How to Blend Colored Pencils With Mineral Spirits

  • 01 of 05

    Blending Pencil Colors With Mineral Spirits

    Blending Pencil Color With Mineral Spirits
    Kate Pullen

    This technique will help you to achieve lovely blended results in your rubber stamping projects without the need for lots of expensive materials or equipment. Blending pencil color is a great way to achieve graduated results or subtle shifts in color that is normally difficult with colored pencils. Mineral spirits are used to break down the color and a blending stump is used to distribute the color over the image. This technique is almost endlessly adaptable and can be used to give a professional finish to many rubber stamping projects, and it's an interesting alternative to watercolor pencils.

    The best types of rubber stamps to use with this technique are ones with plenty of space for adding color. Images that are too intricate or detailed may be fiddly to work with. Once an image has been stamped using permanent ink (inks that do not smudge or run when wet are ideal for this technique), a few key supplies are all that is required to create lovely blended images.

    Types of Pencils

    The colored pencils that work best with this technique are artist quality pencils. These are good quality colored pencils that have a high proportion of pigment which is held together in a binding agent. The mineral spirits break down the binding agent to release the pigments. We use Prisma Color pencils, although other artist quality pencils would work equally well.

    Different colors give different results, so it is a good idea to try some sample pieces first to see how the end result looks.

    Paper or Cardstock

    This technique will work on a variety of different papers and cardstock. Papers with smooth surface work best. As the technique involves rubbing the surface, papers such as watercolor paper may roughen as they are rubbed. Try different types and see what works best for you (in this example we used normal photocopy paper).

    Mineral Spirits

    Mineral spirits are used to break down the binding agent and to blend the pencil color. Odorless mineral spirits are ideal for this because, as the name suggests, they do not have the strong smell that is normally associated with mineral spirits. Do remember, however, that even odorless mineral spirits emit fumes and therefore this technique should be worked in a well-ventilated area.

    Alternatives to Mineral Spirits

    The Gamsol brand of odorless mineral spirits is popular with artists, however other brands are also fine to use. In addition to odorless mineral spirits, normal mineral spirits can also be used. The odor does evaporate after a while. Some people report using baby oil with this technique. We have not tried this, but we believe that excellent results can be achieved this way too.

    Blending Stump

    A blending stump or tortillon is typically used by artists to blend and smudge charcoal, pastels, and pencils. Blending stumps are tightly rolled pieces of paper that look similar to a pencil. These can be purchased from art or craft stores. Cotton buds also work well, and cotton buds with pointed tips give a high degree of control.

    Stamp Credit: Magenta Stamps

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  • 02 of 05

    Example of Blending

    Kate Pullen

    Before starting to blend the colors on a stamped image, it is a good idea to practice first on some scrap paper. As you can see from the image above when the colors are rubbed with mineral oil the color spreads and covers a relatively large surface. This means that color can be placed in specific areas on a stamped image and then blended to cover the entire surface. Colors can be blended together to create new colors, however, be careful not to end up with 'mud'. Practicing first is a good way to get a feel for how this technique works with your particular pencils and colors.


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  • 03 of 05

    Start Blending

    Blending Colored Pencils
    Kate Pullen

    To blend pencil color over a rubber stamped image, first, use the pencils to add color around the edges and along any specific lines of the image. In this image, we have added color around all of the lines. We used a darker color pencil on the cat's feet and face.

    Dampen the end of the blending stump or cotton bud with mineral spirits and, working in a circular motion, start to draw the color over the image. Dampen the end of the blending stump or cotton bud as required. Replace the cotton bud when using different colors or sand the end of the blending stump to avoid mixing colors.

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  • 04 of 05

    Before and After Examples

    Before and After
    Kate Pullen

    The photograph above demonstrates how the original color that is just placed around the edges of the image are blended to cover the entire image.

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  • 05 of 05


    Blending Color Pencils
    Kate Pullen

    Here are some tips to help you achieve great results:

    • Remember that even odorless mineral spirits emit fumes, therefore work in a well-ventilated space.
    • Use new cotton buds or sand the tip of the blending stub when changing colors to avoid getting dirty shades.
    • Use permanent ink or ink that will not run.
    • Do not worry about going over the lines of the image. If you take a look at the coloring of images in magazines and books you will see that this can look very effective.

    Stamp Credit: Sugar Nellie