This set of 12 Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell watercolour pencils was one of the first things I bought after I started this blog in 2009, but I've never reviewed it or written a post about it, mainly because it remains the only set of watercolour pencils I have ever used, and I don't really know what I'm doing when I use them! I just try different things until I get results that I like. If I was going to be more serious about it, I might look up some tutorials or books to learn from, but slowly experimenting and trying different things works for me now.
That said, I thought it was well past time for a post to share with you my current method of using watercolour pencils, just to show you how fun and easy they are to use, even if (like me) you don't really know what you're doing and you feel a bit intimidated by watercolour paints.
Watercolour pencils, if you're not familiar with them, are similar to normal pencil crayons except that they are water-soluble, meaning that you can add water to your sketch after you colour it and achieve an effect similar to what you could get with watercolour paints. I don't know much about different brands, so I can't recommend anything specific. I have been using these ones for the last several years and I am happy with them, but I'm sure there are other excellent brands out there. Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments!
I usually start by drawing a rough sketch with one of my Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens (usually the fine or super-fine; I used the fine in this example), or a different waterproof pen. For this example, I quickly sketched a flower of the African violet that sits beside my desk (step 1). It's not a great sketch, but good enough for this example:
|(Click to view larger.)|
After that, I pick the main colour and shade it over the area (step 2), paying attention to areas where the colour appears deeper. After that, I usually add one or two more layers of different colours over the primary layer to get the colour I want (step 3). I don't know much about colour theory or colour mixing, but I pick colours intuitively and it usually works out. It is a bit tricky, because the colour you get with the dry pencils does not look quite the same as the colour you get after adding water. Finally, I use my Pentel Aquash waterbrush (any paintbrush will work, but I highly recommend a waterbrush because it is so portable and convenient) to brush water over the colour (step 4). In the photo above, I've added water to the three right-hand petals. The photo doesn't show it that well, but in this step the colours become a lot brighter and deeper and blend together. And the result does end up being a fairly close match to the colour of my African violet.
And that's it! It's a really simple method, and it works for me and my style of sketching. I'm usually not too concerned about the fine details; I'm just looking for a good representation of the basic colours and shapes for a quick sketch, and these watercolour pencils work very well for that.
I'll leave you with this page I've shared before from last fall's travel journal, because it is a good example of my typical sketching style and of how I work when I am out in the field:
You can see more examples of my work with watercolours pencils here, here, and in many of my cards from last year's ICAD, especially the ones from this week.
Do you use watercolour pencils? How do you use them? Do you have any recommendations or suggestions?