Your coloured pencils need to have identifying marks, and if they don’t come from the factory with those marks – you need to create them yourself.
Recently we wrote about the cost of coloured pencils and how you might substitute them.
Reasons why some pencils are cheaper
Some pencil brands are cheaper than others and are suitable alternatives to purchasing premium pencils. For example, student grade pencils are an alternative to buying premium coloured pencils. As well, some pencils may have limited markings, which may reduce their price.
Cheaper ingredients and lack of identification
Generally, buying a student set of pencils is cheaper than premium pencils, and there are reasons why. For example, student grade pencils may have less pigment and more filler.
Student grade pencils may also may have no individual markings. Individually marking pencils would increase the production process. As such, it would be time and labour intensive, and cost more money to produce.
It’s quicker to put pencils with no name, number or identifier in a box in no particular order. This saves production time and costs, so it saves you money in the price you pay at the shop.
However, you can only identify pencils with no names by the colours of the pencils by the pencil lead – or the colour the pencil barrel might be painted.
So, what do you do if you’ve got a box of pencils with no names on them, in no particular order? How can you use them?
Quite simply, you organise them.
But why should you organise them?
All your pencils need to be identified individually. For the simple reason that you need to know what colours you have, so that you can use all your pencils.
Even if pencils have some markings on them, you still need to search to find other necessary information so you know what you’re working with. This is also an issue that occurs with lightfast ratings not being printed on the barrel on some premium pencil brands.
Coloured pencils need to be identified
Identifying marks are required as you need to know which pencils you want to use, which one you did use, so you can find it to use it again.
This is an issue if you’re drawing, and you need to know what colour you just used. Short of putting that pencil aside as you are working, it’s hard to refer to it again.
You need to identify them yourself for your own use. How do you do that?
These are the steps to identify your coloured pencils
- Sort the unmarked pencils into colour wheel colour family groups;
- Draw colour swatches for each pencil;
- Make up colour names for each pencil;
- Mark this name on the end of the pencil; and
- Put the pencils back in the tin in colour wheel colour order.
These aren’t distinctly separate steps, but rather steps that are done one pencil at a time.
Group colours together
For example, based on the colour of the pencil barrel, you need to separate the pencils by colour wheel colour families. This is – put all the reds together, blues, greens, etc. See the table below that shows you the colour wheel colour family names.
Make colour swatches
Next, draw up a grid on a sheet of paper, one on which you are likely to use for your artwork. This will help you see what the pencils will look like in your own artwork. First, draw a colour swatch of each pencil in each colour wheel colour family. For example, if there are 3 red pencils, draw one pencil’s colour swatch, and write the name ‘Red 1’ on its corresponding colour swatch. Write ‘Red 2’ on the next, and so on.
Identify each coloured pencil
However, after you have identified the name of one pencil – say ‘Red 1’, write this name on a small sticky label, and wrap it around the end of the pencil. You’ll probably have to secure it with sticky tape. After this, you will have a pencil named ‘Red 1’, and with this name on the pencil barrel. You’ll have a corresponding colour swatch for ‘Red 1’ that shows you what the colour looks like. Now you have a pencil with a unique name, and one which you can find again.
This process is repeated for the remaining pencils in the set.
Place them in colour order
They are then placed back in the tin in colour family order. They will be easy to see.
Assess your colours
However, you might need to rearrange some names as you use them, if you think the colour is a bit different from your original viewing. For example, a pencil barrel colour ‘Red’ might actually hold a pencil colour that is ‘Red-Orange’. This is easily changed – just remove the pencil’s label and rename it ‘Red-Orange 1 or the next number in the sequence’ and rename its corresponding colour swatch.
What this saves you in the long run
You need to find a pencil colour so you can use it again. If you are in the process of planning an artwork, or wanting to experiment with colours, you need to know what colours you are using. The pencils you use need identifying marks.
Pencil identification then helps with your colour experimentation. For example, you can make lots of colours from a set of coloured pencils. If you want to recreate colours, you need to know the pencils that made up the new colour.
Why is it necessary to identify your coloured pencils?
When working with these pencils after identification, you can refer to the colour chart to identify the pencil you need. You can go to the pencil set and find that pencil, as it has its name on it. The process of pencil identification does take time, but it saves you lots of time and energy in the long run.
You paid a cheaper price for the pencils as they were not sorted or identified. You’ve now done this step instead.
No more waste
You might think… these pencils were inexpensive. They only cost a few dollars. But, if you don’t sort them so you can use them – then you’ve wasted the few dollars you spent to buy them.
You need to sort your pencils, so you can use them. This saves you money and space.
It is about your convenience, and saving your resources.
It makes it convenient for you. You can stress less thinking ‘what was that colour I just used?’, or ‘where can I find it again?’, or ‘Was it that red one, or that red one?’.
You can get on with your creating!
I can speak from experience.
The steps above are exactly the ones I took to sort a set of 72 Jasart coloured pencils.
A while ago, I purchased a set of 72 Jasart pencils. They were a good deal – they were 50% off – I hadn’t tried the brand before, so I took the plunge to see what how they performed.
After purchasing, I took the box home and opened it up.
What did I see?
I saw lots of pencils in no colour order placed in the tin. The pencils did not have any number, names or lightfastness ratings on them. The only identification on the pencil was the paint colour on the end of the pencil.
I would have preferred to buy pencils in colour order and with the name, number and lightfast rating on it. But the price I paid reflected the lack of detail in the pencil tin.
So, I sorted them. See steps 1 to 5 above. However, I took a next step and put these on an electronic spreadsheet.
How do these pencil colours look on paper?
These coloured pencils are quite good. They are opaque, and like most coloured pencils – look great on black paper.
Better news about these pencils
But there’s even better news about this brand of pencils. Each pencil now has its own identification provided by the manufacturer. You can now buy these pencils open stock. I’ll have to change my pencil names to those of the manufacturer.
A range of pencils have lack of information
As well as student grade pencils, there are artists grade coloured pencils that don’t have all the relevant information you may need when using your pencils. For example, Prismacolor and Derwent Procolour have the pencil names and numbers, yet they don’t have their lightfast ratings listed on each pencil.
In my experiences of using Prismacolor pencils, I have searched the internet for the latest Prismacolor Premier colour chart. I drew colour swatches on black and white paper and wrote the details on a spreadsheet. Apart from putting a label with the lightfast rating on the pencil, using a spreadsheet is the only way that I have been able to put all the Prismacolor pencils information together.
Yes – it took a long time to arrange them, and no doubt it will for you should you choose to do this.
So, to help you save your time and energy, I developed interactive colour charts for the Prismacolor Premier coloured pencils. The charts are for the whole range of Prismacolor Premier pencils, the pencils rated I and II (the lightfast pencils), and the pencils with a lightfast rating of III, IV and V. All these charts include the pencils names, numbers, lightfast information and colour swatches. By using these charts, you can access and find the Prismacolor Pencil you need in a flash.
Other benefits of using the charts
Plus it provides other benefits as well. You can use the interactive colour charts when you’re at the art shop, to find the information you need about the pencils you want to buy. Also, if you happen to drop your pencil tin in your studio (yes – it really happened), you can place the pencils back in their order without too much cursing.
Interactive colour charts have been developed for a range of coloured pencil ranges, including Faber Castell Polychromos, Caran d’Ache Luminance, Caran d’Ache Pablo, Caran d’Ache Museum, Caran d’Ache Supracolor, Derwent Drawing, Derwent Inktense, and Prismacolor Art Stix woodless coloured pencils.
Get creative with your limited resources
Now that you know why your pencils need to be identified. You can now get organised to get creative. You’ll save your time, money, and you can plan your artwork so you can use all your pencils – again and again.
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