What is Blending?

Blending is a way of mixing or combining more than one color or shade of colors together. There are two other techniques that are closely related to Blending: Shading and Burnishing. All three of these techniques are often used together in the same picture. The differences are explained below.

How do Blending, Shading and Burnishing differ?

Blending is a way of mixing or combining more than one color or shade of colors together. Note how there are three colors in each flower that seamlessly merge together. This is an example of blending.

Prismacolor Flowers







Shading is when a color goes from light to dark or dark to light and can be used to add shadows and depth. Notice the shading in the blue-green leaves, the same color has been used although because of how it is darker and lighter in some places it gives the illusion of the leaves curling down on each side of the vein.

Blended Flowers





Burnishing is filling in all white areas of paper. Note in the example below how you can easily see the texture of the paper in each of the three stripes. There are white spaces visible amongst the Purple, Red and Yellow stripes. The three circles in the middle have been burnished using exactly the same pencils and colors used for the stripes. Notice how the colors in the circles are much deeper and most of the white spaces have been eliminated. This is the result of burnishing.  This is done by applying significant pressure on the pencils to the area during coloring. This “flattens” the texture of the paper and fills it with color so no white spaces can be seen. In many cases when you Blend and Shade you might also Burnish parts of your picture.

Burnishing Example








What Do You Need to Blend Colored Pencils?

You can use some things you may already have at home such as a white color pencil, baby oil or Petroleum Jelly eg Vaseline to help you blend your colored pencils. Yes you read that correctly…baby oil or Vaseline! This is a very popular technique and it gives great blended, smooth and shaded effects. The great thing is that it works just as well on cheaper pencils as it does for the more expensive brands.

You can also purchase particular tools designed to help you blend colored pencils. These include blender pencils; blender markers, tortillions / paper stumps, specialty solvents eg gamsol.

Benefits of Blending

Blending your color pencils adds a number of things to your pictures:

  • It can increase the vibrancy and richness of the colors
  • It can smooth out the graininess or pencil lines
  • It can soften harsh lines of color between two colors or shades

Learning How to Blend

There are lots of videos on You Tube demonstrating the various blending techniques. I found the video tutorials listed under the heading Video Tutorials and Demonstrations  (below) most helpful. These videos clearly show and explain what each of the techniques is and how each can be applied. They give both before and after demonstrations. These are the ones that helped me to improve my blending techniques.



After following the tips in these videos my coloring skills improved greatly.  In this picture, the second one I had ever colored, you can clearly see the white spaces and pencil marks in the blue and green segments.






After watching the videos and practicing some of the techniques I learned I was able to achieve a much smoother look in my pictures. In this picture I have used a Blender Pencil to smooth out the white spots, mix two colors together at the edges eg the purple and orange.





Links to:

Video Tutorials and Demonstrations

Video LinkPresenterVideo LengthOverview
12 Blending Tips for Colored PencilsCherTheFire30:46Cher Kaufman takes you through 12 different methods for blending colored pencils
Blending colored pencils for adult coloring books with dry methodsColoringKaria16:30This video gives clear explanations of four dry blending methods: white color pencil, Prismacolor colorless blender pencil, Caran d’Ache full bright blender pencil and a blending stump. These methods are demonstrated on four different colored pencil brands: Prismacolor Premier, Faber-Castell Polychromos, Spectrum Noir, and Crayola colored pencils.
Colored Pencil Blending MethodsDina Kowal9:49Dina Kowal gives a detailed demonstration of 4 different blending methods:


Colored Pencil Blending Technique Using VaselineMoon Haven10:423 blending methods are demonstrated in this video. 1 just using colored pencils and 2 different ways to use Vaseline.
Colored Pencil Blending Technique Using Vaseline 2Moon Haven3:37This short video demonstrates the Vaseline blending techniques on an actual picture.
Blending with Vaseline and coloured pencilsBonnita Doodles3:47This short video demonstrates the Vaseline blending techniques on an actual picture. It also highlights some great tips for how to blend with vaseline.
Colored Pencil Tutorial: Blending Analagous ColorsRachel Wintemberg4:10Rachel demonstrates and explains how to blend colors just using colored pencils. She then shows this technique when coloring a mandala.
How to blend coloured pencilsKirsty Partridge8:47Kirsty demonstrates 6 blending methods on pictures colored with one color and also with 2 colors.
Comparison of Ways to Blend Colored Pencils!CraftTestDummies4:50This video gives a really clear explanation of three blending methods (Gamsol, Baby Oil, Mineral Turpentine) and provides examples of each using both a cheap brand and a more expensive brand of colored pencils.