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Zest-it® Pencil Blend

Safer Solutions for Artists since 1995

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using zest-it pencil blend

What is Zest-it® Pencil Blend and how do you use it?

bottles of Zest-it Pencil Blend
Zest-it Pencil Blend
Every bottles has a label that
specify the content of the bottle.

What is Zest-it Pencil Blend? It is a blending fluid that when applied to the layers of laid coloured Pencil or Pastel or Oil Pastel, softens the pigment/binder relationship and allows blending of the pigment.

It is Non-toxic, Non-flammable and inherently biodegradable.

It is a mixture of Aliphatic Hydrocarbon and Orange Terpenes.
An Aliphatic Hydrocarbon is an organic compound of Carbon and Hydrogen and Aliphatic means it is not aromatic (non-aromatic).

The Orange or Citrus Terpenes is the oil element, which is distilled from the skin and pith of oranges and citrus fruit, made in just the same way as Essential Oils.


Many Coloured Pencil Artists value the of Zest-it Pencil Blend not only for use with their pencils, but also because it is non-toxic and non-flammable they find it a safer solution for use in their studio and home.

It leaves no residue of itself in or on the paper or surface once dry. It has no detrimental effect on the lightfastness of the pigments used in the pencils.
The pigments used in coloured pencils are the same as used in oil paint and Zest-it Pencil Blend has been thoroughly tested in this regard with oil paint and lightfastness using the 'Blue Wool Scale'.
Also, because it evaporates, it therefore has no lasting effect on the finished work.

mixed oil paint.
  Oil paint mixed and tested with white added.

coloured pencil applied on w/c paper
Coloured pencil applied graduated on
watercolour paper.

coloured pencil blended with Pencil Blend
The coloured pencil has
 now been blended with
the  ¼" flat brush.

How to use Zest-it Pencil Blend - with a brush.

The Coloured Pencil was applied to watercolour paper in the normal way, graduated as can be seen in the image left.
The Blending Sponge (Zest-it Pencil Blend in a sponge in a pot) was used to dampen a soft 1/4" flat brush by pressing the brush to the sponge surface.

The dampened brush was used to blend the coloured pencil. It was blended from dark to light, giving a soft transition of colour.
Using a brush means the under-painting can be completed very quickly and the 'tooth' of the paper is retained.
The area can be left to dry or further Coloured Pencil can be added to the area whilst the paper is still damp, each will give a different look.

One thing to avoid - using too much liquid!
Whenever people tell us the product doesn't work, it is usually because too much fluid has been used.
Using lots of fluid is just a waste and swamps the pencil that has been laid, this 'washes' the pigment into the paper surface.
The brush or tool being used cannot move the pigment, because it is now ingrained into the surface instead of sitting on the surface.

Test this for yourself - apply CP ; blend with a wet brush; check what happens to the CP and the surface of the paper.
Using the same paper and CP, apply CP take a 'damp' brush (touch the brush to kitchen towel before touching the paper); the result will be much better!

  This page links to Artists who share their blending knowledge.

How to use Zest-it Pencil Blend - with Tortillions or stumps.

The Luminance pencil was applied this time to Bristol Board, the smooth surface helps with the transition of colour. The colour was laid quite lightly and graduated to indicate the roundness of the shape. Extra pencil can always be added, whereas it's difficult to remove if too much has been applied.
 Because this is a surface that has a smooth finish there is little tooth to build the layer's upon, this is where solvent can be so useful for under-painting.

A Tortillion dampened with Pencil Blend from the Blending Sponge was used to give a smooth finish to the blending. Extra pencil was gently added where necessary and blended to form the cap of the mushroom.
The tip of the Tortillion was cleaned on kitchen towel as it became clogged.
A sandpaper block can also be use to clean the tip.

Over-wetting the Tortillion can cause the colour to spread too far. The Tortillion is a softer tool than the stump and therefore soaks up more liquid, this can cause 'flooding' of the pencil surface and slows the drying.
Less is best!


mushroom and coloured pencil
Coloured Pencil applied to the
cap and stalk of the
 Mushroom. The cap was
blended using a Tortillion and
Zest-it Pencil Blend,
the stalk is still to
 be completed

Copyright Tracey Blackman

pencil blend citrus free
Three sizes of Zest-it Pencil Blend (Citrus Free)
50 ml; 125 ml and 250 ml.

The Pencil Blend (Citrus Free) is just the same as the original Pencil Blend but without the citrus element, it therefore does not smell of oranges.
It does have a smell but it more of a 'solvent' smell.

Because it does not have the citrus oil element it has a little more 'bite' and a stronger action on the laid pencil, it works slightly faster and dried just a tad quicker than the original.

Small differences but it is still non-toxic and non-flammable, also even more kind to the environment.

The Citrus Free has green text on the label to distinguish it from the original Pencil Blend.

This was one of the first image we did of Zest-it Pencil Blend and Derwent Drawing the first pencil we tested back in 2004.

The bottle label says "Pencil Blend A Natural Solvent that is Safe, Non-Flammable, Non-Toxic and environmentally friendly" but the EU frowned on the use of all those words! So we had to adjust the wording - a bit like rewriting history as some countries do!

Even so, it is an organic compound, so why is it not right to say its a natural solvent? It is still Non-toxic and Non-flammable, why are we not allowed to tell the truth? It is environmentally friendly, it does not harm fish or kill plant life and it has very low VOC so healthier for everyone.

Lets hope things get back to normal when we are again Great Britain!

Be that as it may, we are celebrating 25 years of 'Safer Solutions for Artists' for the next twelve months and have used almost the original wording on the celebrity  labels. (awaiting image)

early image of pencil blend

Reviews: just a few of over 500 reviews average 4.9 out of 5

Rating 5 stars
This stuff is truly magic, plus it smells like oranges. I absolutely love it! I would recommend to anyone who draws with prismacolor premier coloured pencils. I just dip a cotton bud into it dab most of the liquid off on a tissue and use the cotton bud to blend my colours. Honestly amazing stuff. I will definitely be getting some more in the future!2018

Review 5 stars
great alternative to turps, white spirit etc, without the horrible fumes... and with a lovely orange smell! Don't need to use much to go a long way, and doesn't stain paper.2017

Review 5 stars
It’s a good product but I think it’s way to expensive for the quantity you receive. When painting a picture I will need to use quite a bit of this product for my painting to be realistically blended.

Review 5 stars
Just what I was looking for
Arrived quickly on time, amazing product and just what I needed to blend my coloured pencils. Works lovely and will definitely purchase again. 2017

Review 5 stars
The best blender for pencils (coloured)
Absolutely love this and would buy it again!

Our thanks to all reviewers for taking the time to share and help others. The Zest-it Team


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