Color Smart: Marker Recipes Hurt your Coloring


I've got a great recipe to share with you today!

Amy's Amazing Lemon Meringue Pie:

  • Baking Powder

  • Butter

  • Cornstarch

  • Cream of Tartar

  • Eggs

  • Flour

  • Lemons

  • Salt

  • Shortening

  • Sugar

  • Vanilla

  • Vinegar

  • Water


Print this recipe and make a great pie today!

wait, what's wrong with my fabulous recipe?


You say you can't possibly make a pie with that recipe?

But I gave you all the ingredients!

Okay, okay. I'll admit that my recipe might be missing a few details, but you're used to that, right? You're completely capable of filling in the gaps!

What? Wait, you're not?

Then why do you have a Pinterest board that looks like this?

This is useless |

So let me get this straight:

  • You have no psychic powers

  • You spend long hours searching Pinterest for marker recipes

  • Some of you have so many recipes that you've subdivided the collection into boards for "Hair", "Skin", "Animals", etc

  • You spend your hard-earned money buying markers from pinned recipes

  • You mentally beat yourself up when a recipe doesn't work, because you assume the recipe is good... therefore, it must be you that stinks

  • When one recipe doesn't work for you, you pin-shop for more similar recipes


Why are you doing this to yourself?


Just stop.

You are wasting your time. You are pinning the wrong thing.

You are riding a merry-go-round in the third circle of hell. No good will come of this; you're just going round and round and round and round.

The problem is NOT you. The problem is NOT your coloring  skills.

It's the recipe that sucks.

Proportions, application order, stroke quality, and paper saturation are far more important than ink color.

Please go back and read that sentence one more time.

No, really go back and read it again. I'll wait.

Good. Now let me explain.

You and I could have the same 5 markers and the same image stamped on the same paper but we would each produce two completely different looking projects.

Heck, I could run this experiment all by myself and I'd produce a totally different image today than I did last Tuesday.

Clearly then, there is more to great coloring than marker recipes.

Don't believe me?

I just searched Pinterest with the following search terms: "Copic", "Blonde", and "Hair".

The resulting photo wall was 8 wide and 45 pins deep with a "see more pins" box at the bottom.

That's at least 360 different recipes for blonde hair using alcohol markers. Okay, 338 if you eliminate the pictures of Jennifer Aniston that were oddly prevalent amongst the results.

The point is that none of the resulting projects are ugly. They all look fridge-worthy, even frame-worthy.

So assuming some recipe overlap, we can honestly say that there are about 300 ways to beautifully color blonde hair (with or without Jennifer Aniston's help).


It is not about the ink color

Say it with me: It is not about the ink color.

Marker colors are the only information your marker recipe collection gives you. "I used YR27, YR23, E55, and BV01."

(Don't use that recipe, I just made it up a second ago. But yeah, I think I could make it work.)

What information is missing from pinned recipes?

  • Did the author color light to dark or dark to light?

  • Which marker(s) were used to blend?

  • How often were colors blended? When?

  • How many applications of each color were used?

  • What was the dry time between colors?

  • How long were the strokes?

  • Were all strokes the same or did one color receive special treatment?

  • How full were the author’s markers (yes, this makes a gigantic difference!)

  • What paper did they work on?

  • How saturated was the paper upon completion?

  • Does the photo display true color or has it been Photoshopped?

  • Did the author deliberately or accidentally omit a color from the list?

Any one of these factors can drastically alter your final results!

Yet when your project doesn't turn out like the Pinterest photograph, you beat yourself up for being a no-good talentless hack?

That's absolutely ridiculous! Yet every day, someone tries to color something they saw on Pinterest and fails. They get discouraged.

Random marker recipes are a bit evil. They set you up to fail! As the failures add up, they hurt your confidence and damage your spirit.


I met a woman last week at Hobby Lobby

She had 3 recipes taped into a notebook. She was trying to purchase the markers listed. She asked me (I was looking at erasers, not markers) if I knew anything about substitute Copic colors.

She was prepared to plunk down good money on about 30 markers based on Pinterest recipes and the advice of a stranger who was there to buy erasers.

I helped her but I know she is beating herself up at home right now... because she needed more than a recipe list to reproduce the look of those pins.

Product Shrines- You don't usually find these in artist studios.

Product Shrines- You don't usually find these in artist studios.

The big difference between artists and crafters

A lot of crafters are obsessed with supplies.

Now don't get me wrong, you talk to any artist and they'll tell you about how they have way too many #6 brushes or maybe they have three tubes of every paint Golden ever produced.

But what really excites an artist is using the product- physically getting in, getting their hands dirty, experimenting with the product. Artists are all about the process, not specific colors.

I've been to a lot of artist studios, I work in my own studio every day. Artist studios are generally shrine-free. 99% would make terrible Pinterest porn. 

On the other hand, almost every crafter has a favorite product line proudly displayed on pretty shelves (or has dreams of building a shrine someday).

Those marker recipes on Pinterest? They look a little bit like a Copic shrine to me. “Look at me, I’m an artist because I use lots of markers!”

Crafters get it backwards

Note that a quick search of "watercolor tree" (shown above) gave me a longer list of pins than my Blonde Hair + Jennifer Aniston search.

Did you notice anything? Not a single pin tells me what color of paint the artist used!

Instead, it's all about the look and the technique.

The same thing happened with "acrylic still lIfe pears".

Nobody is swapping watercolor recipes on Pinterest because anyone who has worked with watercolor for more than a few sessions knows that it's not WHAT you use but HOW you use it.

Copic collectors haven't quite made that connection yet. Maybe they will over the next few years, but for right now, most people are still overly obsessed with the markers and not the technique.

You could own all 3,580,000 Copic colors and still not produce good results.

You need to know how to use them.


Good info comes from classes, not pinterest

If you want to color better, you need a class, not a recipe.

I don't care if it's a live class or online, it could be free on YouTube or a pay-to-download PDF packet. What good classes all have in common is that you are shown what to do with your marker and the instructor also explains why.

The golden egg lies in the technique, not the ink.

I'm not saying you should never pin a recipe. Pins can inspire you to use different markers than you might normally choose.

But they're no substitute for a good lesson. You are cheating yourself if you think you can get an education by spending 20 minutes a day on Pinterest.

Find a class, find a talented instructor, find a video channel, haunt the blogs and websites of good artists who talk about their process. That's a far better use of your time than pinning hundreds of blonde hair recipes and beating yourself upside the head when you inevitably fail.