Pastelmat is for… pastels, right? Well, yes. They also happen to work wonderfully with coloured pencils!
What? Why? How?
Clairefontaine Pastelmat has particular features that make it great to use with coloured pencils. Read on to find out the main features of Pastelmat and how you can use these properties to create realistic, colourful and fun coloured pencil drawings 🙂
(For reference, I use Faber-Castell Polychromos and Caran D’ache Luminence coloured pencils and Clairefontaine Pastelmat. I’ve created many drawings and run several workshops with these materials – I’m in love!)
For a full review of the paper, click here.
Pastelmat Paper Weight and Thickness
Pastelmat is a thick paper, almost like textured card. 360gsm / 170lb weight to be precise (which in art paper terms I’ve learnt is pretty darn thick).
Basically, it’s a sturdy paper. This means it can handle solvents well if you like to use them and solvents don’t affect the texture / tooth of the paper. I also love to use my Slice Ceramic Pen Cutter for fine details like hairs, and this doesn’t rip or affect the surface of the paper either, at all, as long as I angle the blade right and don’t press stupidly hard – just scrapes the coloured pencil pigment off where I want it to.
Pastelmat Paper Tooth / Texture
This is where the Pastelmat shines and why, in my opinion, it’s ideal for coloured pencils.
Paper tooth is simply the texture of the surface. Pastelmat specifically has a lot of tooth, meaning you can do many many layers and build up a lot of depth, tones and rich colours.
The surface of printer paper, for example, has no tooth whatsoever. It’s quite hard to do more than one layer in coloured pencils on this kind of paper.
There are deep hills and valleys, peaks and troughs, on the surface of the Pastelmat. It’s not until you have covered the surface of the paper (ie, burnished / covered the hills and valleys), that you’ll get that smooth finish. The first layers will be grainy and the paper will show through – this is what you’re aiming for!
Here is a short video explaining paper tooth:
It’s very easy to layer light over dark colours, provided you’re using light pressure and not accidentally pressing too hard / burnishing. So you can build up sooo much depth and blend colours together to create a rich coloured pencil drawing that pops. It’s very forgiving, so you can make little mistakes then just fix them on the next layers.
The downside of this paper having lots of tooth is that it can wear your pencils down pretty quickly. Less so with my Polychromos as they’re oil-based and strong pencils, I notice it more with my Caran D’ache Luminence pencils as they’re softer and wax-based. The pencil needs to be really sharp for details (link to article), so you’ll probably find yourself sharpening a lot during the last layer and final touches.
Another con is I can’t really use graphite pencil for the outline or sketch for my drawing as it’s not easily erased, which is annoying. I use Frisk Tracedown transfer paper in white or a coloured pencil instead. A putty eraser and scotch tape work well for getting rid of marks, smudges and softening harsh edges.
I don’t know of many other art papers suitable for coloured pencils that have so many brilliant colour options. I LOVE colour, and have been totally converted to coloured paper after 7 years of only using white papers with coloured pencils. I literally used to be terrified of them.
The white Pastelmat isn’t great, I think the coloured Pastelmat papers are fantastic. When drawing commissioned portraits, I usually opt for a paper colour similar to the mid-tones of the subject I’m drawing (unless the client specifically requests another colour).
For original pieces, I love to experiment! There are so many options for lots of subjects that compliment and contrast the colours you use, and really make the drawings pop in a way that white paper simply doesn’t.
I hope this explains a bit more about using coloured pencils with Clairefontaine Pastelmat! Any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.