Perfect Partners: Neocolor and Luminance

Recently I have been sharing a method in Facebook coloured pencil groups which has piqued the interest of some of my peers; therefore, I have decided to write a post about it.

My method is to use Neocolor 2; a water soluble wax pastel by Caran d’Ache (I use it without water) as undercoat for coloured pencil drawings.

Putting Neocolor onto the paper before coloured pencils are applied speeds up the process of the drawing – which is especially good if I am working on a large picture.  (The drawing shown here is 33.5 x 48.5 cm.)  Anyone who uses coloured pencils alone to render big areas like sky or still water knows how tedious it is.  Neocolor makes the process faster and more pleasurable.

The texture of Neocolor 2 makes a welcoming cushion-like base for coloured pencil to relax into.  The pencil glides over Neocolor so much more readily than it glides over virgin paper.

I find that complicated areas (such as Venetian palace facades) cannot help but be simplified when the initial layer is put on with Neocolor.  You can’t be too fussy with this medium because it is never super-sharp.  (I use a knife to sharpen the pastel but even at its sharpest, it is kind of blunt.)  Therefore it attunes my brain to the main shapes as opposed to fiddly tiny details.

I use very light pressure when putting Neocolor on.  It is barely there – and yet it makes SUCH a difference to the surface texture.

Work in progress 1:  undercoat of Neocolor 2 before any coloured pencil is applied.

Because I don’t like holding a crayon-length instrument, I use a Fixpencil 0012 (also by Caran d’Ache) to hold it with.  I find this longer length much more comfortable for my hand and it gives me added control.

Applying Neocolor 2 (held inside a Fixpencil 0012).

If you’ve read other posts of mine, you’ll know that Luminance is my number one pencil.  However in the photo below you’ll see I’m blending using a Derwent Blender.  This blender is hard and dry.  There’s enough wax already in the Neocolor/Luminance mix.  It doesn’t need added wax in the form of a wax-based blender, so the raspy dry Derwent blender makes the perfect tool.  Once I’ve blended, that isn’t the end of it.  I can carry on adding more colour over the top; no problem.

Enter the Derwent Blender

The final image shows where I’m up to currently with the drawing.  In my opinion, the partnership of Neocolor with coloured pencil gives a soft painterly aesthetic which, to me, is delicious.

Work in Progress – as it was on 13th January 2020.

Work in progress – as it was on 18th January 2020

Postscript:  The drawing is finished on 24th January, 2020.  It is called “Most Serene”.

Most Serene January 2020

See also Art Materials page

See also Brush and Pencil post



12 thoughts on “Perfect Partners: Neocolor and Luminance

  1. Lyn Paterson

    Dear Julie,
    I just wanted to thank you for sharing your processes! Your work is always stunning and I agree the Italian landscapes particularly look great with that soft romantic finish!

  2. Sherry Telle

    Thank you so much for your generous sharing! I have my neocolours and luminance out to play today! You have inspired me yet again dear Cousin!

  3. anna warren portfolio

    Its fascinating to see the progression of the work. The Neocolor base is such a lovely soft underpainting – its actually beautiful even at that stage, but clearly adding the pencil on top enhances the richness and depth of the drawing. Its also interesting that the colours you use in the underpainting are not necessarily the same as what goes on the top – colour theory comes into place here I think! I’m looking forward to the finished piece!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Good morning Anna! I don’t think it would matter all that much which Neocolor colours I chose for underneath – in fact I was mulling over the idea of using all greys – maybe one day. Because actually the main influence over the drawing is the TEXTURE of Neocolor and how it changes the substrate.

      I’m thinking I like Neocolor as undercoat more than either Neopastel or Sennelier oil pastel because I’m not aware of pastel dust of any sort. There is a dust issue with Neopastel, while Sennelier is almost too thick so one is always wiping globs of it off the pencil lead. In working over Neocolor, the process is very clean.

  4. Brigitte Shaw

    This is a great post, Julie. I am looking forward to the follow-up and am keen to experiment with this medium. Thankyou for sharing.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I’m pleased to have inspired you to experiment with Neocolor, Brigitte. Do let me know your thoughts when you try it out. As to the follow up post – heck – I hope the drawing works out. I’d have egg on my face if it didn’t after this post. (Hence, I’m going slowly and carefully!)

  5. lauraslittlecorner

    Hi, Julie. Have you heard of special edition Neocolor 2 Fall set of 10? Assortment includes Gold ochre, Green ochre, Natural sienna, English red, Indian red, Chestnut brown, Vandyke brown, Black olive, Moss green, and Grey black. And there are also Winter, Spring, Summer. My, my! But they seems to be colours yet in the 84 colour chart.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Laura, no I am not aware of these small sets of seasonal colours. Though I know Caran d’Ache do something like it with Museum Aquarelles, for instance having landscape, seascape and portrait sets of particular colours. (I’m not sure exactly how they categorise them, something like that anyway.)


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