Color the Emotion

Pick a few colors and create without stiffness.

How to Combine Watercolors and Colored Pencils

In my new online course Freely Grown, we will use watercolors and colored pencils for a flower painting. Here are the basics for using both in the same piece.

Abstract floral watercolor painting that has been finished with colored pencils. By the Finnish artist Paivi Eerola.

Watercolors and colored pencils have quite a lot in common, even though one is used for painting and the other for drawing.

Choosing the Paper

Both like thick and smooth watercolor paper. Of course, watercolors like textured paper too, but colored pencils are a bit more selective. I find it most enjoyable to color on Hot Press quality paper that has very little surface texture. But if you only have textured Cold Press paper in your stock, just start experimenting right away and buy smoother paper later!

All Brands Work Together

In both watercolors and colored pencils, you can combine different brands.

Well-used watercolor set.

I also have many different brands in my watercolor set and even though I work with pans, some of the pans are pressed from tube colors. And I love to try different brands of colored pencils and organize them by color family.

Proceed Layer by Layer

When creating, it is good to start carefully with both watercolors and colored pencils. Introduce a new color little by little and change it layer by layer. Always dry the lower layer of watercolor first before adding another layer on top.

Different kinds of watercolor brushes
I like to use at least three brushes for watercolors: one flat, one round, and one narrow.

Translucent layers produce new color mixes. By saving the effect of white paper, you will have a more effortless look than if you color white later.

Watercolors First, Colored Pencils Second

You can color over a dry watercolor painting with colored pencils, but not vice versa. Sure, there are watercolor pencils that dissolve in water, but I usually use all of them dry. So I do a watercolor painting first, and then finish it with colored pencils.

Choosing colored pencils for a watercolor painting.

Painting with watercolors is fast, but drying between layers takes time. Colored pencils are slow, but the mark is detailed and you can immediately add a new layer.

Finishing a watercolor painting with colored pencils.

The quickest solution is to paint most of the work with watercolors and only emphasize the highlights and add details with colored pencils.

A detail of a watercolor painting that has been finished with colored pencils. By Päivi Eerola of Peony and Parakeet.

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4 thoughts on “How to Combine Watercolors and Colored Pencils

  1. I love workingvwith coloured pencil but watercolours still frighten me a little. Its time i overcame that fear. And you are the person to help me do it. Love your courses and im genuinely excited to get going! Thank you so much

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