All About Neocolor II Wax Crayons

These intensely saturated mark-making materials are beloved by art journalists far & wide to smudge, embellish, blend, draw, smear & dissolve . Bunches of fun with 60+ color choices.

Neocolors are intensely saturated wax crayons that can be used to add depth to art journal pages, edge images and make marks. These Swiss-made crayons are just divine. 

There are two types. I use primarily the Caran D'Ache Neo II, so that's the focus of this guide! 

Neocolor I. Water-resistant, not water-soluble. 60 colors.
Neocolor II. Water-soluble. 84 colors.

Neocolors are one of my go-to art materials for art journaling. They are versatile and the colors are luxurious and saturated. They have a buttery smooth texture. Keep in mind that {like oil pastels or regular crayons} you cannot write directly on them {unless used like watercolor, dissolved} with many pens because they gunk up the nib or get wax on the fiber tip. 

With a zillion color choices, how many do you need? It depends how you plan to use them, but my suggestion is to keep it simple. A small set of 10-15 will be more than enough for art journaling. Get the colors that you LIKE and you'll use them! I've put together notes on color choices at the bottom of this guide. These notes were made using the color assortment available at the beginning of 2015. At that time, there were 128 colors, now 84, so some have been discontinued.  [Note: You'll find hand-drawn color charts for the 126 on these pages at wet canvas: one + two three.]

Start with a quick video of Neocolors in action as I create this grungy rainbow mandala. 

a rainbow mandala made with neocolor II wax crayons. video Tutorial here.

a rainbow mandala made with neocolor II wax crayons. video Tutorial here.

Following - a bunch of examples made with Caran d'Ache Neocolor II wax crayons on various substrates.

collage elements edged with neocolors.

collage elements edged with neocolors.

neocolor II on an index card.

neocolor II on an index card.

The background for this simple collaged journal page was scribbled with Neocolor IIs and painted with water for a dreamy look.

The background for this simple collaged journal page was scribbled with Neocolor IIs and painted with water for a dreamy look.

Left: Painted the index card with water, then drew the rainbow on top.  Right: Drew the rainbow on a dry index  card, then painted with water.

Left: Painted the index card with water, then drew the rainbow on top. 
Right: Drew the rainbow on a dry index  card, then painted with water.

Left: Drew the rainbow on a dry index card. Right. Drew the rainbow on a dry index card then rubbed to get a softer look. No water used.

Left: Drew the rainbow on a dry index card.
Right. Drew the rainbow on a dry index card then rubbed to get a softer look. No water used.

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Drew lines with Neocolors, painted with water.

Drew lines with Neocolors, painted with water.

Drew lines with Neocolors, smudged with fingers. There's an errant drip of water on the top right... ignore that! 

Drew lines with Neocolors, smudged with fingers. There's an errant drip of water on the top right... ignore that! 

used a wet brush to get the color from the neocolor to the page. drew the mandala in india ink while the Neocolor paint was still wet. 

used a wet brush to get the color from the neocolor to the page. drew the mandala in india ink while the Neocolor paint was still wet. 

You can also use Neocolor IIs kind of like pan watercolor paints; use a wet brush to grab color from the crayon. The result is muted, soft watercolor and extremely useful on-the-go, in a creative travel kit instead of toting around watercolor paints.

8 x 10" loose art journal page dated 2009; one of my early art journal pages. the papers are edged with neocolors.

8 x 10" loose art journal page dated 2009; one of my early art journal pages. the papers are edged with neocolors.

Neocolor drawing, painted some areas with water to soften.

Neocolor drawing, painted some areas with water to soften.

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Some of the lovely Caran d'Ache Neocolor II colors {notes below on some duplicates}. You can get small sets, huge sets or get them in singles.

Some notes on particular colors.

For lemony yellow: Either #470-spring green or #010-yellow... they are similar. Chinese green is yellow but a tiny bit green. For bright red: Either #290-ruby red or #070-scarlet... they are similar. Ruby red is a touch darker. Nice-to-have: #407-sepia, #131-periwinkle blue, #160-cobalt blue , white, black.

Dark colors are lovely for adding emphasis and grunge to papers in a collage. Bright colors are lovely on black or dark backgrounds. Whites and grays are lovely for edging on dark papers. 

The wrap-up.

I simply adore them. A++ all around!