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Using colored pencils in combination with paints is the secret to the bright and lively nature of my sketches. You can use pencils to add details on top of gouache or watercolors and to draw beautiful shadows that give depth to your sketches and bring them to life.

Cover for the article on colored pencils I use in my urban sketches. In the picture: Caran d'Ache Luminance and Derwent Lightfast pencils, gouache palette with bright colors and a part of a sketch with people on the beach and trees and buildings in the background. It's a mixed-media sketch.

I already have two posts here on my blog about colored pencils:

How to Choose Colored Pencils for Sketching is one of the longest posts I've ever written and covers the following

  • important features of colored pencils

  • difference between student-grade and professional pencils

  • choosing the right colors

Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901: My Favorite Colors for Sketching explains my preference for these particular pencils and lists the exact colors that I use in my sketches and tutorials.

I mention this in both these posts, but I would like to reiterate: the technique for sketching with pencils and the technique for using pencils in combination with paints are very different, and you need different kinds of pencils for that. Watercolor pencils are a whole different story, too. When buying pencils, think about what you are going to use them for.

A bright orange house  and blue tiles. An urban sketch I made during a free drawing livestream for beginning artists where we drew with watercolor, colored pencils and fineliners.

If you would like to learn my sketching technique (watercolors + fineliners + colored pencils), grab my FREE workshop The basics of Urban Sketching.

Watch and sketch along with me! It's a 2.5-hour step-by-step tutorial, a recording of a live workshop that I did recently.

Learn the basic process for sketching urban scenes: composition, measuring proportions and creating a pencil sketch, creating a thumbnail, using fineliners, painting with watercolors, refining and adding details.

Colored Pencils I Use in my (Urban) Sketches: VIDEO

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think a video works even better. So here is a video that shows the contents of my pencil case and explains the difference between different kinds of pencils. Together with the posts mentioned above, it should cover all your questions. If not, ask me in the comments or DM me on Instagram.

Join Brave Brushes Studio, my membership for amateur artists and urban sketchers!

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Hello, I'm Julia Henze.



Art is my passion. Urban Sketching is my love.

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