Friday, October 22, 2010

Answering Questions

I wanted to compile the questions you asked regarding colored pencils and answer them in one place - here we go!


1. The man in the art shop recommended Caran D'Ache Luminance as a better pencil than Derwent Coloursoft and the 'previous' Karisma pencils. Have you ever used the 'Luminance'?

I would love to have some Luminance pencils to work with, but the cost per pencil is over $3... I'm sure they are wonderful to work with, if they are anything like the Pablo line! They're just not in my price range.

2. Is Inktense just water soluble?

They do also blend with OMS, but are much more vivid when blended with water. Here's a visual (OMS on the top, water on the bottom):

3. Should I purchase individual pencils or should I buy a pack?

If you're happy with the colors in the sets that are prepackaged, you will save a few cents per pencil by purchasing sets. I prefer buying open stock so I have options and can fill in where I feel my collection is lacking. Dick Blick has graduated pricing on many of their open stock pencils, where the more you buy the lower your price is. If you're having things shipped or carried overseas, the pencil tins will add to the weight of your package, so that's another consideration.

4. Have you used the colorless blender pencil instead of OMS?

I have. It works well, with a little practice. The technique is a little different than working with OMS. Here is a wonderful article on the colorless blender pencil by Jennifer Ellefson - why reinvent the wheel? Her explanation and visuals are beautifully done.

5. Some of Prismacolor pencils (which are made in the USA and are about a year old) will NOT blend with OMS - specifically 2 of the reds and several of the blues and greys - the rest of the colours work beautifully - so I wonder if there is some difference with different Odourless Mineral Spirits (?). I don't use Gamsol - just Art Spectrum brand - thought they were all the same thing (?).

I use a generic OMS that I picked up in the paint section at Walmart a few years ago. It works for me. I'm sure the finer brands of artist quality are higher performers and more odorless... but I'm unable to find anything odorless where I am so I needed something that came in a lightweight but large bottle to last a few years. I'd say if you're using an artist grade OMS, the problem isn't with the OMS.

6. If I use baby oil as a solvent for blending, will it stain the paper?

It can, if you're not careful. It does take a little practice in getting the right amout of baby oil on your stump, and blending from the center of the image out to the edges. The results are similar to OMS blending, because the concept is similar - breaking down the pigments of the pencil with a solvent. Baby oil smells better, but I prefer OMS and find it easier to work with in adding layers of colors after blending.

7. Do I really need those many shades of grey that are there?

Probably not. I don't use mine super often, but when I do I tend to use the French Greys most because they are more warm and slightly brown.

8. Would it a be a big task to the list the must haves?

Again, it's a matter of personal preference. Others may use brighter or more primary colors than I do, but these are my go-to pencils in general.

I tend towards warmer versions of cool colors too... not many cool greens, blues, or purples! Lots of browns, warm colors, and earthy neutrals.
A rule of thumb might be to choose a general mid-range of colors that you love (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, white, and black - in a primary, bright, or muted version), then find a lighter tint and darker shade suitable to each color. If you like bright primary colors, start with those; if you're like me and prefer a more muted range, start there. Here's an example of what I mean:

For those that are wanting to avoid the Mexico Prismacolor pencils, here is a visual of the difference between old and new product. The printing on the old pencils is gold foil stamped, and the printing on the new ones is foil stamped in silver (except for the white pencil, which is printed in black - that one is shown below because it's easy to read and I had both whites unsharpened). There is a colorless stamp toward the end of the pencil that you would sharpen that indicates the place where it was manufactured.

OK! That hopefully answers all the questions so far!

Thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. Thanks for all the info Dina - it's been great reading it and learning lots. Really appreciate the time that you have put into the answers with photos and links - thanks SO MUCH!! :-)

  2. Thank you so much've answered all my my only difficulty is in choosing you said its matter of personal preference...but you have helped the most! Thanks so much again!

  3. Wow...lots of wonderful info...thanks!