It’s the color in pencils that bring our rainbows to life.

Anthony T. Hincks

Are colored pencils and watercolor pencils the same?

Colored pencils contain pigment held together by oil or wax binder, both waterproof; they can be blended dry  or by applying various solutions to break down the oil or wax to create blends.

Watercolor pencils are held together by a water-soluble binder that “melts” when water is applied. These pencils have similar properties to their watercolor cousins like transparency, liftability, blooming, etc.

Some techniques for both kinds of pencils are doable, with slightly different results. Some will require adaptations, and some are just not possible. But it’s worth testing to see if a pencil can accomplish a technique seen used with a different kind of pencil.

*Note: Inktense pencils are ink, not watercolor; once dry, they’re mostly permanent.

Tap on the image to enlarge; pin this page for future reference, too. Watch the video below that demonstrates some of the differences!

Get started with colored pencils

Brand new? The easiest medium is typically colored pencil – we’ve all used pencils in our lifetimes, pigments don’t move til we actively decide to make them do so,  and there’s no water to manage.

Treat yourself to artist-grade pencils like Prismacolor, Polychromos, or Luminance, you won’t be disappointed. They make small sets that are great starters, as well as big sets for the ambitous!

Grab a hex chart for the brand you choose! These come with blank charts to color in yourself as well as a colored one to help you decide which colors to buy. Then use it to find colors near each other to use for easier blending!

Prismacolor Hex Chart


Polychromos Hex Chart


Luminance Hex Chart


Colored Pencil Jumpstart Class

Begin your journey on the right foot with a basic primer in the basics of color theory, layering, blending, shading, creating powdered pigment, and more.

Some lessons are perfect for those using rubberstamps or coloring books – other artists choose to draw images that they love and apply the same pencil techniques too.

Advanced students have found tricks and tips in Jumpstart classes that they hadn’t known before!


Where did the colored pencil go for vacation?… He went to pencil-vania.

New in color studies


Support those undergoing recovery from natural disaster! 100% of funds will be donated to the currently-most-urgent situation each week. Please feel free to color yours and share with your friends online so they can join this effort to support communities who need us!

August 2023: Fundraising for Hawaii after fires



In this color course, learn all about ways to use the Hex Charts for alcohol markers or colored pencils to choose the right colors! Includes discussion of color theory as we examine photos and learn terminology like hue, value, saturation, temperature, and more.


Dip a toe into a level 2 or 3 colored pencil course

These courses will continue your journey with great techniques and ideas to inspire!

Imaginary Creatures in Colored Pencil

Learn fun techniques and practice blending in this course with sketches to color in. Cutest little monsters ever!


Underwater Scenes in Colored Pencil

Create undersea scenes worthy of all the fish and mermaids and deep sea vehicles you’d ever want to draw!


Storybook Scenes in colored pencil

Drawn in an illustrative, simple style, these scenes are perfect for projects that need a clean, simple look.


Autumn Scenes in colored pencil

Take a stroll through a forest as the leaves are changing and learn to capture that in colored pencil techniques.


Winter Wonderland in Colored Pencil

Snowy scenes are a great way to pass a cold and blustery day – spend time in your studio creating!


Advanced colored pencil classes

Once you’re practiced with  your colored pencil techniques, these exciting classe can help you keep growing!

One rose four ways

A single rose is taught in four different mediums – including colored pencil!



Learn techniques to use colored pencil on toned paper to create lovely leaves.


Young rabbit

Discover wonderful techniques to create falling rain, dripping rain, bouncing rain and more.


Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling. 

– Gilbert K. Chesterton

Get started with watercolor pencils

Brand new? For many aspiring artists, watercolor pencils are one way to nudge toward watercolor; the application of color is with a pencil, allowing time to think about what is being created rather than panicking over the initial splash of traditional watercolor flowing onto paper!

Artist-grade brands will be more pigmented (stronger in color) than craft- or student-grade. Note that Inktense, which are listed here, are an ink pencil, so they perform a little differently: when dry they are mostly permanent, so lifting techniques do not work well, however layering is much easier with these.

Hex charts don’t exist for water-based mediums….many many printers don’t use waterproof ink, and it would just cause trouble. 

Watercolor Pencil Jumpstart

Start out with a solid foundation in watercolor pencils that will stand the test of time. Creative projects will teach techniques that are fun and perfect for artists just starting out.


Watercolor Pencil courses

After the Jumpstart class, let one of these courses keep you growing with watercolor pencils!

Autumn Scenes in Watercolor Pencil

Find out some great techniques for sketching fall trees that’ll make you want a warm sweater!


Sunrise Sunset: Epic Skies

Learn to create colorful skies from photographs in watercolor pencil – and silhouette scenes to finish them off!


Watercolor Pencil Songbirds

Songbirds are taught in this class – create large drawings or reduce to small ones for cards.


Stay tuned for more pencil courses

Several courses are added in each medium each year – if you have particular suggestions, feel free to email them – and be sure to subscribe to our monthly-ish newsletter so you’re the first to hear when there’s an exciting new course to sign up for!