Color Pencil on Black Tiles

The other day, I complained that I obviously had the wrong type of Gelly Roll color pens to use on black Zentangle tiles. The only color that showed up on black–of “original” and “Aqualip”–was white, in the original Gelly Roll pen. Granted, I don’t have a white Aqualip, but still… 

Because I have tons of color pencils, I decided to see how they look on black tiles. I took out my sets of 48 Prismacolor Premier, 36 Derwent Studio, and–because it was unfair to compare the professional quality Prismacolors to the student quality Derwents–my 24 Prismacolor Scholar. It was late, and I was not doing well judging placement, so the swatches of the Premier are small. But, except for a few almost invisible colors, they were vibrant and true. 

As I worked swatches of the Derwent Studio pencils, it was readily apparent that I had to press much harder and apply more layers to get close to the true colors. However, the end result looked pretty good on the black background. Just not as good as the Prismacolor Premier. I was expecting the Prismacolor Scholar colors to be just as wonderful as their professional counterparts. Well, see for yourself in the side-by-side tiles of the two student grade sets. 

Pressure and coats was about the same for both student quality sets. Some of the Scholar swatches are brighter than their Studio counterparts, but proportionately fewer Scholar colors are clear and visible compared to Studio colors. Overall, the Studio colors tend to be more subdued than either of the Prismacolor matches. However, I really did not like working with the Scholar pencils, mostly because they are so waxy that I felt as though I were coloring with birthday cake candles. As for the subdued Studio colors, sometimes that is the preferred effect for a piece. 

Clearly, the best color pencil choice of these three is Prismacolor Premier. Some of the advantages of the Premier pencils is that the points don’t wear down so quickly because they give better coverage the first time; they are less waxy than the Studio colors and much less waxy than the Scholar ones. So until I can figure out which gel pens work best on black tiles, my Zentangle color use will be limited to shading or large motifs that don’t need a super-fine point. 

Please let me know if you have found a gel pen–Sakura or otherwise–that shows up well on black tiles. I can’t afford to keep buying new varieties to experiment with on black paper background. Thank you!

Zentangle: One stroke at a time…


About DrEMiller

Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). Home: Sint Maarten. K-12 teacher for 13 years (Special Education for 10 years); Post-secondary educator since 2002; Education consulting since 1995. When teaching, held teaching certificates in K-12 special education, reading specialist; and secondary social studies. Doctorate: Educational Psychology Programmer/analyst for 10 years, including project management and training of corporate execs.
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