Improve your Copic coloring: use fresh eyes


Wouldn't it be cool to trade bodies with someone?

One Tiny Thing can improve your Copic coloring TODAY! Fresh eyes. |

Like in the movie Freaky Friday. The Jodi Foster version, not the Lindsay Lohan version.

Oh Lord no, not the Lindsay Lohan anything...

If you could switch bodies with a really good artist, maybe you could pick up a few secrets about how to draw or color better.

Sadly, no. There are no easy fixes. Ask Lindsay Lohan.

Learning takes time and practice; and even if we wish really hard for a freaky exchange, there are no shortcuts to better coloring.

But there are a few tiny things that you can do today which will instantly improve the quality of your Copic Marker projects.



Before you call a project finished, look at it with fresh eyes.

Nobody knows your project as well as you do. After all, you were there when you made it, right?

And you know exactly where all the oopsies are.

You know where you went outside the lines; you know where the blend is a little choppy. You were there when you accidentally dripped a little blue ink in the bottom right hand corner. 

Yep. Been there, done that. More than once.

You've also spent a lot of time obsessing over the details. Getting everything just right.

But here's the thing- all that attention to detail? It has left you in a state of hyper-awareness.


most people won't notice the mistakes


It's not that we're stupid, it's just that we haven't spent the last two hours hovering six inches above the project. We simply don't see the flaws the way you do.

Meanwhile, you're sitting there wondering how in the heck no one has noticed the little blue drip in the bottom right hand corner.

On long coloring projects, I encourage my students to take a break every twenty minutes.

In my live classes, I secretly plot to distract people every ten to fifteen minutes by telling a story or asking a student how her weekend went. They don't realize what I'm doing, but it serves a purpose.

Taking short breaks from coloring isn't for the benefit of your rear end, although it is nice to get up and stretch. Short breaks are actually far more beneficial to your brain than to your buns.


after a break, you look at your project in a new way

We call this "using fresh eyes".

Taking a walk, doing a load of laundry, chatting with a friend about the new restaurant in town... all of these things pull you out of the self-critical zone. That's the state we get worked-up into, where every other thought that runs through your head begins with the words "well, I totally screwed that up..."

We're our own worst critics and that only gets worse the longer we sit chained to our desk, staring at all the mistakes.

Taking a break divorces you from the project. The longer the break, the more remote those mistakes seem. When you come back to it, you no longer look at your coloring with a super-duper hyper-critical eye; you are kinder to yourself.

Plus, with fresh eyes, you realize that the little blue drip in the bottom right hand corner isn't as big as you thought it was.

Fresh eyes are a volume control button for your inner voice. The flaws may still scream out at you but you'll be better able to tune them out. And the good stuff will start talking to you too.


Things don't look as bad as you thought when you use fresh eyes

By getting away from the project, you begin to see your work the same way we do.

It's a less emotional experience.

That little blue drip won't feel like a dagger in your left ventricle anymore.

And here's the really cool thing- you can increase the efficacy of the fresh-eye effect by increasing the length of your break!

10 minutes = good

10 hours = absofreekinwonderful

One Tiny Thing can improve your Copic coloring TODAY! Fresh eyes. |

Setting your project aside for a few days is an essential part of the process for most professional artists. We build that resting period into our delivery time frame because we know the power of fresh-eyed observations.

With portraits, I set them aside for a full week, completely out of sight and out of mind. When I pull it out again, I pay attention to my thoughts:

  • What's the first thing that drew my eye- chances are it's either something really good or it's a flaw I need to fix immediately.

  • Where does my eye linger- that's almost always something good

  • What are the first three flaws I notice- those instantly jump to the top of my "fix it" list

  • After my eye roves around the project, does my gaze settle back upon the eyes? If not, then the the eyes need more attention

Taking an extended break from your work is like a mini vacation. When you come back rested and relaxed, you will notice things you didn't see before- things your inner critique wouldn't let you see before.

You can't always run your projects by a trusted friend who will give you an honest critique. It's hard to trust family to tell you the truth because they love you, and frankly, they also want you to make dinner tonight and that might not happen if they mention the little blue drip in the bottom right hand corner...

Sometimes, your fresh eyes are the only tool available to you to evaluate the success of your projects.

And fresh eyes are free. You don't have to go anywhere or do anything. All it takes is a little will power to go a few days without peeking.


take advantage of fresh eyes on your next project

If you're coloring a card on a deadline, leave yourself enough time to set it aside, at least overnight. Because when it's sitting on Aunt Minnie's mantle? That's not the time to discover that you forgot to glitter the unicorn's horn.

For larger projects, like coloring a class assignment or making a gift for someone, use fresh eyes several times during the process. Catching mistakes before the teacher does or before the recipient notices is embarrassment avoided.

Time spent in time-out is worth the wait. Fresh eyes will catch more than you think but fresh eyes will also pleasantly surprise you.

Because that little blue drip in the bottom right hand corner might look totally artistic and planned, once you see it with fresh eyes.