Improve your Copic Marker projects: balance your colors

 

After you've blended an area, do you call it finished?

A lot of Copic Marker colorers work that way- color - blend - finished. New area- color - blend - finished.

Hmmm... and a lot of you suffer from depth problems in your coloring.

Hmmm... have you ever thought those two things might be related?

 

the color you use is not the color we see

The marker you use is not the color we see! Learn to balance color. | VanillaArts.com

We all enjoy those optical illusion color tests... "Which square is darker, the answer will amaze you!"

But how many of you have stopped to think about how these little quizzes affect your coloring?

Not many, if the variety of coloring projects posted on the internet are representative. I see a lot of pale and flat projects on Pinterest and Instagram.

"But wait a minute! I used a lot of really colorful markers and I followed all the tutorials for shading! Why do some objects in my image still look flat?"

It's because you're not going back to adjust your coloring at the end of the project

Nobody but you looks at your project and says "that's B32 right there!". In fact, even really experienced Copic professionals would be hard-pressed to identify the specific markers you've used in any one area.

That's because humans do not see color in an isolated way.

An area of B32 will look like a very light blue when it's sitting next to an area that's been colored with V09. That same B32 will look dark and cool if it's sitting next to an area colored with YR82. It's the exact same blue marker but it looks totally different because the human brain always judges color in context.

 

neighboring colors change our perception...

The marker you use is not the color we see! Learn to balance color. | VanillaArts.com

...of whether a color is light or dark, warm or cool. Value and temperature change based on what colors are nearby.

So the very first thing you color on a project- that first item, whether its the face or the cherry on an ice cream sundae... the very first thing you color goes down onto white paper. You judge how the coloring looks based on how it looks against stark white.

Meanwhile the last areas that you color are being judged against large areas of intensive marker-work. It's subtle, but the next time you color, take note of the changes in the way you use your markers from start to finish. People tend to color darker and shade more as the project progresses. That's because you're evaluating these newer areas based on the colors that are already on the paper- you are not making decisions based on white anymore.

But your viewers can't tell by looking, which areas you colored first and which areas came last. All we see are inconsistent color values across your project, with zones that are noticeably lighter, washed out, or lacking depth.

 
The marker you use is not the color we see! Learn to balance color. | VanillaArts.com
 

decisions based on white will always look washed out later

This is why there are so many terrible Copic recipes on the internet for skin. Colorers tend to color the skin first which means that against the white paper, YR000 looks like a perfectly reasonable color. But once you've added vibrant hair, a bright background, and beautiful clothing colors... well, that character now looks as if they just got off a rollercoaster and are about to loose their lunch all over the sidewalk. YR000 only looks dark compared to white. Against real color, YR000 is deathly pale.

 

So what's the solution?

It's rather easy. In fact, the fix to this problem is so stupid-simple that I'm amazed that it's rare to see instructors or tutorials mention it.

It is absolutely essential to go back and adjust your coloring!

After you've finished laying in the color on the very last item in the image, you need to re-evaluate all the areas that you colored first.

The marker you use is not the color we see! Learn to balance color. | VanillaArts.com
  • Are all your objects in the image still generally dark enough?

  • Did you loose some of the sense of depth because the shade is now too light?

  • Are the temperatures still correct?

  • Have recent additions led you to an image that feels temperature imbalanced because the palette skews warm or cool?

  • Have you over highlighted the project?

Now I know. Some of you are groaning.

You work hard to get blends nice and smooth. Once you get them silky and flawless, the last thing you want to do is go back and mess with them.

But if you want to take your coloring to the next level, if you want to amp up the realism in your projects and to get your depth and dimension feeling natural... you have to learn to ride the teeter totter.

If you add something dark, go back and adjust your lights. If you add something light, go back and adjust your darks.

It's a matter of balance.

Good coloring involves constant evaluation and adjustments. It's a process, not a do it once and you're done forever kind of thing.

 

Week 10 of Marker Painting Foundations is about Color balance

In week ten of this 12 week online course, we look at fixing the natural imbalances that happen to every project as you color. We learn to prevent and to fix:

  • value imbalances

  • skewed temperatures

  • over highlighted zones

Improve your Copic Coloring by learning to balance the colors you choose. | VanillaArts.com

And we do it all without ruining the hard work and perfect blending that you've already layed down.

Marker Painting Foundations is a course designed to move you from beginner level coloring into advanced or even artistic realm. Yes, students are moving from coloring to creating art!

First we tackle the basics like marker selection and blending but then we move on to painting techniques which amp up the realism, depth, dimension, and overall artistry of your coloring.

This isn't a you-watch-me-color set of videos. Nope, that's a coloring demonstration, not instruction! Instead, I give students the information and teach the techniques necessary to color the way artists paint! It's a totally different approach to markers.

Begin anytime. Work at your own pace. Forever access. Tons of instructor feedback.

This is the marker course you've been waiting for. It will change the way you see color, forever.

Click for more info:

Join me for Marker Painting Foundations; I can't wait to share the art of coloring with you!

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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..."

or

"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!

 

Copic Club: Casual Coloring Class- Learn to color on kraft paper

 
Learn to color with Copic & Prismacolor on kraft paper. Copic Club casual coloring classes. | VanillaArts.com
 
 
Learn to color with Copic & Prismacolor on kraft paper. Copic Club casual coloring classes. | VanillaArts.com

There are many tutorials for coloring stamps on kraft paper

And they usually involve multiple coats of colored pencil.

Layer after layer after layer after layer...

That's because mid-toned paper tends to shine through the pencil layers to dampen their vibrancy.

Some of these tutorials are simply exhausting! Color it white, then color it again, then add another coat, then  brighten it with more white...

Stop. Just stop. This is stupid.

Mid-toned papers are pretty standard in the art world, we use them for quick sketches and studies.

Did you notice the word quick there?

Yep. Quick studies are pretty much the opposite of 92 layer crafty style coloring.

Coloring on kraft paper doesn't have to use up an entire white pencil to get the job done. There's a minimal amount of white in this image, I sharpened my white pencil twice for this 8.5" tall piece (and that's only because I love a sharp point on my lead).

Coloring with colored pencils does not require a massive pencil collection. There are 14 pencils here and I could eliminate three of them if I wanted to prove my Ebenezer Scrooge street cred.

You do not need solvents or chemicals either. I don't use them.

And you don't have to press hard! Not a thing on this image has been burnished, rubbed, or scrubbed. It's 100% carpal tunnel free!

There's an easier way to color with colored pencils. Let me show you how.

 
Learn to color with Copic & Prismacolor on kraft paper. Copic Club casual coloring classes. | VanillaArts.com

Copic Club is a monthly live class for casual coloring

Perfect for beginners, hobby colorers looking to increase their skill set, and self-taught colorers who feel as if they've missed key technique details.

Wednesday, March 8th from 1 to 3:30pm

Thursday, March 9th from 6 to 8:30pm

 

Lesson: Secrets of Kraft Coloring

Stamp Set: "Garden Variety" by Memory Box

Medium: Copic Marker & Prismacolor Premier Pencils

Skill Level: Beginners who are ready for a challenge. No drawing skills necessary.

 
 

Remember When Scrapbooking is my home-base for classes

Located in Macomb Township, Michigan at 23 Mile and Card roads. 

RSVP for classes by calling Remember When at 586.59.1810 or email here.

Stamp sets available for purchase. Call to reserve your set.

Check out Remember When Scrapbooking on Facebook here.

Join us! You'll enjoy the project and you'll love the class!

Learn to color with Copic & Prismacolor on kraft paper. Copic Club casual coloring classes. | VanillaArts.com
 

Online Copic Course- break the Blending rules! Marker Painting Foundations, Week 4

 

Be good and follow the rules...

But what if the rules are silly and rather useless?

And what if the rules lock you into a lifetime of flat, bland, childish coloring?

You've been sold a bill of goods

Copic Trios are not the solution to your flat coloring problems! | VanillaArts.com

You fell for the snake oil and bought the Brooklyn Bridge.

To blend Copic Markers smoothly, choose markers from the same color family. Always match the first (intermediate) number, then select markers whose final number are at least 2 spaces apart.

I'm not saying the trio method doesn't work. Markers matched according to the trio rules do blend rather well.

But trios are a complete snoozefest.

They also lock you into flat, cartoonish coloring. Do you want depth, dimension, and realism?

Then you have to break the rules.

 

I understand the desire for rules

A lot of Copic fans come to coloring from the craft world where projects are laid out for you in numbered steps:

To color a martini:

  1. Starting with a YG95 marker, gently fill in the entire olive with a single coat of marker. Do not leave any white space or go outside the olive's outline.

  2. With a YG97 marker, add a small crescent shape to the right side of the olive.

  3. yadda, yadda, yadda...

Tutorials like this make self-teaching easier, right?

So do recipes. "Color a perfect Maraschino Cherry with these three markers!" 

Recipes not only take the guess work out of coloring, they also act as an escape clause for colorers.

So this martini project doesn't look very real but it's not me that failed, it's the recipe. I could color like a professional if I could just find the perfect blending combination!

 

If you want to color with depth & realism: rethink the rules

Actually, you need to pitch the rules right out the window.

And burn your recipes in a backyard bonfire.

In my new beginner level coloring course, I teach marker students to approach color as painters do, using color as a flexible tool rather than a set formula.

You don't have to be a formally trained artist to use color instinctively and convincingly. Everyone can use painterly techniques.

You don't have to be locked into a lifetime of coloring tutorials.

You can learn to color independently without the need of recipes and rules.

Marker Painting Foundations- giving you the techniques and mindset to color with serious depth and realism. | VanillaArts.com

break the rules. color like a rebel.

Marker Painting Foundations is a twelve week course with 26 lessons.

Real lessons, not demonstrations. We use real images, not exercise boxes and spheres.

In weeks 1 to 3, we work on the standard blending thing. How to do it, how to trouble shoot it, understanding from a chemical level how blending works. It's basic stuff but with my usual Vanilla twists.

Marker Painting Foundations help you break the Copic Marker rules. Because you can't make art if you're handcuffed to blending trios. | VanillaArts.com

But starting in week 4, we get crazy and branch out into areas no other marker course goes:

  • rebel blending

  • value teeter tottering

  • shade versus shadow

  • color sculpting

  • underpainting

  • pushing with desaturation

  • complementary coloring

  • surface variety

  • hot spots and low lights

Uhm, yeah. This is all beginner stuff too. This is the stuff that crafty tutorial writers don't know or don't understand.

My goal isn't to teach you how to color this stamp or that stamp. I want to give you lifetime tools.

I want you to blend like a rebel and color like an artist.