Blending & Burnishing Coloured Pencils
The Blender pencil is a soft colourless pencil that allows you to blend two or more colours together to create a new colour. At the same time it physically mixes and smoothes the colours so individual strokes and hard edges are softened. The Derwent Burnisher is a hard colourless pencil which when used over layers of pigment provides a rich polished finish.
Taken from the Derwent website - www.pencils.co.uk
The Derwent Blender & Burnisher pencils are sold in a blister pack which includes 2 of each pencil, an eraser and a pencil sharpener or individually. These pencils are colourless and made with the same binder used in Coloured pencils. Other brands have created their own blender (see bottom of the page)
What is the difference between a blender and a burnisher?
The blender has been designed to blend and soften colours without changing the tones. The Burnisher is designed to add a polished finish to Artwork particularly good for shiny objects such as glass, metal and light reflections. Like the Blender, it does not change the colours in any way but adds a sheen which can be seen when a light source hits the burnished area. The burnisher will blend to a certain degree but is not designed to soften hard edges as the Blender does, so both could make a great addition to a Coloured pencil collection.
As you can see with the Blender Example, lines appear much smoother and depending on how you apply your colours before blending, lines may be eliminated altogether. Layer your colours gently so as not to end up with hard, strong lines that you are unable to blend. The Burnisher does not blend as well as you can still see some harsh lines in the treated area however it can be used over an application of blender to add a sheen or polished effect to your Artwork.
These 2 images show a magnification of the blended (Left image) & burnished (Right image) examples above. This gives you a far better idea of how much these pencils effect the colours you apply. It also depends on the type of paper you use too, obviously a textured paper will not be as easy to blend on as a smooth paper but it really depends on the effects you are looking for.
The Blender application creates a matt finish which can help to mute any 'bloom' that may happen with some Coloured pencils as seen in the green image above. The 'Gold' tones in the unblended area is the 'bloom' reflecting the light when viewed at an angle and the blended side offers a very strong indication of what a blender can achieve. The Burnisher example seen on the right is of a small drawing of a cherry I did and applied the burnisher over the top - tipped to reflect the light so you can see the sheen given over the Artwork. The effects will vary dependant on colours used but will always create a polished appearance.
Other pencil blenders available
I have found 4 brands of pencil style blenders - these are Derwent, Prismacolor, Caran Dache & the Lyra Rembrandt 'Splender Blender' As I own the first 3 mentioned I can offer some additional advice here, although know little about the Lyra Blender. Both the Derwent & Prismacolor Blenders are encased in wood and I have found that they can indent the paper slightly (depending on the amount of pressure applied) and feel 'scratchy' in use which leaves behind bits that need to be dusted away.
Prismacolor Blender - A colourless wax based medium which creates a matt finish to a blended area of colour. This is a thinner pencil than Derwent, but the core is the same thickness. It is sold individually and comes unsharpened which may help to minimise core damage in transit.
Caran Dache Full Blender Bright - this is a colourless oil-wax medium created to blend/burnish in one and appears softer in application so does not indent the paper. It is not encased in wood and so allows for blending on a larger scale and can also be used on other supports such as fabric, wood, pottery and stone. It can be used with Caran Dache Coloured pencils, wax pastels and even Graphite, it also increases lightfastness too! As it is an Oil & Wax based medium, it can also be used with other Oil based or wax based Coloured pencils and can be used as a wax resist tool too.
Lyra Rembrandt Splender Blender - This is an Oil based blender, perfectly suited to use alongside Lyra's Rembrandt Oil based Coloured pencil range and upon researching the Internet, it appears it works better with oil based Coloured pencils than wax based ones. Internet research also seems to point to this blender offering a glossier finish to colour applications which makes this blender sound like it will blend colours as a blender and leaves a shine like a burnisher.
Tips for Using Pencil Blenders
* Apply gentle and gradual applications of colour before blending - Apply colours light to dark
* Apply colours & blender using gentle, circular motions - this will avoid harsh lines which can make it harder to smooth out with the blender.
* Apply the blender once you have placed all your colours as it may be harder to apply additional colours as the blender acts as a sealant, however you can get around this by applying a spray fixative over the top if you do wish to add further layers.
* Blend your colours using the Derwent Blender then apply the Derwent Burnisher over the top for an added sheen.
* Ensure you clean the tip of the blender between colour changes to avoid muddying other areas.
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