Coloured Pencil Tips

COLOURED PENCIL TIPS: Are You Holding Your Pencil Wrong? How to Hold your Pencil for Different Techniques

I love this coloured pencil tip so much! It sounded so simple when I first thought about it, yet it is so effective and often overlooked. Read on for some tips on how to make the most of your pencils and achieve different results by holding your pencil in different ways 😊

As with all of my tutorials, tips and advice, this is just what personally has helped me draw realistically. I’m all for experimenting and finding your own style, so if you like the effects achieved doing things differently, keeeep doing them!



I love using lots and lots of light layers to build depth, colour and contrast in my coloured pencil drawings. These layers are done with a very light pressure, so it helps to hold my pencil far up the pencil, like this:

Holding the pencil in this way ensures some control and precision, and at the same time prevents me from pressing down too hard and accidently burnishing (read more about burnishing here).

If I hold the pencil too close to the tip, I find it really hard to press lightly and achieve the effects that I want with my layering. It also starts to hurt my hand and tire out my wrists because layering can take a veryy long time!

Another thing to note: I find it helps to tilt the pencil in order to cover more paper more quickly and create an even layer, constantly rotating to make the most of the pencil.



I’ve written a more detailed post about burnishing here. Burnishing basically means covering the tooth of the paper so no paper shows through, and can involve using a heavier pressure than when layering (unless you are burnishing by doing a lot of light layering or by using tools such as paper stumps and tortillions).

When burnishing with a coloured pencil or colourless blender, I usually hold my pencil like this:

I’m not pressing super hard, just enough to get into the ‘valleys’ of the paper so the paper is totally covered with coloured pencil. For realism, burnishing is usually done after putting down lots of layers first, so you shouldn’t have to press super hard. I find it works best to burnish an area using small circular marks with a sharpened pencil (the pencil doesn’t need to be super sharp, just not completely blunt).



Glazing is done usually when a piece is very nearly complete, as a finishing touch. It means adding a glaze of colour on top of all of your layers to help add some extra depth and make an area pop. It’s done with a similar pressure to when you’re layering, therefore the hand positioning is pretty much the same:



For precise, detailed work, this is when I always hold my pencil very close to the tip. I’m usually leaning in quite close to my drawing at this stage, really making sure I am getting the right detail in where I want it.

I need full control and precision for fine details, and I won’t get this by holding the pencil further up. My pencil is always super sharp (read my post: How Sharp Does Your Pencil Need to Be? to see if your pencil is sharp enough) and I’m using a medium to hard pressure depending on what detail I’m drawing.


Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed tips like this, please feel free to subscribe to my Instagram or YouTube where I share tips, tricks and techniques for drawing realistically with coloured pencil. Happy drawing! 😊

Alice x