Mark Making With Colored Pencils

We all know by now that coloring books for adults have taken the world by storm. Whether or not you’re into coloring, it’s something we should all be excited about. In addition to providing some calming down-time for folks, the trend is also bridging the gap between non-artists and artists. This activity once reserved for childhood is great for re-introducing people to their creative side–and isn’t our planet a better place when more people are creating art?

As you and I know, crayons aren’t the only medium that can be used for mark making and coloring! Colored pencil techniques are perfect for taking coloring pages to a higher level. I’ll let Thaneeya McArdle, artist and author of Color Groovy, tell you more…

Mark making with colored pencils | Thaneeya McArdle
Celestia (colored pencil); all artwork by Thaneeya McArdle (PIN this!)

Basic Techniques for Mark Making with Colored Pencils by Thaneeya McArdle

There are many different brands of colored pencils available spanning various levels of quality. For the most part, the price of colored pencils depends on the quality you choose. Brands like Prismacolor, Caran d’ Ache, and Faber-Castell produce good quality colored pencils that contain high pigment levels, are break- and water-resistant, and are easy to use. Experiment with different brands to find what you like and what works best for you. To get the best results with colored pencils, it’s best to work from light to dark, adding more layers as you go.

The following are a few very basic techniques that can be used to enhance your coloring designs. You can use them on their own, or mix and match them to create groovy effects.

Layering: Layering creates volume. Each time you layer one color on top of another, that color becomes gradually darker. While the most common practice is to layer families of colors, you can also achieve some interesting effects by layering complementary colors.

Blending: Blending allows you to mix different colors together. Apply your first color by shading it from dark to light. Then overlap the lighter area with another color. On the overlapping area, shade back over with the first color until the colors are blended smoothly. Unlike layering, blending creates a smooth gradient. It can also be used to suggest depth and distance. Use this technique when you wish to make an area of your design appear to recede from view.

Shading: It is easiest to work your way from lightest to darkest when shading, though you don’t absolutely have to work in that order. Layer even strokes lightly for the first layer, then shade another layer on top to create a more intense color.

Crosshatching: This technique involves a series of lines overlapping each other. First, create a group of parallel lines. Then use the same color to create another layer of parallel lines that overlap the first layer. Make sure the second layer of lines goes in a different direction from the first layer. Repeat the method using as many colors as you desire to create interesting effects and textures. The more layers you create, the more intense your colors will be. ~Thaneeya

Mark making with colored pencils | Thaneeya McArdle

Color Groovy includes more advice for mark making and plenty of black and white illustrations that are waiting for your magic touch. It’s now included in the Get in the Groove Zen Coloring Kit, along with the book Color Me Chilled Out, and a Faber-Castell Pitt Brush Pen Tiered Gift Set. Get it today and treat yourself!

Stay creative,


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