Pencil Indenting

by Dina Kowal

Add finely detailed highlights to pencil coloring by indenting the paper with a stylus.


  • Stamp image with fine details such as hair, fur, whiskers, fabric, wind, grass, etc. (used here: Life is Better and Every Breath sets – Unity Stamp Co.)
  • Heavy pencil-friendly paper (Strathmore 100# Bristol Smooth paper used here)
  • Wax paper
  • Small ball stylus
  • Permanent ink (Stazon Jet Black ink used here)
  • Fine permanent marker (fine tip Sharpie marker used here)
  • Colored pencils (Chameleon Color Tones pencils used here)
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Battery eraser or small detail eraser (optional - Derwent Battery Operated Eraser used here)
  • Other supplies as needed to complete the project (used here: MISTI, sentiment stamps from Inky Antics and Marcella Hawley, Sizzix tag dies)


  1. Step 1

    Choose a stamp image with fine details that are difficult to highlight or leave white when pencil coloring. Examples are hair, fur, whiskers, patterns, lines indicating wind or grass, etc. Stamp the image onto heavy pencil-friendly paper (Strathmore 100# Bristol Smooth paper used here).

  2. Step 2

    Lay a piece of wax paper over the image. This will protect the paper and stamped image, and create a smooth surface for the stylus.

  3. Step 3

    Use a small ball stylus to “draw” in lines where you want the image to remain white, creating indents in the paper. In the sample, indents were made along the upper lines of the little girl’s hair and ponytail, for the texture of the dog’s fur and the movement of his tail, and in the polka dots of the shirt.


    It is not necessary to keep the wax paper in the same place.

  4. Step 4

    Use colored pencils to color the image. Be sure to use a light pressure to preserve the indented lines.

  5. As you color, you will begin to see the indented lines.

  6. Step 5

    Continue adding and layering color in each area until the image is completely colored to your liking.

  7. Step 6 (Optional)

    Use a battery or detail eraser to add highlights by removing color.

  8. Step 7

    Use the panel to complete a card or other project.

  9. Step 8

    To add a pattern to a portion of an image, stamp the image onto heavy pencil-friendly paper, and stamp a second image onto wax paper or tracing paper using a permanent ink.

  10. Step 9

    Use a permanent marker to sketch in your pattern onto the wax paper template.

  11. Step 10

    Lay the wax paper template over the stamped image. Using the template as a guide, trace the sketched lines with a small ball stylus to indent the pattern into the paper.

    When creating the sample, I used magnets to hold the wax paper in place on the foam-padded back of my MISTI.

  12. Add in other indented lines as needed.

  13. Step 11

    Color in the image to reveal the pattern and other indented lines.

  14. Use an eraser to remove areas of color and create highlights as needed.

  15. Step 12

    Use the panel to complete a card or other project.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Pencil Indenting. 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.

Have been coloring a long time and have never seen this technique! I LOVE IT!! Thanks so much for sharing!!
Karen Conner  |  Wed Jun 14, 2017 at 5:25 AM
I love this technique Dina and cannot wait to try it. Thanks so much for sharing and for the video.
Kia (kiagc)  |  Wed Jun 14, 2017 at 5:43 AM
Wow ! What a terrific way to enhance a drawing. I already have a few stamps to try this on. Thank you ever so much for this.
Carole Mitchell  |  Wed Jun 14, 2017 at 6:12 AM
Well how cool is that??? I have never seen this technique before, and I love it! I can't wait to try this for myself!
Holly  |  Wed Jun 14, 2017 at 6:31 AM
Amazing technique---thank you SO MUCH, Dina. I prefer pencilling to any other coloring medium and this is such a great idea, can't wait to try it. I have JUST the image ready to go for this.
Prissequito  |  Wed Jun 14, 2017 at 7:10 AM
Wonderful. I also have been coloring for a very long time but have never seen this technique before. I love my prima pencils and I think that this would be a great way to use them.
mary ann buhovecky  |  Wed Jun 14, 2017 at 9:18 AM
love coloring with pencils....thanks for the new ideas....these stamps are adorable and you did them so so well!!
Beverly Lausen  |  Wed Jun 14, 2017 at 9:26 AM
OMG, you are sooo talented and I thank you for all of this information!
Mary McCaslin  |  Wed Jun 14, 2017 at 9:31 AM
What a wonderful tutorial! I have never seen this done before, nor have I seen the battery operated eraser. I have quite a few Phyllis Harris images and cannot wait to try your techniques with them - thanks so much!
claudia zimmerman  |  Wed Jun 14, 2017 at 10:24 AM
Fabulous technique! Thanks for sharing your talent!
Fran Gumprecht  |  Thu Jun 15, 2017 at 9:00 AM
I love this technique! Thanks for the tutorial- and your cards are fabulous!
Shelly Schmidt  |  Thu Jun 15, 2017 at 8:29 PM
Unfortunately I am unable to play the videos and I really do enjoy them..perhaps you cantell me why I'm no longer able to see them
Marjorie McMahon  |  Sun Jun 18, 2017 at 2:16 PM
So love this....can't wait to try it...and I have so many of these Unity girls...are they adorable. Great tutorial...what a cool eraser
vickie  |  Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 10:40 AM
Oooh how cool is this smile I love this Dina and will try it soon!
Thanks for sharing, ~Stacy
Stacy Sheldon  |  Fri Jun 23, 2017 at 12:58 PM
Love this technique and the results it gives. Thanks so much for demonstrating this Ill have to give it a go for sure.
Dayse  |  Sun Jul 2, 2017 at 7:09 PM

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