A cheap way to try out using heat with colored pencils and crayons is to use a small, inexpensive coffee warmer. Mine gets up to 130 degree (F), which is probably too warm, but it works fine as a way to melt wax to see what happens.
I sampled a variety of pencils and crayons, finding the Neocolors melting the quickest, but all of them worked to some extent.
I chose a $15 coffee warmer that was smooth on top. This one turns on when there’s weight on it, and it only has one setting.
This very, very quick drawing was done on drafting film with melted Neocolors and then scraffito techniques. Certainly not my best effort but overall fun and very creative feeling.
Doesn’t this one look like a coloring book? I drew in the horse first and then melted it afterwards, blending the colors with a clay shaper. Honestly, I’m not certain I’ve hit upon a look I like with using heat, but it’s very intriguing all the same.
I finished another drawing using Grafix Duralar drafting film and Neocolor I crayons, this one our two horses grazing. Pete and Banner are close friends. Banner’s the leader, and Pete’s never far behind.
I left out the background other than a few splotches of color because I’m being a little dramatic but I’m also just beginning to experiment with backgrounds on drafting film.
I also finished this hummingbird, which is the final bird in the Three Little Birds series by the Virtual Instructor. He used Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils, which I have, but the only black paper I have is Canson drawing paper, not a great choice. I couldn’t layer enough so left it about half finished with very little definition, especially on the back and tail. Oh, well. I really enjoyed the series and learned so much about color choice, layering, and process. I carried this over to multiple projects already. Now, I need to decide which course to take next. Maybe pen and ink?
The other day, I realized that a crayon—in this case the Neocolor pastels—is an oil pastel. It says it right on the wrapper, but I never connected the dots. It’s pigment with a waxy/oily binder not encased in wood. If that was true, I also realized I have many oil pastels/crayons, Sennelier being the softest and Prismacolor Art Stix being the hardest. I could even take this a step further and say that colored pencils are probably oil/wax pastels encased in wood, but I’m not up on my art chemistry enough to say that. (Although I think I’m right.)
I used Stonehenge paper and blended all four various ways. The softest ones are truly stunning blended out with walnut oil. I love oil pastels because they’re beautiful and very satisfying to use on paper, film, pretty much anything. I’m frustrated with the softest ones, though, because I’m never quite certain how to finish or store them. They stay tacky, while the “crayon” Neocolor pastels are easier to store. I treat them like watercolors and store them in a portfolio, only I put a sheet of paper or glassine over the top.
I then tested both Neocolors. Neocolor I are water resistant and II are water soluble. The act similarly dry, but II are softer. I assume there’s gum arabic in them. They blend nicely with the Caran d’Ache or Derwent blenders. I absolutely love these crayons.
While I was in the testing mood, I pitted the less expensive, more available Grafix Duralar drafting film (left) against the Grafix drafting film (right), both the same thickness, double-sided, and matte.
Duralar doesn’t take nearly as many layers as Grafix, about seven compared to ten. The color is deeper and richer on Grafix, which is the overall winner. However, I’m partial to both. Duralar lets the colors shine, and Grafix needs more thought and care to keep colors from muddying. I also realized only certain markers and inks work. Some smeared even hours later, so test first before embarking on a big project.
I think you have to know horses to understand that Pete and his buddy are playing, not fighting. I drew these guys on Grafix drafting film using Caran d’Ache Neocolor II water soluble crayons. I tried using a little water on the first layer, but the color pretty much washed away. I may have to use fixative on this as I’m afraid of what would happen if a drop of water hit the surface. I’m considering buying the water resistant Neocolor I crayons just to use on this surface, which I love.
This one of our Pekingese is also on Grafix, but the Dura-Lar version. I used colored pencils with Pan Pastels.
For both drawings, I used the grid method to draw the initial image. It felt like cheating as I’ve never used a grid before. It helps tremendously with proportions, but adding everything else is up to you. Because drafting film is transparent, I created the grid on a separate sheet of paper and can reuse it.