Drafting Film – What it is and a few tips for coloured pencil use

Art, Color pencil, Colored Pencil, Colour pencil, coloured pencil, Drafting Film

The drafting film we use for coloured pencil work is the same as that used by draftsmen and architects. There are several makes of drafting film suitable for coloured pencil work and it comes in both packs cut to size or in rolls. It comes in gloss and matt surfaces but the most useful form for coloured pencil work is Double Matt which means it is matt on both sides. The best known make of drafting film is Dura-lar, but the only one I have used is Polydraw.

Working in drafting film is quite different to working on paper. The biggest differences I noticed were that some of my colours looked quite different on the drafting film and they appeared to blend together differently. This means you do need to pay attention to what you are getting on the support and adjust colours accordingly. Colours though do appear brighter, more vibrant and more translucent.

Before I go any further I do have to say that I have only used drafting film once, and then only with Polychromos. So from this great wealth of experience these are some of the other things I have discovered so far:

1. Make sure you have the actual film and not the tissue type paper that separates the sheets. I promise I will show you the difference in a later blog as I made this exact mistake.

2. There is much more pencil dust from working on drafting film than there is when working on paper so make sure you have a soft brush to brush away any coloured dust.

3. Light layers are the way to go, it will take lots of these as long as they are really light.

4. If you press too hard any marks you make will show. Some can be blended out, depends on how hard you have pressed.

5. Do NOT use a battery eraser. It leaves the surface too shiny to take any colour.

6. Do NOT use a Derwent blender pencil as it takes off any colour you have laid down. This is the only one I have so I don’t know how any other blenders work.

7. Blend with paper stumps or even better with the pencils themselves.

8. Don’t worry if the front of the film stops taking colour as you can use the back of the film to fill any gaps.

9. You can work on both the front and back of the film. This adds depth to colour or can be used to create depth in terms of distance.

10. Do keep your pencils as sharp as possible at all times. The sharper they are the easier it is to work.

One artist who has worked extensively with drafting film is Karen Hull and she has a great piece on it here which also includes links to her tutorials.


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