Watercolor pencils are some of my favorite things. I can’t paint very well (as in paintings), so the pencils allow me to create a “painting” with an easier-to-control method.
It’s really satisfying to use them. The way I use them is: I draw/color with them dry and then go over the color with a water brush, which is a special paintbrush that holds water in the barrel and you squeeze it once in a while to get water on the bristles. You can also use a regular paintbrush and dip it in water. I’ve gotten water brushes on Amazon and they were ok. Some were kind of too liberal with the water dispensing, but I think were still ok. I got a good one at Blick once but I can’t remember the brand. You can also wet the pencil itself and use it that way.
Above is one of my color sheets. I have a few different brands of pencils, but my favorite is far and away Caran d’Ache Supracolor. They’re also, of course, the most expensive, at around $2.75 per pencil if you get them at Blick, which I do because they sell them individually. CDA pencils are very smooth and when you add water the pigment stays even and doesn’t ball up like some others do. They are a joy to use. There is also a line called Museum Aquarelle, but I haven’t used those. They also carry water brushes but I haven’t used one yet.
My second favorite brand is Derwent. Derwent has regular watercolor pencils as well as Inktense, which are bolder colors. They are both good lines of pencils. They are about $2.00 per pencil.
I also have some Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer pencils, $2.25 each, which I think are fine. Lots of people swear by these but I wasn’t completely sold.
A problem I have often with watercolor pencils is that the pigment balls up when you get it wet and/or doesn’t distribute evenly. This almost never happens with Caran d’Ache, but I will admit I did see some balling up with one of the colors on the above sheet. I don’t remember the exact one, but it was a brown. Many of the brown colors of all the brands have issues, so it must just be a difficult range of colors.
I’ll include some photos of things I’ve done with watercolor pencils. I used them once or twice on wood (as in the first photo) and liked the result. I was really annoyed with the stamen on the hibiscus photo and hope to improve on that aspect of drawing.