Burnishing can be pretty similar to blending or layering, but burnishing properly induces a lot pf pressure through your wrist, hand and pencil.
As with blending, there are a few different tools and ways in which you can use this technique. The first is the most obvious and one which a lot of Artists actually use without even realising they’re doing it. But, Amie, what is burnishing? Well, in essence, it’s a technique used to cover the paper and really “smoosh” everything together to achieve a super smooth, grain free finish.
Burnishing with pencils is the most common way to approach this technique and it’s actually really easy. When people hear burnishing, they immediately think that a lot of pressure is needed to create the effect and that’s really not the case. You can burnish lightly with your pencils as you’re building layers and you end up, after many layers, with a smooth finish, without even realising what you’ve done.
Burnishing doesn’t need or require pressure and it doesn’t need to be hard on your extremities. Of course, you CAN put a whole load of pressure through your pencils and really grind the pencil into the hills and valleys of the paper, but you won’t be able to add many layers over the top. So if this is your approach to burnishing, save that for the end when you know you aren’t going to need to add too many more layers.
As mentioned in the Blending section, you can use Tortillions or paper stumps to burnish by using the same approach as with your pencils. Gradually increase the pressure as you lay down more colours and layers and you’ll end up with a piece as smooth as a baby’s bum. Again, you want to be careful here that you don’t apply too much pressure too quickly and you will ruin your chances of adding those all important layers over the top.
Burnishing, unlike some solvent blenders, will not change the colours of your work, so you can burnish all you wish and your colours will stay the same – this is a plus for some artists.
Personally, burnishing is my favourite technique and method to get my work really nice and smooth. It’s become second nature to use this technique throughout my work and it’s really simple. I always burnish using a lighter coloured pencil (white or buff titanium) and then rebuild my colours back over the top. I find this gives much more depth of colour and realism to the piece.