How to Use Watercolor Crayons

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It's not always convenient to carry around tubes of paint and an artist's pallet, but it's a shame not to have the necessary tools available when creativity strikes. Watercolor crayons are small, portable and easy to use, enabling an artist to sketch out an idea and add color in the field and complete the painting at home. Not just for the outdoor artist, watercolor crayons are fun to use at home where experimentation and mixed-media possibilities are endless. Here are some tips for working with watercolor crayons.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Heavy paper
  • Watercolor crayons
  • Paint brushes
  • Water
  • Paper towels
  • Lightly pencil in your basic shapes and forms. While you can certainly work free-form, watercolor crayons (unlike their pencil counterparts) do not allow for any sort of erasing, so a quick pencil sketch will help avoid the need for restarts.

  • Fill in your areas with the crayons. For bold, even color, completely fill the area, but for lighter or more traditional watercolor looks, lightly shade the area and leave intermittent white spaces. Outlining an area, especially a smaller one, will allow you to draw paint into an uncolored area for mixing or filling with a wash of color.

  • Dry-mix colors by applying a second or third color of crayon over the first. Open or cross-hatch combining will produce a very light mix of colors. A heavier coating of crayon will produce a more homogenized color, and depending on the colors mixed, a muddy look that can work well for shadows.

  • Wet your brush and pat off excess water on a napkin or paper towel before applying it to your colored image. Work the lightest areas first before moving to darker or more saturated areas.

  • Layer colors by applying a second layer of crayon, in the same color or different, over an area that has already dried, then paint it again. Though some mixing will occur, it will be less than if you'd mixed the colors before activating them with water.

  • Trace over your edges with the crayons if you want to refine the outlines of your image. You can lightly paint over them with a small brush to blend them slightly or leave the edges undefined.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always work from light to dark and build colors gradually.

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