How to Use Water-Soluble Colored Pencils (Part 1)

Water-soluble colored pencils are a wonderful tool for easy and colorful backgrounds. In this demonstration of a yellow lily, artist Kristy A. Kutch shows us how to combine colored pencil techniques with an old tooth brush and masking film to create rich, simple backgrounds for our flower subjects.

This demonstration has been adapted from Colored Pencil Explorations by North Light author Janie Gildow. Re-released in paperback format, Gildow and 13 expert colored pencil artists introduce a variety of mediums to pair with versatile colored pencils. Learn how to use acrylic, watercolor, pastel, airbrushing, ink, solvents and much more in 24 exciting step-by-steps!


Surface:115-lb. (240gsm) hot-pressed watercolor paper

Polychromos Colored Pencils: Apple Green, Canary Yellow, Chrome Yellow Light, Cream, Golden Ochre, Grey Green, Lilac

Prismacolor Colored Pencils: Black Grape, Limepeel, Tuscan Red

Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils: Gold Ochre, Lavender, Tuscan Red, Vermilion

Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Water-Soluble Colored Pencils: Canary Yellow, Mauve, Wine Red

Other tools: 9H graphite pencil, Colorless Blender marker, Colorless Blender pencil, HB graphite pencil, heavy tracing vellum, masking film, old toothbrush, Sanford Sharpie Ultra Fine Point permanent marker, scissors, tissues, ultraviolet light resistant spray


STEP 1: Begin the Values
Lightly sketch the lily with the HB pencil. Apply Cream to the lightest parts of the petals, leaves and buds. The Cream serves as a unifying foundation for the succeeding layers of color. Begin to develop the darker areas by first layering Golden Ochre and then Violet Light on the darkest parts of the petals, along the creases and down into the throat of the flower. To blend and soften the color on the petals, apply Canary Yellow over the layered Golden Ochre and Violet Light, continuing it out into the Cream. Use the same colors to suggest the darker values on the buds, leaves and stems then add Apple Green and over it apply Grey Green to further darken those values.

STEP 2: Impress the Vein Lines and Build Color
Impress the lines with a 9H pencil to indicate the veins in the leaves, stems and buds. Use a blunt point to color across the impressed lines. Deepen the color on the leaves, stems and buds first with a layer of Apple Green and then with a layer of Tuscan Red thick lead pencil. Apply another layer of Golden Ochre to the darker areas in the petals, followed by Chrome Yellow Light to enrich and deepen the yellow.

Click here to view part 2
of this demonstration (steps 3 through 7) and learn more about Kristy Kutch and Janie Gildow.


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