One of the most magical things to me about colored pencils is the way that you can mix new colors. I still don’t really understand how it happens, it isn’t like paint where you can physically mix a new color, yet simply by layering one color on top of another you get new shades. To me one of the most fun and challenging parts of using colored pencils is knowing how to mix colors, because it doesn’t matter how many pencils you have (and l have over 600 in constant use!) you never have quite the right shade.
When you start drawing and you want new colors or to alter the shade of one you already have you tend to reach for the obvious. You want to go darker - add some black or a darker shade of the color you have been using. As you draw more you start to realize that more exciting colors can be made by not going for the obvious. Adding blue or purple or red to green creates lots of exciting new dark greens that are usually more interesting than adding black.
Sometimes you just need to create a totally new color that you just don’t have in your pencil selection. And you wonder how are you going to get that color you want? I wanted to get a darker shade of red on this bird’s wings. I had already used indigo and purple in the shadows and l didn’t want to use them to make the main areas darker.
The more l draw, the more easily l can think of what colors might look good, but l pulled out my Magic Palette for this one. (If you want to see one and how to use it visit my tips page on mixing colors, l will put the link at the bottom of this blog). I honestly love this simple chart. Although designed for paint it works perfectly well for colored pencil. Guess what color l came up with to layer on top of my red? Phthalo Green! A green l rarely use and certainly wouldn’t have thought of using myself. I layered this over the red l already had and sure enough l got the deeper shade f red l was looking for. I have also used this to get the perfect natural lip color and to pick out the right colors to use for watermelon flesh - a color l tried to mix for ages on my own and failed!
And if you don’t have that many colors, knowing which ones to mix gives you so many more options.
It is really hard, especially when you start with colored pencil to know how to make certain colors and you can spend a lot of time and suffer much frustration trialing colors. So l really wanted to encourage anyone who is struggling, to go and get hold of a Magic Palette (and no, l don’t get paid for writing this! ) because for a very tiny outlay you can learn so much about color and save a whole load of time in trial and error. Plus, best of all you get a better end result as your art is full of beautiful colors.
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