My adventure with colored pencils continues! In my previous post I said I was trying out some drawings with the new “set” of colors in my Colored Pencil Conversion Chart – not that it’s a set, but it’s a grouping that I can now use in teaching! Before I was always testing every time I made a new class, hoping to locate colors that would have a match in both Polychromos and Prismacolor. And now that’s settled – though it required making a real test with a real drawing that you can see here


That left me thinking about much more – like, have I ever tested the newer papers in the studio in a head-to-head test? Nope. I had done that with some papers years back, and drawn with what I have….but not in a side by side test. So I finally did – with lollipops! You can watch the magic in the video, and see the full scale drawings later in this post.



All the rawings on this page are made with Polychromos penccils. Papers left to right above: Strathmore bristol, Daler Rowney heavyweight, Legion Stonehenge, and Clairefintaine pastelmat

Tutorial: Comparison – 4 colored pencil papers

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Want to color lollipops?

While some will want to engage with the bird drawings on offer in this post – some might be at the stage of creating a realistic looking lollipop! Got you covered. You can get this PDF tutorial along with the image to print on your favorite paper.

Strathmore Bristol, vellum finish

Back in college I had used a bristol, though that one isn’t made any more. I knew crafters who swore by this Strathmore, and had gotten some to try it out. 

While it can have a good result, it’s….well, it’s hard to work with, in that it takes a lot of layers and demands blending solution! I love me some contrast, and this made me work for it. Perhaps if there was more time on the clock, more hours in the day, I might have been willing to sit with it longer, but it frustrated me. 

The drawing experience isn’t great either; resorting to heavy pressure just makes it difficult to want to use the paper for colored pencil. But for 45cents for a 9×12 sheet, you can’t ask much, can you?

Daler Rowney smooth heavyweight

Another inexpensive paper clocking in around 75cents a sheet, this one was the favorite of a wildlife illustrator. She dows lovely work, but also the patience of Job, I think! I did like the texture it created, but the time factor with so many layers was crazy. No blending solution here, just layer after layer, using complementary colors to create shadow hues.

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Legion Stonehenge drawing paper

Now we’re talking! This paper entered my life years ago and has been a go-to, and side by side with the others it was easy to see why….it’s quite soft and gathers up a lot of pigment on the paper! I prefer a paper that doesn’t make me use blending solutions, and there’s none used here. Again, complementary colors throughout – and a floofy bunch of feathers!

The one problemwith birds and this paper is that it’s tough to deal with adding white on top of other colors when the pencil has already been built up; it only gets to be a grey color. Because of that I added negative coloring for the darkest areas, adding shadows around feathers to let those determine the shapes of the lightest bits

Clairefontaine pastelmat

Made spevigivally for pastel, this paper also works quite nicely with colored pencil. It holds a lot of pigment like the Stonehenge,  but also allows enough layers that you can get a pretty decent (though still imperfect) white on top of other color.

If you have an area that needs to be white-white, leave the white of the paper OR make sure white is the first layer of color in that area. Thats what i did with the kinggfisher in my previous video–the white water, white highlights in the bird, and the white sky opening all went in as the base white.

Two drawbacks to pastelmat;

  1. the cost. At almost $4 a sheet in a 9×12 pad, it’s kinda crazy. You can try a single sheet for just over $5 if you want to see if you like it. (links at the end of this post0
  2. the white attracts dirt! whether dirt from the air, fingerprints, dust…… all sticks to the paper. Develop tidy habits, cover your work overnight, and be  careful of any stray marks.

Two new classes

Both are level 4 classes; the drawings are traced so don’t worry about having to know enough about drawings to get the proportions right.


This drawing is on white, and includes a lot about complementary colors blue and orange. Only five pencils made this entire drawing – it’s pretty amazing. 

Blue Tit

This yellow bird with a blue back (that you can’t see) is also level 4, and is on charcoal grey. It’s more forgiving as far as messiness1 and lots of fun to work with.

Closing thoughts 

I won’t be doing a 100% switch to pastelmat for colored pencil work, but if I hit the lottery i might, ha! Stonehenge still works well for me and gets nicely pigmented. 


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Clairefontaine Pastelmat by the pad…no 2 is what I’ve been working with.

  1. Palette No 1 Maize, Buttercup, Dark Grey, Light Grey  BLICKAMZ 
  2. Palette No 2 Sienna,White, Brown, Charcoal Grey   BLICKAMZ 
  3. Palette No 4 Dark Blue, Light Blue, Wine, Sand  BLICKAMZ
  4. Palette No 5 Dark Green, Light Green, White, Dark Blue BLICKAMZ
  5. Palette No 7 BLICK

Clairefontaine Single color pads:

  1. Charcoal grey only Pad BLICK
  2. White only Pad BLICK

Clairefontaine Pastelmat by the sheet:

Charcoal grey Sheet BLICK (for Bluetit)

White Sheet BLICK (for Nuthatch)


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