Every colored pencil artist seems to have their favorite blender. I’ve never been very consistent in my choice of which blender to use for any given project, so today I created a set of charts to compare how each performs. I thought you might like to see the results.
During the last couple of years, I have collected and been gifted with a variety of blenders. To me, they are essential tools for creating really solid areas of color and, more importantly, creating that deep and rich multi-colored and layered look that takes colored pencil art from drawing to painting.
It’s pretty important to know your tools, so I decided it’s time to give them a real test drive.
The seven blenders tested are:
Figuring that the blenders of a certain brand would perform better with pencils of that same brand, I tested on color swatches of Prismacolor Premiers, Derwent Coloursoft, and Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 pencils. To make the comparison as accurate as possible, I chose similar colors for each brand, and was careful to create swatches that, allowing for a bit of color variation, were as identical as possible.
Each swatch has four color layers: two in blue and two in violet, and the blending pencil was applied with a medium-heavy pressure.
And here are the charts. The left side of each swatch is unblended; the right side is blended.
Across all three samples, based on each blender’s ability to combine colors and cover-up background paper fibers, the Derwent Blender clearly performed best, followed by the Prismacolor and Koh-i-Noor blenders.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Koh-i-Noor, which is a new brand to me and I didn’t expect it to do such a great job.
The Caran d’Ache is unique among the blenders; it’s a blender stick, about the size of a pencil, and can be sharpened like a pencil. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed to find it a bit scratchy against the paper surface and not quite as effective as some of the others.
Although the Derwent Burnisher is technically not a blender and is marketed as providing a “rich, glossy finish to your art,” it also blends quite well.
The Prismacolor marker worked very well, but an important note: if you are creating art which might be entered in a show requiring “100% colored pencil,” using a marker may be outside the rules.
Also, I found that additional applications of the marker didn’t really result in a more blended look, but additional application of any of the pencils does.
The Lyra is the least aggressive blender in this comparison, but may be the perfect choice for lighter blending.
Happy blending. And of course, if you have any insights you’d like to share, use the comments form or dash me off an email.
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I have a secret and I’m just not gonna hide it anymore. I’ll just feel better when I admit this.
I am not really an artist.
Wait! What? Not an artist?
Yep. This has to be true because as soon as start thinking of myself as an artist, Mean Girl in the back of my brain hears about it and fires back a text that might go something like this:
• You have no clue what you are doing.
• If somehow a piece of your artwork looks okay, it must be by random accident.
• If you get compliments on your artwork, people are just being nice.
• Or pitying you.
• You have not suffered enough to be an artist.
• You did not go to art school, so you cannot be an artist.
• You are too __________ to be an artist.
• If you could just pull-off (technique here) as well as (real artist’s name here), you, too, would be an artist.
• But you never will.
• You don’t have the right kind of art supplies to be an artist.
• You don’t deserve the right kind of art supplies.
• You will never get into that show, so do not waste your time entering.
Mean Girl has a crappy attitude, and I don’t know why I listen to her. But she’s persistent, and loud, and she’s had a lifetime of practice.
I’ll bet you know what I am talking about, and you might not think you are an artist, either. Unfortunately, most of us have a Mean Girl hanging around. Yeah, maybe she is just trying to keep us safe, but she can also prevent us from trying new things, from daring, from dreaming. She can prevent us from believing in ourselves.
And she kind of pisses me off.
Unfortunately, Mean Girl has made herself at home. I don’t necessarily want her gone, but I think she would be fine in a guestroom somewhere sharpening her nails on a different issue. So until I can get her attention on something else, I turn the tables on her as often as I can. Here’s how:
• I call myself an artist. When people ask what I do, it’s my choice how to describe myself. There are no label police hanging around saying, “Hands-off that job description!” And saying to folks “I am an artist” feels pretty great.
• I’ve rounded up all the nice things people say about my art into an “Applause List.” When Mean Girl sends me one of her blasted memos, I read the Applause List instead.
• This is gonna sound so trite, but it’s really true: every experience is part of the whole journey of life. I try not to get too bummed when there’s a roadblock because sometimes roadblocks are really “Danger – Bridge Out Ahead” signs.
• When I complete a piece of artwork, I share it on social media. My friends give me great kudos and, amazingly, some of them even call me an artist. My friends can’t be wrong, right?
• Every once in awhile, I enter a competition, and — important! — let go of the outcome. (“Can’t win if you don’t try, kid. Lightning has to strike somewhere.”) And guess what? Sometimes I do get in. And sometimes I even win a nice ribbon or two.
• If I enter a competition and don’t get in, or don’t win a ribbon, I simply figure that losing this time increases my chances next time.
• I buy something I think an artist would wear, and boldly wear it. (Check these out!) When you are trying to “fake it until you make it,” a costume always helps.
These techniques don’t always silence Mean Girl, but they sure do shut her up from time-to-time. In fact, she hasn’t said a word for awhile now.
Maybe this means I really am an artist.
Either way, I sure don’t have a secret anymore.
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