Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Color Pencil Adventures: Exploring Caran d'Ache Pablo Pencils

I'm new to colored pencil, but I decided it'd be most provident to start out with a good colored pencil brand line, even if it cost a bit more to do so. I definitely wanted to follow John Muir Laws' advice about selecting colored pencils, paying special attention to his demonstration of the true primaries, light yellow / magenta / cyan. (I also recommend taking a look at his brief post on the Unified Theory of Color.)

While Laws provides advice about specifically selecting Prismacolor pencils, I still bought the Caran d'Ache Pablo 18-color set. I worried about getting a true yellow/magenta/cyan triplet, but I needn't have worried—Caran d'Ache has pretty damn good color sense even in its smaller sets.

For those wondering, light yellow / magenta / cyan is available in the Pablo 18-color set as Lemon Yellow (LY), Carmine (CA), and Cobalt Blue (CB). They mix extraordinarily well to provide shimmering versions of the familiar secondaries:


Note that following a color row will show that row's main color beneath the colors of crossing columns. The order of layering matters as much in color pencils at all times as it does with glazing watercolors. Note also that the lower half of each cell has been burnished with a Caran d'Ache colorless bright full blender.

I'm also a fan of the secondary palette advanced by Bruce MacEvoy at handprint.com (a great watercolor information resource). Fortunately, the Pablo 18-color set provides a great triplet of the secondaries, Grass Green (GG), Violet (VI), and Orange (OR):


These secondaries also mix fascinating shimmering neutrals.

Look at what happens when you mix these particular primaries and secondaries together:


Lemon Yellow primary and the secondaries.

Cobalt Blue primary and the secondaries.

Carmine primary and the secondaries.

I love the shimmering mixes of the top halves of these boxes versus the far more blended bottom halves. But fixatives—including the side-effect of the Caran d'Ache and other oil/wax colorless blenders, odorless mineral spirits or other solvents, as well as normal spray-fixatives—almost always alter the underlying colors in some fashion.

I'll figure it out. ^_^

For those interested, here's a full swatching minus the white color, which isn't anywhere near as opaque as the Caran d'Ache Luminance white pencil reportedly is.


Color swatches are presented as gradients, with burning done with the colorless blender on the bottom half.

I want to spend a little time creating a nice color chart. On the other hand, 17 colors not counting the white means this will be a significant chart if I choose to do it, so it's perhaps more prudent to do individual color pair explorations that would seem promising from color theory, particular with complements and near-complements.



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Ava Jarvis is an ink and watercolor artist with a portfolio site at avajarvisart.com. If you found this post useful, consider a one-time tip or supporting Ava on Patreon.