Colour Pencil Tips for Beginner Artists

Most of us grew up drawing with colour pencils, crayons, pencils, markers and paper. They were our first few artistic tools. These materials were inexpensive and easily accessible. It is only natural that some of us want to use these same tools to create more professional artwork. In this post, we cover the essential colour pencil tips you need to create drawings that are beautiful to look at.

I discovered that you could create painterly looking artwork with just pencils in my early teens and fell in love with them. Professional colour pencils were my first favourite medium. They were inexpensive, so I could experiment with them and buy new materials if necessary.

Colour pencils are a versatile medium and perfect for beginners. You can easily erase it and draw over those parts if you make a mistake. Using colour pencils allows you to control the precision, values and details. You can work lightly for a softer look and layer on the pigments for texture and colour depth.

Colour pencils are easy to carry around and lightweight

Additionally, this medium is lightweight and easy to carry around. You don't have to wait for the paint to dry. There is no need for any prep work as with other traditional media. It is chemical-free mainly except for the fixative you have to use once you complete a piece.

Need I say more? They are an easy medium that you need to get your hands on!

Here are some tips for artists beginning their journey with colour pencils.

Keep Your Pencil Sharpened

Get a sharpener or a blade that does the job of keeping your pencils pointy. A sharp tip allows you to cover the texture of the paper evenly and is also great for adding details. A blunt long pencil tip can cover large surfaces. But try different point sharpness and see what works for you.

Keep your pencils sharpened.

Different pencil grip styles

The way you hold your pencil affects the types of marks you make. The grip technique used by most of us for writing is insufficient for using colouring pencils. Try the drumstick, overhand or the paintbrush grip. Testing different grip styles might feel strange at first, but they widen your mark-making abilities.

Experiment with different pencil grips.


Use a soft tissue, paper towel or cotton swab to blend colours. Other popular tools include a blending stump or a tortillon. This adds a beautiful transition between colours. You can also layer a lighter colour to blend into darker colours.


Start with a light colour and then work to darker densities. Build up the intensity of colour by adding pressure to the pencil or choosing darker pigments. Work from light to dark as your colours blend smoothly and don't get a muddied look. Make sure to use the side of your pencil for softer lines and the tip for sharp, crisp marks.

Layer the pigments of your colour pencils

Don't press too hard, or you might ruin the texture of the paper, and that effect is almost impossible to erase. You could also accidentally pierce through the paper with too much pressure.

Use a Kneaded Eraser

By using a kneaded eraser, you will be able to eliminate lighter colours. Erasing thick, layered colours from paper is difficult compared to erasing lightly layered colours. Darker colours are harder to remove completely than lighter ones.

Use a kneaded eraser for removing colour.

A kneaded eraser protects your paper and prevents a hole or a tear in your paper. You also don't have to deal with eraser dust when you use them. So make sure to invest in good materials from the start. Most importantly, embrace mistakes and learn from them.

Prevent smudging

Use scrap paper or glassine under your hand to protect your drawing and avoid possibly smudging your work as you go over it. It also prevents your paper from getting 'dirty' with rogue pigments stuck to the side of your palm.

Test your colours

Make sure to test your materials before you start a new drawing. Keep a spare sheet near you that you can test colours, densities and pressures to see what will work for your final piece.

Test your colours before colouring in

In my upcoming colouring book there will be pages for you to test your colours provided.

Use fixative

A light coat of fixative or varnish will protect your colour pencil drawings from dirt or dust that might end up on your drawing.

Practice, Practice

Like with all mediums, you need to practice. You need to practice, make mistakes and grow from every attempt. Reading blogs and watching YouTube videos can only impart limited knowledge on the subject.

Practice colouring in

Have fun!

I don't think I have to explain this one; you know what to do! Just follow your instincts, and the rest will fall into place.

Excited to try colouring pencils but dreading coming up with an entire picture by yourself? Try 20 free colouring-in sheets. Download them here.

Further reading...

How To Shade With A Pencil

How to shade with a pencil

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