Every colored pencil artist seems to have their favorite blender. I’ve never been very consistent in my choice of which blender to use for any given project, so today I created a set of charts to compare how each performs. I thought you might like to see the results.
During the last couple of years, I have collected and been gifted with a variety of blenders. To me, they are essential tools for creating really solid areas of color and, more importantly, creating that deep and rich multi-colored and layered look that takes colored pencil art from drawing to painting.
It’s pretty important to know your tools, so I decided it’s time to give them a real test drive.
The seven blenders tested are:
Figuring that the blenders of a certain brand would perform better with pencils of that same brand, I tested on color swatches of Prismacolor Premiers, Derwent Coloursoft, and Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 pencils. To make the comparison as accurate as possible, I chose similar colors for each brand, and was careful to create swatches that, allowing for a bit of color variation, were as identical as possible.
Each swatch has four color layers: two in blue and two in violet, and the blending pencil was applied with a medium-heavy pressure.
And here are the charts. The left side of each swatch is unblended; the right side is blended.
Across all three samples, based on each blender’s ability to combine colors and cover-up background paper fibers, the Derwent Blender clearly performed best, followed by the Prismacolor and Koh-i-Noor blenders.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Koh-i-Noor, which is a new brand to me and I didn’t expect it to do such a great job.
The Caran d’Ache is unique among the blenders; it’s a blender stick, about the size of a pencil, and can be sharpened like a pencil. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed to find it a bit scratchy against the paper surface and not quite as effective as some of the others.
Although the Derwent Burnisher is technically not a blender and is marketed as providing a “rich, glossy finish to your art,” it also blends quite well.
The Prismacolor marker worked very well, but an important note: if you are creating art which might be entered in a show requiring “100% colored pencil,” using a marker may be outside the rules.
Also, I found that additional applications of the marker didn’t really result in a more blended look, but additional application of any of the pencils does.
The Lyra is the least aggressive blender in this comparison, but may be the perfect choice for lighter blending.
Happy blending. And of course, if you have any insights you’d like to share, use the comments form or dash me off an email.
Hi I a newbie to your group. After a couple of years of just colouring I am now venturing into try my own art. Interesting post to read this, as I have never used a blender pencil. I however use a blender liquid called Zest it. I think in other countries it is called Gamsol. Have you ever tried this?→
I’ve not tried Gamsol, but I am familiar with it. I’ve tried a lot of other types of solvents including blending pens and even vodka, which will work in a pinch. A blending pencil is my preferred way to blend: it does just as good a job, is inexpensive, and doesn’t require require using brushes or dealing with cleanup / spills / problems transporting, etc. But with that said, plenty of people use Gamsol and love it!→
Thanks SO much. VERY helpful.→
Glad you found the comparison helpful, Janice.→
it also depends on what paper you use also→
You’re right, Doug. Colored pencil coverage will vary depending on the surface, but I think the blenders will be pretty consistent compared to each other. Check out Lindy’s comment. Thanks for commenting!→
I don’t even use blenders and found this interesting! Good post!→
LOL! Thanks, Krysta. The good thing is that one day, when you start creating colored pencil art, you will know which blender to use.→
I totally agree with your results, although I haven’t tried the Koh-i-noor or Lyra blenders. Thanks for saving me (and others) the time and expense of doing our own trials!→
Thank you, Lynne, and it’s my pleasure. Lindy mentioned she also tried out the blenders on different papers and found that the different blenders worked the same in comparison to each other. So that’s good to know as well.→
Thank you for taking the time to do this test! I’ve only used the Prismacolor colorless blender but have been curious about how it compares to other blenders. It’s great to see!→
Nice to read your results nd see them too!
By coincidence – I did a very similar comparison test just yesterday and with almost the same results. My Derwent blender worked best, Prismacolor blender a close second. Personally I didn’t much like the Lyra Splender Blender at all which is a pity as I somehow have 3 of them! And like you, I found the Caran d’Ache full blender not as effective as I had hoped and a little scratchy. I was also comparing different papers and that did affect the ability to blend in general, but not between brands of blenders.
Lindy! Isn’t that remarkable that we both did a blender test yesterday? A couple of years ago a workshop participant gave me Lyra, telling me it was the best blender she had ever used. I treasured it, and I used it… for awhile. But I kept going back to the Prismacolor Colorless Blender. Then when I found Derwent, that as all she wrote. I was surprised that the Caran d’Ache didn’t perform better, given that the Luminance Pencils (which it comes with), are so well-respected and high-end.→
Thanks for sharing this info Rhonda. I usually use the Prisma blender or the Prisma colorless blender marker…. guess it’s time to go shopping.→
Sorry to send you out on a colored pencil shopping trip, Linda. But somehow I think you will forgive me. LOL!→
Thanks for testing the blenders. I have several but tend to use the Derwent blender most of all. After blending I often add more colours over the top.→
You bet! I multiple layers of coloring and blending as well. It’s the way to create those really deep and rich colors which seem to glow.→