Polychromos, coloured artist pencils by Faber Castell, are an artist quality oil based coloured pencil, used by professional artists around the world. Also used by adult colouring enthusiasts and crafters. Faber Castell is a German company and the worlds largest manufacturer of pencils, founded over 250 years ago.
Artist Katie Packer demonstrates the use of Polychromos on Fabriano Hot Press watercolour paper . Katie uses multiple layers of colour blended together with a white or buff titanium Luminance pencil by Caran d'Ache.
The Polychromos pencil, is made using high quality acid free pigments, each pencil has its own number and name, the round barrel pencil is also coloured to match the pigment of the colour inside. These oil based pencils lay down soft vibrant colour tones, that can be built up with multiple layers without creating a wax shiny bloom, that is apparent in wax pencils. A special process call Secural Bonding, ensures the pencil lead is secured to the cedar wood casing, resulting in high resistance to breakage and great sharpening results. The coloured lead is 3.8mm, with 120 colours to choose from, you won't be short on colour choice. This reasonably priced pencil is our most popular coloured pencil to date.
How to use
There are several ways to use Polychromos, create multiple soft layers and dimension by building up many layers of colour. The blending is achieved by using the light veils of multiple colour layers. Using a soft touch with this method is essential, holding the pencil at a 40-45 degree angle helps prevent the instinct to use too much pressure.
Pencil strokes can be in the form of circulism, which is achieved by creating very small overlapping circles, this method is perfect for portraits and skin tones.
For fur or hair, draw repeated tapered lines alongside each other, by overlaying the chosen colours in lines at different angles. Using the right length of stroke for the subject you are drawing for a more realistic look. It is important to practice techniques, tapered strokes are created by reducing the pressure and lifting the pencil towards the end of the stroke line. Line widths can vary by using the pencil in different states of sharpness.
For whiskers, try carefully removing a line of colour with craft knife or plan ahead and indent the paper with an embossing tool prior to adding colour. You can also use a Tombow Mono eraser for more subtle highlights.
One thing to remember with Polychromos, is not to rush, take your time to build up layers in an almost meditative concentrated way.
As Polychromos are oil based, you can use a solvent to blend colours. Our favourite is Zest It pencil blender. Using the smallest amount of blending solution with a paper stumps ( tortillon ). You can either dip straight into a solvent though use with care, as there is a risk of using too much of the solvent on the page. For better control, dip in to a Zest It sponge, which has 15ml of solvent added. The pencil stump, is then gently placed on the coloured piece and carefully blended, this solvent technique is also great if you have a large background area to cover or intense blocks of concentrated colour.
To create flat blocks of colour, hold the pencil straight, vertical to the page, press firmly using up end down strokes. Whilst this will give you instant vibrant colour, the colours will lack dimension and tone.
Polychromos Pencils adhere to many rough surfaces too, such as wood, stone, leather and metal. The pencils are permanent, adhere firmly to their background and do not require fixing.
Thank you to Katie for the use of her beautiful drawings in this post.