Watercolor Pencils: The Best of Both Worlds

8 mins read

Create a colorful red-cap mushroom using Winsor & Newton Studio Collection Watercolour Pencils, a tool that offers tremendous versatility. Plus, they’re fun!

By Kate Lagaly CPSA, CPX

|Sponsored| The advantage of a watercolor pencil is that it can be used as both a drawing tool and a painting tool, and the Winsor & Newton Studio Collection Watercolour Pencils are some of the best. Use the pencils dry, like a colored pencil, to draw an image with color. Or, add water, and take a painterly approach with a brush. You can also dip the pencil’s point in water for a different watercolor effect, using them on wet paper to achieve blurs, fades, and color mixes.

Speaking of color-mixing, try this: Use one of the pencils to lay down color on a non-porous surface and then add water. You can do this with several colors and mix a gorgeous palette. These pencils are highly pigmented, so you can lay down lots of brilliant color with little effort, creating stunning drawings or watercolor effects.

You won’t have to worry about breakage, either, because Winsor & Newton Studio Collection Watercolour Pencils are made with break-resistant cores and points. No more panicking if you drop your pencil!

Another great benefit is that the pencils are perfectly portable, which makes them a great tool for painting en plein air or taking along with you on your travels.

Now, let’s put them to work!

In the following demo, you can see how I created an adorable red-cap mushroom using the pencils. 

Gather Your Supplies

Winsor & Newton Studio Collection Watercolour Pencils: Red, carmine, sunflower, caramel, orange, grass, lush green, black and white

Winsor & Newton Hot Press Professional Watercolour Paper: Size 9” x 12”

Erasers: Pencil top eraser, Tombow Mono Zero eraser, battery-powered eraser, or erasers of your choice

Brush: Winsor & Newton Watercolour Sable Pointed Round or brush of your choice

Additional supplies:

  • Water container, a small fine mist spray bottle, paper towels, small washcloth or hand towel
  • Drawing stump and sanding block or sandpaper to clean the stump
  • Small metal strainer, sanding block, or sandpaper to make the watercolor pencil texture

Step 1: Draw the Mushroom

To begin, I sketched the mushroom onto the watercolor paper.


Step 2: Add Color

Working on dry paper, I used the red and sunflower pencil colors to apply color to the cap and stem. Use an eraser to lighten areas as needed throughout this process.

Step 3: Add Water

Using a watercolor brush and water, I wet the color and painted the mushroom cap and stem. Have a small washcloth or paper towels available to control the amount of water on your brush throughout this process.

Step 4: Add Shading

Working on dry paper again, I added shading on the top of the mushroom cap with carmine and added orange on the bottom of the mushroom cap and parts of the stem. Then, using a watercolor brush and water, I gently applied water to the newly shaded areas.

Step 5: Shade the White Bumps

Working on dry paper, I used the black pencil to add shading to the white bumps on the mushroom cap, to the shadows on the stem and under the cap, and on the bottom of the stem and shadowed areas under the gouged part of the stem. Using a watercolor brush and water, I gently applied water to the newly shaded areas.

Step 6: Shade the Ground

Working on dry paper, I used the sunflower, lush green, grass, black, and carmine pencils to shade the ground beneath the mushroom. Use an eraser to lighten and clean areas as needed.

Step 7: Add Texture

Using a watercolor brush, I wet the newly shaded parts and some of the paper beyond the shaded parts. I made the paper fairly wet. Then, using a small metal strainer (a piece of sandpaper or sanding block will also work), I ran the watercolor pencils across the strainer while holding it over the wet paper. I did this with the sunflower, lush green, grass, black, and carmine pencils. The pieces of pigment fall and start to dissolve on the paper, creating a lovely texture. You can use a fine mist spray bottle, if needed, to gently rewet some areas that have started to dry before the shavings had a chance to dissolve.

Step 8: Final Touches

Lastly, I used the pencils, dry, to strengthen shadows, brighten color and add details to the mushroom. I don’t usually wet anything at this stage, although that is an option. You can use erasers to lighten areas, add textures and clean the surrounding white paper. You can also use the white watercolor pencil to lighten your work as needed. 

You decide how many details to add to your piece of art. My example is only that, an example. Your artwork will not look like mine or anyone else’s, which is a very good thing. I hope you enjoy making beautiful artwork with Winsor & Newton Studio Collection Watercolour Pencils as much as I do!

About Kate Lagaly, CPSA, CPX

Art is woven into every part of Kate Lagaly’s life and everything she does; it has been a constant companion and driving force. She became serious about art as the student of a most extraordinary high school art teacher. She went on to earn a BA in Art and Art Education from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Kate has continued her art education through independent study, workshops, teaching, and lots of practice.


Kate taught high school art, switching to teaching adult art classes as she moved around the country with her husband. Kate has spent more than three decades honing her teaching, painting, and drawing skills. From the Colored Pencil Society of America, she earned a CPSA Signature with a 5 Year Merit and a CPX Signature with a 10 Year Merit. Kate’s colored pencil artwork has been published in books, magazines, and calendars. Her work has been shown in regional and national competitions, and solo and group exhibits where she has sold work and won awards. 

Winsor & Newton is dedicated to the craft of fine artists and to providing them with new ways to explore their creativity. We embrace new ideas, we seek out the latest technologies and materials—we devote our time to creating the world’s finest art materials, which are used by some of the world’s finest artists.


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