When l decided to blog about my favorite colors l thought it would be one short blog post! As soon as l started to pick them out though l realized that no way could l fit them all into one blog. I did my lights and darks, well, here l have my favorite greens.
The colors l pick out here are colors that don’t really have duplicates in the other brands l use. There are certain colors that appear almost consistently across the brands - everyone has the color l call ‘yukky yellow’, they all have a similar orange, they all have umber and whichever brand you own you will have those colors. But there are some colors where only a Holbein or only a Pablo or only a Polychromo will do because they are the only ones that do that color. These are the colors that l want to share with you because you probably have a set of favorite pencils and you don’t want to buy another full set of another brand with many near duplicate colors. If you can pick any of these up open stock they will definitely enhance the collection you already have.
l was really interested to see that when l picked out my greens they are heavily weighted in favor of Caran D’ache Pablo’s. I have to say if you work with greens a lot this range has the best choice of greens of all the brands that l use - and that includes so many unusual ones.
l am going to try and go across in the order of the photo, left to right (as you view it).
The first colors are all Pablo’s:
Light Green - l can only describe this as a true mint green, think mint choc chip ice cream.
Lime Green - a yellowier version of mint. I can’t tell you how often l use these two colors.
Spring Green - a true lime green, bright and yellow and crisp.
The next six are all the Olives - yes, six versions of Olive and they get serious use. Light Olive, Olive Yellow, Olive, Olive Grey, Olive Brown and Olive Black. The last three are amazing for shadows and contrast on greens.
Then we are onto Faber Castell Polychromos:
Leaf Green - this is the color that my head sees when l think of green. You would expect to find this color in ever set, but you don’t. A true greens, green. The color of peas and lush grass. I often use it over other greens to make them more ‘green’.
Earth Green - because it is soooo unique. A grey green, sagey and soft.
Chromium Green Opaque - the perfect dark olivey green for contrast and shadows.
Chrome Oxide Green - about as dark as green gets before going black and without the yellow tones of the olives.
And finally the Holbeins:
Opal, Willow and Misty Green - the palest of pale greens with very subtle differences between them, but l love these colors.
And last of all Leaf Green - the color that is almost there in many ranges but actually is never quite right. This is is a perfect yellowy green without the muddy undertones so many of the nearly there colors have.
So that is it for greens, l hope that you have found one or two to tempt you or that will be that color you have been searching for.
l am very excited today because l have been testing out some new pencils. The excitement of new pencils never wears off! I have only worked a tiny piece of the picture yet but l wanted to share with you my initial thoughts.
l will tell you that Arteza very kindly sent these to me to try and that l told them, the same as l tell everyone that l will be totally honest in giving my opinions on a product. After all if l am not going to be honest what is the point in writing a review of anything!
Well, first things first. These are very affordable pencils. Under $30 for the full set. The pencils come in a nice tin. I hate my pencils arriving in boxes, simply because they do not wear as well as tins. There are 72 colors.There are some really nice and unusual colors in there (not many pales which is typical of most brands) and the colors are both numbered and named.
l was particularly excited about these pencils as not only are they very affordable but they are, so Arteza say, lightfast tested. This is a huge deal in an affordable pencil. Neither the tin nor their on line descriptions say they are tested. Those descriptions say that they are made using lightfast pigments. Call me pedantic, but being made with lightfast pigments is slightly different to being lightfast tested. (For example l can make a cake with 20 delicious ingredients but it doesn’t follow that my cake will be delicious, especially if the 21st ingredient is a teaspoon of curry powder!). I queried this with Arteza who have told me that they are lightfast tested. They have the standard star markings on the barrels. One star is the lowest and three the highest.
I am really interested in this because they have a number of pinks with three star ratings. Pink is notoriously unstable and of all the professional brands l own only Caran D’ache Luminance has a three star pink (and that is not a great pink).
So onto the most interesting thing. How do they perform?
First things first, they sharpen to a beautiful point. They hold that point well. I read some reviews saying they had problems with them breaking as they were sharpened. I use a Carl Angel 5 sharpener and even my Prismacolors don’t break when l use that! I had no breakage at all. The lead is harder than Prismacolor but not as hard as Polychromos. Polychromos still hold the best point. But you can get pretty good detail with these. Certainly you can get detail far more easily than with Prismacolor.
The laydown is very waxy, and l found it hard to get the many layers that l like to get. I quickly got wax build up. But the color is reasonably vibrant and l think for the amount of layers that most people do this would not be a problem. And if you use a little OMS you could probably add more layers. I did get the vibrancy and saturation l wanted in the end, it just took a little more work than the more expensive pencils.
I did find l got a lot of stray color dust, it blew off quite easily, but you definitely need to be vigilant about blowing or brushing it away.
When it came to blending l had very contrasting results depending on how l was using the pencils. For ordinary shading, like the wing of the butterfly above, l struggled at first. They reminded me of working with Prismacolors and l struggle with those too. So this could be me and not the pencils. The annoying white dots were hard to cover and the blending was not smooth. So l tried a little OMS and this worked beautifully, the colors blended together like paint. (I had not yet used any OMS in the shot above).
Strangely though, working the fluffier parts like the body (which you can’t really see in this shot) the pencils worked amazingly well, the fine lines blended beautifully with each other whilst keeping the definition l wanted. I really enjoyed working the little fine hairs with these pencils.
l completed this whole piece using only the Arteza pencils, apart from using one black Polychromos to sharpen the edges. (And to be honest l use Polychromos to sharpen the edges with all the other brands l use).
Overall they require a bit more work to achieve the results, but then they are only a tenth of the price of the top brands. And l do think that it is important to remember that.
Well l know this should be part 2 of my favorite colors! But l haven’t got around to taking a photo! So instead l am sharing a sneak peak at my latest piece. Still working on it as l type. Well, not literally! I haven’t learned to type and draw at the same time yet!
I wanted to tell you that l really don’t like it at this stage. Not that there is anything really wrong with it. It is just boring! Actually after taking this photo and seeing how boring it looked l nearly put it behind the cupboard of no return! I was soooo tempted to just stop and start a new piece.
You are wondering why l want to show you a boring picture that l don’t like? Well, l have a good reason.
The reason l am telling you is this, l often have stages in my drawings where l look at them and think they are not really working. It is really hard at this point to push yourself to work more on a piece.
Anyway l got as far as removing this piece from my easel and hovering near the cupboard of no return. Then l gave myself a good talking to. Reminded myself how long l had already spent on it, remembered how often a piece has stages l don’t like and told myself to give it one more day. (Plus l had already taken photos for a brand new eye tutorial - one photo left to go, but l will put the link at the bottom of this blog).
It still isn’t finished yet, but l did put in a good day on it and you know something magic happened for me in that day. I started to like it. It began to look more interesting. And although l still have a day to go to finish it l am really looking forward to getting in to my art room and working on it.
So l wanted to say don’t give up on pieces. Finish them. This has happened to me so many times and l only have one piece l pushed myself to finish that still really doesn’t work (and even that l know l will pull out again one day and do something with it). Sometimes with colored pencil the magic takes a long time to happen, but if you keep working and layering it does happen. Finish things. You never know you might get a happy surprise!
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