Technique: Water Color Pencils vs Traditional Watercolor

Welcome to my blog, Paper Crafting With Rebecca!

I had a recent question asking the difference between watercolor pencils and a traditional watercolor palette. My brain immediately went into the following thought process... "One is pigments in a pencil form and the other is pigments... oh, wait a minute... I bet you mean what is the difference in how they look on paper, or how they flow with the water... or something along those lines!" So, aside from the obvious difference in form, let's take a moment to look at their other differences and similarities.

To start with I stamped two pieces of watercolor paper with a large stamp so I would have images to watercolor. I used black Memento ink so that the ink would not react with the water.

Let's start with the watercolor pencils. Some of the advantages I find with pencils is they are easy to control when applying the pigment, easy to transport (some people like to craft on the go), and easy to store since they don't take up much space. Disadvantages: I find that some watercolor pencils are more difficult to blend colors as the color pigment tends to adhere to the dry paper more than with a palette pigment on wet paper.

Using a watercolor pencil I colored the flower with the three colors I chose.

The next step is to use a wet brush to blend the colors.

Once the flower was dry I added some blue from my watercolor pencil around the flower and then using my watery brush I blended the blue pigment out from the center of the flower.

Now for the watercolor palette. One of the main advantages I find with a palette is that it is easier to blend colors as they almost seem to mix and merge in the water all on their own. I also believe the edges end up more organically shaped, as the water gives the pigment a more "flowing" appearance than pencils do. But there are some disadvantages such as: palettes are more difficult to drop into your travel tote and use on the go, due to the "wetter" nature (which gives that organic beauty) they tend to want to run into the other colors more, and it is easier to contaminate your palette with other colors during the painting process as compared to pencils.

Now lets look at the two cards I made and compare the results...

Watercolor pencil result

Watercolor palette result

Both have that same "blended" appearance, but you may notice how the blue penciled pigment on the blue card doesn't look as organically blended as the blue palette pigment on the yellow card. At the same time, I believe the control of the pencil allowed for more of an evenly blended flower on the blue card as opposed the "mind of it's own" blend of colors on the flower seen on the yellow card. What do you think? 

Overall, I believe both are fun to use and the more you play with watercolors the more you enjoy their versatility. I tend to prefer to use my watercolor pencils when watercoloring small images and my palette when I want to make a large background or have a more "sloppy" edged design. 

Thank you for reading my blog. Be sure to tell me in the comment section below what you like about watercolors and how you best like to create with them.

Happy Paper Crafting,


  1. Thanks for demonstrating the difference between the two! I had been wondering why one might want to use one or the other. I like both, but the blue card is especially nice. :)


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