Sunday 26 November 2017

Product Review Series | Baby Oil for Blending Coloured Pencils

Hi everyone, thank you for stopping by. I hope you're having a great day.

A couple weeks ago, I reviewed Odorless Mineral Spirits, specifically Gamsol as a means for blending coloured pencil. In the hours and then days that followed I received a bunch of comments and mail and private messages about the post. Many people wanted to know how it compared to using baby oil, some of them wanted to know why I would promote such a dangerous chemical and some were so excited by the results, they said they were going right out to buy some.

I'm not here to tell you what to buy. I'm here to tell you about my experiences and hopefully share some knowledge to provide you with information if you are sitting on the fence about it. I will give you my opinions and my recommendations and I will happily answer any questions I can. Before we get right into this review, I want to clear a few things up.

Yes, Gamsol is a dangerous chemical; but when you get right down to it so are alcohol markers - if you don't use them correctly. So are oil paints and micro fine glitter. Anything can be dangerous if it isn't being used safely and carefully.

For those of you that messaged me to say they appreciated the information and will be picking some up, I cannot wait to see what you create with it. If it is something new, practice, practice and more practice is the key.

Finally, I've never tried baby oil as a blender. So today that's what I'm going to be talking about. This week, I put away my Gamsol and pulled out my baby oil. I wanted to give it a fair shake.

For the purposes of this review, I stamped these images from Lawn Fawn's "Our Friendship Grows" using Memento Tuxedo Black ink on 110lb Copic-friendly cardstock. I will be using:
  • Prismacolor Premier Pencils
  • Life Brand Baby Oil
  • Blending stubs or Tortillions (rolled, not compressed)

As with my review on Gamsol, I added the colour where I wanted the deepest shadows to be. I chose this image from Lawn Fawn because it has large spaces that are excellent for practicing laying down colour or shading. I used a separate tortillion for each colour to avoid cross-contamination.

I've numbered each of the points I want to talk about when working on this image.

  1. Large petals. For these I used PC917 Sunburst Yellow. As with Gamsol, I dipped my blending stub into the oil and worked in little circles, starting on the pigment and pulling it out towards the tips. I found that the yellow moved surprisingly well for the most part. The petals on the right of the flower seemed to move better than those on the left even though I lay down about the same amount of pigment. I found I had to dip several times as the paper sucked up the oil very quickly.
  2. Leaves and stem. I used PC908 Dark Green. I found that the oil smoothed out the pencil lines and filled in the areas where the tooth of the paper did not grab the pigment but it did not carry the colour into the unshaded areas - as you can see most prominently on the left leaf. To get an even blend, I had to work the area several times to move the green as much as I did.
  3. The pot. I used PC937 Tuscan Red. The colour did not move at all. I ended up going over the red a bunch of times and finally added a second layer with a super light hand just to get some colour in the middle. If you look at the pot in the picture above and change the lightest areas to stark white, that's what it looked like before I added a second layer. As a side note, I didn't notice any problems when adding additional pigment to the image on top of the baby oil.
  4. Smaller petals. I used PC917 and PC1002 Yellow Orange. As these petals are behind the main flower image, they will naturally be darker, so I added the second colour just at the very base of each petal to give it a bit more shadow. I found the baby oil blended the two colours nicely and as with the yellow in the larger petals moved the pigment to the tips well.
  5. I had an oops and dripped baby oil to the corner of my panel. I've done this with the Gamsol and it dries right up and you can't tell. Not so much with the baby oil. It was there in the second picture after I lay down the initial colour, and I had hoped it would dry out, but as you can see, even after blending the colours in the image that "oops" is still there. Not cool.
Overall, this is not my blending solution of choice. I found it was way more work than it was worth. If this panel were going to be going on a card, I would have to scrap it and start over because of that drip in the top right corner. 

It didn't move the colour as well as I wanted and I found I had to make many extra passes just to get the colour to move as well as it did. 

I do not like the oily finish that it leaves. If I were creating a piece to look like stained glass for a window decoration maybe I would reach for this, but I don't really do those.

If you are uncomfortable using Gamsol for medical reasons or pregnancy or because you have a kitten or kids that have access to your crafting space then by all means, give this a try. As I mentioned in the previous review, I prefer using an incredibly light hand and allowing my pencils to do the blending for me. If I were in a situation where I had to use a blending solution, I'll take the Gamsol over the baby oil any day of the week.

I hope you enjoyed today's review. If you have questions about this product or a suggestion for a future review, please drop me a line in the comments section below and let me know what you think. If you haven't already, please follow me on the right side bar or over on Facebook, so you don't miss any future reviews or posts.

*disclaimer: I am not sent products to review, nor am I paid to review them. I review the products that I am interested in and use, I receive no incentive, reward or payment to do so. All products are purchased with my own money and all reviews are based off of my experience and are my opinions only.


  1. My daughter and I had tried baby oil in the past and I had the same issues. I really didn't like to oily finish it left on the paper. It just never really seemed to dry out.

  2. I had the same problem - you also can't lay another sheet on top of it or below it.

  3. Thank you for this review, I've often THOUGHT about using baby oil but haven't gotten round to it ... now I guess I'll stick with my Sansodor (like gamsol)



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