08 May 2017

How to Create a Gradient with Coloured Pencils

Hello everyone! Today I want to show you a technique I use all the time when I'm colouring, creating a gradient. The colouring book featured in this post is actually a calendar: Colour Yourself happy 2017-month to view calendar. This was illustrated by Heartfelt Illustrations (whose Facebook page you can see here). I have been enjoying creating gradients on the names of the month that are nestled amongst illustrations of nature. Anyway, I hope that you find this simple tutorial helful either for colouring or creating your own art!

Step 1: Apply your first Colour from the top:

In my case, I used a yellow coloured pencil for this stage. Take into consideration the size of your shape/letter that you're colouring and think where half way down the shape/letter is. This is where you will stop using this colour. Above this mid-point, split the section into 3. The top section is where you'll apply the most pressure with your pencil. The second section down is where you'll apply a middle pressure, not full pressure, but not the lightest pressure. The last section is where you'll apply the least pressure. You can clearly see the difference in tone in each section at this stage, but they'll blend together in later stages.

Step 2: Apply your second colour from the bottom:

Now that you've finished applying your first colour, you should be left with the bottom half of your shape/letter. You should split this into 3 sections as before. However, this time you apply the most pressure at the bottom and the least pressure at the top. It's basically the opposite of what you did before and in a different colour. So the section at the bottom is where you apply the most pressure, the section that is second to the bottom is where you'll apply the middle pressure and the section at the top is where you'll apply the least pressure. Make it so the areas where you've applied the least pressure with both colours are just touching slightly.

Step 3: Apply an 'in-between colour':

An 'in-between colour' is a colour that is a mix of the two colours you've just used. I used peach because it seemed like it would blend pink and yellow together well. This stage is a bit more difficult to explain so stick with me here. Apply the most pressure half way up where you've applied the least pressure with the first colour and half way down where you applied the least pressure with the second colour. Then apply a middle pressure from where you are right now to half way up where you applied the middle pressure with your first colour and half way down where you applied the middle pressure with your second colour. Finally, apply the least pressure from where you are right now half way up where you applied the most pressure with your first colour and half way down where you applied the most pressure with your second colour.

Step 4: Blend :

You might not be able to see much difference between the last photo and this one (apart from the labels) but that's because I've not added any new colours. I've just blended the shape/letter. You can use several things to do this stage: a blending pencil, a blending stump or a white pencil. There's probably a few more methods but those are just the ones I've tried. In this case, I used a white pencil since I can't find my blending pencil and I don't like blending stumps very much hehe. Just evenly use the blending tool/white pencil over the shape/letter, you may want to use circular motions  for this. Also, you may want to add a little more pressure in the middle of the shape/letter but it's up to you.

So that's how I create two colour gradients! I know I technically used 3 colours but it's a gradient from yellow to pink and you're not meant to see the peach as a third colour, it's only there to help you to create a smooth gradient. I hope that you could understand my tutorial and you found it helpful!

PS: If you want to see the blog series I wrote a while ago called 'Colouring Quest' here is the first part, here is the second part and here is the third part. Or you could just click the Colouring label that is listed on the right side of my blog to see all of my colouring themed posts.

Over to you...
Do you have any colouring tips? Share them in the comments. Also, what is your favourite medium ton colour with? Mine is Prismacolor pencils (by the way in this tutorial I used Prismacolor premier: canary yellow PC916, blush pink PC928, light peach PC939 and the white pencil PC938).


  1. Wow, I found this super interesting since I asked you about how you created your gradients/blended with Prismacolor pencils haha! (I've also been wanting to check out this post for quite a while now. ^^)

    Your method for creating a gradient is so professional! I often add gradients to my backgrounds digitally but never really thought about how the process would work traditionally... this is absolutely awesome!
    I love how you split the sections into most, medium and last pressure. I finally understand how your blending works so perfectly!
    The idea of an in-between colour has a brilliant effect too. Where you've explained the technique, do you mean that you apply the in-between colour around the middle of the shape (to some extent)? (Of course, on the lowest pressure for each colour.)
    I still haven't bought a blending pencil oops! Mind if I ask where you bought yours again? (You might have said before but I must have forgotten!) I usually use a white pencil to blend too.

    This is really informative Megan, thank you!! It's super helpful, the way you've kept it simple and explained each instruction carefully. I'll definitely use this technique sometime when I'm using my Prismacolor pencils again. :D

    My favourite medium would also be Prismacolor pencils as I'm sure you know. (Faber Castell is also pretty good!) ... I had a look in my Prismacolor tin and I have all the colours you listed there except for the "blush pink" (PC928), which is a shade I actually really need! The closest I have to it is "Rose" (PC929) - do you have that one too? I'm loving your 2017 month colouring series btw and the linearts by Heartfelt Illustrations are simply gorgeous! <3

    1. I'm so glad you thought it was interesting; I made this post thinking of you!

      Thank you so so much Kenza! For the in-between colour stage, yes you apply the colour all over the shape including the middle of the shape. But it's not all at the least pressure. In the middle of the shape it's the most pressure but as you get closer to the edges of the shape, add less pressure (where shown on the diagram and where I've tried to explain it in words). I hope you understand a bit better now, it's a bit complicated to explain. Actually you've reminded me I need to buy another blending pencil! I bought it at 'The Range' in a gift set (here's a link to amazon so you can see what it looks like: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Derwent-2301774-Blender-Burnisher-Sharpener/dp/B001283FMO ).

      Ooh I'd love to see what you do with the technique! It was fun to do a traditional step by step tutorial, maybe I'll do more!

      I don't think I have Faber Castell pencils-maybe I'll giev them a go. I have a few other good sets of pencils though, caran d'ache are really good too but I don't use them very often since getting Prismacolours, because the caran d'ache set doesn't have as many shades. I think I have 'Rose', I think it's slightly darker than 'Blush Pink'. Yes her designs are really fun to colour but she doesn't seem to be making anymore colouring pages, she thinks the trend has gone so people won't buy them. Well at least I've got lots to colour in the woodland book. Thanks for your lovely comment! <3


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