Monday, March 05, 2007

Colored pencils

Lunch, and then some more.

Artsy note –
I brought both the Prismacolor and Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils today. I started this drawing with the polychromos. I don’t have a great travel pencil-sharpener, which made getting in finer details tough. I started to notice that even with a less-than-sharp point, I just couldn’t get nice, rich, intense pigment on the page. So, I rummaged through my pencil pouch and found a black Prismacolor pencil. I very quickly noticed that the Prismacolor laid down more pigment far easily, what I'd been wanting to add to this sketch.

Many of the design classes use colored pencils to do their ideation / brainstorm sketching. This means that they need to use pencils to do both fairly detailed and precise line-drawings, as well as be able to throw down shading very quickly as well. I’m wondering if the newer Prismacolors were proving difficult in that they could not hold a sharp point reliably. Crack! You’ll hear the pencil-sharpener go all day long. A lot of my pencils are old, so chances are that a bunch of mine will work okay, but I’ll keep an eye on how my students are doing.

I will admit that I’d noticed in the last year or so, drawing outside, that the Prisma leads would chip while I was drawing with really sharp points, or, more often, that the complete sharpened portion of the leads would shear off, somewhere just below the wooden casing line. I wouldn’t notice it for a while, because the lead would still stay in place. But, the pencil would get a little wobbly, or the broken part of the lead would just fall out, and I’d think, “Oh!”. There wouldn’t even be a stump left. Argh.

So, I’m going to sketch with both brands and see how they both behave. I have to say that if you aren’t too worried about fine line drawings (use verithin pencils instead for that), then the Prismas are still the way to go - - you can get such intense application of color. And for right now, that’s what I’m looking for in the monochromatic sketches I’m having the students do, and that I’m doing as well. We can do line drawing work with something else. Maybe the two brands will behave differently as far as blending and/or layering different colors as well. We'll see.

A quick internet search reveal
these comments on Katherine Tyrrell's 'Making a Mark' blog.

And here's the Wet Canvas
colored-pencil reviews.


Katherine said...

Thanks for the link. You'll also find a lot more information about coloured pencils in my squidoo lens

Personally I would always recommend using the most effficient and effective sharpener you can find. These aren't always expensive. However poor sharpeners can be very expensive as they can ruin pencils.

Plain Jane said...

I've heard that about the newer prismacolors. Mine are older, but I'm still a sharpening fanatic, because I too like a sharp point. I bought a little sharpener at dick blick specially for color pencils. It doesn't take so much of the lead away. LOVE the drawing.

Wendee said...

Thanks. I've been watching both the pencils and pencil sharpener use in class. The sharpener that is permanently in class is old and sounds it, doesn't keep a nice tight axis of rotation when it grinds away. My newer sharpener seems to still have its bearings all nice and aligned, and it seems to eat away less leads. I'm going to look into the color pencil - specific sharpener, as well. Gotta have those crisp, sharp points.