush, using the smaller brush for tighter areas, retaining the same 1/32 edge. Dry thoroughly with a hair dryer. Apply a medium layer of Tuscan Red and Indigo Blue. Bring the background up to the edge of the petals with Black Verithin. With heavy pressure, burnish with a Lyra Splender pencil until all the paper surface disappears. Reapply Indigo Blue, making sure the entire paper surface is covered. Darken the edges of the petals with Tuscan Red, Carmine Red, Orange Ochre or Lemon Yellow Verithin, as necessary.

Step 4

Step 4

















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