How to Use Colored Pencils for Children: Types, Techniques & Tips

Tips and Tricks for Using Colored Pencils for Kids

Colored pencils are one of the most dynamic and convenient modes of drawing and coloring. With just a handful of stunning colors and a drawing pad in hand, you are all set to create a masterpiece of your own. If you are introducing colored pencils to kids or looking for various helpful hacks on how to use these pencils in the best way possible, this post provides you with a comprehensive guide on the same. Read this blog and teach your kids how to use colored pencils like a pro!

Why Are Colored Pencils So Popular Among Kids?

When it comes to detailing and control over the artwork, using colored pencils helps in providing unparalleled outcomes. This medium offers better expression in comparison to other art mediums as it is a great medium for building up colors, especially watercolor pencils. You can press them harder or lighter on the paper to get versatile effects and colors. Apart from other pluses, the best part about using them is that they are absolutely hassle-free and convenient. You can easily start drawing anywhere and anytime. Another aspect that makes them popular is that it is easier when it comes to blending colors with other mediums such as markers, gel pens, graphite, etc.

What Are the Different Types of Colored Pencils

There are various kinds of colored pencils available that can vary according to the binder used in the pigmented core. The pigment in pencil is held in the binder and determines the softness or hardness of the lead. If you are wondering what the different colored pencil for children are, well, here are some options that you can pick and choose from:

1. Oil-based colored pencils

These types of colored pencils have vegetable-oil-based binders to hold the colored pigment. These pencils may have some amount of wax and have a harder core that prevents breakage. These types of pencils are water-resistant. The oil-based colored pencils are popular because they cause less debris or wax bloom.

2. Wax-based colored pencils

This kind of colored pencils comes with a wax binder to hold the colored pigment in a pencil. These are easier to blend in comparison to oil-based colored pencils. Though these pencils lead to more debris while drawing, however, these lay less color on the paper and thus easier to erase or lift off the color of the paper.

3. Watercolor or water-based colored pencils

This type of pencils comes with a gum-Arabic binder for holding the pigmented color within the core. The gum is activated with water, which helps in blending the pigment with water, just like watercolors.

Which Type of Paper Should Be Used for Drawing With a Colored Pencil?

When it comes to choosing the paper for drawing with colored pencils, there are few things that you should keep in mind. The first aspect that needs consideration is the smoothness of the paper, which means that the paper should not be very smooth and should have some tooth to it. Having some amount of tooth helps the color to grip the surface; however, make sure that the paper isn’t too rough either. Otherwise, it may cause hindrance while making details. You can choose 100 per cent cotton paper as it has a great tooth to it, comes in various colors, and is very affordable too. Other options that you can consider include illustration boards, papers with vellum surfaces, etc.

How to Store Colored Pencils

If you were thinking that storing the colored pencils in their original packing is the best way of storage, well, that may not be the case. This is because putting the pencils back in the packing can not only be highly inconvenient but may also damage the tips of the pencils.

Ideally, you should make a bundle of similar color pencils and use a rubber band to fasten them together. Also, make sure you place them upright in any pencil holder or container that you wish to store them in.

How to Sharpen Colored Pencils

How to Sharpen Colored Pencils

You can choose various options for sharpening the color pencils, which include handheld sharpeners, electric sharpeners, or even cosmetic sharpers. However, make sure that the sharpener that you are using is of high-quality, which means that it should have shaper blades. This is because sharper blades ensure a better sharping experience and cause lesser breakage.

Also, it is important to keep your pencils sharpened for an improved drawing experience. Sharpened tips penetrate more effectively into the tooth of the paper and help implement various blending techniques, which is difficult to achieve with a blunt or dull tip. Also, duller pencil tips will make you put more pressure on the paper, which will result in more debris and excessive color on the paper, which can get difficult to manage too!

Erasing Colored Pencils

Where erasing graphite artwork is fairly easy, erasing colored pencils may be a tad bit tedious. The best erasing techniques in the case of colored pencils include the use of blotting paper or lifting the color off to rectify the mistakes. And for that, you can use either white vinyl erasers or scotch tapes. You can also make use of kneaded erasers to lift off-color. However, they may not lift the color completely but just make it lighter. Also, make sure that use smaller erasers that work well for correcting smaller areas rather than working with bigger erasers that may hamper the entire drawing.  Another point to remember is that it may not be possible to lift off a heavy layer of color from the paper, and thus it is always advisable to start with lighter strokes instead of harder strokes until you have mastered the art of coloring with colored pencils.

Texturing With Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are great for creating textures in your artwork, but that majorly depends on the types of binders that are used for holding the colored pigment. For example, scrapping or scathing techniques, also known as Sgraffito, are used for creating the texture like hair, fur, or foliage, and oil-based pencils work best because they render creamy soft finish. Speckling or dabbling techniques are often used for creating crinkled texture by rolling or neatly sticking the tapes to create the effect. Yet another way of achieving a textured effect is by using the rubbing technique, which is fairly simple and easy. All you need to do is place the paper over the texture and then rub the pencil on the paper to get the effect.

Various textured effects can be achieved by using more such techniques.

Which Type of Colored Pencils Should You Buy for Kids?

Well, we have discussed various types of colored pencils that are available for coloring in the above section. Though you can mix different kinds of colored pencils to create your artwork, however, when it comes to kids, it is important to keep few aspects in mind before buying them. Wax-based colored pencils are a great option for kids, and you can invest in a good quality student-grade-colored pencil, and as your child gets comfortable with the colored pencils, you can introduce other kinds too and also invest in good quality professional-grade supplies.

Colored Pencil Techniques and Tips

Here are tips to keep in mind when mastering colored pencil drawings or artworks:

1. Shading

This technique of side-to-side strokes is useful in producing smoother and more even layers of colors. A darker hue of the same color is great for creating a shaded effect rather than using the black color, and this helps in giving a more realistic look to the artwork instead of making it appear a little off.

2. Hatching

This is an effective technique of drawing evenly spaced lines by leaving white color or the color of the underlying paper visible. This technique is great for adding texture to the artwork.

3. Cross-hatching

This technique is great for building up layers of colors by hatching overlaid. It is important to keep the pencils sharpened to achieve even fine lines for contouring and texturing and creating more realistic artworks.

4. Burnishing

For a shinier and smoother artwork, burnishing is the technique that helps achieve good results. This technique involves using more pressure to fill in the tooth of the paper. Using sharp pencils while practising this technique will help in saturating the paper with color more quickly.

5. Blending

You can use the blending technique with colored pencils to create more depth in your artwork. You can use two or more colored pencils to obtain an evenly blended color. This can be done by applying even and heavy pressure by using pencils with less pigment or lighter shades to pencils.

6. Scumbling

This is an effective technique where irregular deposits using one color over another and the underlying color is visible through the top layer of the color.

7. Sgraffito

When the thick layer of color is scraped or scratched using a sharp object to expose the underlying color, it is called Sgraffito. This technique works well for making finer details in the artwork, such as wisps of hair, dog whiskers, and other such fine details.

These above-mentions tips on how to use colored pencils will help you in achieving better results in your artworks and drawings!


Here are some frequently asked questions on color pencil drawing for beginners:

1. Are colored pencils permanent?

Yes, color pencils are permanent and stable when it comes to creating long-lasting artworks. However, make sure that you create your artwork on acid-free paper and protect it from rapid temperature changes such as extreme humidity and heat.

2. How are watercolor pencils different from other colored pencils?

Though watercolor pencils appear like wax or oil-based colored pencils, however, unlike the other two types of colored pencils, watercolor pencils have water-soluble binders. That is why the artist has to make use of an art brush to blend in the colors, soften the edges or use other techniques with brushes when using these pencils. This is an interesting medium of coloring as the artist can switch from drawing to painting with ease.

3. How to prevent wax bloom on colored pencils

A whitish build-up of wax that usually occurs while using wax-based colored pencils is called wax bloom. It is very normal while making heavy deposits of color in an artwork. You can use a soft tissue or brush to dust off the surface to get rid of the wax bloom. Alternatively, spraying a few layers of workable fixatives will prevent it from reoccurring.

Colored pencils are one of the best and safest art materials for children. However, make sure that you check the label for any toxic chemicals that are unsafe for children. Also, educate your child not to put pencils in the mouth or nose and other such basic safety tips.

Also Read:

Creative Activities for Children
Tips to Hold a Pencil Correctly for Kids
Teach Your Children to Color Within the Lines                         

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