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Mixing technique with soft pastel on cardboard – by Corinne Korda

The lemur startled out of its siesta was painted with soft pastel chalks over a rough sketch made of diluted opaque paint ...

“Siesta” – Individual steps

... The pastel colours were repeatedly painted over – a “smooth wash” – in various stages of development using a brush dipped in water.

The white fur sections are emphasized with opaque colours.

Water colour “Canale”

Colourful Facades in the Channels of Venice, painted with our karat aquarell watercolour pencils.

Water colour “Canale” – Individual steps

You can download the complete creative tip "Watercolour "Canal" - brightly coloured facades along the canals of Venice" as a .pdf (1 MB) here.


Tips for watercolour painting

Tips for watercolour painting

As a rule, when watercolouring, you begin with the subtle, light-coloured shades and gradually work towards the darker ones.

The painting surface itself is part of the composition, shimmering through in some places or, in other places, left in its original white state as a highlight. Watercolour pencils can be used with water to create a very thin or partial wash so that characteristic hatching lines remain visible. Colours are often added to a pre-moistened surface or still damp wash so that they run into each other and merge, thereby creating the textures and blends so characteristic of this kind of painting.

The subtlety and delicacy of this painting technique is emphasised still more when parts of the picture are left incomplete, with some of the content merely hinted at, leaving scope for interpretation.

Tips for watercolour painting

Useful accessories for watercolour pencils:

A quality sharpener with a sharp blade (e.g. STAEDTLER art. no. 512 002), high-quality brushes in the sizes 8, 15 and 20 make a good basic set, two glasses of water (change frequently), paper stomps or, alternatively, cotton buds, tissue paper or tracing paper to protect the finished picture, kneadable eraser for the removal or lightening of watercolour pencil marks (STAEDTLER art. no. 5427).

Painting surface:

Only highly absorbent kinds of paper are suitable for painting with water-colour pencils. As paper can ripple when brought into contact with water, paper of at least 250g/m2 should be used. There are many different kinds of real hand-made paper, from papyrus, Japanese paper and wood-free types (particularly white) right up to embossed card e.g. linen structure. The characteristics of the paper chosen will have a strong influence on the final painting, especially in the case of very subtle watercolours.

Mixed techniques:

Watercolour pencils are ideal for all kinds of mixed techniques. For centuries now, pen, ink, pencil and charcoal drawings have been watercoloured and used as sketches for oil painting. The combination of watercolours with soft pastel chalks and oil pastels creates contrasting effects and allows for hatching, superimposed highlights and accents.

Basic techniques

Watercolour pencils - Dry techniques

Hatching: Draw a series thin lines closely together: For special light and shadow effects.

Overlaying: Blend by overlaying individual colours.

Watercolour pencils - Wet techniques

Watercolouring/glazing: Wash colours with a brush - the more the colour is diluted, the lighter it be- comes and the surface shows through.

Dry-on-wet: Use dry lead on moist paper - strokes remain visible but become richer and slightly creamy.

Watercolour pencils -Special techniques

Scraping or shaving technique: Use a knife to carefully remove the wood casing and then rub the exposed coloured lead against coarse-grained sandpaper. When scattered over a very wet wash, the particles create attractive effects and structures.

Smudging and blotting: Create gentle pastel shades and overlays of colour by smudging or blotting with a dry or moist cloth.

Sgraffito effect: Add structures to thick, wet paint by smearing with a cotton bud or cloth.

Arts & design products

karat® watercolour pencils

For wet and dry techniques

  • Ideal for both beginners and professionals
  • For sketches and studies on-the-go or more detailed work back home

Watercolour painting is today one of the most popular painting techniques. The karat watercolour pencils can be used for a variety of techniques and mixed techniques for a perfect synthesis of shape and colour - whether as subtle transparent effects, chance transitions of shade or deliberately set accents. This is where the main attraction of watercolouring lies.

karat® oil pastels

For the coverage of large areas in exceptional colour intensity

  • Adhere to all smooth surfaces
  • Extremely vibrant colours
  • Waterproof

With oil pastels, it is a different matter altogether: Their smooth performance, rich colour-intensive results and exceptional vibrancy make karat oil pastels a medium suitable for a whole variety of applications. Characteristics which are both liked and valued by young children, teenagers and adults alike. For kindergarten or school, hobby or professional use.


karat® soft pastel chalks

For exact details and delicate shading

  • Ideal for working on matt surfaces
  • Excellent blending qualities

The karat soft pastel chalks are extremely impressive thanks to their superb colour brilliancy and easy handling. Their excellent blending qualities make it no trouble at all to create subtle transitions of shade or to produce bold outlines sharply contrasting to gently hued areas. Soft pastel chalks look particular effective when used on coloured paper. The use of a fixative spray is important in order to ensure a long-term protection of artwork.