Can Watercolor Pencils Be Used As Normal Pencils


Can you use watercolor pencils like normal pencils and is there really any reason to?

You can use watercolor pencils like normal pencils. However, there are some differences and techniques to think about to get the best results. I have shown these below. 

Watercolor pencils are designed to use with water or dry. So you can do either or both in a picture.

You can use watercolor pencils like normal pencils. However, you are missing out on many of the amazing effects that you can get by using them that way.

What Paper Do You Use for Watercolor Pencils?

If you are using your watercolor pencils dry only as regular pencils and do not intend to use water at all you can use any drawing paper like you would with normal pencils. 

If, however, you intend to use them with water as well you need to use them with watercolor paper as the way it absorbs the water makes a difference.

Also, if you intend to use your watercolor pencils as normal pencils you may find that a smoother paper works better than a rough one. With a rough paper, you lose some of the lines to the indents in the paper.  

5 Where You Can Use Your Watercolor Pencils as Regular Pencils

At first glance, it seems crazy to spend out on watercolor pencils then not use them as watercolors. But there are many reasons why you might want to.

  1. It saves you money as you only need to buy one set of pencils. Quality pencils are expensive regardless of whether tye they are regular dry drawing pencils or watercolor ones.
  2. You prefer the texture and results. Although very similar watercolor pencils are not wax-based so there are some differences.
  3. You want a larger range of techniques available to you in creating your art. Because you can use normal pencil techniques as well as watercolor ones this extends what you can create a lot.
  4. It is easier to control watercolor pencils than watercolor. 
  5. You might prefer to draw on the hop then maybe even months later turn them into watercolors.

Color Intensity Of Watercolored Pencils When Used As Normal Pencils

One thing many people ask when seeing if you can use watercolor pencils like normal ones is, “how does the color intensity stand up?”

There is always a difference between student and artists quality in the amount of pigment and therefore the color you get. So if you want a stronger color when using your pencils dry you can use artist pencils or better quality student ones. 

Watercolored pencils have a similar amount of color to normal pencils when they are dry. You can blend them or layer them to make them more intense. However, you get the best results for intense color when you wet them. 

Examples of How You Can Use Watercolored Pencils as Normal Pencils or With Watercolor

Dry Pencils On Dry Paper

You can use any of the normal pencil techniques that you would use to sketch or draw normally.

The examples below are done with a student grade watercolor pencil on watercolor paper.

  • Hatching, 
  • Cross-hatching,
  • Solid color,
  • Graduated clear,
  • Graduated color,  
  • Blending, 
  • Layered,

Dry Pencils Then Wet Grades

This is an example of what I explained above. You can use your watercolored pencils like normal ones but then at a later date, you can make your picture into a watercolor.

To do this you need to use watercolor paper. Also, think ahead as you will not need to use such a strong color. As you can see on this example the color becomes much more vibrant once used with water.

Also, you may be abe able to see that I didn’t use a smooth paper. You can see where the color didn’t fill the indents. If you scrub too hard you ruin the paper. When you choose your paper to decide how you are going to use pencils with it and if a smoother paper would work better or you prefer the white elements. 

To the left of the example, it is purely dry watercolor pencil colors. I graduated these, then added water so you can see the range that you can get from adding water.

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