How to Use Water Soluble Colored Pencils

Written by laura myers
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How to Use Water Soluble Colored Pencils
Water soluble colour pencils are a versatile art medium (colour pencils image by Wojciech Gajda from

Water soluble colour pencils, also known as watercolour pencils, are a versatile art medium. They are comparable to colour pencils in that they are easy for an artist to control. This ease of control is what makes them a good choice for children's art projects, as well. Water soluble colour pencils are also inexpensive and portable. You can create sophisticated watercolour paintings, mixed media work and a variety of other art projects using this flexible medium.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Water soluble colour pencils
  • Small watercolour paintbrush
  • Medium watercolour paintbrush
  • Large watercolour paintbrush
  • Watercolour paper
  • Drawing paper
  • Drawing pencils
  • Fine line permanent marker in a dark colour of your choice
  • Sponge
  • Old toothbrush
  • Make-up pads
  • Q-tips
  • Wax crayons

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  1. 1

    Use the watercolour colour pencils on regular drawing paper in the same way that you would use ordinary colour pencils or drawing pencils. You can draw, layer colours, hatch and cross-hatch, or apply any other drawing technique that you would normally use. Dry colours can be layered and blended, shading can be used, or the colours can be applied flat. Water need not be applied.

  2. 2

    Wet a sheet of watercolour paper with a water-filled sponge. While the paper is still wet, apply the water soluble pencils to it to create a bleeding effect. Using this method, you can also produce soft lines.

  3. 3

    Create varied effects on the watercolour paper by using different tools such as a make-up remover pad, Q-tip or an old toothbrush. Wet the end of a water soluble colour pencil in water, and then apply a dab of the dissolved colour to the tool. You then shake the coloured water over the paper or apply it directly to the paper. This technique produces an unlimited number of effects. Your work can be used as the background for another painting or collage it can be a painting on its own, or you can draw over it with regular coloured pencils or drawing pencils.

  4. 4

    Cover a sheet of watercolour paper with a light wash by lightly colouring the page with dry watercolour pencil and then going over it softly, from one side of the page to the other, with a medium or large paintbrush filled with water. After this has dried, apply layers of colour to add depth. Keep layering until you are satisfied with the results. While the paint is still wet, scatter some coarse salt over parts of it to make an interesting effect. Let it dry, then use a fine line permanent marker in a dark colour or black to draw a doodle-type pattern all over the painting. The result will be a creative work that you may be pleased with.

  5. 5

    Achieve a thick, opaque effect by dipping the pencil in water and drawing directly on the paper. The result of this method is a picture that looks as though it is painted with thick paint. The problem, however, is that if you do this a lot you will use your pencils up very quickly.

  6. 6

    Draw on a piece of watercolour paper with wax crayons. The drawing can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Once you have finished, colour the entire page, including over the wax crayon, with dry water soluble colour pencils. Fill a medium or large paintbrush with water and wash it over all parts of the page. The water soluble colour will not adhere to the wax, creating an interesting wax-resist effect.

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