COLORED PENCIL ON WOOD

Pyrography woodburning by Donald W. White
If you want to use colored pencil on your woodburned art, be sure to leave some open spaces. Once your burning pen touches the wood, it sears the surface, smoothing down the grain, making it nearly impossible to lay down color.

Drawing artists look for paper with adequate “tooth” – the coarse surface that captures bits of color from their pencils or pastels. Even light shading on your wood will smooth down the surface, making it difficult to color with a pencil, so leave some open spaces where you want to add your color.

And while there are many brands of colored pencils out now, oil pencils are best suited for wood. They are specially formulated to lay down rich color, and adhere well to the surface. Walnut Hollow no longer sells their oil pencils, which were conveniently sold at most good craft stores, but they are still included with some of their woodburning kits. I did a quick check of the big three craft stores (Michaels, Joann's, Hobby Lobby) and found no result for "oil pencils," so you’ll have to do some searching online.

Pyrography woodburning by Donald W. WhiteMost artist-quality colored pencils (usually wax-based) are adequate for the needs of the woodburner. Pastel and watercolor pencils, however, may run when you put finish on your artwork. Whatever kind of pencil, use at least one light coat of spray finish on your image. This will seal the colors. When that is dry, you can freely brush on however many coats of finish you want without fear of the colors running.

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UPDATE: Someone from the Walnut Hollow company kindly responded to my query. Apparently, their "oil color pencils were discontinued several years ago due to supplier problems." As an alternative, they recommended the wax-based Tombow brand of colored pencils. However, if you wish to find oil-based pencils for your wood art, there are a few brands available. Here are a few (in alphabetical order):

* Faber-Castell Polychromos
Koh-i-noor Polycolor
Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor (the company site is in German)
Marco Renoir (their company site is in Chinese)

For side to side comparisons of these and other brands, click HERE. 

OTHER RESOURCES:
Lora Irish has an excellent tutorial using water color pencils.  
Nedra Denison’s tutorial on adding color with oil pencil, and other mediums. 

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