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Fastest way to eat colour pencils?

Ok, ok - I'll start with a disclaimer: I do NOT recommend eating coloured pencils! This is a review of my experience using Faber Castell Polychromos Colour Pencils with Canson Mi-Teintes Touch paper.

I ordered a sample pack of a variety of papers that are recommended for use with pastels - these are often suitable for colour pencil work too, due to their ability to 'grip' colour and enable multiple layers to be built up. In the pack was a sheet of the Touch paper -in a beautiful light blue. It was the perfect background colour for a Jack Russell Terrier pet portrait I wanted to work on.

The sheet is made from a heavy 335gsm paper and has a white border with a textured surface area - very similar to a fine grade sandpaper. You could probably file your nails on it very nicely. I sketched out the under-drawing for the portrait - WARNING - this paper is quite tricky to erase lines from. I'd recommend using a putty eraser and 'dabbing' at the marks rather than rubbing the surface. I've since found that other artists recommend using a clear tape to 'lift' the pigment off.

As always, I started with the eyes of my dog subject - and so began the endless sharpening of my pencils. The texture of this paper means that it will literally EAT through your pencils. The sanded 'tooth' of the surface grips the colour and requires several layers to build depth and coverage.

That being said, the effect achieved is more 'painterly' than you experience with the smoother surfaces such as Bristol board. This is a plus point when it comes to layering the detail and texture of fur. But a little more frustrating when trying to achieve the highlights and sharp lines of the eye area such as the lids and corners. For this reason - I would not recommend this surface for fine detail work such as botanical illustration.

The manufacturers claim that this paper is suitable for mixed media wet and dry - when I next use this surface I will start by laying down an underpainting in watercolour pencil to achieve better all over coverage and provide a base to work from. This should reduce the number of layers required to build the depth in the fur.

I found that colours blend well and don't 'burnish' as quickly as they do on smooth papers. But you do need a relatively light touch and to build your colour pencil layers gradually. As with virtually all artist surfaces - it is very difficult to layer light colour pencils over dark. So either preserve your white areas or consider using a white paint at the end of the process to pick up fine hairs such as whiskers.

I was very pleased with the end result I achieved on the Canson Mi Teintes Touch - and as there are 14 different colours available - I would have no hesitation in using this artist paper for future colour pencil pet portrait projects.

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