Tuesday, July 12, 2016



There's a lot of discussion about ways to blend colored pencils on the coloring book pages and coloring forums on Facebook and the internet. Many of the posts I see talk about using Vaseline (petroleum jelly), baby oil, vegetable oil and other greasy home use products to blend colored pencils like Prismacolors. I've even seen nail polish remover suggested as a blending medium. Every time I see these suggestions I cringe. As a professional artist and illustrator of over 40 years I have always used archival procedures in producing all of my original art, whether it be a painting or drawing or any other original work. Petroleum products, oils and other household products that are not produced for use as an art medium can often damage the paper and the pencil pigments themselves, leading to eventual deterioration of the artwork.

If you want to keep your finished coloring pages safe and protected for decades to come, you will want to use approved blending mediums and techniques. Among the mediums you can use are:

1.  Blending Pencils and Sticks.(Prismacolor Colorless Blender and theCaran d’Ache Full Blender Bright.) I use these most often with pastels as opposed to colored pencils, but they work for both.

2. Turpenoid, a solvent (a newer version of the classic artist's thinning and blending, but dangerous, turpentine.) Turpenoid is not completely safe and, like turpentine, presents certain health risks if not used properly and in a well-ventilated area, but the fumes are less severe than turpentine. This is my favorite liquid solvent to use as it evaporates faster than mineral spirits. I use it mostly for large areas and backgrounds.
3. Mineral Spirits, a paint thinner and solvent (Gamsol). Again not the safest blender healthwise, but way less odor than turpens.

4. The Icarus Art Board. This is basically a heat plate that will melt the medium as you work. Very pricey.

5. White Pencils. This is one of my top blending techniques.  Unlike the solvents which can bleed into nearby areas, white pencils give you pencil point control over your blending area. Frankly, I think they give you the smoothest blending. ( I order white pencils by the dozens!)

As mentioned above, the turpines and mineral oil products do present certain risks of use, mostly from inhalation of the fumes but also they can cause allergic reactions if applied directly to the skin. There is also the risk of absorption through the skin. Be aware of these risks and take proper precautions if you must use these.

Here is a great PDF comparison on the use and risks of artist solvents.

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