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Oil Based or Waxed Based Pencil's?


Oil based or waxed based pencils, which one should i use? Hopefully this will help out and get you on the right path. 

Back to Basics

Coloured pencils are pigment held together by a binder and encased in  wood. The quality depends on the ratio between pigment and binder and  the quality of the wood. The artist quality pencils will create more vibrant colours and the most popular wood for pencils is cedar. Most colour pencils will use a wax binder such as Prisma Colour, Caran D'Ache Luminance Colour, and with these pencils you can add layers and layers of colour to get a depth of colour.

However, the drawback of wax pencils is the potential for WAX BLOOM and build-up. This occurs when the binder starts to evaporate and move to the surface creating a white residue, in most cases this can be wiped away. However, Polychromos pencils differ with their oil binder which holds and spreads the pigment. It also reduces the risk of  any bloom over time and you’ll notice a difference with these leads.


There are few different techniques you can use to raise your sketching game and get that professional finish.

The first way is you can use solvents with Polychromos with the aid of paper stumps. You can dip the stump straight into a solvent and apply  it to the paper to help blend the marks easily. However, these will be  subject to wear and tear. You can also use cotton buds for large areas  but stumps are recommended for getting those detailed shading marks. As  well as stumps you can also use brushes to get a different paint like  effect- perfect while sketching.

The solvent technique is also great when you have a large background  to cover! This technique can be used to add intense block of colour,  subtle shading or blending two colours after putting down a cross  hatching layer.

 You can also achieve the same effects with waxed based pencils but by using OMS (odourless mineral spirits)

You may want to use thicker paper when trying these techniques as the  solvents can eat through traditional card, I recommend a thicker paper or boards for a long-lasting finished piece. 

These techniques are  also a great way to recycle broken points. You can rub them on a bit of  sandpaper and powder them, then put some thinner in with them to  dissolve and stir till you have a wash.

One thing to note is you should put your pencil lines down first and  then follow with the solvent. If the solvent comes into direct contact  with your pencil it will cause them to erode very quickly.

Another advantage to oil based pencils is they stick to to many  different surfaces paper, parchment, wood, stone, leather and metal.  These pencils don’t require fixing – the adhere to the surface  permanently.

All the brand pencils I have mentioned in this blog I use at different times in my drawings, just try to experiment to see what works best for you and your style of drawing.

Any questions please ask?

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