Have you seen those beautiful posts where letters seem to change gradually from one color to another, seamlessly, creating the perfect ombre effect? If you haven’t, maybe you’d like to take a look to @cecilia.doing.art, @alissecourter o @lettersofme. Know what I’m talking about? Yep, that’s what blending means!
Blending letters is quite a famous technique because it delivers wonderful results, and it can take your lettering from average to top, whatever your style is or regardless of the brush pens you are using. However, every brush pen is better fit for a certain use. If you are trying to blend your colors, you want to use water based ink pens (aquarellable), and the longer it takes for that ink to dry, the better.
Some of my favorite pens to blends are Tombow ABT
So, that being said, how do I actually blend the colors? I use mainly three different techniques. First one requires the use of a blender (a colorless brush pen). Second one, a water brush (like this one from Pentel). And third one is achieved by using different shades of the same color (so, for instance, light/medium/dark blue). Depending on the brush, you can even achieve ombre letters just by going over and over the same -part of the- stroke with just one light color. Theoretically, you can blend on any kind of paper. IRL, I find it quite difficult to blend on rhodia paper without literally destroying the paper. So I’d recommend something thicker, like Bristol paper or (sorry brush tips, I know this destroys you) Canson Mix Media.
#1 Blending with a blender
Before you start blending your colors, it is quite helpful to letter your word or sentence in a very light color. Tombow ABT N95 is perfect for that. If you are blending different shades of the same color, you can draw your letters with the lighter one, and then go over it with a darker shade.
Now, you want to use your blender to blur the area between both colors. Just drag some of the darker color towards the ligh color, until you get a smooth transition.
If you are trying to mix very different colors (let’s say red and green), you need to leave a gap between them. when you try to blend red and green directly, you end up with a brownish color. A colorless pen will help you dragging colors from both sides into the area you left unpainted, making them fade and blen together.
To clean your blender, just use it on a clean piece of paper, until the strokes are colorless again.
#2 Blending with a water brush
A water brush works like a blender, but using water instead of colorless ink. The water flow from the brush is also a bit higher, and that’s why your paper gets wrinkles if you press too hard on the water tank. I find it the easier to blend with a water brush on canson mixed media paper, and it leaves a watercolor effect on the letters that, normally, you won’t get with a blender.
Since paper gets more wet this way, you can use a heating tool to speed up the drying process.
#3 Blending with different shades of the same color
If you own a wide range of colors (or just received the amazing Tombow marker case for Christmas), you don’t really need any other tool for blending. Just start with the darker shade, and then work your way down (or up) with a lighter one, dragging part of the darker color into the next area.
The ‘juicer’ the brush pen, the easier it is to blend like this. For instance, Karin markers are extremely easy to blend compared with other markers, because there is a lot of ink to be mixed. But remember to use a thick paper!
As you have to work letter by letter, make sure you clean the light color before you move to the next letter (just draw some strokes on a clean paper until it recovers its original color). Actually, that ‘dirty’ pen can also be used to create a different kind of blending effect. Like the one shown in these pictures.
To achieve this effect, you will need a clean and smooth surface, that doesn’t absorb ink. It can be a blending palette, but also a small ceramic dish, or (my choice when I’m not filming videos), the plastic case of your brush pens.
I use this technique a lot with Pentel Touch pens, because thin strokes are very difficult to blend with a blender or a water brush. If you are writing a long sentence, and you recharge your pen always at the beginning, you can create an effortless ombre effect all over your piece. And since we introduced the blending palette here, you can also use it to touch up your letters a little bit after you finish #1 and #2 techniques, going over the darker color with the blender or water brush, and covering any area you are not satisfied with.
I filmed a video of all techniques explained here, cause a video is worth ten thousand words. It is in Spanish, cause there’s a lot of blending videos in English already, but you really don’t need to understand what I’m saying :p.
Most of these materials are listed on my Picker profile (¡link on the image below!). I linked the online shops where I usually buy them, but I’m sure you can find them in many other countries 🙂