How to use watercolour pencils

Watercolour pencils work very differently to wax-based or oil-based pencils. And though they share a name, they don’t work in the same way watercolour paints do either. However, they can create a really beautiful effect for your colouring pages, so we want to help you learn more about how to use these mysterious pencils!

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How to use watercolour pencils

These pencils contain a water-soluble binder that allows them to replicate a beautiful watercolour textures with added detail, and the extra control of using a pencil over brushes. Use water with a sponge or brush to ‘activate’ the pencils and get that dreamy watercolour look!

It is much better to use fewer layers of colour because heavy layering can lead to a sludgy buildup. More often than not, pencil marks will remain on your work after you’ve applied water. These marks can be helpful for adding texture to your work and is a defining feature that separates watercolour pencils from paints.

Additionally, pencils will dry quicker than watercolour paints which means you have to work at a faster pace.

Don’t forget, if you’re using these pencils on an issue of Colouring Heaven, you might want to add a sheet of card beneath your design to protect the pages underneath. We also recommend working with limited amounts of water to avoid over-saturating the pages.

Video tutorials about watercolour pencils

Check out these tutorials about how to use watercolour pencils.

This video covers some great tips for beginners:

This video covers some more in depth techniques:

Our watercolour pencil recommendation

If you want to get started with using watercolour pencils, our favourites are the Derwent Inktense pencil sets. These strongly pigmented and easily blendable watercolour pencils can be bought in packs of 6, all the way up to a full set of 72. Simply follow all the tips in this article, to create beautiful watercolour pencil artwork!

Derwent inktense pencils

Have fun, experiment and learn!

Just like any colouring material, there is likely to be a learning process, and you might need to try new things, experiment, and pick up tips from other colourists. But the most important thing is to keep going and have fun! We’re so excited for you to be trying new things with your colouring pages and can’t wait to see what you create.

Enjoyed this watercolour pencils guide? You’ll love our other how to colour guides about colouring pencils and markers.

Coloured a beautiful page and want to share it with your friends and family? Take a look at this article about how to photograph colouring pages.

Watch our blending tutorial video

If you loved this tutorial and want to learn more about how to use watercolour pencils, take a look at this video! Jo dives into some colouring techniques using watercolour pencils.

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