Tuesday, June 30, 2020

White Party, Part 2: Water-Soluble Colored Pencils

White water-soluble colored pencils

A while back when I was asked my opinion on the most opaque white colored pencil, I compared the best examples from among my traditional (wax- or oil-based) colored pencils. I’ve lately been fascinated with using white pencil on black paper for my daily hand drawings, so I started pulling out every white pencil in my stash, including watercolor pencils, just to give them a try. It seemed worthwhile to compare some of the artist-quality white pencils from among my water-soluble collection.

To no surprise, my two favorite Caran d’Ache watercolor pencils – Museum Aquarelle and Supracolor – came out on top for opacity. Next would be vintage Sanford Prismacolor watercolor pencil and Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer. Staedtler Karat Aquarell, the hardest artist-quality water-soluble colored pencil I’ve used, is the least opaque. (All swatches were made with three layers of pigment.) In fact, in the hand sketch I made with it, I had to use a Supracolor to bring out the brightest highlights (below).
Water-activated swatches (Typo alert: The third sample should be labeled Albrecht Durer)
6/11/20 Karat Aquarell wasn't opaque enough
so I used Supracolor for the highlights. 
When activated with water, white water-soluble pencils don’t get me overly excited. Instead of intensifying the pigment as it does with most watercolor pencils, water applied to white dilutes the pigment (see samples above). In the hand sketch at the bottom of the page, I used a white Supracolor and applied water sparingly to fade the highlights into the shadows. The whole drawing looked a bit too gray, so I had to go back in with the dry pencil to reinforce highlights and also add more light where the water had faded the pigment too much. Since it was my first time using water-soluble white, I’m not sure I took best advantage of this quality, but it’s worth exploring further.

6/24/20 Supracolor pencil used dry and wet in Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing the variations of white you get from each of the different pencils. It is eye opening.


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