Vanilla Undercover: Underpainting with Copic Markers for Beautiful Realism - Cool Watermelon

Underpaint with Copic Markers! Try coloring with B34 underneath your YG blending combination, adding realistic dimension to summery green leaves.| | #copicmarker #realisticcoloring #underpainting

Realistic Color

Who doesn’t love a beautiful Copic Marker combination? Light, medium and dark! Those glorious Copic trios are so delightful to play with. And Copic makes it so easy… pick a 02 to go with a 05, then jazz it up with a 07.

It's like paint by numbers.

And that works… sort of… as long as you don't mind your artwork looking a bit cartoonish.

You’re going to be pretty disappointed if you depend on a numbering system to deliver realism.

Take R20, R22 and R24, for instance. They're each stand alone beauties, but put them together and they are, well, a little boring. A little kindergartenish. Each color is trying to shine and in the end, they all fall flat. It's rather like those over-budgeted, epic films with too many stars in one movie…. the story line is weak because it’s all over the place trying to give everyone equal billing.

Well, dear friends, just as in film, Copic markers need supporting actors if you want your masterpiece to look realistic.

Stage left, enter B32.

Yes, B32 is pretty in its own right.

Not all supporting actors have to be plain. They just have to be willing to take a backseat.

In this watermelon photo, look closely at the darkest red circle where we’ve pulled out the shadowy areas. Now take another long hard look at your R24 marker cap. Hmmmm, do they look like the same color?


So if you use straight R24 for the shadowed areas, is your image going to look realistic? Not likely.

But the good news is, a knight in not-so-shining armor is on his way!

Remember B32, our unsung hero waiting in the wings? Now is his chance to tone down that cocky R24! Try underpainting your watermelon shadow areas with B32 and then go over (and slightly beyond!) with R24. Sheer perfection!

And they lived happily ever after…

Always remember: real shade is not merely darker color, real shade is desaturated color.

To create the desaturated colors that Copic does not make, Vanilla Arts Company teaches online Workshops and Livestream coloring challenges using the underpainting method. Students learn to layer colors realistically rather than blend.

Underpainting creates natural colors found in everyday life.


Copic - Cool Watermelon

Layering B32 beneath R24 really adds sophisticated drama to your coloring. The blue undertones will make that watermelon cool in the shade. Perfect for a hot summer day!

Elena’s Advice:

To get a beautiful gradation of color, be sure to completely cover the B32 with R24 and go slightly beyond. R22 alone simply isn't strong enough to cover the B32.

Learn to use your B’s to underpaint:

Vanilla Arts Company - Red Bird Online Class

Vanilla Arts Company - Marker Painting Foundations

Crafts for Paws - Copic Coloring Club with Elena Casarez

Further reading:

Why Artists Do Not Shade - Part 3

The Problem of Pink: Why Copic Blending Trios let you down

Are Your Darks Dark Enough?

Add dimension and realism by underpainting with Copic Markers! Use B34 underneath your YG (Yellow Green) blending combination to capture the look of realistic summery green leaves.| | #copicmarker #realisticcoloring #underpainting


Elena Cazares is a Vanilla Arts student and a budding online instructor with a beautiful sense of color and style. She is a hurricane of positive, creative energy.

Elena runs, an online shop for Copic Markers, Various Inks, and Copic friendly specialty papers which donates 100% of their profits to rescue and care for worst-case stray dogs and cats in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

Shop at Crafts for Paws here. Join Elena’s Copic Coloring Club here for online class announcements.

Elena Bio Pic.jpg

Show us your B32!

Share your project pics using B32 - R24 - R22 - R20. This July 4th weekend, give the Copic coloring world a refreshing taste of your cool watermelon vibes!