I have really enjoyed working with colored pencil but I'd really like to learn how to use them better. I know there are several ways to blend the colors aside from just layering. I really like layering but I just haven't been using the right surfaces (paper) and I often end up with clumps of wax and pigment. I've been reading a couple of books on colored pencil techniques and apparently that happens when there isn't enough tooth left on the paper and the wax/pigment just slide around on each other. So, I need to be using toothier paper in general. Another way to blend is to use solvents. I have a few large sets of colored pencils (150 Prismacolors and 120 Spectrum Noir Blendable Pencils and 90 Irojiten Pencils). I love, love, love the Irojitens. They are sublimely blendable without solvents. They are creamy but don't crumble. I've also not had too much trouble with clumping. I didn't include them in today's experimenting/playing because I already know how I like to use them. The Prismas (P) and Spectrum Noirs (SN) preform differently from the Irojitens and from each other, too. Both are creamy but hard enough to maintain a point. Both though give off crumbs and become clumpy. They just don't blend together the same way as the Irojitens. So, today I decided to play around with both sets and several blending techniques to see how they preform. Admittedly, I didn't take a ton of care with the application of color to the paper. I didn't necessarily cover the tooth or blend the edges of the different shades together as carefully as I might in other situations. I just wanted to see how the solvents dissolve the pencil and how it moves around the paper.
Here's a summary of my play:
Large blue petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (Right) & Tombow Blending marker - The paper got fairly "wet" and it seemed like the colors were dissolving and blending well but once dry they don't look like they blended together at all.
Large Pink petals SN Pencils (Left) P Pencils (Right) & Mineral Spirits - I had to dip the cotton swab with pretty much every swipe as the paper just soaked it up but overall there was pretty good dissolving of the pencil and the edges between the colors did obscure pretty well. I wonder if using a brush or maybe a cloth rather than a swab would help with breaking down the pencil.
Large Aqua petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (Right) & National Colored Pencil Blender Pen - I'm not sure what the solvent in this exactly is. It smells a little like alcohol but not really very strong so I think it's more than just alcohol. I feel like this worked better with the SN pencils than the P ones. The paper got pretty wet but it dried quickly and it seemed to work pretty well.
Large Purple petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (Right) & Rubbing Alcohol - The paper got very wet and the color changed dramatically while it was wet. The color returned to "normal" once it was dry but there seems to be a film or something over the SN petal and the color was inconsistently removed on the P pencils. I definitely won't be using straight rubbing alcohol again.
Small Blue petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & Blender pencil - If I understand correctly the blender pencil adds colorless wax to the top of what's already been laid down to blend them together. I've used this pencil with success in other work, in smaller spaces but I had less success this time on both pencils. There is decent obscuring of the edges between the shades but I did get clumping with both sets.
Small Pink petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & white underlayer & Burnished with white. The color application on top of the white base layer was pretty smooth and it was a bit easier to blend the edges between the shades with the initial application but the burnishing with white let to clumping.
Small Aqua petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & Burnisher Pencil. Supposedly the burnisher pencil is supposed to help melt the underlayers of wax and mix the colors together. I've burnished with success in the past but this just didn't work well. Color coverage is inconsistent and very little blending of edges actually happened.
Small Purple petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & burnished with white P pencil. This technique can work well but the color is dramatically altered. This is better blending of the colors but what started out as dark purples are now much, much lighter. I'm thinking a little white goes a long way.
So, there you have it...a summary of my experience with colored pencil blending. This was not a resounding success but I really was just playing around. Unfortunately, I didn't really get the kind of information I was hoping for in terms of how best to use these pencils, especially the SN ones. One thing I really need to give more thought to before I start a colored pencil project, though, is my choice of surface/paper. I've been able to use smooth paper with the Irojiten pencils, I think because they just blend so well, but I need to select toothier paper to use with the other brands.