Putting lighter colours over the top of darker colours in pastel pencils is possible but it comes down to a number of factors. Firstly, you need to have the right paper and the right pastel pencils. The ability to put lighter colours on top will depend if you have a good quality pencil with high pigmentation and also the right paper that responds to pencil.
Students will be familiar with my preferred Pastel Pencil (Faber-Castell’s Pitt Range) and the best paper for the job (Sand Coloured Ingres by Fabriano). These combined with an understanding of when you can get away with putting light over dark will allow you to do it. As a general rule with Pastel Pencils, we work from light to dark, but there are some subjects where you can then put light colours back over the top without them dulling down or looking grey (white as an example). When you’re putting this amount of colour on the paper, it’s important to know whether you are crushing the paper.
In our members area, we have many tutorials which show the process of putting light back in, the Hedgehog and Butterfly are great examples. With the Butterflies, there is a lot of light and dark contrast and also a lot of black. Because there was a lot of orange which is adjacent to the black, I had to find a colour that would go on before the black that would tie up with the orange, this ended up being Burnt Sienna (No.283 in the Faber Castell range). It’s a very dark red/brown colour, once that was on, the black went right on top. As I always say, the black in pastel pencils is a darkening agent for another colour. By using the chisel end colour shaper, you can blend the burnt sienna and black together to make a darker burnt sienna. If you had a cooler tone and a blue butterfly then you would use a Mid-Tone cool grey like 233 as the base, then the black on top.
I hope you’v enjoyed this article with a few base colour tips in there too. To learn more about applying base colours then you can sign up to be a member today for just £9.99 ($16) and watch the tutorials mentioned above.