How to make white?
The first question I ever had was how do I make white with colored pencils? With other mediums it is simple, paint away all you want, add white highlights at any point. No problem. But coloured pencil is different. Just because you have a white pencil doesn't mean that you can color white - and get white - whenever you want. There are several different ways of achieving white and I will outline some below. But before I do, remember this, that it is very rare that you actually need pure,bright white. White is rarely white. White is a reflective colour and when you look closely it is reflecting the colours of its surroundings. But sometimes we want white, so here goes:
1. The first and most simple method is to keep the white of the paper showing. If you choose this method you will probably need to use masking fluid or frisket to keep those areas bright white. Coloured pencil tends to smudge a little as you work and unless you are extremely careful your white paper will not be white for long. Personally I never leave the white of the paper showing, but I do sometimes mask off an area so that I can use a white pencil on it at the end.
2. You can use a craft knife to scratch out white highlights at the end. I don't like this method personally. It damages the paper and I have never managed to make it look good. But lots of fantastic artists, far better than me, use this method and produce amazing work, so again, try it and see whether this method is for you.
3. You can use an embossing tool or a hard leaded white pencil to emboss the areas you want to keep white. Any colour applied over the top with a light hand will tend to miss those areas and remain white. I sometimes, but not often, use this method. You can create particularly nice fur texture this way. And it is one of the few occasions I have found where the Faber Castell Polychromos white works really well. It has a nice hard lead that can be sharpened to a very fine point and so is perfect for embossing little lines.
4. You can add white highlights at the end in another medium. Some artists use ink, gel pen, gouache etc. You need to be careful with this method, especially if you want to sell your work. You need to be sure that the medium you choose will adhere well to your pencil work. Your buyer is not going to be too pleased if the beautiful cat they commissioned loses his whiskers when the gel pen flakes off! And of course you need to be sure that any medium you use has good archival qualities too.
5. You can use white pencil to highlight the areas you want to keep white first. This is the method I usually use where I want something fairly white. It doesn't really keep things brilliant white, but it does keep them white enough. Remember as I said above, white is rarely white. The best pencil I have found for this method is the Caran D'Ache Luminance white. For this method you need to apply a fairly heavy pressure with the pencil so that other layers of colour cannot stick too well to it. All the whiskers on my paintings are done using this method.
6. The final method that I have found, and one I use a lot, is simply to use a good white pencil over the top of darker colours. But do be aware that even the best white pencil will NOT give you pure white. It will lighten what is underneath, that is all. I often use this method for fur. The raccoon was done this way. The best pencils I have found for this are Caran D'Ache Luminance white, Derwent Drawing Chinese White and Caran D'Ache Supracolor white. Don't even think of using Faber Castell Polychromos white for this. It won't work!
Try all of these methods. See what works for you.