How to use colored pencils on black paper

Drawings with colored pencil on black paper have a striking look.

The dark background acts as an intense contrast to the vibrant hues of the pencils, making even simple drawings pop.

Before you read this tutorial, check out my basic guide to learning how to draw on black paper first.

In this post, I'm going to give you tips on art supplies and techiniques for how to use colored pencils on black paper.

Let's get started!

1. Choose the right colors and type of pencils

When drawing with colored pencils on black paper, it's important to choose the right colors that will pop against the dark background.

As a general rule, stick to light colors, like white, yellow, or light blue.

On the other hand, you should steer clear of dark colors, such as black or brown.

Unless you're going for a very specific look, these colors will likely get lost on the black paper.

2. Start with a simple composition

To get started with colored pencils on black paper, it's best to choose a simpler composition that isn't too detailed and has flat areas of color.

This will make it easier to layer and blend your colors, which is an essential part of how to draw with colored pencils on black paper.

3. Layer your colors for added depth

Once you've chosen a composition and drawn the outline, start layering different colors onto the drawing.

For best results, use lighter strokes for your first layer, and then gradually progress to darker strokes as you build up more color.

This helps to create depth and dimension in your drawing that will pop on the black background.

This helps to create better contrast and keep your colors from blending or looking muddy.

4. Use a range of colors

When it comes to how to draw on black paper, using a range of colors is key.

Duller colors may not show up as well, but brighter, bolder shades stand out against the dark background.

This means that it's worth investing in a wide selection of colored pencils, as different shades and hues will have varying levels of vibrancy on black paper.

Experimenting with different options can help you discover which colors work best for your drawings and bring them to life. Best of all, having a diverse range of colors at your disposal can also add depth and dimension to your artwork. 

5. Try different layering and shading techniques

Have you ever wanted to add depth to your artwork by trying out how to draw on black paper?

One option is to experiment with layering and shading techniques.

Start by choosing a light color, and gradually build up tones by layering colored pencils of different shades.

Or, use a blending tool to create smooth coverage.

Another technique is called burnishing, where you apply heavy pressure with a white colored pencil to blend and darken colors.

Playing around with these techniques can add dimension and interest to your drawings on black paper.

6. Add details with white pencils

Finally, once you've layered all of your colors and are satisfied with how they look, consider adding a few final touches with a white pencil.

This can help to brighten up any areas that might be too dark, and further bring out the details in your image.

Colored pencil recommendations

When it comes to colored pencil drawings, there is no “right” type of pencil that works best on black paper.

It all comes down to personal preference.

I prefer a simple 24-pack of Prismacolor colored pencils, but other great brands include Faber-Castell and Caran d'Ache

The great thing about colored pencils is that there are so many different types and brands to choose from.

This means that you can experiment until you find the perfect set of pencils for your needs.

I prefer Prismacolor pencils because they have a wide range of colors and they're easy to find in stores.

Also, I enjoy using Prismacolors because they DON'T smudge, you might like a more smudgy colored pencil, in which case you should check out, Derwent Inktense and Faber-Castell colored pencils.

1. Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils

If you're starting or have plenty of experience with art, Prismacolor Premiere Soft Core colored pencils are perfect for you.

With a range of colors offered and thick, soft cores – these pencils excel in color layering, blending, shading, and more.

Plus, the rich pigments won't fade over time and the leads resist breakage – giving you long-lasting quality results.

These are not water-soluble.

So you can't blend them with water like a lot of other colored pencils.

2. Derwent Inktense

Derwent Inktense Pencils allow for smooth and easy color laydown, giving your drawings or designs a beautiful finish.

These pencils are perfect for those who want to produce bold and expressive illustrations with water-soluble pigments that can be mixed with water to create an ink-like effect.

You don't have to be anxious about color bleeding when you use this pigment because it dries quickly.

This is perfect for layering colors together.

You can modify the way you use it depending on your project too.

For example, mix colors to create custom shades or add water to achieve lighter variations of the same color.

Unlike the Prismacolors, you can add water to these to blend your colored pencil on black paper drawings.

Test out brands because when it comes to colored pencils the way they feel as you draw and blend are different.

Black paper for colored pencils

Canson XL Sketchbook

The Canson XL Series Black Drawing paper is a good choice for using colored pencils.

Each sheet is 92 lb / 150 gsm acid-free.

The paper is thick and durable, perfect for using colored pencils.

The colors won't fade, so you can draw quickly without getting bogged down in the details.

The sketchbook is spiral bound, so it's easy to flip through your pages and find the one you're looking for.

Plus, the cover is tough enough to withstand all sorts of wear and tear.

Canson or Strathmore for larger paper

If you want to work bigger, I recommend using single sheets of Canson or Strathmore paper.

You can buy these in packs online or individually in more art stores.

So there you have it – a quick overview of how to draw using colored pencils on black paper!

This method of reverse drawing can be tricky at first, but with some practice, you'll get the hang of it in no time.

What colors show on black paper?

Generally, lighter and brighter colors stand out the most against the dark background.

This is because they have higher contrast and reflect more light.

Think about shades like hot pink, citrus orange, lemon yellow, or even neon green.

You can also try metallic or glittery pens for added sparkle.

On the other hand, darker and more muted colors may blend in with the black paper and be harder to see. So if you want your design to pop, stick with bright hues.