Archive for January 17, 2010

Colored Pencil Blending with Gamsol


Yes, it’s another “Gorgeous Guinea” card! 

A few weeks ago one of my son’s friends adopted Crunch Berry one of our guinea pigs.  His birthday party was today, so I created this card especially for him and colored the Guinea Pig to look like Crunch Berry.  I love the softness and shading that can be done using artist quality colored pencils with gamsol.  This, by far, has become my favorite coloring technique to use with stamping!

Gamsol is a “magical liquid” (actually odorless artist grade mineral spirits) that can be used to creat a soft, almost watercolor look with colored pencils.  Because it is a solvent, it dissolves or melts the wax of artist or professional grade colored pencils.  It even works with some of the plain old school supply variety of pencils, but you get a better effect if you invest in a professional grade.  It does not work with watercolor or chalk pencils.  It can be used with embossed images but not metallic powders.  If in doubt, test first before using it on a project.

Smooth paper (not glossy or coated)
Dye-based ink pads
Colored pencils
Gamsol in a sponge applicator style bottle
Blending stumps
Sandpaper or emery boards
White eraser

1.  Stamp image with dye-based ink pad and allow a few seconds to dry.
2.  Choose the colored pencil(s) you’d like to use.  For a richer appearance try at least 2 shades within the same color family.
3.  With the lighter shade of pencil, place a line of color along the inner edge of the image.  Add lines of color where shadows should occur as well as on any stippled or cross-hatched parts of the stamped image.
4.  Place the tip of the blending stump against the sponge applicator of the Gamsol bottle.  Dampen the stump but don’t get it too wet.  You can always add more Gamsol as you work.
5.  With light pressure, push the stump over the lines of colored pencil using a small circular motion to blend and drag/push the color toward the center.  The color should appear darker along the edges and light near the inside, creating a shaded appearance.  Add more Gamsol to the stump as needed.
6.  If you are using 2 or more shades of color, repeat the process with each shade allowing the shades to blend together.
7.  When you are ready to change colors, clean the stump with an emery board or sanding pad.  Hold the stump at an angle to keep a pointed shape.

1.  Less is better.  You can always add more color or more Gamsol.
2.  You can use one color and feather it out OR you can apply a light base coat and then shade or blend with a darker color.
3.  Let the image guide you as to where to shade.
4.  Let the image guide you as to the type of stroke — circular, straight or combo.
5.  Tip the applicator to moisten the sponge top.
6.  Touch the stump to the sponge top to load Gamsol to the stump.
7.  If it appears that it is not blending well, it is usually because there is not enough color pigment to work with.  Apply more color and blend again.
8.  Clean the stump between colors or when you are trying to lighten a color.
9.  Always start with the lightest color.
10.  Stumps are inexpensive enough so consider dedicating a stump to each color.
11.  Prismacolor pencils are frequently recommended.  Select regular thickness rather than the verithin variety.  I’ve also found Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth brand to work well.
12.  Erase mistakes immediately.
13.  Dotting gently over the top of a mistake with a white gel pen often can correct the mistake.
14.  Use a soft brush to sweep away pencil “crumbs” rather than your hand.
15.  Stumps tend to work better thant tortillions.  Stumps are solid where tortillions are hollow.  You can also use tightly wound cotton swaps or cosmetic wands.
16.  Let the stump dry before sanding.
17.  Use dye based or waterproof inks.  Pigment inks will smear.
18.  You can also use this method to color in laser printed or photo copied images.  Test with ink jet print outs as the ink may smear.
19.  For flowers and foliage, used at least 3 shades for a more natural look.

Inky Antics (
Judy Kubicki

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