February 23, 2012

Tutorial - Blending Colored Pencils with a Heat Gun

This is a tutorial I wrote using a different approach to blending colored pencils. Hope you all like it :)

For this demo, I used Stonehenge Paper with Prismacolor and Verithin Colored Pencils (I only used one Verithin color - Indigo Blue to draw the apple but if you don't have it, the regular Prismacolor Indigo Blue will do, just have the point really sharp. You'll also need a Prismacolor Colorless Blender and of course the Embossing Heat Tool. You can find it at craft and art stores, usually in the rubber stamps and embossing powders aisle. I got mine from Michaels and I paid $20.00. Here's a pic of what the heat gun looks like:

Step 1:

I started by drawing the apple with an Indigo Blue Verithin Pencil. Next I started to shade with a very sharp Indigo Blue pencil with very light pressure and using shape following strokes. As I approached the light area, I made the layer less dense. I used the same pencil for the cast shadow with the same point and pressure.

Step 2:

Now I applied a layer of Tuscan Red over the Indigo Blue using the same sharp point and light pressure.

Step 3:

Next I applied a layer of Spanish Orange at the center bottom of the apple and in the area adjacent to the shadow and Yellowed Orange on the light side of the apple, again with light pressure and a sharp point following the contour of the apple. I left an area without any color for the highlight.

Step 4:

I made the shadow around the stem darker with Tuscan Red and the light area adjacent I used Cream at the top and Sand on the bottom with a little bit of Olive Green over the Sand pencil.

Step 5:

Now I used a layer of Crimson Red over the Tuscan Red and Poppy Red over the Yellowed Orange and Spanish Orange area, preserving the highlight and using a little more pressure but still with a very sharp point.

Step 6:

Next I applied more Tuscan Red over the Crimson Red and as I got closer to the yellow area I switched to Crimson Red. Over the orange areas, I applied one more layer of Poppy Red. I also used a layer of Tuscan Red on the cast shadow using light pressure as I moved away from the apple.

Step 7:

Next I applied a little Clay Rose on the cast shadow followed by French Grey 50% and French Grey 20% further away from the apple.Now comes the fun. I used the heat gun to warm the whole apple. I then quickly started to blend the colors first by going over the the orange areas with a sharp Yellowed Orange, firm pressure in circular motion and with Poppy Red I went over the darker side and over the darkest side I applied Crimson Red. On the cast shadow, more French Grey 50% closer to the apple and Warm Grey 20% further from the apple. Always with a sharp point, firm pressure and circular motion. I used a draftsman mini-duster to remove bits of wax with pigment that formed as I applied the colors to the hot surface. I had to stop and re-heat the paper a couple of times during this process. Be careful not to touch the surface with your fingers, it's really hot! Believe me, I learned this the hard way!!!

Step 8:

I used Indigo Blue followed by Dark Umber to paint the dark side of the stem and Cream followed by Olive Green on the light side. I also went over the light area next to the stem with more Cream, Sand and a little Olive Green and darkened the shadows even further with Tuscan Red. I also used a layer of Tuscan Red on the cast shadow close to the apple and Clay Rose further from the apple.Now to finish the piece I once again heated the surface and went over the whole thing with a colorless blender, making sure I didn't contaminate the light areas with dark and vice-versa by constantly dusting the paper and cleaning the tip of the colorless pencil by rubing it on sandpaper.
The pigments blend a lot faster and a lot easier when the surface is hot than when it's cold. Besides, it doesn't put half the stress on your wrists and fingertips that burnishing a cold surface does.

Step 9:

I decided the apple needed to be a bit darker on the darkest side. I just went over it with Indigo Blue and more Crimson Red, heated and blended with Tuscan Red, heated again and blended with the colorless blender. On my screen, it doesn't look that much darker than the pic on step 8, but IRL I can definitely see a difference.

Voila! The apple is done.

You can apply more layers, heat and blend if you wish, as long as you wait until the surface is cool and provided that you haven't completely saturated the tooth of the paper. If that happens and the paper won't accept anymore pigment, spray a couple of light coats of workable fixative and that will allow you to continue layering with no problem.

Hope this tutorial is useful and if anyone has any questions, just let me know.

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