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.

[fully updated]

All about Caran D'Ache Neocolor II Wax Crayons by Tammy Garcia https://daisyyellowart.com
All about Caran D'Ache Neocolors by Tammy Garcia https://daisyyellowart.com

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 most frequently use Caran D'Ache Neo II so that's the focus of this guide! All of the examples are in Neocolor II.

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 original assortment at wet canvas: one + two three.]

 Edging on collage elements with Neocolor Wax Crayons. We create this kind of art journal page in my  Novel Approach Workshop !

Edging on collage elements with Neocolor Wax Crayons. We create this kind of art journal page in my Novel Approach Workshop!

 Neocolors and acrylics on an index card.

Neocolors and acrylics on an index card.

What's the Difference between Neocolor I and Neocolor II? What do they do?

Neocolor I or II

1. Draw bold, intense color patterns.
2. Draw soft portraits with whispy marks, building up color as you go. 
3. Smudge what you draw for softer edges and blending colors. 
4. Draw and then blend adjacent colors or layers.
5. Draw edges around collage elements or page edges to add depth, grunge or a vintage look.

Neocolor I only [these are not water-soluble]

1. Take advantage of the fact that they will not dissolve! Use as a mask, then paint over with watercolor or gouache or spray with inks. 
2. Use in combination with Neo II so that some lines dissolve and some lines don't budge. 

Neocolor II only [these are water-soluble]

1. Wet a brush and grab color and use them to get a watercolor look for a background. Useful on-the-go for soft color, in a creative travel kit instead of toting around watercolors.
2. Draw or edge something, paint with a wet brush, and the color dissolves. 
3. Draw or edge something, paint around the edge with acrylics, and the color will partially dissolve into the paint. 

 Mandala with Neocolor II Wax Crayons and ink.

Mandala with Neocolor II Wax Crayons and ink.

 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.

Neocolors.
 Drew lines with Neocolors, painted with water.

Drew lines with Neocolors, painted with water.

 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. 

 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! 

For a muted, soft watercolor you can use Neocolor IIs kind of like pan watercolor paints. Use a wet brush to grab color from the crayon. If the Neos are nice and dissolved like this, you can write on top with a PITT pen, india ink, etc. 

Note: If your Neocolors are smeared or otherwise not dissolved, do NOT write on them with any pen because the wax will gunk up your pen or marker. Your options at that point are to  paint words with acrylics and a tiny brush or write on a separate sheet of paper and adhere to the base which includes Neocolors. 12+ ways to get words on the most challenging art journal backgrounds! 

 

 Edging on collage elements with Neocolor Wax Crayons.

Edging on collage elements with Neocolor Wax Crayons.

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Color Selection Notes

If you are looking to build a small set of Caran d'Ache Neocolor II colors by purchasing individually, here are some notes about particular colors. 

For lemony yellow: Either #470-spring green or #010-yellow... they are similar. Chinese green is yellow but to the green.

For bright red: Either #290-ruby red or #070-scarlet... quite 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, grays, neutrals are lovely for edging on dark papers. 

The wrap-up

I simply adore them. A++ all around!