“Face Up” to the Joys of Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils

May 22

“Face Up” to the Joys of Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils

Shelley Minnis, Prismacolor Artist and Consumer Specialist recently travelled to Barcelona and one of her stops included visiting the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Shelley was so inspired that she wanted to try her hand at Picasso’s famous style and shared her process with us!

See she tackled Picasso and the joy of working with Watercolor Colored Pencils!



Picasso was an amazing artist whose work spanned over seven decades. His art included drawing, painting and sculpting, often depicting images of women.  His passion and willingness to bend and break the “classical rules” of art often made his works controversial, and some of his works in the Cubist style seemed very abstract in their approach.

After going through the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain, I wanted to try my hand at drawing a face, in the manner of Picasso, using the Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils. They are a great medium for traveling because they can be taken through security without the concern of confiscation, which can happen with other types of paints. They are also so versatile & easy to use.

Materials Needed:


Step 1. Begin by drawing the face with the watercolor pencils. Any lines drawn with WC pencils will dissolve after you apply water with a watercolor brush.

I began to color in the areas with the watercolor pencils and then took a damp brush and started to wet the color out. I kept the colors clean and simple at first-no mixing of multiple colors yet.

TIP: I find it easier to work with the pencils DRY and then wet out the drawing later. If you dip the pencils in water, they are difficult to sharpen. They are even difficult to sharpen if you color a dry pencil over a wet area. So, try to keep the pencils dry and use the brush for the water.

Step 2: Next, I started to add additional colors to the face image, and I blended them with a damp brush.


TIP: You can always lift color if you think you have drawn it in too strong. Use a tissue or cloth or even a sponge to lift out the color while the area is wet to lighten the pigment.


Step 3: Next, continue to color in the different parts of the face. Use the brush to fill in the color. You can also add two colors on top of each other to make a new color if you don’t have the one that you need; mix your own color from two in this set.

Tip: You can do this directly on the image, or it is better to draw the colors on a separate paper and mix them to get the exact color that you want. Then transfer the color with the paint brush. This method of mixing on a separate sheet is better in the event that if you do not mix the color exactly as you want, you have not ruined your project. This gives you the chance for “trial and error”.

Step 4: Continue to draw with the Prismacolor Watercolor pencils to fill in the entire drawing. I used Brown for the hair and added Yellow to give it a two toned and variegated look. Use the wet brush to fill in the areas as you desire. Keep in mind that any paint color is darker while it is wet and will lightens slightly as it dries.

TIP: Remember that you will need to leave any white areas unpainted so that the white paper is visible.

Keep in mind that if you paint two areas with a LOT of water directly next to each other, there is a chance that the colors will run together, so be careful with the quantity of water that you apply to your work.

Tip: You might want to use a hair dryer between color applications if you are worried about the colors running together. This allows the colors to dry quicker.

Step 5: After applying all of the color that I felt was needed, I started to outline the image using the Black Prismacolor Illustration pen with the Brush tip. This strong outlining really makes the image start to resemble the Picasso style.





Finally, I used the brush tip to add some decorative lines over the color.

This was a fun project in Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils. There are 36 colors in all and they come in sets or as individual pencils. These are also great for Travel Journals.  Try your hand at a Watercolor piece soon!

Guest blogger Shelley Minnis


  1. I wondered if you have tried watercolor pencils on panel board (cheap) canvas? If so how did you prep the boards?

    • Mary /

      Thank you so much for sharing your work and process. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It was amazing how the addition of the black lines did really make it Picasso like.

      What fun!

    • Shelley Minnis /

      Sorry for the delay…yes, I have tried regular Prismacolor Pencils…and I used a watercolor board. It was by Fredrix… Archival Watercolor Canvas and Hardboard Core. I used in a workshop with John Ursillo. We actually used solvents with the pencils on this board. There are grounds that you can paint on boards that make them good for WC pencils. Golden makes a good one. I hope that this helps. Shelley

  2. Carol /

    Thanks so much for sharing. I had a great time making my own “Picasso” girl.

  3. This was a very interesting and easy-to-follow lesson in how to use the watercolor pencils. They are obviously versatile and forgiving. Thanks for inspiring me to use these and to introduce them to some of my crafts classes.

    • Shelley Minnis /

      Great….what sort of “Craft Classes” do you teach? Do you make Cards or ????

  4. Sallie Baker /

    Very interesting lesson. Looking forward to trying the watercolor pencils!

  5. Just came across this super lesson. Lots of information and fun!

  6. Cindy Davis /

    Wow, Shelley. You really know your stuff! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and great talent.

  7. You make it look easy to control the prisma watercolor pencils. I think even I could give it a try. Thanks for the clear directions and inspiration.

  8. Janie Steadman /

    Shelley, you do such a great job of the step by step process that I believe I could even do it! You are a wonderfully talented teacher.

  9. Hi Shelley, Wonderful Picasso inspired art! This inspired one of my students of my online watercolor workshop that I am teaching right now and she tried it out too. Thank you for the inspiration! I will be in Barcelona next month!

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