Using Black Coloured Pencils | Tips For Artists

May 10, 2024
Using Black Coloured Pencils | Tips For Artists

A lot of coloured pencil artists say not to use black pencils, but I use them in a lot of my drawings and actually think they’re really important and key for drawing realistic black animals. So, let me briefly explain a couple of different black pencils I use regularly.


Not all black pencils are the same as different brands will have different qualities meaning they all have different uses. Two blacks I use often are the Faber Castell Polychromos Black and the Derwent Drawing Ivory Black.

The Polychromos Black is a hard oil-based pencil that is fantastic for creating sharp lines and laying down your initial light layers. 

The Derwent Drawing Ivory Black is very very soft and it’s very waxy, so you don’t need a huge amount of pressure to get a really lovely dark black, which will help add depth to your drawings. I like to do everything with light pressure and using a pencil that enables me to use really lovely light pressure and still get a nice dark black, for me, that's everything because then I don't have to be thinking “Oh gosh, I've got to go harder”. Needing to apply a lot of pressure isn't always fun and, as I get older, my poor joints can't take it anymore! In fact, it's very difficult not to get a dark black with the Derwent Drawing.

I tend to swap between the different brands of pencils in my drawings, if I need a really good sharp line I'll use my Polychromos and if I need a little bit more depth I will use my Derwent Drawing Ivory Black. 

A lot of people say not to use black as it can make your drawings appear flat, but that isn’t the case because when you use black layered with other colours it can give a really beautiful and realistic result. Glazing a colour over the black is a lovely technique that allows you to bring a bit of vibrancy in or using a Slice Tool to lift some of the black and reveal a layer of colour beneath works also works really well.

Using black allows you to get that depth in your black fur because, although yes black fur isn’t just black, in order to get your values correct you need to be able to get those really dark black areas in.

If you’d like to learn more about drawing black fur, you can find a black fur colour recipe here.

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