The Secret to Amazing Coloring

The secret to amazing coloring isn't what you think it is. Improve your Copic or colored pencil coloring with this one secret. |

Are you a fixer?

Readers of my weekly Vanilla Beans newsletters (subscribe here) have heard me mention the fixing process in the last two issues.

Yes, I’m a fixer.

But so is every other professional artist I know.

The secret to amazing coloring isn't what you think it is. Improve your Copic or colored pencil coloring with this one secret. |

Fixing flaws, making adjustments, and making corrections is part of the artistic process. Nobody throws paint at a canvas and calls it perfect.

Artists labor over their artwork. Sometimes the adjustments are major, like adding a tree to balance the composition or painting over something that detracts from the focal point.

But the vast majority of fixes are so minor that you’d hardly even notice them.

I’m constantly fiddling with the temperature of things. I’ll add warm colors over the top of an object when it feels too cool (because cool colors tend to recede and feel far away). And I’ll cool something off when it feels too bright and boisterous.

I play with depth too. I push things deeper by adding more dark, desaturated colors or I’ll pull them forward by lightening and brightening certain areas. I almost never get depth right the first time, it’s a process rather than a single step.

I also reshape things a lot, especially with botanicals. I’ll round off the edges of things or loosen up the outline if that’s what’s needed. I’m rarely happy with the original way that I draw anything; shapes always morph as I work my way through the project.

Wise people know that everything in life requires some form of adjustment. 


Are you a color-it-once kind of person?

I hope not.

It’s the equivalent of a race car driver who refuses to pit for fuel or a singer who knows the microphone isn’t working but continues to sing softly anyway.

Who does that?

Colorers. That’s who.

The secret to amazing coloring isn't what you think it is. Improve your Copic or colored pencil coloring with this one secret. |

There’s this weird mindset within the coloring community that coloring is a one-and-done process. Once you color an area, you’re done with it forever.


So wrong it makes my left eye twitch…

Trying to get everything right on the first pass? Wow, that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself.

But I can’t blame you. Tutorials never seem to mention the “go back and fix that thing you just did wrong” part.

And coloring bloggers and video makers try to present themselves as amazingly awesome coloring super-stars, so the parts where they screw things up often gets edited out.

I guess I can’t fault folks for thinking that they’re not very good at coloring when almost every Copic colorer you’ve ever seen pretends that they do things right every time and every step of the way.


The truth is...

...the good stuff really only begins to take shape when you go back and perfect things. 

In the beginning stages, you color on white paper. Your colors will change as you build up more and more intense color throughout the project. There’s no way to predict how strong something needs to be at the beginning of a project. You absolutely have to go back and make value adjustments later- it’s part of the coloring process

Shapes change as you color the spaces around them. I usually do floral leaves before I color the petals. I almost always have to go back and reshape the leaves, especially when they overlap a blossom. Refining shapes is part of the coloring process.

Sometimes a shape isn’t what we thought it was. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve colored something as background, only to find out later that it was actually a flower petal or a lock of hair. You can’t skip that kind of correction. Correction is part of the coloring process.

And lastly, sometimes I look back and realize that some of my blends look choppy. As you work your way through any project, your blending gets better and smoother as you get into the groove. So it’s natural that you may need to go back and smooth the first few things you colored.

Are you sensing a pattern here? Smoothing your blends is also a part of the coloring process.

And yet in the coloring community, no one wants to admit this stuff.

But artists? Hoo boy, we mess up all the time and most of us will gladly talk at length about all the corrections we make. We kind'a take pride in rescuing projects that were heading southward... "man, I fixed the heck out of that area over there!"

The difference between a mediocre artist and a great artist is that great artists fix and adjust the mediocre stuff until it looks great.

The secret to amazing coloring isn't what you think it is. Improve your Copic or colored pencil coloring with this one secret. |

Fixes are essential to making great projects

I’m a better colorer for making these changes.

I’m an honest colorer for admitting that I do this. It serves no purpose to pretend that I got it right from the start. Hey world, I almost never get it right from the start!

So the next time you’re knee-deep into some online tutorial or internet video, don’t beat yourself up for not coloring it all perfectly.

There are steps missing from that tutorial. They are not showing you everything.

Correcting and adjusting… we all do it.

You should do it too.

It’s okay to go back and fix things. In fact, it’s vital that you go back and fix things.


What’s the secret to amazing coloring? 

It’s as simple as going back and making adjustments.


Let's Talk: Defending Prismacolor Colored Pencils

In defense of Prismacolor's Premier Soft Core colored pencils. |

Colored Pencils are hot

A few years ago, every crafter had to own alcohol markers. Then watercolor took center stage. Now it’s colored pencils.

There’s a ton of chatter about colored pencil on the internet right now.

And a lot of it is flat-out wrong.


It's fashionable to bash Prismacolor pencils online

And as an art instructor who teaches with Prismacolor Premier Soft Core pencils, Prismacolor bashing makes my life a lot harder.

I’m getting more student questions like this:

You have Prismacolors on the class supply list but I’ve heard they’re not very good. What other brand would you recommend?

Well, that’s a problem. 

I gave you a supply list with Prismacolor Soft Core pencils on it, which means I'm recommending them as the best brand for my class. 

I’m telling you which colored pencils I used... and from the photos, you can see they work, right? The whole point of the class is to show you how to get great results with the class supply list, correct?

But because someone talked trash about Prismas online, now I have to defend my teaching methods?

How do I respond politely to this?

Look, I’m going to be blunt in this article because the misinformation has gotten completely out of hand.

Someone needs to set the record straight.


Prismacolor pencils are not crap

Blunt enough for you?

I don’t care what “KraftyKassie95” from Omaha said on the Scrap-Happy Facebook page.

You don’t know her. You haven’t seen the quality of her work. She’s a semi-anonymous voice on the internet and you’re about to make a large purchasing decision based upon a few sentences in a comment section.

If that’s the case, then I’ve got a really cool bridge you might be interested in purchasing!


I have used Prismacolor on a daily basis since 1985

And 90% of the classes that I’ve taught for the last decade use them too.

I think Prismascolor Soft Cores are an excellent choice for anyone beginning to work with colored pencils and they’re a great forever-pencil for card makers and hobby colorers.

Look, I wouldn’t ask my students to purchase Prismacolors if they were terrible pencils. I teach anywhere from 4 to 12 classes per month using PPSC pencils because I sincerely think they’re the best option for my students.

So who are you going to believe, me or KraftyKassie95 from Omaha?


Quality versus Price

When you begin a new medium, there is always a great debate:

Do I go cheap and get lots of colors or do I go with fewer pencils of greater quality?

I never, ever, ever recommend buying student grade anything because student grade products are inconsistent. Inexpensive ingredients make learning difficult. It’s harder to get good results from a student grade product. And as a beginner, the last thing you need to do is make things more challenging.

So that means you should look for artist grade products which are more expensive. Unfortunately, artist grade pencils can be downright cost prohibitive.

That is less true for Prismacolor Premier Soft Core pencils. They absolutely are an artist grade product, no matter what KraftyKassie95 says. Of all the artist grade brands, they provide the most bang for your buck.

Do I think everyone should work with Prismas forever? No.

Do I think they’re the best investment a beginner can make? You bet’cha!


So what’s with all the Prismacolor bashing on the internet?

Well, it seems that Prismacolor made some seriously stupid decisions.

Just before colored pencil started trending, Prismacolor decided to cut corners, lower quality standards, and skimp on shipping procedures.

Dear Prisamcolor, If your name is mud, it’s your own darned fault.

There’s also the internet problem though. KraftyKassie95's half-baked opinion can be read and parroted by thousands of people. The internet equalizes voices so that you can’t tell if the commenter is an an experienced professional artist or a twice-a-month novice.

In defense of Prismacolor's Premier Soft Core colored pencils. |

I’ve been loyal to Prismacolor since high school

That was thirty-umph years ago.

I’ve seen both subtle and major changes to their product line over the years. 

And because I’m brutally honest, I’ll give you the straight scoop on what I’ve observed- in personal use and in my classes.

The sad fact is that Prismacolor Premier Soft Core pencils are not as nice today as they were a decade ago.

But let me be clear, the pigmented core (the lead) still feels like the same buttery smooth formula. I don’t detect any major difference between the feel of my current pencil cores and the feeling from my random collection of Berol and Eagle vintage Prismacolors. So if Prismacolor has changed the core ingredients, the differences are subtle and unlikely to cause user problems.


the major Prisma complaints:

But please note, for all the complaining going on in internetland, you’d think I would be greatly affected by numerous quality problems. 

I go through at least 50 pencils a year; I use them daily and I see a heck of a lot of students using them every month.

I simply have not encountered problems on the scale that the internet suggests.

Let me repeat that- if anyone is going to see massive Prismacolor problems, I’m a great candidate. I use a lot of pencils myself and I watch at least 50 students use them each month.

Despite what the internet implies, I am NOT seeing a gigantic number of pencil failures. 

In fact, problems are pretty rare and they're isolated when they do pop up.

1. Wood casings can splinter

Splinters and shards are from a defect in the wood used to make the casing. Small chunks of wood can splinter off when sharpening the pencil with a harsh or dull electric rotary blade.

Yes, Prismacolor is using a noticeably lower grade cedar than they used to. The wood simply feels softer to the touch. So I’ll buy the theory that softer wood and less inspection at the lumberyard leads to more splintering.

In the last five years, I’ve had only one pencil splinter. After I sharpened past the missing notch, the pencil looked and performed as any other pencil would. 

I can’t recall any students losing shards in class and we sharpen our pencils a lot. A LOT.

If you have a pencil that splinters, don’t use an electric pencil sharpener until you get past the missing chunk of wood. A hand model that uses a sharp blade rather than rotary grinders will be more gentle.

It’s an easy fix. There's no need to go ballistic on an internet chat board about it.

2. Off-center color cores

Yep, this is a genuine factory defect. At some point, Prismacolor started allowing more off-centers to leave the factory. Once upon a time, the off-centers would have gone into a reject pile.

In defense of Prismacolor's Premier Soft Core colored pencils. |

If your core is off-center you may have sharpening problems. You think you're sharpening as normal but when you pull the pencil out of the sharpener,  there is wood at the tip instead of colored core. 

If the core is just a little off center, you will never notice. The core has to be waaaaaayyyy off center to be a serious problem.

Look, this is a simple fix. Don’t buy a pencil that has a wickedly off-center core! Look at the pencil end before you buy. It takes about two seconds to spot which ones are wonky. No one is forcing you to buy wonky pencils.

If it came in a set, return the pencil by calling the Prismacolor consumer hotline.

Note: I used to give the hotline phone number here but it’s easier to link you to their contact page. As of this update (2019) there are still phone numbers which I recommend calling rather than dropping an easy-to-ignore message into their email system.

3. Wood splits or loose cores

Pencils are made like a sandwich. There’s a bottom half of wood with a channel down the length. A color core is placed into the channel and then more wood goes down on top. Glue holds the wood halves together and that glue keeps the core from sliding out as you color. If the glue fails, your pencil falls apart.

I can't recall ever having a pencil split. I had one core dislodge while filming a class two years ago; the pencil was about 3 inches long when it happened. I put a dab of crazy glue on the top end and continued working.

No big loss. I won’t head up to a bell tower to express my anguish over the loose core.


4. Shattered cores

When you shop for apples, you pick out your favorites and drop them into a plastic bag, right?

That’s not how you shop for eggs though... or do you toss those in a bag too?

All colored pencils are fragile.

You should not manhandle any brand. And psssttt... if your pencil has "Soft Core" right in the name, they’re telling you that maybe you ought to treat it with a little more care than usual.

Seriously folks, I do not understand this complaint. Do you want Prismacolor to make a firmer core that's less likely to break? They do. It’s called a Verithin. Go buy that and leave my precious soft cores alone! I want that soft buttery pencil lead and I’m willing to deal with occasional breakage to get it.

It’s worth it.

Perhaps Prismacolor changed the way they load and ship cargo palettes. Poor shipping practices could legitimately contribute to the breakage problem. You can not drop a crate of colored pencils and expect them to survive.

In defense of Prismacolor's Premier Soft Core colored pencils. |

However, I’ve got two more guilty parties we need to look at…

How about the store that allows customers to fondle and bang pencils around on open, unmonitored display shelves? If you are buying Prismas from a store like that, you deserve a broken pencil. I'm looking at you right now, you 40% off Michael Ann's Lobby shoppers.

And next, let's look at the colorer who stores their pencils rattling around loose in a shoebox or generic storage tin. Add to that anyone who allows their pencils to roll off the desk. These people are asking for breakage! 

You have fragile pencils and you are not taking care of them. How is that Prismacolor’s fault?

Now I know, there are methods on the internet which claim that heating the pencil can heal the core. I’ve seen people mention the microwave, a heating pad, a low oven, and even setting them out in the sun. But here’s the deal, I don’t know if any of these methods work because I’ve never had to try them. I haven’t had a pencil with multiple internal breaks, at least not in recent memory.

I haven’t purchased a full set of Prismas in at least 20 years, so maybe that’s why I don’t see this problem much. I buy open stock pencils at two very reliable art stores (either would immediately exchange a shattered pencil) and I store my pencils in this case (affiliate link warning). 

You can’t buy Prismacolor pencils from Super-Piggly-Mart and toss them loose into a desk drawer.

And if you do, don’t whine about breakage on the internet.

5. Prismacolor Soft Cores don’t erase very well

Go away. Just go away.

They’re not supposed to erase easily. If you want an erasable pencil, go shop for one.

6. Wax based pencils are bad

If you get that white wax coating called "bloom", well... there's no nice way to say this:

You’re doing it wrong.

Bloom happens when you put down too many layers of heavy pencil, when you burnish like a mad banshee, or when you fail to seal your finished project.

If you must burnish... I do not, but that's a different discussion for another day... but if you are a burnisher, then a simple spray coat of fixative or sealant will prevent blooming.

And don't use hairspray! Hairspray is not, not, not fixative.

Here's the kicker, something most people never think about when they do it- when you use a blending pencil, you are actively encouraging bloom. You don’t get to complain about wax bloom when you coat everything with extra wax! But again, fixative solves the problem.

If your project does bloom, a light rubbing with a facial tissue or microfiber cloth will remove the bloom buildup. Then spray it with fixative; fixative prevents blooming.

Are you getting the impression here that fixative is important? I hope so.

And by the way, the oil based pencil which folks keep recommending online as “super-duper awesome because it's not wax based”? Uhm, it has wax in it. All colored pencils contain wax. They just don’t mention it on the box.

7. “Prismacolors are the worst pencils ever”

This is the biggest internet bandwagon- unspecific with hints of inevitable doom.

Prismacolor did a dumb thing- they took the name “Prismacolor” which once stood for something awesome and they used it to rename of all the other pencils they crank out.

So Verithins became “Prismacolor Verithins”. And Col-Erase and Scholars now use the name Prismacolor too. And the word “Premier” seems to be leaking over into the other styles now, most of which are completely unworthy of a Premier moniker.

I’m seeing confusion with my students, something that never happened a decade ago. The names are a serious problem. I call for the Soft Core pencils but they’re labeled “Primacolor Premier” and they once simply went by “Prismacolor”. A lot of my students are accidentally buying the wrong product, no matter how specific I make my lists.

I had one online student using Verithins for a year and she never understood why I kept calling my pencils buttery because hers were hard and brittle. Once she got her hands on a real Soft Core, months of my classes suddenly made sense.

And I have some students who get enticed by the eraser on the Col-Erase version. Erasers have a special appeal to beginners. But I always end up with a few students who learn they have the wrong Prismacolor but refuse to upgrade until they feel as if they've recouped the original investment.

So please, before you accept an internet opinion about terrible, horrible, Black Plague inducing Prismacolor pencils, find out which Prismas they're referring to. They could be talking about Scholars. If that's the case, KraftyKassie95 is completely right. Scholars are terrible!


Let me put it simply:

Yes, Prismacolor has some quality control issues but I really have not experienced enough of them to get my britches in a bunch.

Either I'm living in Shangra-la or the internet has exaggerated the problem.

And I'm near Detroit. This ain't Shangra-la.

I totally understand why professionals have switched from Prismas to other brands- I did too. But I started incorporating more lightfast colors long before the Prisma problems popped up.

Despite the internet scuttlebutt, I do not think that students need to buy ultra premium pencils immediately.

In fact...

In defense of Prismacolor's Premier Soft Core colored pencils. |

It is unwise for beginners to purchase super-premium pencils at the start.

No colored pencil artist uses every pencil in the set. All artists have a core group of about 20 to 40 frequently used colors. And every one of us has pencils that we’ve used only once (to make a color swatch).

For a beginner to invest in a full set of the most expensive pencils? It's simply a waste of money if you don’t yet know what your most used colors are going to be. 

Additionally, as a beginner, you simply don’t know enough about colored pencils to make a smart purchase. You don’t know if you’re going to do lots of landscapes or specialize in florals, wildlife, or portraits. You don’t know what project size you prefer to work at. You don't know if you'll be a fine detail person or work in loose strokes.

There is not one brand of colored pencil that works for every genre and every technique at every scale.

Wait to make your large box, premium purchase until you know what you're doing. Wait until you're sure that you're going to stick with colored pencils long enough to justify the investment!

This is why I recommend and why I teach with Prismacolor Premier Soft Core pencils. They are an entry level, artist grade pencil which facilitates learning while allowing you to explore different genres and scales. They are chameleon pencils and they’re financially accessible.

This is why I disagree with KraftyKassie95 from Omaha.

This is why I recommend Prismacolor Premier Soft Core pencils to my beginner and hobby level students.

Internet experts be damned.


Spring Cleaning: Simple care extends the life of your Copic Markers

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

It's that time of year again

Forget about the crocus buds or the robins singing! The surest sign of spring is when all the house cleaning tips start blooming on the internet.

Yep. Everybody loves a good spring cleaning.

This year, don't forget about your Copics!


Spring cleaning for Copics?

I know what you're thinking...

I've seen lots of tutorials about how to clean Copic Markers, but that's for people who color all the time, right? A lot of tutorials talk about cleaning your marker after you refill it and I've NEVER had to refill!

I guess when I finally refill my markers, I'll worry about cleaning then.

You're absolutely right. People like me, who use Copics on a daily basis— instructors, bloggers, and super serious colorers- we do refill markers more frequently than average colorers.

But cleaning? That’s a different matter entirely.

Everyone, from high volume colorers to the once-in-a-whilers:

We ALL need to clean our markers on a regular basis.


Do you make Copic Jelly?

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |


Copic jelly? Really?

Yep. I have jelly problems. You have jelly problems too.

Every time you uncap and recap a Copic, your marker nib rubs along the inside of the cap. It leaves a streak of marker ink.

That streak of ink quietly lurks inside your cap, slowly evaporating. After the solvent is gone, the streak becomes a smear of Copic Jelly- a super sticky residue.

I know, it’s a bit of a weird concept. When most of us think of "evaporation", we think of water, right? Water just disappears into the air and leaves no trace behind.

But Copic ink is not water; Copic ink is dye mixed with an alcohol solvent. Sure, the alcohol part evaporates cleanly without a trace, but the dye sticks around as residue.

Old dye residue lingers inside your marker caps, waiting to make trouble.


What kind of trouble?

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

Once you get an ooey gooey build-up of dye residue inside the cap, that jelly makes it hard for Copic caps to seal properly.

The cap clicks as normal, so you assume they're sealed... but no, the jelly breaks the seal.

Yep. Jelly is nasty stuff.

Without a tight seal, your marker nib will slowly dry out as the solvent in the nib begins to evaporate.

Basically jelly in the cap encourages the growth of more jelly on the nib. 

Eventually, jelly can works its way into the spongy core inside your marker!

Once the jelly makes it to the core, your marker is shot. Jelly doesn't just kill marker nibs, it kills whole markers!

It's like The Blob in that 1950's horror movie, jelly keeps creeping along, destroying everything in its wake.

It's not just unsightly, jelly costs you money!


Every once in a while...

I'll pull out a marker that hasn't been used in some time. When I begin to color with it, the nib leaves a weird dark streak. Not all the time and not everywhere, just little smudges of darkened ink that don’t want to smooth out.

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

Have you had that happen too? Its a bit of jelly that has transferred from the nib to your project.

Dark streaks are not pretty.

Let’s look on the bright side though, that streak is a warning call.

Your marker is crying for help.

When you see dark streaks, you can clean the marker and the nib before the jelly spreads further.

So yes, because I use my markers every day; all that uncapping and recapping means I create jelly quicker than you do.

But I'm also more likely to spot the jelly problem early. I can quickly resolve the problem before it ruins the whole nib.

If some of your markers sit for months without use...  then you're completely missing the early warning system!

Keeping caps clean is MORE important for the weekend hobbyist than for everyday colorers!

Dirty caps + long periods sitting unused gives your jelly lots of time to kill the nib!


Cleaning is easy!

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

And it's easier to do them all at once (in spring cleaning style) than cleaning them one at a time.

Pop in a good movie and sit down with your markers and a few basic supplies.

I have a small 4 ounce jelly jar (warning: Amazon affiliate link there) that I fill with 90% rubbing alcohol from the pharmacy aisle of my grocery store. The 70% alcohol works too but the 90% works faster.

Into that jar, I cut small 1 inch squares of clean paper towel.

This jar of teeny tiny wipes and a pair of tweezers are all you need to clean your entire marker collection!

Now keep in mind, rubbing alcohol is a different kind of alcohol than the alcohol in your Copics. These alcohols are not interchangeable or compatible! 

Rubbing alcohol also has some water in the mix. That’s what the % on the label indicates. 90% Rubbing Alcohol is also 10% water. 70% Rubbing Alcohol is 30% water.

Because of that water content, I'm super careful when wiping off the plastic right below the marker nib.

Rubbing alcohol is not good for your nibs!

But aside from that one caveat, rubbing alcohol makes an excellent cleaner. It dissolves Copic jelly on contact, and it's soooo much cheaper than cleaning with Copic Colorless Blender!

First, wipe the marker off with a little tiny square of alcohol-soaked paper towel.

Then plunge the same square into the marker cap and ream it around with the tweezers to clean the inner cap area.

Tap the excess alcohol out of the cap, recap the marker, and move on to cleaning the next marker with a clean square.

It's an easy-peasy process and you can clean even the biggest marker collection before the movie is over!


spring clean your Copics!

Clean caps aren't just for neat freaks or heavy duty marker users.

Clean caps extend the life of your marker nibs and prevent accidental ink evaporation.

Try a little spring cleaning today and give your Copic babies a bath. Your markers will thank you!

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

Stop guessing where the shade goes! Learn to use Copic Markers with confidence.


You've got a great stamp image and lots of pretty Copic Markers

Now what?

A lot of people get stuck right there.

Either they panic because they don't know where to start or they plow onward despite feeling lost.

Neither tactic results in good coloring. Neither method will ever result in the kind of coloring you admire on blogs and YouTube.

And it's not about blending. I know, some people will tell you "Go take a Copic class and learn how to blend. Then it'll get better."

But blending skills are not enough. You can be the best blender in the world...

People could fall at your feet in awe...

The angels might cry over your fantastic blending skills...

Your coloring friends might give you nick-names like "Silkie" or "Smooth Rider" and they might spread word about your amazing abilities to towns, villages, and even the most remote hamlets...


But it's all a lot of nothin'

if you don't know where to put the shade

How many blog articles on better blending have you saved?

How many inspirational projects have you pinned?

How many times have you patted yourself on the back for rescuing a blended are that was quickly heading south?

How many times have you wished upon a star "Oh, if I could only blend like that lady that blog the other day..."


You're wishing for the wrong thing

Anyone can blend. There's no special skill involved; in fact, many people stumble into good blending techniques from simple experimentation and practice. I hate to break it to you but blending isn't that hard.

Copic Markers want to blend. It's a chemical thing that's embedded into their physical makeup. They're a single purpose tool whose whole reason for being on this earth is to blend.

All you have to do is get out of the way and let the marker do it's job.


Smooth blending is n0t the reason why amazing projects look amazing

It's all about the shade.

If you want to improve the look of your finished marker projects, you have to stop guessing where the shade goes.

I know you've done it:

"Hmmmm... maybe I'll put the dark markers over in this corner..."


"I'll put some shady colors over on this side because that's what this handy little sunlight-directional arrow chart is telling me to do..."

Shade is the key to coloring with depth and dimension but if you're always guessing where it goes... well, I hate to break it to you, but that problem isn't going to solve itself.

Depth and dimension doesn't just happen because you included some shady areas in your project. You can't just thow some darks on willy-nilly. Nope, you've got to choose the correct colors for shade and get those colors into the areas where it will look the most natural and realistic.

Realism comes easily when you understand where to place your shade and highlights. But it's not a skill you can learn in three blog posts.

Most Copic instructors focus on blending skills or playing with fun and trendy techniques. They teach you how to color like a crafter.

I approach the subject differently.

Marker Painting Foundations teaches you to paint with your markers, to use your markers the same way artists and trained illustrators do.

We break down images in order to understand their parts and what the shapes represent. Then you learn how to apply the same mental processes and techniques to other images. 

And don't get intimidated, this is not an advanced class! This is beginner level instruction designed to get you started using Copic markers correctly, right from day one. The projects are all beginner level but the results you'll get look advanced!


Enroll at any time, work at your own pace

Students always start with lesson one, so you'll never feel as if you're the lone newbie on the block.

Twelve weeks and twenty six lessons and over a dozen digital stamps designed to challenge your thinking.

Rethink the way you approach markers. Color confidently with a better understanding of color, shade, shadow, light, and highlights. 

You can do this!