Blending Stumps Vs Tortillons And Other Tools To Blend Like A Pro

By Nicole Tinkham


Whether you draw or are a makeup artist, you know that blending is essential. For drawing, you have many blending tool options from tortillons to stumps and many others. The right tools can make a huge difference in your artwork and when it comes to blending, you definitely have to think about your supplies of choice. Every artist is different and prefers a different tool. In this blog we’ll talk about the difference between a blending stump and tortillons and more tools to help you blend like a pro.
Blending Stumps

What they are: A solid “stick” made out of soft paper with a point at each end. These can be sharpened with sandpaper and also cleaned with a kneaded eraser which is super convenient! Since these are available in a variety of sizes, they’re great for many different projects.


What they are: Tightly rolled paper with a point on one end ideal for blending small areas. We recommend using it at an angle to keep that nice pointed tip in tact.

Tip: Have many of these in use at once. Once dark graphite gets on these, you won’t want to use it in a lighter area. Tortillons are inexpensive enough that you can be using several for different shades in your piece at once.

The difference

Tortillons can be a little more difficult to use since that aren’t made with the same soft paper that of blending stumps. This makes it difficult to keep a consistent tone. However, tortillons are perfect for precision! Our suggestion: Have both!

What you can achieve with BOTH options

1.    Blending: Push graphite around the page to blend tones together.

2.    Shading: Pick up graphite with your tool of choice (use scrap paper to scribble on and then rub your blending tool over the graphite to pick it up). Now you can apply that graphite to your drawing and layer it on depending on how dark you need it to be.

3.    Light values: A clean blending tool is key for blending light values!

4.    Dark values: When working on a dark area, it’s typical for tiny specs of the white paper to shine through. Using a blending tool can cover up those areas.

Other tools

Chamois: Not for detailed work but this cloth is perfect for a soft blend when using charcoal and pastels.

Makeup brush: We’ve heard from one of our artist friends that makeup brushes are excellent for blending!

Q-tip: Use for larger areas, not precise spots.

Paper towel: Fold in a triangle so you get some nice points on the ends.

Facial tissue: Wrap it around your finger to prevent the oils from your finger to get smudges on your artwork.

Cotton swab

Don’t use..

Your fingers! The oils from your finger can make the graphite impossible to erase.

If you aren’t already blending, you need to be! It can definitely transform your artwork if you do it right. Play around with it first though as it takes some practice. There’s no right or wrong answer here either. Try a few different blending tools out and see which one you like best. Every artist is different so we can’t really recommend blending stumps over tortillons or anything else.

Let us know, what’s your favorite tool to blend with and why? Please leave a comment below!

29+ Prismacolor Pencil Tips & Techniques

By Nicole Tinkham

29 Prismacolor Pencil Tips & Techniques

You asked and we listened. One of the art supplies you were dying to learn more about was Prismacolor colored pencils. Great choice! Prismacolor brings an array of quality art supplies including markers, pastels, charcoal, graphite, and of course colored pencils. As far as colored pencils go, you can learn about ALL of your many options here. But we’re going to take that previous blog post a step further and bring to you exactly what you need to know about using them right here in this post. Here are the top tips and techniques for using Prismacolor Colored Pencils.


1.    Layering: Lightly layer colors to create new colors.

2.    Blender pencil: This is a clear colored pencil specifically for blending purposes. This colorless blender is used to fuse colors together. Hint: If you don’t have a colorless blender, you can use a colored pencil in a light shade.

3.    Glaze effect: You can also blend a colorless pencil with a colored pencil to create a sheer glaze.

4.    Wash effect: Using mineral spirits will give you a softer blend and wash effect.

5.    Wide coverage: Using a bristle brush, you can drag the color out to cover a large area.

6.    Smudge the color: Using a cloth, rub into the color and smudge to desired area.

7.    Pushing the color around: Tortillions can be used to push colors around. A tortillion is basically tightly wound paper used for blending.


8.    Rough background texture: Using sand paper under the paper will create a bumpy texture.

9.    Create patterns: Use a textured rubbing plate under the paper to create textured patterns. This is similar to the sand paper concept mentioned above.

10.    Impressed lines: Press a stylus into the paper to create grooves and color over them with a colored pencil.

11.    Using a textured paper: If you’re working on a paper with a tooth, remember that pressing down hard with the pencil could flatten the raised texture.


12.    Masking off areas: Using a removable tape will keep straight edges clean and not damage the paper.

13.    How to use the last little bit of pencil: A pencil extender is an accessory Prismacolor offers to get the most out of every stub.

14.    Easy solvent: This is a pretty cool tip. Hand sanitizer can be used as a solvent for Prismacolor pencils.

15.    Watercolor pencil: Watercolor pencils work like MAGIC. You’ll seriously be amazed. We have a whole blog post dedicated to them here.

16.    Creating black without a black pencil: Using several deep colors can create a more intense black than the color black itself.

17.    Light to dark vs. dark to light: There’s no right or wrong way to go about doing this. Do whatever feels comfortable for you.

18.    Wax build up: If you see a white film build up on your drawing don’t freak out. This happens (normally when color is applied heavily) when the wax from the pencil rises to the surface. Simply wipe away with a cloth.

19.    Experiment with different surfaces: Prismacolor pencils can be used on various types of paper, wood, paper mache, and more.

20.    Be gentle: When Prismacolor pencils drop or get banged together, the inside core could break. No good!

21.    Use on canvas:  Try them out on a gessoed canvas or illustration board for a different look.

22.    DIY Prismacolor paint: Rub Prismacolor Art Stix on a sanding block to get a powder-like version of the pigment. Stir in odorless mineral spirits and use as paint!

23.    Add details to an oil painting: Colored pencils can be used to add details like eyes or highlights in hair to an oil painting.

24.    Filling in the tooth of the paper: The rougher the surface of the paper, the sharper you want your pencil. This will help you fill in all the nooks and cranny’s.


25.    Final fixative: This one seals out the air. This prevents the wax build-up that you may have experience. At this point you cannot rework anything. The drawing is final.

26.    Workable fixative: Allows you to add more layers by coating the surface with a “tooth”.


27.    Erasing: Prismacolor pencils aren’t easily erasable but an electric eraser is the best way to go.

28.    Lifting color: You know that putty used to hang artwork on the walls? It can also be used to lift color from a Prismacolor pencil drawing. Get it here.

29.    Sharpening: Prismacolor pencils have a soft and delicate core. Be extremely careful when sharpening. Don’t violently wiggle the pencil around in the sharpener.

Thanks to our fans, here are a few more Prismacolor tips!

30. If you mess up, you can take a really sharp white colored pencil and sort of “erase it” -Jonathan

31. Use clear Scotch tape or art tape to peel up a few layers at a time without ruining the paper. You can get most of it off that way and it will give you a good base to start off with again. -Jonathan

32. “When using a solvent in tight places, look for very small Qtips in Nail & Cosmetic stores. They are invaluable! For even tinier Qtips, ask your dentist for the little ones they use on your teeth. They are great!” -Suzanne

33. “If the core is broken you can put them in the oven on 200 degrees for 2 to 5 minutes then take out and cool to room temp. I put them in the frig to cool faster. I also heard you could put in microwave but I have never done it that way.” -Virginia Estep

34. “I put my Prismas on a heating pad to mend if they break and in summer the car dashboard works well. I’ve tried the microwave and the wood casing cracked, so don’t recommend that method!” Ukknight

35. “Use ear cleaning buds to blend” – lewisimpson

36. “Don’t let your puppy get hold of your pencils!” –Trish Councell

37.” Using a heated surface will allow rich colours. A local artist uses a custom board, I’ve been experimenting with putting a heating pad under my art board.” -Greg

38. “I started sharpening my pencils on a nail file and spun it as I did to keep it even. This keeps the points from breaking as much. I also use rubbing alcohol to dissolve the wax so I can add more color on top.” –britcomeauxbooks

49. “After applying color to my artwork I will go back over all my sharp borders with a black gel pen. It really makes the color pop!” Davey Barnett

50. “To elaborate on NOT using a microwave: Some of the colors actually catch fire due to material used. I believe the gold paint on the casing is also a fire hazard. Microwaves just use far too much heat all at once. You want to bind the cores together, not nuke them to oblivion. For more even coverage color in a circular motion as opposed to side to side or up and down. I’ve found it especially helping while blending.Stump starting to get too small for the extender? Glue it to the end of a new pencil and keep sharpening and coloring.” –Lindsay Graves

51. “A prismacolor artist from Illinois named Dooley created great effects by dry brushing gesso with them. He started by using gesso to create bright highlights. He also used oil pastels in large areas, such as backgrounds on large drawings.” Sara Frenz

52. “You can left layers of color by using a curved exact blade. Gently scrape the excess color of very gently and brush them away.” Chandell Coombs
53. “Use prisma colors pencils and water colors paint together. The wax in the leads is resistant to the watercolors and easily whipes away with damp clothe or q-tps. Makes it easier to create large backgrounds. Or base colors for large areas that you can ten add more olor and texture with your prisma color leads.” Chandell Coombs

54. “I use a powdered stick deodorant (Secret sheer dry) either before laying down color or after the color has been laid down to blend smoothly using a Q-tip. The color moves so easily and blends very nicely. You can even lay on more color if you want!” -Peggy H.

55. “Rub with aloe vera impregnated tissues wound around a cotton bud to achieve the shine after the final layer of Prismacolor pencil. Color can bleed a little so best to ‘shine’ one color at a time and best to use the resealable pocket pack of tissues, as effect of aloevera disappears in a large box of opened tissues.” -Penny

56. “The best pencil sharpener I’ve discovered yet for prismacolor pencils is the kiss brand eye/lip pencil sharpener. It seems to sharpen away less wood and core. Also, not only does the colorless blender pencil blend colors together nicely, it covers the tiny white spots that show through the pencil, and brightens the pigment tremendously!” -Tabby

57. “I wouldn’t recommend this for fine art, but for more casual stuff it’s very cool: you can blend & smooth heavy layers of color using a plastic eraser. I have a Staedtler Mars round plastic eraser in a hold – it moves the color around quite a bit without lifting off much of it, isn’t real good for tight places or exacting work, but for sketchy stuff or large areas it’s nice!”
“Also – I’ve microwaved PrismaColors to ‘repair’ broken inner lead & it seems to work BUT – be careful – I start run it for 5 – 6 seconds & still sometimes the paint blisters a bit. But it’s better than shredding away 3/4s of a brand new pencil trying to get a tip. (I love ya, PrismaColor except for that!!)” -Nancy

58. “Chartpack Markers carries a colorless blender that works wonders.” – Jason Jamaal

59. “White color pencils can make your colors look darker and blend colors together.” – Kayla

We don’t want this to be the final list of tips and techniques for working with Prismacolor pencils. How about we make a goal right here, right now to get this list to 50. We want valuable tips from REAL artists like you that are reading this blog. We can’t do it without YOU! Comment below with any experiences you’ve learned from when using colored pencils in your art. Have you ever experimented with a unique paper? Have you found a trick to fixing broken pencils? Are you an expert at storing and organizing supplies? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.