Irina’s Top Tips

  • Go through all your pencil stock and try all the colours dry and wet; there can be a big difference in intensity and colour when colours are wet or dry.
  • Paper for watercolour pencil projects should be stretched, or use a block as water can distort the paper.
  • Broken leads can be used for light washes;dissolve them in a small quantity of water.
  • Spend time exploring techniques of applying pencils to find the ones that suit you best.

Simple mist effect

Dampen paper first then draw a tree using burnt umber. The effect of drawing on wet paper is to slightly dissolve the colour so giving the tree a distant misty effect.

Leaf texture

1 Apply brown ochre on dry paper starting with the stems of the tree, moving vertically.
2 For the foliage, hold the olive green pencil lead flat on its side on the paper, holding your finger against the pencil just above the lead. This will give you better control over the level of pressure as you apply the colour.
3 Once finished, use a wet brush to lightly dissolve the foliage colours. Looking at the sample you can see the pencil stays on the raised parts of the paper and the layers below are dissolved with water.


Distant foliage

1 Use dry pencil on dry paper to reproduce distant foliage. Once you’ve finished the drawing, lightly dissolve the pencil with a wet rough brush. This is where an uneven bristle brush helps to produce the effect of an effortlessly made watercolour painting.

2 To make the contrast of textures stronger, apply the background colours using a wet brush. To do this, dissolve the lead and apply it with a brush as you would with watercolour. The result is a very smooth and colourful background, giving a sense of distance.



Foreground technique

1 Apply dry pencil to dry paper then dissolve it with a wet brush. Looking at the centre of this illustration you can see just dry pencil and, on top, just dissolved pencil.
2 On the bottom part, add green pencil that has been dipped in water and left for a minute or two so that the lead absorbs the water slightly. Then use a rough brush to flick colour from the lead onto the paper to produce a spatter effect.

Further foreground techniques

1 Create a grass effect using pencil strokes of raw sienna, golden brown, olive green and cedar green on dry paper.
2 Using a wet rough brush, sparingly dissolve the pencil strokes into the direction the grass grows.
3 Underneath the grass, using horizontal strokes, apply the remains of the colour left on the brush from the previous stage. This gives a tint of colour to the ground.
4 Draw the stones with burnt umber that has been dipped in water. Then, with a thin brush, dissolve the colour to create shadow effect under the stones.
5 When dry, use a wet thin brush to collect Chinese white and apply wispy strokes in front of the stones and among the grass.



Choosing the right surface

It’s up to you what sort of paper you choose; consider before you start on a subject

Smooth paper
The colour has been dissolved using a rough wet brush. Although all the grains of paper and stripes disappear, it still creates lots of texture and variety of colour.


Rough paper
The colour has been dissolved using a smooth watercolour brush. You can see how the texture and marks still show after the water has been applied.