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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