How To Use Oil-based Colored Pencils

Oil-based color pencils use oil as their binder and are mostly used by professional artists because of their durability, and ability to produce clean artworks.

It requires skill, patience, and effort to produce the best results when using oil-based color pencils.

If you’re interested in some tips and techniques on how to use oil-based color pencils, I have listed them down below. I have also provided a discussion about oil-based color pencils and why a lot of professional artists love them.

How Do You Use Oil-based Color Pencils?

There are a number of techniques for oil-based color pencils, some are similar to general techniques used for wax-based color pencils, and some are entirely different.

Here are some techniques and tips to follow when using oil-based color pencils.

Have Patience When Layering Colors

Compared to wax-based color pencils, oil-based color pencils require a longer time and greater effort to build up to create a solid color.

Since oil-based color pencils have a harder lead, it also comes out rough on paper.

The nature of oil-based color pencils is that it does not cover the paper entirely during the first few layers. Instead, it allows you to build up more layers for blending colors without the wax bloom and pencil residue.

A lot more layers are required to ensure that the whites on the paper are entirely covered.

Use A Light Hand

Using these colored pencils with a light hand is the best way to use them while maintaining the quality of your paper – even after being run through multiple times.

Oil-based color pencils have a hard lead, but the color transfers to the paper easily even while using light pressure.

If you press down your oil-based color pencil too hard on the paper, you risk creating damage such as rips, holes, or dents in the paper.

Don’t worry about your first layer not being too vibrant, because that’s just how oil-based color pencils are supposed to work.

It gives you the ability to layer colors multiple times without the wax bloom and pencil residue. As more layers are added, it will also appear more vibrant.

You Can Use Solvents For Blending

You can use solvents to blend together with your oil-based color pencils on paper.

Just make sure to use a paper that’s at least 300 GSM so that it doesn’t buckle. Unlike wax-based color pencils, solvents are able to melt the oil-based medium and blend it around the paper.

A colorless blender is best suited for wax-based color pencils and is not recommended for oil-based color pencils.

Use The Proper Kind Of Paper

Just like any other medium, you can only produce the best results by using the proper kind of paper.

For oil-based color pencils or even other wax-based color pencils, it is best to use heavyweight paper of at least 250 GSM. This paper can hold a lot of pigment, which is especially important if you are planning on using solvents to blend your colors together.

The paper should also be acid-free to ensure that your artworks maintain their hue and vibrance through time.

If you’re wondering whether it’s best to use rough or smooth textured paper, it actually depends on your preference as an artist.

Pro Tip: rough-textured paper is best for artists who layer many colors, while a paper with smooth textured is best for artists who don’t layer too much.

Rough-textured paper allows for multiple layers since it has a lot of tooth that the pigment can grip on. However, the downside is that it may chew your colored pencils vigorously.

On the other hand, smooth-textured paper has a smooth surface wherein the whites of the paper are more easily covered.

Many artists may prefer using smooth paper since it is easier to create realistic drawings on it and also allows for seamless blending.

What Kind Of Paper Do You Use For Colored Pencils? (both oil and wax-based)

Here are a few recommendations on paper:

  1. Strathmore 300 Series Bristol – this is a popular choice among many colored pencil artists because it is high quality, and priced reasonably for its value. Plus, you can choose from either smooth or vellum (medium) texture. This is the best choice for beginners who are still exploring and practicing.
  2. Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Board– this is an elevated choice that I recommend for professionals. You can still choose from either plate (smooth) or vellum (medium). Unlike the Strathmore 300, this paper can tolerate and hold solvents better without buckling immediately.
  3. 400 Series Toned Mixed Media – this paper comes in a warm tan, cool gray, and steel blue color. This is another popular choice for colored pencil artists that prefer drawing on mid-tone background paper. It allows you to use a wider range of values and it is easier to see where shadows and highlights would be placed. One thing to remember about this paper is that it’s for dry media only, so you cannot use solvents to blend your colors together.

Why Use Oil-based Color Pencils?

  1. Durable core – Oil-based color pencils tend to have a harder lead or core which makes them more durable and less prone to breaking during usage.
    Wax-based color pencils tend to have a softer lead which makes them more prone to breaking in situations such as dropping them from a table, or if you’re pressing them down too hard when coloring.
  2. Holds or maintains a sharp tip for a longer time – Since oil-based color pencils have harder lead, it doesn’t wear down easily even when you’ve been using them for an extensive amount of time.
    This is beneficial for professional artists since it requires less sharpening. It is also easier to sharpen since it has less risk of crumbling apart during the sharpening process.
  3. No wax bloom – Wax bloom is when the wax binder residue is slowly drawn onto the surface over time. It shows as a cloudy, white film on top of your color that might make your artwork look cheap and less professional-looking. Though this can be wiped away with tissue or cloth, the great thing about oil-based color pencils is that there’s no wax bloom at all even after multiple layers.
  4. Less pencil residue, cleaner outcome – Since oil-based color pencils have harder lead, it is less prone to crumbling. This means that there is less pencil residue on your paper, even when you are using it vigorously.
    You will notice that when using wax-based color pencils, especially the cheaper ones, there are small crumbs of the lead that land on your paper. This ofter leads to stains to your drawings. This is something that professional artists will avoid at all costs to make sure that they produce flawless artwork.

Below is a recap of what oil-based color pencils are and a few recommendations of some of the best oil-based color pencils.

What Are Oil-based Color Pencils?

An oil-based color pencil is a variant of the conventional color pencil that a lot of students and artists use.

An oil-based color pencil uses vegetable oil as its binder instead of the more common color pencils that use wax as a binder. The binder is what holds the pigment together and allows it to spread over the surface of the paper.

Oil-based color pencils are less common compared to wax-based color pencils which are common, affordable, and easier to use.

Most color pencils you have used as a student are likely wax-based. Oil-based color pencils may be on the pricier side, they are also less common and require more skill and effort to handle properly. They are usually preferred by artists who produce professional-level artworks.

What are the Best Oil-Based Colored Pencils?

Here are a few recommendations if you’re still planning on getting one.

  1. Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencil Set – this is one of the most popular choices for oil-based color pencils. A lot of artists, both beginners, and professionals, use this set which offers a great range of colors. They also produce vibrant colors and promise all the defining characteristics of oil-based color pencils.
    Aside from the set, these color pencils are “open stock”, which means they can be bought individually as well.
  2. Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Colored Pencils – this is another choice to consider because just like the Faber-Castell Polychromos, they are also sold individually. You can choose your own colors and you don’t necessarily have to buy the entire 72 set to try them out. They have a medium to soft firmness of its core which makes it best for blending and layering.

About the author: My name is Marcus, I am a lawyer (LL.M.) and the founder of this website. Besides sometimes doing lawyer stuff, I like to draw and improve my skills as a “digital artist”, and I write about what I learn on this website. If you want to know more about me or reach out, then you can click here.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge