Dark Umber vs Sepia

(c) 2014 Amanda Balough

(c) 2014 Amanda Balough

Dark Umber wins every time. Hands Down. No contest. Sorry Sepia.

You can see by the numbers on the pencils, PC947 and PC948, that these colors should be best friends, brothers even, and should work together. But don’t be fooled, these aren’t partners at all.

I have given Sepia so many chances to prove itself, but each time it has disappointed me. Instead of a nice rich, dark, or shadowy area – it gives me mud, stands out and declares itself rather than blending in, and nearly ruins the piece I am working on. Every time.

Why do I keep using it? Honestly, it looks so similar to my favorite dark umber that many times I have selected it by mistake. No more. It has been removed from my pencil case and is safely stored with my graphite pencils. Not because it plays nicely with graphite, no that would be too easy. In fact, it often mimics graphite when used within a colored pencil drawing and can look like a careless sketch line gone rogue.

So if you like sepia, or have figured out how to allow it to play along with the other browns, then I salute you. If not, stick to Dark Umber and allow the rich warm tones to add that glow and depth to your drawing.

However, just to show how fair minded I am, I do plan to do a sepia-only portrait one day, to see if I can come close to something in the old-timey style of those instagram pics. But I am predicting that I will actually need Sienna Brown or Burnt Ochre to pull that off. (What if Wednesday topic? Could be 🙂 )


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