The Problem with Pastel Copic Markers & Colored Pencils

 

It's spring and that means Copic Marker and colored pencil fans will celebrate by pulling out their bright pink, mint, and aqua colors.

But there's a problem with pastels!

Have you ever spent hours coloring an image with pretty pastels, only to be completely underwhelmed by the finished product? 

What went wrong?

How could all that lovely butter-cream color add up to something so boring?

Or even worse, why does your image look like it was colored by an 8 year old Unicorn Princess?

The photograph I've used in the title graphic has a typical assortment of pastel colors. I found it at a color palette website, so somebody thought it might make good inspiration for an art or craft project

Except we're dealing with pastels.

Pastels are pretty darned tricky, so different rules apply.

If I colored a stamped image using just the colors from the sample photo, I'd come up with something very similar to what the folks at Whipper Snapper Designs did with their "Easter Bunny Basket" stamp.

"Easter Bunny Basket" by Whipper Snapper Designs

Yes, it's a cute bunny and the colors are pretty. But it looks like the Unicorn Princess did the coloring, not a mature woman with taste and style.

The other problem I see... well... this requires an experiment. I want you to close your eyes (not yet, read this paragraph first). You're going to close your eyes and count to twenty. When you open them up, I want you to be looking at the Whipper Snapper sample image.

Okay. Do it now.

What was the first thing your eye went to?

The basket, right?

Uhhhhh, that's a serious problem.

The point of this stamp is absolutely, positively NOT the basket. 

Do you want your viewer to say "Hey, cool basket!" or to say "Hey, cute bunny!"

The loveable, huggable bunny rabbit should be the focal point but he's almost invisible! The basket is stealing all the limelight.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the sample coloring or even the color palette in the sample image.

It's more about the WAY the palette was applied. I think we can do better.

Pastel Palette Class from VanillaArtsCo
 

Grounding Pastels- The Secret to Mature Pastel Images

Here is my version of the Whipper Snapper Designs "Easter Bunny Basket" stamp.

I want you to close your eyes again and when you open them up, I want you to be looking at the Whipper Snapper sample image.

Okay. Do it now.

What was the first thing your eye went to this time?

The bunny, right?

By using a limited palette and keeping the colors muted, the focus moved from the basket to the bunny, exactly where it should be!

For more information on color palette’s check out my articles on Color Palettes: A Beginner's Guide to Coloring with Maturity & Sophistication and Color Palettes: A Beginner's Guide to Coloring with Sophistication (Part Two)

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