I’m here today as part of the Power Poppy hop promoting The Daily Marker’s 30 Day Coloring Challenge. The Power Poppy design team was asked to show what goes on behind the scenes in the coloring process. So I have a work in progress for you to illustrate all the random and not so random thoughts that go into my coloring.
In reality, I am a frustrated watercolorist. I love the look of watercolor florals, but I just don’t have the same control with a brush and water that I do with a Copic marker. Part of what I love about watercolor is how the colors spread and blend, creating new colors that add texture and interest. So I’ve been experimenting with a looser Copic style that mimics the look of watercolor.
For today’s challenge, I selected Marcella’s Daffodils Bouquet digital stamp. I also decided to push my boundaries by trying my hand at no line coloring. Since I will be trying out some new techniques on this illustration, I decided to enlarge the image so that I wouldn’t struggle with coloring a lot of tiny details. My paper size is 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches and the image size is 5 inches by 5.3 inches.I printed the image on X-Press It Blending Card by Copic, switching the image color to gray and reducing the saturation to 30 percent. While the lines are no longer black, they are still a bit darker than I intended. I decided to use the printed image and figure out the printing issue at a later time.
When I have a new image to color, I start by finding reference images on Google. I particularly loved the colors and style of this watercolor by Marilyn Fuerstenburg as well as this one by Varvara Harmon. Both captured the light but colorful style that I wanted to achieve. I decided to go with a similar color palette.
I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do with the finished image. It will fit on a 6×6 card so that might be the end result. I would normally start with the background, but I’m also thinking that I might fussy cut this for the card front. So for now, I’m going to leave the background alone. I can add a background later . Not the best way to proceed, but a decision that I’m going to live with for now.
And We’re Off to color!
|I find yellow to be a particularly difficult color to use, mainly because you can’t create any sort of depth just by adding darker shades of yellow. I find that I usually have to underpaint with a shade of blue or violet. Here, I applied yellow (Y11) on the petals over multiple shades of blue (B000, B00, B60) to get the petals to appear to bend and accentuate the ridges. The added benefit is that applying yellow over blue creates shades of green that add to the overall effect.|
|I decided to start working on the stems and leaves so that I could start balancing other elements in the bouquet. Originally, I selected markers from the YG family, but switched to the G color family to better compliment the cooler tones throughout the bouquet. I underpainted the greenery with BV23 and then applied G46 and G43 over top. The combination of BV23 and G46 gave me a more realistic shade of dark green than I could achieve by adding a higher value marker (i.e. a marker where the second number was greater than 6). And it had the added benefit of creating a realistic blend from dark to light while using only two G markers.|
|At this point, all the daffodils are complete (except for the stamen) as well as all the leaves and stems. It’s now time to start on the grape hyacinths. This is a real challenge because I have to create delineation without the help of black lines. I may have to come back later with colored pencils to add detail that I can’t achieve with a marker.
As you can see, I’m going to have the same problem with the stamen in the daffodils. For now I’ve colored them with G40 and G43 but they’ll probably need a little colored pencil as well.
STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS…
At this point, I need to set this aside and so I can get ready for a quick getaway trip (because there are other things in life besides Copics!). I still need to add some colored pencil to help delineate the grape hyacinths and the stamens in the daffodils. I may have to clean up some of the lines with colored pencil as well, but I’ll have to be careful – I don’t want to go through this whole exercise just to add outlines back into the image.
While there’s always room for improvement, I’m generally satisfied with my progress so far.
What Have I Learned?
While I’m happy with the overall result, here are a few things that I learned along the way:
- Black lines hide flaws in my technique. When done well (or done right), no line coloring produces such a realistic image that it will appear as if you drew the image yourself. That would be quite an accomplishment for me since I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. But no line coloring requires having a solid grasp of how to create depth with layers of color. Without the black lines, your eye has to fill in the blanks to understand the image – including its edges and shape – and I have a tendency to keep adding more layers. Which leads to my next point …..
- Know when to stop coloring. Some of my daffodils are looking a little overworked and heavy. When coloring a complex image, I have to learn to set it aside and give it (and me) a chance to rest. As the ink fully dries, the colors change – the yellows get a little brighter, the greens a little deeper. Instead, I kept adding layers of color, deepening a petal edge to push it back or trying to lighten/brighten another to pull it forward. After awhile, there is a point of diminishing returns. I would have had a better chance of seeing that if I had set my project aside for awhile and returned later with a fresh eye.
- Spend more time in advance planning out the color palette. As my students will tell you, I’m notorious for using a lot of markers in a project. Planning out the palette in advance would have allowed me to reuse colors better. For example, I probably could have reused BV23 to underpaint the wrapper instead of introducing three new markers for a relatively small element in the overall image.
Need some more inspiration? Take a look at what my Power Poppy team mates have in store for you!
Below are the supplies I’ve used for the class projects. Items marked with an asterisk (*) were provided by a store or the manufacturer for free or at a discount. All other items were personally purchased. Read more.
Paper: X-Press It Blending Card by Copics
Stamp: Daffodil Bouquet (*) by Power Poppy
Copics: B0000, B000, B60, B63, Y11, Y15, Y19, RV14 (daffodils); B60, B63, B66, V01, V04 (grape hyacinths); BV23, G43. G46 (leaves); E30, E34, E37 (wrapper)