Thursday, July 26, 2007

Three Blue Colored Pencils--Burnishing

(Stonehenge, Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils, 3.25" x 7")

I resized the line drawing template found in my previous post titled "Almost Four Colored Pencils" to produce this piece. I drew this piece to experiment with burnishing techniques.

Burnishing is a blending technique that gives colored pencil the smooth look of an oil painting. There are several ways to burnish. Here are three:
  1. Use a colorless blender
    These are pencils without pigment. Prismacolor and Lyra make colorless blenders. You can burnish with these blenders without adding color.
  2. Use a white colored pencil or light colored pencils
    This will lighten the burnished area.
  3. Use colored pencil
    Using color to burnish an area gives intense results.

To burnish you first build up dense layers of color. If your layer of color is too thin, you will not have enough color to blend successfully. Using heavy pressure and a blunt burnishing point, blend all the layers together. The blending of the colors makes your work vibrant.

In all forms of burnishing, it is possible to apply color, burnish, reapply color, and burnish again until you reach your desired color or reach the saturation point. How much color and pressure you use will determine how many times you can reapply the color. Experiment with this technique to find what works for you.

Burnishing with wax-based pencils produces wax bloom. After an area has been burnished, the wax migrates to the surface and forms a grayish film. It is particularly noticeable in dark areas. You can correct this by buffing the area with a tissue or soft cloth and spraying it with a fixative. I use Claybord Fixative, matte finish. This fixative does not change or affect colors. It is also a workable fixative, which means that you can layer additional colors after spraying it. Using a fixative will permanently remove the wax bloom and keep the pencil from smudging. Oil-based pencils do not create wax bloom.

The blue colored pencil to the far left was burnished using Prismacolor’s colorless blender. The second or middle blue colored pencil was not burnished to give you a point of comparison.

The third or far right colored pencil was blended using Zest-It solvent. Using solvent is fairly simple. The only trick with solvent is to figure out how much to use. It takes very little. I dipped my brush into the solvent and brushed the excess off the lip of my container before blending my colors. If you use too much solvent, you can lift off the color. I applied several layers of color and solvent over each other. Be sure to let the solvent dry thoroughly before going over it with more color. After my last layer of solvent, I added more color to cover up any imperfections to create a smooth, blended look. Using Zest-It solvent produced a grainy surface that made it easy to apply more layers of color.


I used Princeton #2, Shader Brush to apply the solvent.

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