This is what happens when using watercolor pencils dry – Tested

If you’re an artist, you’re probably always on the lookout for new materials and tools to help you create your work. And if you’re like me, you love trying out new things or trying out old things in a new way. So when my daughter asked what happens when using watercolor pencils dry, I decided to show her and then write about it as chances are, there are many people out there asking the same questions.

In short, yes you can use watercolor pencils dry. They will work the same way as ordinary wax-based colored pencils but are the colors just as vibrant? Can you blend them the same way?

I decided to do a little test to show her. First I took two sheets of paper and colored in the same pattern on both sheets using watercolor pencils (refer image 1).

using watercolor pencils dry 1.1
Image 1

On the left pattern (refer image 1.1) I applied the watercolor pencils dry and in the second pattern (refer image 1.2) I applied some water to a brush and made a color wash. Note that the same pressure was applied to both patterns.

using watercolor pencils dry 1.1 wash
Applying a wash

I then compared the results of image 1.1 and image 1.2. I found that watercolor pencils behaved as normal pencils in regards to coverage and filling the grooves of the paper. Applying water to activate the watercolor pigment did make the color more intense as it filled in the white gaps of the paper.

using watercolor pencils dry 1.1 post wash
Post wash – 1.2 is more intense.

In the second experiment, I colored in the same pattern on new paper using the same brand of watercolor pencils as in image 1 ( refer image 2.1) and also created a pattern using wax-based coloring pencils (refer image 2.2) and compared the results. As per the previous test, the same pressure was applied to both patterns.

using watercolor pencils dry 2.1 2.2
Image 2 (2.1 and 2.2)

I found that the wax-based coloring pencil did in fact have better coverage compared to the watercolor pencil’s coverage. Having applied the exact same pressure when applying the pencil, the wax-based color seems to be darker even though I used the same brand and same color pencil, with the only difference being one pencil is watercolor and the other being wax-based.

The colors of the watercolor pencils in image 2.1 are not as vibrant when used dry compared to the wax-based colored pencils in image 2.2. They are more muted and less intense.

Can you dry blend watercolor pencils?

Yes, you can dry blend watercolor pencils or you can wet blend watercolors using a wet brush but it takes more time to get the desired effect.

If you want to achieve brighter, more vibrant colors, it is better to use a color wash made with watercolor pencils. Otherwise, if you don’t mind waiting a bit longer for the colors to blend, using the watercolor pencils dry will give you satisfactory results.

Why are watercolor pencils less vibrant when dry?

Watercolor pencils are less vibrant when dry because the pigments in the pencils are not as concentrated. When the pencils are used with water, the pigments are diluted and spread out, resulting in less vibrant but softer colors.

Why are watercolor pencils less vibrant than wax-base coloring pencils?

Water-soluble pencils have less concentrated pigments than wax-based coloring pencils. This is because the pigments in watercolor pencils are designed to spread out and blend when used with water.

On the other hand, wax-based coloring pencils have pigments that are designed to stay put and not blend when used with water, they also seem to be harder and are able to press down on the gaps and grooves that exist in most paper, filling them in with pigment. As a result, wax-based coloring pencils tend to be more vibrant than watercolor pencils.

If I press harder will the watercolor pencils be more vibrant?

No, pressing harder will not make the watercolor pencils more vibrant. In fact, it may result in a muddy color. By muddy I mean a dark and dull color.

Can I use watercolor pencils over wax-based pencils?

Yes, you can use watercolor pencils over wax-based pencils. However, keep in mind that the pigments in watercolor pencils are designed to spread out and blend when used with water. As a result, using watercolor pencils over wax-based pencils may cause the colors to appear less vibrant than they would if you used wax-based coloring pencils alone.

Do watercolor pencils work on all types of paper?

No, watercolor pencils will not work on all types of paper. The pigments in watercolor pencils are designed to spread out and blend when used with water. As a result, using watercolor pencils on paper that is not absorbent may cause the colors to run or bleed.

What are some tips for using watercolor pencils?

Here are some tips for using watercolor pencils:

  • Use a light touch when applying color. The pigments in watercolor pencils are designed to spread out and blend when used with water. As a result, using too much pressure when applying color may cause the colors to appear less vibrant than they actually are.
  • Experiment with different types of paper. Watercolor pencils can be used on a variety of papers, including watercolor paper, Bristol board, and even cold press illustration board. each type of paper will produce a different result.
  • Use a light touch when blending colors. When using watercolor pencils, you can use a wet brush to blend colors together. However, using too much pressure or water can cause the colors to run or bleed.
  • Be patient when drying your artwork. Watercolor pencils take longer to dry than other types of pencils, so it is important to be patient and allow your artwork to dry completely before framing or storing it.

Are water-soluble pencils the same as watercolor pencils?

Technically no, water-soluble pencils are not the same as watercolor pencils. Water-soluble pencils are made with a waxy core that dissolves in water, while watercolor pencils have a dry, powdery core that must be mixed with water to produce color.

Are aquarelle pencils the same as watercolor pencils?

Yes, aquarelle pencils are the same as watercolor pencils. Aquarelle is just another word for watercolor.

Using watercolor pencils dry – Wrap up!

So if you’re looking to use watercolor pencils as part of your artwork, make sure to use them with wet paint! Otherwise, you might not get the results that you were hoping for.

When using watercolor pencils dry, the colors will appear more vibrant and intense. The downside is that the colors may be less easy to blend and mix together. If you’re looking for more subtlety and nuance in your work, using wetter techniques may be a better choice. But if you want bolder, brighter colors, using watercolor pencils dry is the way to go. Experiment and see what works best for you!

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