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Can you use Coloured Pencil over a Watercolour Wash?

This question was asked recently and as I have been interested in trying this out myself, I decided to give it a trial run and see what the results were.

I had painted a loose portrait of a lion from my own reference on Arches cold-pressed paper, roughly A4, using Winsor & Newton watercolour paints, and thought I would add detail only to his face with coloured pencils. I am by no means a watercolour artist and hardly ever paint with them so I was way out of my comfort zone but the exercise was still a lot of fun.

Using Polychromos, I added some depth and structure with the coloured pencils to his facial area and decided to stop there and not move onto his mane otherwise the looseness of the watercolour may have been lost.


My dilemma here is choosing how much detail to put into the whole portrait! Being a detail freak, it is very difficult to stop before I need to as I feel the work looks unfinished but this was an experiment and had to be different to my usual style. Also, the cold-pressed paper is highly textured compared to the smooth or hot-pressed that I normally use and this helped me slow down on the detail.

This was my resulting artwork.


I am now keen to try this again and maybe experiment using hot-pressed paper as well. I can see how a watercolour wash as an under-layer can help speed up the drawing process with coloured pencils. Things to consider would be the paper used, which will largely affect the result, and how strong the watercolour wash is to be, whether it is the dominant feature like the image above or more subtle and just as an undercoat layer and as always, so many gorgeous animal subjects to try it out on.


I have a set of water-soluble coloured pencils, they are Prismalos by Caran d'Ache and it will be interesting to use these as an under-wash and in combination with the Polychromos and maybe to try on both the hot and cold-pressed papers and see the difference. I will try laying down layers, blending colours then activating with a wet brush and see the results.

Have you tried this combination? I would love to hear if you have.


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