Colored-Pencil Blending with GAMSOL

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An eight minute demonstration of a technique using a solvent to help blend colored-pencil.

Colored-pencil is inexpensive, easy to keep and store, and intuitive to work with. It's the go-to media for adding color to so many activities. While colored-pencil lead can be blended with a stump, most formulations also dissolve with the mild artist's solvent, Gamsol. By "charging" your stump with solvent, you'll experience a whole new level of blending.

The technique is comparable to what one does with watercolor pencils but, in my opinion, is more versatile. Gamsol typically won't disturb water-based marker or photocopy printing. This makes it great for combining marker and colored-pencil.

In this technique, Gamsol doesn't need to come in contact with the skin unless used heavily enough that the entire stump becomes visibly saturated. If your concerned about skin sensitivity, try wrapping the stump in clear tape. I keep a box of disposable plastic gloves in my classroom. Gamsol, though odorless, is a solvent (think paint thinners) so consideration has to be given to the container. you can dip or moisten the tip with a squeeze bottle. I have never had a deterioration or evaporation problem with the plastic flip top bottle you see in this video.

When first applying Gamsol, a dark smudge appearance can be discouraging. This is the paper becoming saturated and translucent. In a few minutes, evaporation will take care of it. Placing a sheet of white paper beneath the artwork lessens the appearance, particularly if you're on a dark work surface.

Materials: Colored pencil, water-based markers, blending stump, Gamsol.

I prefer gray paper stumps. Tortillons may work well also.

For more coloring and shading templates like this one, check out my Tiki Art resource.

Or have a look at the printed version of my Tiki Art coloring book.

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