Conte Pencils On Bristol Vellum – Good Or Bad?

by Wendi OBrien


In this video I share with you how I used 3 conte pencils on bristol vellum paper and the struggles of choosing that paper.

Completing these cowboy boots and hat was an interesting experience considering the circumstances. These methods gave the drawing a vintage look. 

Supplies used:

Conte pencils- sepia, black, white

Strathmore 300 Bristol Vellum Paper

Blending Stump

Tombow Mono Eraser

Pencil Sharpener

Conte Pencils On Bristol Vellum...Good or Bad?

This artwork was completed using just three pencils.  Conte pencils in sepia, black and white.  I had not used these pencils so I had no idea what I was in for.  Because of the subject matter and the textures I also chose Strathmore Bristol vellum for my paper.

Wood Grain

I started on the wood grain and sketched in the darker grains and used my blending stump to blend them out.  It worked well and gave a pretty good appearance.  While I struggled a bit using these pencils on Bristol, I felt I could work through the difficulty as it was turning out how I wanted it and the paper definitely helped with the wood texture.

Rendering The Hat

Once I finished the wood texture, I moved onto the hat.  I also thought this would be a great paper to help with the velvety texture of the hat and I couldn’t have been more pleased with how the hat turned out. 

That, being said I found the black pencil to continuously break when I sharped it.  By the time I was finished with the piece I had ended up with basically a stub.  It was quite disappointing but, considered it may have just been a bad pencil or gotten dropped as the others sharpened just fine.

I continuously built up my layers on the hat and used the blending stump to smooth everything out.  It was quite nice to work with once you got enough layers for the pigment to move around. 

Though, I have to say the other two colors did make a screeching sound, much similar to nails on a chalkboard feel.  Could have done away with that, but it could have also been partly from the paper I chose to use.

On To The Boots

Once I moved onto the boots all bets were off.  I don’t know if it was because I had already been working on it for a few hours and needed a break or what, but man did I struggle with those boots.  I couldn’t get the coverage I wanted and while they turned out okay, it was probably the worst struggle out of all of it. I wanted to give up, but continued to fight the paper to get a completed piece. 

Do you ever work on an artwork and struggle through trying to make it work?  When do you find it time to throw in the towel or change paper?  Or do you just keep working until it is completed no matter how painful the journey is?  Let me know in the comments below.  I would love to hear your experience and what you do in this situation.

Now For The Rope and Straw

It was a relief to get to the rope and the straw since there did required a lot of layering and I could use mostly my blending stump to get the textures and values.  No more screeching noises and not a lot of struggle.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think this piece turned out well considering all the struggles I had going through this piece.  Was it the paper, the pencils or a combination of the two?  I am not sure but, I decided that night that I would not fight with another piece like that again and just change my paper sooner when I feel it is not going as easily as it should. 

I also feel, because of the paper I was not able to give the conte’s a fair shake and will eventually use them again on another piece with a different support to really understand what the issue was.

Until next time…keep on arting!

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Solve : *
5 × 7 =