How to Create a Coloured Pencil Background on Pastelmat | Top Tips

Jul 21, 2023
How to Create a Coloured Pencil Background on Pastelmat | Top Tips
Drawing backgrounds with coloured pencils is always thought of as being a bit tricky and taking a long time. Many artists combine pastels to help them speed it up a little bit and make it easier. But what do you do if you don't like pastels or are allergic to the dust? Well, here's another relatively simple way of creating a background using your coloured pencils.

I want to use just Polychromos and Pablos to begin with purely because they're harder, they're drier, and they're going to blend better on the pastelmat for a background. We can then start to bring in other colours and brands of pencil over the top of those initial layers.

So when it comes to backgrounds with coloured pencils, it does take quite a long time and there's no getting away from that. I like to use the hard, dry pencils in those initial layers because they blend together beautifully on the pastelmat and that's the combination that I find works incredibly well with coloured pencils and for creating backgrounds. Obviously, you can use your coloured pencils on different surfaces as well, but my preference is pastelmat because it's so easy.

As I'm going through, everything becomes a little bit more vibrant. That's down to me slightly increasing my pressure and also, as you layer the pencils up, the vibrancy becomes automatically stronger anyway but, with this, it's more about the pressure. I start by layering the lighter and brighter colours in first and then I bring the darker colours in over the top. I find this means that I get much more vibrancy in my greens and I also find it a lot easier if I've got sort of a base and then bring the darker colours in over the top.

I use a combination of pencils and then I start to bring in a little paper stump. You can get all sorts of different paper stumps. The one I use is probably from Amazon. I like the softer ones, rather than the hard ones, and I'll also use cotton buds. You can then blend all of the layers together, being careful not to use too hard pressure. If you use too hard pressure on pastelmat, when you're using a paper stump, the grain is going to start coming back through again. You don't want that, you just want to be moving the pigment on the surface of the pastelmat.

This, I think, took probably about two and a half hours to do so, it does take quite a long time. Coloured pencils are just slow, they are a meditative medium and that's why I love them so much.

So that's how you would create a background with coloured pencils on pastelmat. Go nice and gently, ramp it up a little bit as you go through the layers, and don't forget to put some lovely colours in there and enjoy yourself!
I also have a blog about creating backgrounds on drafting film which you can read here.

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