July 19, 2021

Trying some papers with coloured pencils

Hello! One of my creative interests is to draw with coloured pencils. Here is an example of my most recent drawing, which I did according to a Virtual Instructor tutorial here, using Derwent Lightfast pencils, on an A Graphic-Alexander Hendry Watercolor Book paper.

Because the above picture was done on a hot press watercolour paper, which is no longer available to me, I decided to search for a paper that is currently available and of archival quality, if possible. I wanted a paper that will allow me the ease of pigment application and blending, that will showcase the colours nicely, one that will withstand application of multiple layers of pigment, and an overall smooth look, rather than a grainy one. Nothing wrong with grainy, of course, it's just that at this point in time, I'm interested in attaining a smoother look. Obviously, everyone will have different preferences and needs, so what I like, you might not and vice versa. However, I like to check out other people's reviews and read about their experiences with different art supplies, so that I can make an informed decision that suits my needs at the time. Here, I am sharing my personal observations, arrived at in a rather limited type of exercise.

      I decided to use two different brands of pencils on eight different papers, by drawing a simple sphere of approx. 2  1/4" in diameter, using mostly four colours. (Note: this specific exercise in blending and layering by drawing a sphere comes from an online course at Kirsty Partridge Coloured Pencil Academy.  I decided to apply it for this comparison, because it is a relatively fast and simple exercise).

The Pencils:

I decided to use two different types of pencils. One, Faber Castell Polychromos, an oil based pencil type. The other, Caran d'Ache Luminance,  a more waxy type, which is thicker in laydown than Polychromos. On each photo showing two spheres, the one on the left was drawn with Polychromos and the one on the right was drawn with Luminance. All spheres were drawn using similar amount of layers and same layering technique. For blending, I used Prismacolor colorless blender and burnishing.  After I took the photos of all samples, I applied two different types of solvents just to see how they  perform. I used Webber Turpenoid Natural and Gamsol. All samples tolerated solvent well, except for one.

The Papers:

I decided to try eight different papers, from Bristol to hot pressed watercolour. They were:

1. Strathmore Bristol Vellum, 300 series
2. Strathmore Bristol Smooth, 300 series
3. Strathmore Bristol Vellum, 500 series
4. Legion Stonehenge, White, 250 gsm
5. Legion Stonehenge Aqua, Hot Press
6. Fluid 100 watercolour paper, Hot Press
7. Arches watercolour paper, Hot Press
8. Bockingford, White, watercolour paper, Hot Press

Results and Findings


1. Strathmore Bristol Vellum - 300 series

This is a good, basic paper. Pencils blended and layered nicely. Laydown can be somewhat uneven. Colour saturation good. Not too crazy about the grainy texture (I just prefer smoother papers), but it can be easily evened out with solvent and more layers.Overall, I like this one, but I wish it was made of cotton fibers. Its 500 series counterpart is 100% cotton, but I prefer the texture of this one.

2. Strathmore Bristol Smooth - 300 series

Because I was looking for less tooth than in the vellum version, I thought I'd try this one out. Although one can definitely draw on this and produce some nice results, it was a bit of an uphill battle for me. It was just too smooth for the type of pencils I used. The Polychromos saturated very quickly and wouldn't layer easily beyond approximately 7 layers. The colours came out a bit pale, and the pencils just felt like they were skating on the paper from the start. It was also more difficult to get an even laydown. Because Luminance pencils are waxier and stickier than Polychromos, they adhered and layered a bit better. Interestingly, the Polychromos pigment easily rubbed off with finger, while Luminance did too, but not as much.


3. Strathmore Bristol Vellum - 500 series, 100% cotton

An archival quality, cotton counterpart to its 300 series cousin. However, what a difference between the two! This one has a much more pronounced tooth (it is a bit reminiscent of some cold press watercolour papers), resulting in a very grainy appearance, which in turn required more layering and use of solvents. At first, it was easy to achieve an even laydown, but when it came to Luminance, on the subsequent layers, the pigment began to noticeably stick to itself, making it more difficult to blend evenly and resulted in a very saturated and waxy looking colour. Because the tooth is so pronounced, I used up a big chunk of my pencils rather quickly.

Close up of the Luminance sphere on Strathmore Bristol Vellum-500:


4. Legion Stonehenge, White, 250 gsm, 100% cotton

This one feels slightly more rough than Strathmore Bristol Vellum-300, but gave me somewhat less grainy results. It was rather easy to achieve a uniform laydown. No problems with layering or blending. I noticed that the colours of both types of pencils (especially Luminance) came out relatively more saturated. I like that it's 100% cotton, but wish it was just a bit heavier. (Please excuse the wonky spheres, I was tired when I drew them).


5. Legion Stonehenge Aqua, Hot Press, 100% cotton

This one has a similar feel to Stonehenge White, 250 gsm paper. I mainly worked on the rougher side of the paper. The colours came out less saturated than on its non-watercolour counterpart, but still rich enough. It was quite easy to achieve an even, smooth pigment laydown, no issues with layering or blending at all. Any graininess was easily evened out with solvent. I tried the smoother side, too, with just a tiny sample and, as expected, the colours were a bit less intense.

6. Fluid 100, Hot Press, 100% cotton

This one also has a smoother and rougher side to it. Overall, it felt too smooth for the Polychromos. The pencil skated on the paper too much and subsequent layers had a tendency to lift off some of the existing pigment, which resulted in a rather uneven laydown and pale colours. Using solvent helped a bit, but not enough for my needs. When it came to waxier, stickier Luminance, the performance was ok.


7. Arches Watercolour, Hot Press, 100% cotton

I heard of this one being used for coloured pencil drawing, so I decided to give it a try, too. I did a small sample on the rougher side and did not particularly like it, so I drew my spheres on the smoother side. It has a very similar feel in tooth to Strathmore Bristol Vellum - 500, but the laydown is less grainy than Strathmore. 

I noticed that in some hot pressed cotton watercolour papers, there are every so often tiny bumps in the texture, which tend to "catch" the pigment of the pencils, resulting in clearly visible darker dots upon laying the first two layers. These were more pronounced with the Arches HP paper, especially when using waxier Luminance. This, however, can be "hidden" by laying more pigment and using a solvent.
Below, you can see a close up of the first layer of Luminance on Arches HP paper. The darker green dots is where I felt the bumps during drawing.

And speaking of solvent... This is the only paper that gave me some challenges in that department. Granted, it was designed for watercolours not solvents😀. As soon, as I applied the solvent, it quickly got absorbed by the paper and did not get a chance to dissolve the pigment well. It also left a visible, darker stain, which did not disappear after drying. I had to apply more solvent in order to soften the pigment, but then the stain got more pronounced, too.


8. Bockingford Hot Press, White


For me, this one just wasn't a very good choice for these coloured pencils. When it came to Polychromos, it was just too smooth. The pencils skated on top and consequently, it was a bit difficult to achieve a smooth, even laydown. Also, the color payoff wasn't great, as the paper didn't lend itself to multiple pigment layers.  The solvent didn't help much in smoothing out the pencil strokes.

While with Polychromos, the result was pale and very desaturated, the opposite happened with Luminance. On the first layer, achieving a smooth and even laydown was easy, but on second and each subsequent layer after that, the pigment was sticking to itself, forming something akin to clumps, giving an impression of even more pronounced pencil strokes. The colour suddenly became very intense and saturated. I also used up my pencil very fast on this paper. When I used the solvent on this, the pigment got lifted off very easily, leaving even more mottled appearance. Photo below is before applying solvent:

Below, you can see all of the samples together next to one another. This way it is easier to compare them and see how each paper affects the pencils and their saturation differently. Each sphere was drawn more or less in the same manner, using more or less the same amount of layers (unless the paper wouldn't allow it). The numbers on the papers below correspond to the order I have written about each one.

Like I mentioned before, everyone will like and be looking for something different. You may get totally different results based on which type of pencils and papers you use. Most of the papers I tried were generally good and offered a reasonable, solid performance. I really enjoyed the true and tried Strathmore Bristol Vellum -300 and both Legion Stonehenge papers. I hope this will be of use to some of you in making your own paper/pencil choices.

August 1, 2015

Goscinna Projektantka Sierpnia w Namaste / August Guest Designer at Namaste

Witam wszystkich bardzo serdecznie!

Od razu wyjawie, ze spotkal mnie spory zaszczyt, oraz wielka przyjemnosc i frajda - otoz zostalam zaproszona jako Goscinna Projektantka Namaste! Jest to dla mnie przemile i wzruszajace wyroznienie, tym bardziej, ze od dluzszego czasu podziwiam talent i prace projektantek zespolu Namaste , a sam sklep jest jednym z moich ulubionych, szczegolnie ze wzgledu na asortyment ekologicznych  papierow. I wlasnie z takich papierow, a dokladniej mowiac - z czerpanych, przygotowalam dla Namaste i dla Waszych oczu troszke peonii drzewiastych (fotki ponizej).
     Oczywiscie, technicznie mowiac kwiaty mozna robic z roznych papierow (tak, jak w moim poscie tutaj, gdzie uzylam grubszego papieru do rysowania).  Jednakze, moim zdaniem papier czerpany nadaje sie do tego typu projektow idealnie. Robione z niego kwiaty pieknie zachowuja plastycznosc i delikatnosc platkow, podczas gdy z grubszego papieru n.p. wizytowkowego lub akwarelowego, platki te czesto wych
odza dosyc sztywne. Poniewaz papier czerpany jest stosunkowo mocny i wytrzymaly, kwiaty z niego wykonane na ogol dosyc dobrze znosza podroz n.p. w kopercie lub malym pudeleczku. Te, ktore robilam w przeszlosci z cienszego papieru, niestety byly podatne na pogniecenia. I choc papier czerpany nie jest specyficznie przeznaczony do akwareli, z wielka przyjemnoscia stwierdzilam, ze bardzo fajnie i latwo farbuje sie go kredkami wodnymi - nie bylabym soba, gdybym nie probowala czegos kolorowac. :-) W przypadku peonii uzylam kredek Derwent Inktense, a kolory wyszly ladnie nasycone. Dzieki temu, ze kwiaty te sklada sie platek po platku (uzylam wykrojnika Spellbinders Shapeabilities Die D-Lites Peony), moglam pozwolic sobie na dokladniejsza kontrole w kolorowaniu peonii (farbowalam kazdy platek indywidualnie), jak i w ich ksztalcie i ulozeniu platkow. Do ksztaltowania uzylam dlutka kulkowego. Na koniec, gdzieniegdzie dodalam kilka kropel sztucznej rosy (Ranger Glossy Accents). Jesli chodzi o liscie, to uzylam papieru zielonego i tez go troszke podmalowalam dla urozmaicenia odcieni i charakteru. I to wlasciwie tyle jesli chodzi o strone techniczna. Robienie kwiatow sprawia mi wielka frajde i gdybym mogla, to robilabym je non-stop, tyle, ze groziloby to niektorym osobom totalnym zasypaniem papierowymi kwiatami (bardzo lubie robic dla innych, bo to takie dzielenie sie z innymi swoja radoscia).

     Wszystkich bardzo serdecznie pozdrawiam i pieknie dziekuje za to, ze tu zawitaliscie. Zycze milego, spokojnego i szczesliwego dnia.

Hello, everyone!

Today I am excited to tell you, that I have the honour, pleasure and fun of being the August Guest Designer at Namaste. I am touched, because I have been admiring the talent and projects of Design Team Members from Namaste for some time now, and the store is one of my favourites, especially because they carry wonderful hand made, ecological papers. Consequently, I decided to make several peonies using such paper for Namaste and for your viewing pleasure (see photos below).
     The reason I chose this specific paper, is that I find it to be ideal for these types of projects. Of course, one can make flowers from any paper, however the ones made from this one retain the plasticity of the petals much better, while ones made from heavier papers (e.g. watercolour, 60-100lb bristol type) tend to be too stiff. Because hand made paper is relatively strong, flowers made from it tend to survive travel in an envelope or a small box better than, let's say, thinner types of paper (like the ones I showed in the last post here). Even though this specific hand made paper was not designed for watercolours, I found that when I used Derwent's Inktense pencils on it (I wouldn't be myself if I didn't try to colour something :-)  ), it took colour easily and beautifully, resulting in nicely saturated hues.  Constructing the peonies petal by petal (I used
Spellbinders Shapeabilities Die D-Lites Peony), allowed me to colour each component individually, and thus achieve more control when it comes to colours, shades and shaping. To shape components, I used a ball burnishing tool. In the end, I put a few drops of fake dew (Ranger Glossy Accents) on some petals, just to add a finishing touch. When it comes to leaves, I used green paper and just touched them up with some colour to add visual variety and interest. And that's about it when it comes to technical aspects. I find making flowers extremely absorbing and fun. If I could, I would make them all the time, except that it would mean some people would be in 'danger' of being deluged with them (I love making things for other people - to me, it's like sharing my joy, love and passion with others).

     On that note, I joyously wish you a wonderful and peaceful day and thank you so much for visiting today. Take care.

July 29, 2015

My cards and introduction/Moje kartki i przedstawienie.

Wszystkich pieknie i serdecznie witam na moim nowym blogu (tytul po polsku znaczy 'Malgorzata wsrod kolorow'). Niektorzy z Was byc moze znaja mnie juz z mojego pierwszego bloga "Eagle Feathers", w ktorym pokazuje swoje robotki na drutach, szydelku, hafty, oraz inne projekty dziewiarsko-szwalnicze. Poniewaz od dziecka zajmuje sie nie tylko powyzszymi dziedzinami, lecz takze rysowaniem, malowaniem, projektowaniem i ogolnie zajeciami kreatywnymi, postanowilam otworzyc strone, na ktorej bede zamieszczala wpisy dotyczace moich poczynan wlasnie w tych dziedzinach. Z biegiem czasu i podlug mozliwosci, kiedy juz bede pokazywala projekty bardziej na biezaco, zaczne zamieszczac wiecej informacji odn. wykonania  tychze projektow, n.p. nazwy uzytych wykrojnikow, kredek, farb, oraz  uzytych technik. Ze wzgledu na to, ze mieszkam w Kanadzie, moje wpisy czesto (lecz nie zawsze) beda w dwoch jezykach - polskim i angielskim.
Dzis, na sam poczatek, pokaze Wam troche kartek okolicznosciowych, ktore zrobilam w niedalekiej przeszlosci. Kartkami zajmuje sie od niedawna i uwazam ich wyrob za bardzo pasjonujace zajecie, a szczegolnie robienie kwiatow z papieru, ktore maja ozdabiac kartki. Oczywiscie, nie wszystkie kartki maja na sobie kwiaty, i nie wszystkie zostaly zrobione w 100% recznie, bowiem projektuje tez kartki na komputerze. A wiec przejdzmy do zdjec. 

A warmest welcome to everyone. Some of you may possibly know me from my other blog, Eagle Feathers, where I show my knitting, crocheting, embroidery and sewing projects. Besides these creative pastimes, I was always very interested in drawing, painting, designing and all types of creative projects, and that is what I want to share with you in this blog.  With time, as I get a little bit more up-to date with my posts, I will include more information about specific projects, i.e. which dies, papers, colorants and techniques I used. Because I live in Canada, but was born in Poland, my posts will usually (but not always) be written in two languages - English and Polish.
Today,  I will show you some greeting cards, which I made in the not-so-distant past. I have been making cards only for several months, but I find it very absorbing and fun, especially when I'm making paper flowers to decorate the cards. Of course, not all of my cards have flowers on them, and not all of them are 100% hand-made, since I also design cards on a computer. So, without further delay, lets look at some pictures.

Wszystkie kwiaty i liscie zostaly pofarbowane i zrobione przeze mnie. Do ich wykonania uzylam roznych wykrojnikow, jak i roznych papierow.

 All of the flowers and leaves were made and coloured by me. I used a variety of dies and papers.

Tu z kolei uzylam zakupionych obrazkow z bydigitalpaper na Etsy, oraz wykrojnikow Spellbinders Nestabilities Elegant Labels 4:

Here, I used images purchased from bydigitalpaper on Etsy, and Spellbinders Nestabilities Elegant Labels 4 dies:

Jak juz wczesniej wspomnialam, projektuje tez kartki na komputerze, uzywajac najczesciej elementow elektronicznych zakupionych w roznych sklepach, a potem albo je drukuje, albo wysylam w formie elektronicznej. Oto niektore z nich:

As I mentioned earlier, I also design cards on a computer, often using images purchased in a variety of e-stores, and then I either print them out, or send them in an electronic form. Here are some of them:

Oczywiscie nigdzie nie zostalo napisane, ze nie mozna mieszac technik, i tak wlasnie zrobilam w ponizszych kartkach - czesc elementow zostala zaprojektowana i zlozona elektronicznie, a czesc wycieta z tekturki, pomalowana i ozdobiona krysztalkami. Tu uzylam tez obrazkow ze starego kalendarzyka.

Of course, no one said that one can't combine techniques, and that is exactly what I've done in the cards below - parts were designed on a computer and parts were cut out, painted and embellished with crystal accents. (Here, I used cottage pictures from an old desk calendar). 

I to by bylo wszystko na dzisiaj. Slicznie dziekuje za odwiedziny. Mam nadzieje, ze zawitacie tu jeszcze nie raz. Wszystkim zycze pieknego dnia, pelnego radosci i szczescia.
And that's about it for today. Thank you so much for visiting. I hope that you will drop by here again. I wish you all a most wonderful day full of joy and good luck.