How to use Zest-it Pencil Blend to blend Coloured Pencils - tips, tools and techniques.
Zest-it Pencil Blend is excellent for blending Coloured Pencils, it is also ideal for use with wax pencils, crayons, oil pastel and graphite.
Many Artists choose Pencil Blend as the solvent for their pencils, not only for its excellent blending qualities and its pleasant smell. Also because it leaves no residue in or on the paper, is economical in use and is a safer solvent than odourless mineral spirit and similar solvents.
Pencil Blend is available in a variety of useful sizes 50 ml; 125 ml; 250 ml and 500 ml.
Blending Sponge The Zest-it Blending Sponge is a fine sponge, impregnated with Pencil Blend, in a pot with a screw top lid. It was developed for a company that specialise in Parchment Craft products, as a controlled way of using Zest-it Pencil Blend to blend Coloured Pencils and Oil Pastels.
The sponge holds 15 ml of Zest-it Pencil Blend. When you press your brush, paper stump or tortillion onto the surface it soaks up Zest-it liquid. The amount of pressure and the length of time on the sponge gives you more control over the amount you use.
Blending Tools There are quite a few different tools that can be used with Pencil Blend to blend the coloured pencil. Brushes and Paper/blending stumps are often the first choice, for other people it's Tortillion's and Chamois leather, for others colour shapers and cotton-buds.
A brush will give a more 'painterly' look; colour shaper and paper-stump are firm giving more precision; the tortillion and cotton buds are softer which will give a 'velvety' result and a Chamois if you want a soft delicate blend.
Surface When it comes to a surface for Coloured Pencils there are a multitude to choose from. Paper and card come in plain, coloured, thick, thin, textured, smooth etc...... You can also use wood and metal as a surface.
When you first start with CP, a smooth surface is often chosen, as you gain experience you may find a paper or card with more 'tooth' is to your liking. The more 'tooth' the paper has the more layers of coloured pencil you can build. * 'Tooth' is the degree of roughness of the paper surface.
Pablo by Caran d'Ache
Pencil Blend works with many brands of pencil, we have tested it with the following:- Caran d'Ache; Pablo and Luminance. Sanford; Prismacolor. Lyra; Polycolor. Faber Castell - Polychromos, Graphic and Art. Derwent - Pastel, Drawing, Artist and Coloursoft. Conte; Pastel.
Most of these are wax or oil based and work very well, other types will also work well, watercolour leads are the least suitable as they are designed to be used with water as the solvent.
*You can also use Pencil Blend with Oil Pastel, Oil bars and oil based inks.
Design Where do you use your pencils? Stamped pictures are used by many people on a variety of surfaces, you can buy them ready done or stamp your own.
Draw your own design onto your chosen surface either in pencil, coloured pencil or ink. Use tracing paper over free patterns and carbon paper to reproduce.
There are pencil tutorials on a number of sites (some are listed further down) and free patterns are also available. Parchment patterns make a good choice if you like to work on velum.
Pastel and Graphite. In this example a black Conte Pastel pencil was used to lay Pastel onto dry Bristol board with a slight graduation in tone. This is a soft Pastel and the tone was achieved by the pressure applied to the Pastel pencil. The 'Magic Rub' is a very good eraser in case of mistakes.
* A Chamois Leather is excellent for blending graphite and charcoal, also for lifting out high-lights.
Here the same pencil was blended with a Chamois leather dampened with Pencil Blend. The Chamois was folded to a soft point, then used to blend from dark to light. The soft 'smokey' area at the base was achieved with the remains of the damp Pastel on the leather. Very soft and delicate effects can be produced this way.
*Small examples like this are good to try if you are unsure of the results.
Coloured Pencil - with Pencil Blend and a brush. The Coloured Pencil was applied to watercolour paper in the normal way. A Blending sponge was used to dampen a soft 1/4" flat brush. The dampened brush was used to blend the coloured pencil. It was blended from dark to light, giving a soft transition of colour. Using a brush means the under-painting can be completed very quickly and the 'tooth' of the paper is retained. The area can be left to dry or further Coloured Pencil can be added whilst the area is still damp, each will give a different look.
One-stroke brush by Pro Arte
These Connoisseur One-stroke brushes are made by Pro Arte and a favourite of mine, they 'just work' wether it's Oil, Watercolour or Colour Pencil. The 1/4" One-stroke was used in the above example.
Colour Pencil - with a Blending Stump and Pencil Blend. In this example only half the leaf has been blended with a dampened stump to demonstrate the effect. The tip of the blending stump was touched onto the surface of the Blending Sponge containing Pencil Blend. The applied pencil was then blended, more pencil was added whilst damp and blended again until the desired result was obtained.
This leaf was completed using the same method of application as above. Numerous layers were gently applied to the damp paper to build the depth of colour. The tip of the stump can get dirty and transfer colour, regular cleaning of the stump is necessary to give clean bright colours.
*To clean the tip of the stump, rub on a Sandpaper block, cut it off with sharp scissors or keep a number of stumps for the different colours.
Colored Pencil - with Tortillion and Pencil Blend. The Luminance pencil was applied this time to Bristol Board, the smooth surface helps with the transition of colour. The single colour was laid quite lightly and graduated to indicate the roundness of the shape. Extra pencil can always be added, whereas it's difficult to remove if too much was applied.
* Because this is a paper that has a smooth finish there is little tooth to build the layer's upon, this is where underpainting is important.
A Tortillion dampened with Pencil Blend from the Blending Sponge was used to give a smooth finish to the blending. Extra pencil was gently added where necessary and blended. As it was blended the tip of the Tortillion was cleaned on kitchen towel. A sandpaper block can also be use to clean the tip.
Over-wetting the Tortillion can cause the colour to spread too far. The Tortillion is a softer tool than the stump and therefore soaks up more liquid.
CP- on Velum, Acetate and Drafting Film. Acetate, Velum and Drafting film are almost non-absorbent as a surface, so the amount of liquid used is far more important. This Rose has the Pencil applied and because of the translucent quality of these surfaces it is often better to place the piece on a dark background for clarity when blending.
Oil Pastel - on watercolour paper. The 'purple' oil pastel was laid, then blended with a small sponge, slightly damp with Pencil Blend to give the under-painting. The darker pastel was applied, some of which has been blended. The un-blended area gives a good indication of the 'tooth' of the paper. The white was applied allowing some of the under-painting to show through. *Oil pastels have 'substance' and the 'tooth' is quickly lost, so colouring the paper first allows more layers to be applied.
Links The image on the left was drawn with pencil and the actual Blending Sponge was used to blend the pencil. It's by Kevin Rogers, his work also appears in the Australian Artists Palette Magazine. Kevin's pencil work with Zest-it.
Our thanks to Terri Stegmiller for this video using a brush and Pencil Blend to blend colored pencil on a drawing, visit brush blending.
Good step-by-step article using the Blending Sponge - very helpful for anyone just starting with Coloured Pencils.
A tutorial by Karen Hull using Zest-it Pencil Blend, Pan Pastel and Coloured Pencil for her portrait. It is Tutorial 10 on her site portrait using Zest-it.