Art Talk,  Blog

Coloring with Polychromos – Art Talk

I recently mentioned that I want to challenge myself with coloring an illustration with only one Art supply. Wether it be, Acryl, Aquarelle or colored pencils.
Since I love drawing on paper with little texture, and love the control of using pens, I chose colored pencils. Faber Castells Polychromos to be exact.

My first experience with those pencils weren’t the best. Not because of the pencils themselves, but I was „forced“ to buy them. When I was in School for sculptors all of us students had to buy the Faber Castell Polychromos for the Anatomy lessons. We were all mad about it, because the colored pencils were quite expensive and we had to buy at least 36 of them. And in the end we didn’t even really needed them during the lessons, which made us even more mad. I kept them for many years, not using them. (Every once in a while I would glare at them though 😀 ) But then I gave them a second chance and now I really like them.

The Faber Castell Polychromos are highly pigmented colored pencils. The pencils themselves are quite hard and durable, you have to use a lot of pressure to break them, which in my opinion is great (there is nothing worse then the tip breaking whilst coloring). The colors are oil based, so if you want to combine them with aquarelle, make sure to only use them on top of aquarelle. The other way around won’t work. 😉

The illustration I wanted to draw were swallows flying through clouds. Before I started to draw them with colored pencils, I also tried Aquarelle colors. ( see above – Only aquarelle colors) But I put to many layers down and it ended up too dark and busy. And then I thought, maybe I should work with something, I know I have more control over. Which in my case are pencils.
I love many parts of the clouds colored in aquarelle and I will definitely use them again.

When I work with colored pencils, I won’t lay down a pencil sketch beforehand. Burnishing/Blending the colors later on will result in a smudgy gray hue due to the pencil. But sketching with polychromos will work just as fine. Erasing does work, but is not as great as with pencils. But „true artists don’t need an eraser“. (this is a quote I heard so many times during my years in art school – it is absolutely stupid – of course you can erase, but with a lot of experience, you won’t need it as much as in the beginning)

If you are curious which colors I own here is my complete palette. (I collected quite a few over the last 2 years.)

Monia Baillieu is a professional illustrator and sculptor from northern Germany. Her illustrations are mostly eerie or haunted themed. Occasionally she creates some funny comics as well or ventures out into graphic novels. Sculptures are created with polymer clay and fit into the overall theme of her works.  

For professionell requests or collaborations please check her portfolio and send an email to

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