Someone in our Facebook Group asked if we’d make a video about Caran D’ache Neocolor ii Water soluble Wax pastels. So here are our tips and tricks for using Neocolors.

Which paper to use with Neocolor ii

The first thing I want to mention is paper. If you are going to be using a fair bit of water with the pastels I would suggest using mixed media paper. I like Canson Imagine and Daler Rowney Mixed Media paper. But you can also use a toned mixed media paper. I have used a heavyweight coloured paper but only used water very sparingly.

paper for Neocolor 2

The two types of Neocolor Pastels

There are 2 types of Neocolor Wax pastels. Neocolor 2 are water-soluble whereas Neocolor 1 aren’t. This does mean that if you wanted to you could create effects by combining the two. For example if I use non watersoluble white pastel and a soluble green I get a wax resist effect. You can see here some other combinations too.

Neocolor 1 vs 2

How hard to press on the pastels

Someone asked how hard should you press on the pastel and this all depends on what sort of effect you want. If you use them very lightly and add water you get a soft watercolour like effect. If you press harder and make the pigment dense it will look more like gouache when you add water.

Blending Neocolor ii wax pastels

I find the easiest way to blend colours is to choose 2 colours that are not too far from each other like a yellow and an orange or a light green and darker green like have here. If you use them lightly you can get a nice soft watercolour like blend. If you use them heavier and add the lighter green over the darker it will start to give a blended effect. When you had water to the thicker pastel it’s a lot more tricky to mix. It’s best to start with just a little water as you can find that you just end up moving pigment around.

blending neocolor ii

Cleaning your pastels

One thing you need to consider when you are working is that your pastels will get dirty and if you are not careful you will transfer the colour your pastel has picked up onto the page. To avoid this wipe the end of your pastel with a bit of kitchen towel or a rag.

Creating small details with your Neocolors

Getting small details drawn with these pastels can be a bit tricky. One way to do this is to sharpen the crayon. If you want to you can put the shavings in a container and use them like paint. The sharpened crayon can get a reasonably fine line. You can also use the reverse of the crayon for lines. Another thing you can do is wet a brush and dab it on the Neocolor and use it like paint to get a fine line.

Neocolor sharpening

Necolor ii used with mixed media and over backgrounds

Neocolors also work well with mixed media, you can see here how they will work over backgrounds. This one has been created with acrylic inks. They will also work over collaged elements. You can see that lighter colours will allow the text from this torn book pages to show through while the dark colours are more opaque.

Neocolor ove mixed media

Drawing and writing over the top of Neocolor ii

I have heard people say how tricky Neocolors are to write or draw over the top if you have used them thickly. The best thing I have found for this is either to sharpen one of the crayons as I have shown before or use a Stabilo All black pencil. These pencils will draw over pretty much anything and they are watersoluble.

Writing over Neocolor 2 - Stabilo All pencil

Taping down your paper before you start drawing

Before you start a drawing with Neocolors, if you are going to be using a lot of water I would recommend taping down your paper to a board with masking tape. It will stop the paper buckling as much.

Semi Abstract Face Timelapse

abstract face in Neocolor 2

Here is a semi-abstract face I drew for the Sky Portrait Artist of the week paint-along. I start with a pencil drawing and then for these drawings generally start with yellow and then move on to darker colours. That way my yellow doesn’t get so messy with darker colours. However, I do go back in with different colours both light and dark so I don’t work in a strict light to dark manner on these. There are no strict rules so do what works for you.

Once I have the colour how I want it I will smooth the pastels out a little with water. You can still go back over the top of this when it’s dry if you want to.

You can see near the end of the drawing I use the Stabilo All pencil to draw on top of the picture.

If you have any questions please let us know in the comments.

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