How to ArticlesContinuing on with our series of The Why, How, When of layering, burnishing and solvent. Here is Part 3 – Solvent

Starting with the basics – What is solvent?

Solvent is a liquid you can use to blend your coloured pencil layers together. There are a few different types of solvent which is also often used in painting such as odourless sovlent.

The most commonly used solvent by coloured pencil artists is called Zest-it.

Zest-it is a citrus based, non toxic solvent that does not leave any residue on the paper which is why cp artists love it.

How to do it?

Apply layers of pencil to your paper (5-6 layers usually before it will blend effectively) and then apply the solvent with an applicator to the pencil and paper.

Allow to dry and then apply more pencil.

You can repeat this process as many times as you require to get the blending effect you are after.

Why and When to do it?

Artists use solvent when they want to blend the pencil layers together to acheive a rich colour or certain texture that requires alot of depth. Often giving the pencil a painterly or pastely kind of effect.

This technique of blending helps artists to also get a large number of layers onto their artwork and gets the pencil right into the grooves and ridges of the paper.
Examples of when it can be used could be for smooth textures such as fabric or glass where you want a very smooth visual end result.Can also be used if you wish to have a very vibrant colour and blending colours into one another such as on a background.

Note: Not all coloured pencil artists use solvent, it really depends on the artists individual style and preference.

Please watch my demonstration video for using solvent.




  • – It’s best to have at least around 5 layers of pencil down before you start using solvent or you wont see much effect.
  • – You cannot remove pencil after you have used solvent so you must make sure you have a established your drawing to what you want before using it.
  • – Only use a small amount on your applicator.
  • – You can use a makeup pad or cotton tip to apply and apply in the direction of your subject or in a circular motion.
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