By Nicole Tinkham
You may not know the difference between oil-based colored pencils and wax ones. Or you may not even realize that there are two different types of colored pencils. That’s ok! No shame here, I didn’t know the difference myself. I knew one of the two were the common colored pencils that we see everywhere. You know, the Prismacolors we all know and love. The other type, I had never used and knew absolutely nothing about. It’s funny how when you get used to one thing it’s tough to try something else, isn’t it? You already know what to expect from wax-based colored pencils and more importantly, know how to use them (oil-based are a completely different feel). Not only will you tend to stick with what you know (and save some money while doing so), but you’ll also most likely miss oil-based pencils altogether unless you’re really looking for them. Wax-based are much more popular and can be found just about anywhere. But as we know, just because one type is more popular than the other doesn’t mean its better. Read on for 5 things you need to know about oil and wax colored pencils.
1. Wax-based colored pencils tend to show up lighter on the paper allowing you to work in layers. Oil-based pencils lay down a lot of color, eliminating the need to work in layers.
2. Oil-based pencils are much more expensive than wax-based ones but they offer a professional (think oil painting) look.
3. There’s a wide range of wax-based pencils to choose from with the hard lead you probably used in grade school and a softer lead used by more experienced artists. Oil-based pencils on the other hand are more specialized, smear easily, and rely on the artist’s skill.
4. Wax-based pencils offer a softer core that can break easily. They also tend to leave a film on the work surface. Oil-based pencils have a harder core and don’t leave behind that film.
5. It’s recommended to use a fixative with wax-based pencils as it prevents the wax from rising to the surface or “blooming”. A fixative is not needed when working with oil-based colored pencils.
When it comes down to choosing either wax-based or oil-based colored pencils to work with, it’s all about personal preference. Both options have their pros and cons producing different looks. If you’ve worked with colored pencils in the past, they were most likely wax-based since those are the most popular. If you’re comfortable and happy with them, that’s perfect! But if you want to try something new, grab a few oil-based pencils and go to town! Be sure to leave a comment below and let us know your experience with either or both options.