Three sketches: three different ways of combining watercolour and watercolour pencils

June 3, 2024 | 7 Comments

After a few weeks of preferring to keep my watercolour pencils(WCPs) dry, I suddenly switched to combining them with watercolour. This change happened when I decided to lighten my load. Because I was thinking about using a smaller palette, it prompted me to start my sketches with a few watercolour washes.

Also, it was a good way of getting back into the mode of using a water brush (it requires a different ratio of water to pigment from what I use when painting with my dagger brush).

Combining watercolour with WCPs works well because watercolour is great for large shapes where you want a smooth colour, and the pencils are perfect for texture or details.

Starting with some watercolour also removes the dilemma of deciding whether to add water to my WCP work!

In addition, I’m normally disappointed with sketches done with waterbrushes (the washes are flat and not as lively as when I use a real brush), so combining them with WCPs helps lessen that frustration as I can layer and experiment more easily.

So here are three sketches using different techniques:


Watercolour wash, then WCP (no ink), and a little water as the last stage

Watercolour wash, then alternating between WCP, paint and ink randomly.

Watercolour wash, ink, WCP, more paint, more watercolour pencil. (A little less random than the second sketch.)


Ah! It’s just so much fun to experiment on a regular basis in my sketchbook!



  • Lynn says:

    I never tire of seeing how you use different media in your sketchbook. So inspiring! Thank you for sharing your work and knowledge and creativity with us.

  • Jamie C says:

    These street scenes are just so complex, it’s amazing you do them so fast and easily! Do the watercolor washes make it faster or slower than the watercolor pencils only version?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Jamie! Faster? Hard to tell. Faster in that you can cover areas much quicker but then there is the wait time.

  • Ginie Udy says:

    I love seeing, and being inspired by these 3 different approaches and scenes. I’m going to give it an go asI’m enjoying combining WCP, CP, ink, and paint too at the moment. And doing it a bit randomly. I like the idea of the watercolour wash as a base to start with. All 3 of your spreads are very interesting sketches that draw you in!

  • rhonda roth says:

    Hi Liz.
    I’ve started to do what I call watercolor minis, small 6×8 inch pieces, which are the perfect size to try out the combination of watercolor and watercolor pencils. I think there’s a technique to it for best results. For example, do you wet the paper first, and then the pencil, or the other way around. I’ve got to experiment. Thanks for posting.

Leave a Reply