Below is a very handy guide to some of the key coloured pencil techniques to help you create some amazing effects and finishes to your artworks. When combined, these techniques can help you create some of those effects youve always wanted to do but never knew how. They should form the basis for every type of coloured pencil artwork, once mastered they will also save you time in creating some stunning effects. You will be able to work multiple layers over each other to create stunning dazzling colours and effects.

When putting together this instructional guide I was using Derwent Lightfast Coloured Pencils, which after trying many brands and types of pencil, are my favourite. The finish, blending capability and luminance is superb due to their oil based pigments, which give an incredbile finish not dissimilar to a fine art painting. Thats said, this brand of pencils are quite premium and priced accordingly, but the effects I have outlined below can be used for all brands of coloured pencil, and used with both wax and oil based pencils. For more information on coloured pencils and the different brands, whatever your skill level, check out my blog ‘An artists guide to coloured pencils’. This will give you quite a consice and useful overview when looking to understand more about coloured pencils.

The coloured pencil techniques I have outlined below can be used on all types of artist paper, that said I find that using a smooth paper gives a far truer representation of both the effect you are trying to achieve as well as the natural pigment colours of the pencils. Have a look around at papers available and try to go for a smooth bright white heavy paper (160gsm and above). My particular favourite is Strathmore 163gm paper. You can get some great deals for some real quality paper if you have a good look whats on offer online.




This is one of my favourite techniques as it gives such vibrancy and life to a drawing due to its crisp strokes that can create some great dark tones but also still show some of the white of the paper. To achieve the technique it requires creating a series of parrallel lines, approx 45 degrees covering the entire area you are wanting to shade. These lines all need to go in the same direction until the desired area is covered. Remember whatever sizes gap you leve between the lines needs to be fairly consistent for the entire area. Also remember for each full stroke life the pencil from the paper before starting the next stroke. You will find the smaller the gap between each line the darker the overall effect will be.



This is the exact same principle and technique as ‘hatching’ outlined above, the only addition to this is you also need to duplicate the hatching effect to the opposite angle. So your first set of hatching will be left to right at 45 degrees creating a left upward slope, the second set of hatching will be the same but a right upward slope. Again keep the distance between each white line the same for both sets of hatching. Maybe practice a few times on scrap paper to get the desired tone using different gap sizes between the hatching lines.



This effect involves placing lots of pencil dots onto the paper, varying the distance apart and pressure of each dot. This will allow the white of the paper to show through but give a vivid tone effect. Again practice this before starting on your drawing to find the desired tone and finish. Another variation to this effect can be achieved using a very sharp pencil and a stubby rounded tipped pencil, mixing these together can also create some great textures and finishes.





This is the most basic of all strokes, the stroke you used to use at school as a kid. It’s basically the easiest way to fill a solid area with tone, one continual stroke left to right without lifting the pencil off the paper. This can also be used in smaller areas to create graduated tones by simply varying the pressure you put onto the pencil. This type of effect is best achieved if you pencil is relatively sharp, it will give a far more vivid finish as opposed to a blunter pencil that will give more of a smudge effect. One key to this effect is to make your strokes as long as possible so as not to get graduated steps within the one tone area, it can give a pieced together effect if you use to small a stroke length.




This is a far less controlled technique, it mainly involves creating lots of random squiggly marks to build up areas of tone. It can be perfect to fill in areas of a drawing, where you reference has very little definition, but will still give a vibrant finish to the area of the drawing. Varying the pressure and randomness can create some superb textures, but the key is to stay loose with your strokes and randome with your circular squiggles.