3 Tips to improve your pencil coloring technique
1. Chose your palette.
Using too many colors can create a result that is messy and confusing to the eye. If this is what you are aiming for, then that is up to you. But if you want an image that is harmonious, I recommend sticking to a limited number of colors and mixing them to create hues.
This will emulate the way the eye perceives color in the outside world (where every element is bathed in the same light) and ensure that every element of your image tones with the others.
As a fun exercise, you may wish to look at a color wheel and chose two colors which are either opposite, or next to each other on the wheel, and exclusively use these. Try using three colors, then four, then five. Perhaps you'll find a combination of colors that is especially pleasing to you, and repeat them many times over. Perhaps you'll find that you have a preference for some colors and a dislike for others. Or perhaps you'll just enjoy trying many different combinations.
2. Ask yourself where the light is coming from.
In our world, light either comes from the sun or the moon, or from artificial lights. It behaves in a set, and predictable way. If you want to create a realistic result that your viewer's eye finds easy to interpret, your purpose is to imitate the behavior of this light source. To say it in a simpler way: light follows a trajectory. For instance, if it falls down from the right, the shadow will be cast to the left.
Think of yourself as a movie director. You have the control over how/where you want to direct your viewer's eye. So study the way light behaves when it falls over objects. Look at the way shadows appear in nature. Are the edges sharp? Blurry?
Being conscious of your light source of this will help you greatly.
3. Don´t rush. Go slow.
Pencil coloring is a slow technique. Depending on your personality, and the time you wish to dedicate to your image, this technique can either seem excruciatingly; or wonderfully slow.
Don't rush. Use a light, circular motion with your wrist and tread lightly.
Be aware that in nature, there is no flat ink. Everything is a mix of many colors. Take a look at the way your cat´s hairs shine under the sunlight. Nothing is as colorful as a black cat.
Children should be taught that pencil colors can be mixed, just like paint. The trick is to be gradully adding pigments to the area you are coloring.
So if you rush with your pencil strokes, you will not be able to erase, or lighten what you colored. Allow yourself to be slow, meditative; and you will find that with pencil coloring, you can achieve a result that is wonderfully rich, delicate and rewarding to the eye.
(You can probably tell that I am in love with my pencils. They've been my friends and my travelling companions all over the world. They weigh little and only ask for a bit of paper, and a sharpener or a knife.)
As an adult, I especially enjoy coloring because it links me to my childhood, but with the added satisfaction of mastery. As a child, when I looked at my art, I often felt as though I had stumbled into elegance by chance. I would be very happy about one piece, then feel disappointed about the next ones, without understanding what I could do to improve my paintings/drawings. It was frustrating.
Now I enjoy the process, from beginning to the end. And I hope these simple tips can help you enjoy your creative process too.