using Inktense pencils with an airbrush

posted in: Arts & Crafts, Artwork, Textiles

I have been experimenting with my Derwent Inktense water-soluble colour pencils again.   I’m obsessed with their luminosity and intensity, but must admit am finding it hard to maintain those attributes across a large area of work without things getting diluted on every stroke of my watercolour brush.

Mixing Iron Blue creating a paint from inktense pencil core ©KarenSmith

Inktense pencils are easy to use, but I find when activating the inks with water I tend to overwork the colours and end up with a blended result that loses a little of the luminosity I can get when I just swatch out each individual pencil.
I watched a recent YouTube tutorial where a spray mist bottle was used to bring out the colour, but again I’ve had limited success with this technique as the water droplets are too big.

Then I remembered my airbrush languishing in a cupboard.

Now I’m one for trying master as many arts and crafts skills as I can, but airbrushing was one that I definitely had to give up on.  However I thought I might try filling the ink reserve with water and spraying onto the pencilled image. It worked really well, after some practices I found a stopping point when the ink was intensified but not washed away. I also really liked the way the air was pushing the ink round the edges of the image, as can be seen in the central picture.

The leaves on the right were drawn onto cartridge paper which was less successful as smoother paper has no ‘tooth’ for the ink pencil to key into. I also sprayed a bit too much water onto the pencilled areas, which removed ink from the surface of the paper.

I then began some experiments using the pencils on calico fabric, again I found the airbrush (central image) gave a much better result than activating the inks with a brush and water.  A layered approach worked best for me,  letting the fabric dry in between each pencil application. The edge definition does get lost – though I overcame this by using some free motion embroidery as an outlining tool.

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