Colour Shapers

Kevin emailed me to ask:

I read in your book (Line to Life) yesterday that you use colour shapers sometimes for blending. I would like to buy a set but I was not aware that they came in different sizes. Could you please advise me as to which size to buy. The ones I have seen are size 0, 2 and 6. Many thanks and I love the book.

Colour Shaper varieties


When I see a tool, however far removed from drawing, and it looks useful I just have to try it 🙂

Colour Shapers are intended for painters but I find then ideal for blending in tight spots. Unlike tortillons or stumps, they don’t absorb much graphite, so they lighten less. And they’re easily cleaned by screwing the business end into a lump of Blu-Tack.

They come in different sizes and profiles, as you mentioned, and in two types – stiff and flexible. I know a couple of artists who prefer the stiff variety but I find the flexible more appealing.

I have three:

Flat chisel – size 6 (rarely used)
Taper point – size 1 (I think – it’s rubbed off!)
Taper point – size 2

Of the three I mainly use the size 1 Taper Point. I find it’s ideal for blending when I’m drawing remarques. Because I remarque on the coated surface of the (offset-litho) printing paper, I’m restricted to using 2B and 2H, and I achieve the half tones by establishing the line element of each area with the 2B and then dragging the graphite over the lighter areas.

If you don’t have one you won’t miss it. But if you do, you’ll find unique uses for it. In my case, I very rarely blend anything, apart from skies and dirt floors, so blenders are not my most popular tool. But the Colour Shapers certainly fulfil a need at times.

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