Best pencils for black paper


What pencils write on black paper

Most people draw with their colored pencils on white paper. Practically any crayon is suitable for this purpose since it is the standard application, so to speak. If you want to paint with colored pencils on black paper, you have to make higher demands on the properties of your crayon. The following article explains what is important about colored pencils for black paper. By the way, here you can find out which different surfaces you can paint everything with a colored pencil.

What properties are required of colored pencils for black paper?

Black paper is mainly used by artists as a stylistic element. Very dark passages in the picture are left out and light areas are painted over very opaquely. The whole thing has something of a “negative painting technique”.

Most people make their first attempts with chalk on black paper. Chalk also lends itself to children who want to paint on black paper. They know how to use the blackboard. However, chalk cannot be compared with crayons. For example, it smudges very easily if the picture is not sealed with a fixing protective layer. In the same way, different colors cannot be superimposed with chalk.

Pencils have fewer compromises compared to chalk, on black paper.

Nevertheless, not every colored pencil is equally well suited for black paper.

It is relatively easy to layer dark colors opaquely over black paper. How good the opacity of the colored pencils is become apparent with light colors. On white paper, by the way, the opposite is true. Then the light colors have an advantage.

The opacity of colored pencils

How good the opacity of colored pencils is mainly determined by the color pigments in the colored lead of the pencils. The color pigments must be of high quality and, above all, must be present in sufficient quantity. Both together are not to be found with every manufacturer, since high quality is generally also more expensive to produce.

If you want to draw with ink on black paper, you also need high opacity. With felt-tip pens, for example, several layers of ink are necessary, and the ink must dry first each time. The drying of the ink is the same as with watercolor pencils. We have also tried to felt tip pens but were not satisfied with the results on black paper. Pencils are more suitable and there is no need to dry ink, which is very time-consuming.

Color abrasion of the colored pencils

With a high opacity, it is possible to completely paint over the black background. This does not work with every colored pencil directly with the first color stroke. Crayons with a low level of color abrasion often require several layers of color application before they can be described as opaque. There is also a difference between hard and soft leads. Soft colored pencil leads generally have a higher ink abrasion, which leads more quickly to opaque results on black paper.

However, the crayon alone is not the only factor that determines ink abrasion; the paper surface is also a factor. On a smooth paper surface, ink abrasion is also generally lower with colored pencils. In addition, coarse color pigments do not adhere well to smooth paper, regardless of whether the background is light or dark.

The opposite of this is paper with a coarse surface structure. Here, the color abrasion is stronger with all colored pencils, but a problem arises with the opacity. This is because when viewed under a microscope, the coarse paper has “hills and valleys”.

The higher structures abrade the pencil very well and quickly, which is why the color abrasion is good.

The deeper structures, however, hardly get any color, which is why they reduce the opacity. However, this does not apply when watercolors are painted with water on black paper. The water also washes the color into the “valleys” of the coarse surface.

These properties are asked from colored pencils also on black paper
In my tests with colored pencils, I naturally pay attention to many other properties, not only for a drawing on black paper. Because colored pencils need good properties in general, not only on black paper. For example, it’s no use having good ink coverage if the crayon keeps breaking.

Related post: Guide to Watercolor Papers for Beginners

The breaking strength

Before a drawing is finished, it is often necessary to sharpen the pencils. This is already a result of the color abrasion. The tip of the lead becomes thicker and thicker the more paint is removed. Of course, this can also be useful if, for example, areas are to be painted. As a rule, however, a thin lead tip is required to produce detailed drawings. But why do colored pencils often break off when they are sharpened?

When sharpening, the crayon is turned in the sharpener. The wood of the protective sheath and the protruding colored lead slide past the blade of the sharpener as a result of the rotation. In the process, the blade peels off the wood and the colored lead in a pointed shape. However, the peeling generates a force during the rotation, which acts on the protective jacket and the colored lead. Ideally, the force for material removal should be less than the resistance force. This changes if, for example, the sharpener is blunt or the resistance force of the colored lead is only low.

But the own stability of the color lead is only one of altogether three factors to the breaking strength. Just as important is the incorporation of the lead into the wood’s protective coating, as is the quality of the wood. Incidentally, this also applies to pencils, because pencils also have to withstand sharpening.

Tip: The handling and storage of crayons, also affect the breaking strength. If a crayon is exposed to strong vibrations, the lead in the protective sheath will break. This is no different with pencils. It is important to avoid dropping crayons on the floor. If they are put away, a case (for example, a cardboard case) is recommended.

Best Pencils Set for Black Paper

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils


  • Ultra-smooth, even color laydown.
  • Lightfast, richly saturated pigments.

Faber-Castel Polychromos Colored Pencil Set With Metal Tin

Faber-Castel Polychromos Colored Pencil Set With Metal Tin


  • Soft, vibrant color laydown.
  • Unsurpassed lightfastness (resistance to fading).

Black Widow Colored Pencils with Smooth Pigments

Black Widow Colored Pencils


  • Rich pigments that blend and layer like velvet.
  • Strong wax core won’t break when sharpened.

Faber-Castell Metallic Colored Ecopencils

Faber-Castell Metallic Colored Ecopencils


  • Highly metallic pigments.
  • Break-resistant lead.

Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils

Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils


  • Rich and creamy texture.
  • Highly blendable.

What do I need to draw on black paper?

In addition to black paper or black drawing cardboard, you will need colored pencils with high opacity. If you want to draw a watercolor on black paper, remember that there are no white watercolor pencils. It works best with good colored pencils. There are also wax crayons for black paper. Metallic pencils are also very popular with artists and look great on black paper.

Colored pencils are not as easy to smudge as you are used to with chalk. But with a paper wiper, this also works quite well. With watercolors, mixing the colored layers is no problem anyway. However, a watercolor must always dry once before you apply another thin layer of paint. It takes more time.

Not every color cast sits where it should. This brings us to erasers or erasable crayons. Compared to pencils, colored strokes are more difficult to erase, especially when it comes to areas. For watercolors, a good sponge (natural sponge) is important instead of an eraser.

Tip: Artists take kneaded erasers for erasing. With it, a finely dosed color removal is possible. The right shape can also be made with it.

As already mentioned with regard to break resistance, a good sharpener is also necessary. With it, the pencil always remains sharp, and it can be drawn in great detail. Some sharpen both pencils’ ends so that they have a sharper and somewhat blunter pencil of one color. Since then a pointed end always points upwards, the risk of injury increases considerably.


There are no special colored pencils that are made only for black backgrounds. In order to achieve good results even on dark backgrounds, they must at least have a very good opacity. However, the same is true on colored backgrounds and even on white. Thus, good colored pencils are better than cheap colored pencils on black paper.

Compared to white paper, on black paper, it is the light colors that matter most. However, crayons in a series are made in the same way. Thus, all colors of the series should have the same opacity, whether light or dark. When buying individually, however, you can pay good attention to this.

6 Tips – Using Colored Pencils on Black Paper – Video

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