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Swatching, Matching and Mixing

As a coloured pencil artist, over time I have amassed a sizable number of pencils. Maybe there are artists who work with a limited number of colours but I am certainly not one of them. I have never really counted how many pencils I have but the number is easily above 200! So, how do I keep track of which colours I have and which colours I need to use for a specific drawing? Colour charts are how.

As opposed to colour charts in watercolours where artists typically keep a note of the colours AND the mixes, in coloured pencils I simply aim to create a repository of all the colours I have. Putting all the greens, for example, next to each other also helps me to compare the colours and easily pick the ones I would need for a drawing.


Over time, as I have continued to add more colours from different brands to my collection, my colour charts have become a little haphazard. They definitely need a do-over but for now, they’ll do.


As you can see in the colour chart below, I like to put all the colours of a group together for ease and also so that I can compare them with each other. For each pencil shade, I colour in a rectangular strip with more pressure and layers at one end and lighter pressure at the other end. Below the colour strip, I like to add the shade number and the name. As my collection of pencils has grown, I have also started adding the brand name for easier and better organization.

With practice, I have developed a muscle memory when it comes to choosing colours to work with. Nevertheless, these basic colour charts are very handy when I am mixing and matching colours for a new subject.


To see how I use these charts and to know how I mix the green for an Indian jujube leaf, check out this video on my YouTube channel.


Let me know if you found this post useful. Till next month, ciao!


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