If you’re venturing into colored pencil, plan on learning how to sharpen those pencils. You may think that all you need to know about this topic was learned when you were a child – but guess what, it’s a whole new medium.
I’ve been painting with colored pencil for 16 years and what I’ve learned has been through trial, error, and success!
Some colored pencils will have a factory-sharpened point and that is really a plus. For those that you need to sharpen yourself, use an electric sharpener to begin, then use a battery operated when traveling, and a hand-held to only refresh a point.
Tips for using electric sharpeners
- Sharpen a no. 2 lead pencil prior to sharpening any colored pencils.
- Wax-based pencils have soft cores; pushing them into the sharpener with force will break the core. Gently insert the pencil and let the sharpener work for you. Oil based pencils have a harder core and will easily sharpen.
- If a core breaks inside the sharpener, use a no. 2 pencil to push the point through.
- Sharpen a no. 2 pencil every month (or more) to clean the wax off the blades.
- Never trust the light on a sharpener to tell you that a pencil is sharp. Learn to listen to the sound of the pencil being sharpened.
Tips for using battery operated sharpeners
The tips for using a battery-operated are the same as an electric, be aware that a battery operated will have a jarring action and wax-based pencils will easily break. Always keep fresh batteries at hand incase the ones in the sharpener begin to weaken.
Tips for using a hand-held pencil sharpener
- Use the hand-held to only refresh a point. Never sharpen a brand new colored pencil with the hand-held.
- Hold the sharpener and the pencil straight up-and-down. Don’t hold to the side or the pressure of twisting the pencil will crack off the soft core.
- You might also have success turning the sharpener and not the pencil.
Find these sharpeners and more on www.janellejohnson.com
Janelle Johnson CDA, TDA – Colored Pencil Artist
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