About a year ago I saw this video from Lachri Fine Art, where she used this new blending product designed just for Colored Pencils. It’s called Powder Blender and I was so exited when I saw this! As colored pencil artist know, this is very slow medium and making smooth blending on your backgrounds can take you for ever!
Another problem we usually have is to get white highlights on your drawings to show really white, because light colors don’t usually show well over darker colors. But Brush and Pencil had made product for this too. Some artist use gel pens or white paint to make those highlight but the problem with that is it is not archival. The white paint that is usually water based, doesn’t stick well enough on top of wax or oil based colored pencil and it can fall off after some time. But mixing Titanium White and Touch-Up Texture from B&P, you can make white paint that is made for colored pencils. That Touch-Up texture restores the tooth of the paper and you can even color on top of your white markings after the paint has dried.
So these were the products I was really exited to try out. Unfortunately, those product wasn’t available for me at that time, so I needed to wait and just study that product by watching videos online. I will add few of my favorites on end of this text so you can go watch those too if you like.
After few months they finally started to ship those more world wide, so I decided to contacted Alyona Nickelsen from Brush and Pencil and I ordered Power Blender, Titanium White and Touch-Up Texture. I was a bit worried how that Powder Blender would work without Touch-Up Texture Fixative, as I had heard that it is a product that you must have for that Powder Blender to work well. Unfortunately those fixatives couldn’t be shipped in my country from US, because they are aerosol cans. Nevertheless, I wanted to try that blender, so I placed that order. Later I found out that Jackson’s art from UK had started shipping that fixative to Finland also, so I was able to order that Touch-Up Fixative and Final Fixative from there, but that was after I already had started my drawing. So for little while I did work my project using one fixative I like to use with my pastels, but that didn’t work not nearly as well as that Touch-Up Fixative they recommend using with this Powder Blender. So remember that if you are going to try this one out.
How to get the best out from this product?
I made little bit research on what to expect and take into consideration when using Powder blender so you could get the best out of that product. I was advised that you could use either non-absorbent paper or sanded paper. I thought that sanded paper would be best for me, because I could just order some sanded paper online. The paper I used was Fisher 400 pastel paper.
You can make normal watercolor paper to be non-absorbent by spraying few coat of gesso over the paper. If you are going to use this method, spraying gesso over your paper, make sure your paper is dry. Let it dry for 24 hours before getting started. If you don’t have airbrush for spraying that gesso, you can try to apply the gesso to your paper by tapping it with sponge or paint roller. That way you don’t have rough brush strokes on your paper like you would have if you would try applying that gesso by paint brush.
Another thing for getting this product to work was choosing the right pencils. With Powder Blender you should use harder lead pencils. I had Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils and Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils that I used for blending with Powder Blender. Softer and creamier pencils like Caran d’Ache Luminance like to grip to the paper too hard and it will not move when blending. But you can use that feature at your advantage in those areas that you don’t want to blend with Powder Blender. I used that in my first drawing when I needed to have sharp details like in eyes, mouth and hair.
And last thing to remember with Powder blender is that Fixative. Yes, you can blend without that. But you limit your ability to do more layers if you don’t have that fixative. I tried first one Ghiant Fixative that I use for pastels, but that didn’t seal the first layer well enough, so layering more color felt like I was just pushing my colors around and previous layers didn’t stay put. But after I got that Touch-Up Texture Fixative, I could layer new colors on top of previous one without any problems. That fixative really is something great. If you loose the tooth of your paper, you can restore that by spraying this Fixative to your paper. So you can use that also in your other projects as well, without need of using Powder Blender.
When working with Powder Blender I recommend you to add more Fixative every time you want to do yet another layer. You want to seal your previous layers before adding new ones.
My First Project with Powder Blender
To me personally, the best way to learn about new products and techniques is by creating whole art piece whit it. I rarely do any smaller studies, but rather work through trial and error. If and WHEN I do mistakes I learn from those and know not to do those in future projects. Although sometimes I get lazy and then I tend to repeat some previous mistakes, but nobody is perfect, right!
So, for my fist Powder Blender project I selected this little fairy drawing. I call this “Summer Girl” and this will be one of my upcoming series of drawings about different seasons. I did this 3 hour base coloring on live stream so there you can see my first reactions about this product.
This is what I got done in just 3 hours by using only Powder Blender and my colored pencils. This is 35 x 50 cm Fisher 400 sanded paper. At this point I didn’t have used any fixative. As you can see, I got a lot of coverage in just couple of hours. Just amazing! I have never done this much in so little time with colored pencils.
While working with this, I tried different techniques and tried to find limits of this product. I found that you want to use a really light hand. If you push too hard, like I did on some areas, you will end up with the gritty look after blending. It’s like the color will stuck too hard on your paper and powder blender will not move the color like it should. So remember light light hand when doing soft areas you want to blend. And also remember to add that fixative before adding new layers.
This felt like working in an entirely different medium. It was like I was working with pastels but still having that nice control and ability to do those sharp details I’m used to when working with colored pencils. It was so much faster to work with that background with this Powder Blender, than how it is normally when I use basic coloring and blending with odorless mineral spirits.
Also I was surprised how much I liked this sanded paper. With stomps you could blend your colors even without powder blender, and that’s what I did with some more detailed areas like in her face and those leaves.
And here is my finished piece, “Summer Girl”. I will upload a Time-lapse video later on my YouTube channel from this.
I have also Prints available from this picture.
Here are few great videos that helped me a lot when I start working with this product.
First Impressions of the new Powder Blender by Lachri