Gamsol Magic

by Cecilia Ross

Use colored pencils, odorless mineral spirits, and blending stumps to color a masterpiece.


  • Prismacolor™ Pencils or other wax-based colored pencils
  • Blending stumps in various sizes
  • Gamsol or other artist-grade odorless mineral spirits
  • Emery board or sanding block to sharpen stumps
  • Soft eraser
  • Metal pencil sharpener
  • Neutral colored cardstock
  • Outline stamp
  • Dye based ink
  • Check the bottom of the tutorial for lots of great technique and supply tips added since the tutorial was initially published.


  1. Step 1

    Ink stamp with dye based ink and stamp image on neutral cardstock.

  2. Step 2

    Start coloring the image background (usually sky and ground) with a pencil, applying a light amount of color close to the edge of your image. I used Copenhagen Blue.

  3. Step 3

    Dampen the tip of your stump with Gamsol.

    Blend the color with the side of your stump, pulling the color towards the outer edges in a small circular motion.

    HINT: This works best if you have a small plastic bottle with a dauber lid (like a bingo marker) or a small piece of felt soaked in Gamsol. Press the stump against the felt or the dauber top to dampen.

  4. Step 4

    Continue coloring and blending the inside images as in Steps 3 and 4.

    Always start with the lighter colors first like the skin, goose and puddle.

  5. Step 5

    Once all of the base colors are in, go back and add some shading or highlights.

    To shade, add darker color around edges, in creases and anywhere a shadow would be.

    Highlights should be added with a lighter color or simply by removing color with an eraser.

  6. Step 6

    Now put the card together. There is no need to seal the image. Gamsol sets the colors so there's no worry about smudging.


    Your colored pencils must be waterproof. Water soluble pencils will not blend with mineral spirits. Usually the box will just say colored pencils and not have anything that refers to aqua or water (like Aquarelle).

    Stampin' Up! Pure Color, Derwent Studio Line, and Faber-Castell (better quality, but pricier) pencils also work for this technique, but Prismacolor Pencils have more colors to choose from. You can always blend two or more colors together to get the shade that you want, it's just extra work.

    Blending Stumps
    Try to find stumps made in Taiwan instead of those made in China. This may sound frivolous, but the ones from Taiwan are made of a softer paper making it easier to move the color around on smooth paper like SU! Whisper White.

    A.C. Moore has blending stumps by Pro Art (made in Taiwan) in their art department by the charcoal pencils.

    Michaels and other art supply stores also carry blending stumps (made in China), but just make sure you use them on a paper with a grain like Confetti or Naturals.

    Clean your stump often with an emery board or sanding block so that the tip of the stump is not holding too much color. Sharpen the tip for finer work. The emery board also serves to rough up the tip (if the tip gets shiny you'll notice it just squeaks on the paper and doesn't move the color around).

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Gamsol Magic. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

Someone mentioned using baby oil instead of this suitable for this technique?
Thank you!
jazzycreations  |  Sat Jan 26, 2008 at 10:07 AM
what is gamsol, i dont know what artist-grade odorless mineral spirits is.
also is it ordinary kiddy pencils this is?
nina  |  Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 2:21 PM
Can you use SU whisper white paper with this technique or does the paper finish come of as it does when you watercolor on it??
Mary  |  Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 2:37 PM
When using the Prisma Colors and Gamsol it seems like the color gets "greyed" down". Perhaps from pulling the black color from the stamped image. I use a dye based ink. Is there a special brand I should be using?
Sandra  |  Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 1:32 PM
Can you do this technique on Glossy Card stock? I have done it on the very vanilla and whisper white but not the glossy.
Debby  |  Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 5:32 PM
I love this stamp! Is it from SU and is it still available?
June  |  Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 12:38 PM
What are "Blending Stumps"?
Please, someone, anyone, help me on this one! Thanks
Pam  |  Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 9:12 PM
they are shown in the supply picture to the far right and in Step 3.

They are stumps out of rolled paper. They soak up your Mineral spirit and help you blend your colors. You can find them at Michaels and other hobby stores.
beate  |  Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 8:59 AM
all supplies were listed for mateerial but not the stamp. i will buy all but only if i can purchase that lovely stemp tell me where thanks
mary paige  |  Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 4:06 AM
I would love to know who makes the stamp with the little girl under the umbrella and the duck.
Pat Barger  |  Sat May 17, 2008 at 3:51 PM
I think the stamp of the little girl with the umbrella is from a retired SU! set called "And Everything Nice".

Coletta Esenwein  |  Mon May 26, 2008 at 8:46 PM
I would like to know what kind of paper or brand of paper do you buy to do this Gamsol procedure on. I heard you can only use a certain kind of card stock. thanks
Linda  |  Sun Jul 6, 2008 at 8:33 PM
In the Uk you can use a product called ZEST IT, it does the same job as the gamsol but is made from citrus oil, and is enviromentally firendly and does not have the same side effects as gamsol as its a natural product, i have been most impressed with the results i have got!!
thanks for the emery board tip, i did not think of that!!! and was going through stumps like you would not believe
amanda peters  |  Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 10:26 AM
I've used Goo Gone and baby oil in place of Gamsol (couldn't find it) with Prisma pencils. My StazOn stamped images do not smear or muddy the colored pencil. I've used regular cardstock as well as regular copy paper with wonderful results. I never thought I could shade until I tried this blending technique.

Thanks for the tutorial!
Shelly  |  Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 6:56 PM
where did you get the rubber stamp used in this tutorial? I love it!
Becky Gregory  |  Tue Sep 23, 2008 at 10:08 AM
Coletta you are right the stamp used here is a SU retired set .It is called And Everything Nice you can find it on page 103 in the 05-06 catty.
Dianne Henry  |  Thu Oct 9, 2008 at 6:49 PM
Will Crayola pencils work? I have some Prisma but not a lot. They are expensive. I thought maybe the Crayola wax based pencils might work?
Linda  |  Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 2:14 PM
Are S-U watercolour pencils the same thing as prisma pencils?
Donna MacDonald  |  Tue Feb 10, 2009 at 2:48 PM
I was wondering what Diane Ulitsch did with the baby oil on her card Coffee Riley (6883) she also used gamsol on it. I know what gamsol does but what does she use baby oil for.
Thanks Judy
Judy  |  Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 8:35 AM
Just thought I would mention that I have tried this technique using plain Mineral Oil from the drug store and it works far better than any watercolor pencil / watercolor crayon I have bought or used in the past. I wish I had known about this technique before buying so many products that I really wasn't happy with. I bought Prisma Colored pencils (plain not watercolor) at Staples for $23 ( set of 60 ) stumps from Michaels for $6 in the artists section...try it! It is unbelievable how easy the color flows. You can even go back after and add touch ups as the paper doesn't go nubby like it does with a waterblending pen...
Lisa  |  Wed Mar 4, 2009 at 7:23 PM

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