Back behind the torch plus colouring

The new year bought a few new things with it for me, one being a change in daily schedules which gave me more time to get back behind my beloved midrange plus and melt some glass.

First though, there were some changes that needed to be made to the studio, there was an awful lot of soft glass hanging around and mostly getting in the way and my shelves were a bit awkward for the longer borosilicate rods. I had also collected a few things in the studio that were a bit surplus to requirement so it was time to have a tidy up and a reorganise. A lucky find on eBay also got me a new ventilation hood and fan to make some improvements in that department too.

But back to the flame. One of the things I have really been enjoying is making jellyfish. I quite like playing with these to test out different colours as I can see them solid for the cap of the jellyfish and stretched in the tentacles. I also started playing about with smaller ornamental pieces for the fun of it and to practice my use of punty rods, (a rod of glass attached to the piece you are working on in order to hold it) as I did have some difficulties with them being too stuck, extra work to get them off, or not stuck enough, usually resulting in a broken piece or something burning…

One other thing I have had the chance to work more on with the glass is silver fuming, it’s still an area I am working on improving as I try to get the ideal flame chemistry, plus position in the flame as well as the time needed to get the amount of fume I require. This shot was taken from the flame and I was really pleased with the results of this one. I’ve also tried  a fully silver fumed jellyfish which was interesting, but it’s very difficult to take a photograph of.

Away from the glass I have also been working on some images from colouring page artists.

Firstly there is this piece from The Hedgepig Workshop. The artist Vicki was looking for someone to have a go t colouring one of her images as she was fairly new to producing downloadable pages for colourists.  I had a lot of fun with this one and got to try out a bit of mixed media too. The second image I coloured was for Helen the Doodler, It was lovely to be able to colour some images that the artists could use on their listings and in their books. I’ve also got a couple of other colouring projects ongoing of course.

Handmade Lampwork glass Jellyfish pendants and miniature freestanding Ducks
Handmade silver fumed lampwork glass pendant
coloured scarecrow page

In other news, I’ve been little red riding hood in panto, been doing work on the journal for Glass Beadmakers UK and learning to live life without most of my white goods, (but that’s another story.)

Promarkers: Colour Blends – Red

There are many combinations for reds, as one of the primary colours it means there are plenty of options in the pallet. I developed this blend for poppies as they feature quite heavily in many adult colouring pictures.

A three colour red blend for letraset promarkersWorks well with both light to dark and dark to light colouring methods.

The blend in use;

poppies coloured with the blend

Revisiting Relax with Art

Back when the first issue was released I gave my thoughts on this colouring magazine from Bromleigh House. Since then 6 issues have been released as well as 3 Holiday Specials and 2 pocket editions. With a few end of year specials currently being released.

Relax with Art MagazineNow that it has been going a while the main monthly magazine makes for a great budget way to get into the world of colouring. At just £2.99 per issue the publication is a little under A4, 24 pages with a good selection of images, including patterns, objects and nature, printed single sided. The paper has a slight tooth to it so pens will soak in more than on other papers and the colour can be slightly saturated, but not enough to make a huge difference and they are great for pencils. I have a couple of issues I tend to pick these ones up when I see one with images in that I really want to colour.

The holiday specials are a little different, £5.99 and based on a theme, I didn’t plump for this one personally as the first issue was an animals one and I already had animal kingdom and another animal based book on it’s way. (plus they aren’t particularly one of my favourite colouring subjects.) Again though the publisher has wisely opted for single sided printing but this time on smoother paper. While I don’t have any of these particular issues the paper is comparable to their pocket editions.

relaxpocketI had to have one of the pocket editions, priced at £3.99 and similar in image selection to the main issue the selling point on these is the fact they are only A5 in size, making theme great for carrying around and colouring on the go. The smooth paper makes it suitable for most media, I’ve mostly used coloured pencils though as they are a bit easier to transport, though I’m considering a set of sharpies for travel colouring just to go with this magazine.

The end of year special issues are The Yearbook, Calender and 2016 Diary due for release over the coming weeks.

Choosing the right media for your colouring books

One question you see a lot and it takes many forms. Can I use markers in this book? I’m looking at these pens, do they bleed?

Firstly let me clarify there’s bleed and then there’s just show through, bleed is when the colour pigment spreads from where you place it. So if you ask does it bleed the answer might be no but it can still show through.

Alcohol Based Markers

These can bleed on a lot of papers though for most it’s not a problem as it is minimal but they will most certainly show through. The alcohol in the ink soaks into and saturates the paper which causes the colour to show up on the other side, though this is also the benefit of alcohol markers because the wetter the ink the better they blend.

Water Based Pens

These don’t stay as wet so don’t really bleed, but dependent on the paper can still show through. Different tips can make a difference here though, a brush tip doesn’t require as much pressure as a bullet/fibre tip or fine liner so tends to fair better on thinner papers.

Gel Pens

Now these are a law onto themselves, they sit on top of the paper, they don’t soak in at all but the ink is heavy so can show through on lighter weight papers. The ink will stay wet for a while and because it is on top of the paper they smudge easily, be careful to let them dry before working over them or closing a book.


If you are thinking, I’ll just use pencils you might have to think twice as poor quality paper can mean even pencil will show through. In the case of water colour pencils it is better to consider them more like water based pens rather than pencils as adding the water will change how the paper reacts.

As a general guide single sided print is good for most media but if you use alcohol markers and it bleeds badly your pens will dry up quickly. (the paper is too absorbent though paper like this is few and far between in my experience of various books.) If you are colouring in a single sided book though always place a plain sheet of card under the page in case any colour comes through.

If the book is double sided print, never use alcohol based markers, unless you really don’t care for the image on the reverse.

There are ways of roughly gauging which pens will be all right for double sided books. If you open the book and hold up one page and don’t see the print coming through you should be fairly safe with any water based pen, gel pens or pencils.
If the print is visible like this then water based brush tips and pencils are reasonably safe, maybe light applications of gel pen.

However if you see the print on the other side with the page flat in the book it’s pencils only (or return it because it’s pretty low quality paper if you can see the print like this.)

Finally if the paper has a heavy texture (a lot of tooth) it’s designed more for pencils, smoother paper will take pens better.

More Colouring Challenges

If you enjoyed the previous 10 challenges here are another 10 inspirational ways to fill the pages in your colouring books differently.

Don’t forget to attempt each challenge separately, even if some cross over. Of course there is nothing stopping you later combining different challenges to come up with something new and even more inventive.

Focal Points

This one is especially good for those daunting pages. Pick three or four areas that you like the best and with a black drawing pen add a square around them.
Colour the squares as normal then colour the rest of the page in grey or sepia.

Use Lines

Free hand or if you feel the need to use a ruler. Colour the entire picture using lines, you can hatch the lines or only have them go part way across a section to give the impression of shade.

Colour The Background

It’s something that tends to get left a lot of the time, though there are many creative ways you can colour a background, you aren’t restricted to using the same media as you used for the main image.

Go Neon

Grab some highlighters or neon pens and colour the whole picture in neon colours. It’s loud but it’s fun.

50 Shades

Well maybe not 50 and you aren’t restricted to grey but choose a colour (yellow, green, red, purple, whatever takes your fancy) and find all your pens and pencils of that colour. Use these to complete your picture.

Make Your Mark

Add to the image in some way some books promote this activity by offering suggestions of how you can add to a page, draw a few doodles, if you aren’t comfortable drawing try using rubber stamps. You could even use scrap booking items to stick in.

Three Colours

Choose three colours that either compliment or clash with each other and use them for the entire picture.

Go Outside The Lines

The one thing we are conditioned to try and do as children is stay in the lines while colouring, stop thinking like that and find a way to expand the colouring beyond the lines. Light applications of colour can give a halo effect to the image.

Do It Again

Pick something you did early on in your colouring adventures and attempt it again some months later. You will see the difference in your colouring style and how you have improved over time.

Make A Silhouette

Some pictures will lend themselves to this and some really won’t work so choose your image carefully but colour the entire image in flat black to turn it into a silhouette.

Colouring with Inktense – Flat Colour

The pencils that I primarily use are Derwent Inktense, these pencils can be used dry just like regular colouring pencils you can also use water and a brush after putting the colour down to bring out the really vibrant ink tones. The colour is also fixed with water, making them permanent and can then be worked over further or even used on a variety of surfaces.

Onto Colouring

Pencils work best if you don’t apply too much pressure and build up layers of colour.

The four colours I used on this piece were;

I also use a blender pencil or a water brush.

Starting with field green I apply a light layer to both blades of grass following the direction of the line art. I then applied a second layer to the blade of grass that is further in the background, this gives the impression that there is light and dark areas to the piece but keeping all the areas of colour as flat colour.

Next using leaf green I follow the line of the stem and the leaf, while the stem is mostly straight the leaf has a definite curve to it, following the natural shape of an area will give even flat colour a defined shape.

For the centre of the flower a simple yellow, as this is naturally quite a light colour I used three layers of colour to intensify it, colouring in a circle to follow the shape.

The main petals of the flower are all done in thistle, because of how I am used to colouring with promarkers I still work in logical sections, firstly the petals at the front. For these I used just one layer of colour and kept the strokes of the pencil linear to follow the crease line in the centre of the flower.

Onto the petals at the back and I used the same principle as I did with the grass blades, two layers of colour here make the rearmost petals darker and appear in shadow while still having an even colour within the area.

While you could say at this point the colouring was complete because of my light application of colour the tooth of the paper has left a texture to the colouring making the tone appear lighter that it should be or look incomplete.

Rather than add extra layers, which could end up more time consuming, or use more pressure to begin with I finish all my pencil work either with a blender pencil or water. This smooths out the colour and provides an even finish.

Finishing with a Blender Pencil

The blender pencil is incredibly easy to use. Colour each area of the picture with the blender pencil as you did with the coloured pencil, between each colour make sure to wipe off any pigment that remains on the blender pencil on a black sheet of paper or it will transfer into the next colour. If areas remain where there are gaps in the colour lightly go over with the blender pencil again but colouring in a circular motion. It can leave you with a wax bloom but it will just blow off. I always blow this away as if you sweep it off with your hand it can add pressure to it which will cause smudges.

Finishing with Water

You don’t need a lot of water, just a damp brush is enough to work areas in colouring books, with your brush lightly go over the area you have coloured, the pigment will go ink like and give an even coverage. As you work across an area the pigment will gather in your brush and leave a slightly darker area where you finish so when I work with water I make sure I finish the brush strokes at the base of an area, or in a place where shadow might happen.

Both methods give a different appearance to the finish. More layers of base colour leave a more vibrant colour after finishing.

using derwent inktense coloured pencils

final stages of colouring with derwent inktense pencils

The methods of colouring can be applied to any coloured pencil, though not all work with water and it is normal that with other water colour pencils the final colour is not as vibrant as with the inktense.

Happy Colouring

Colouring Challenges

Sometimes it’s hard to find inspiration for your colouring pages. We can get stuck in a rut always choosing our favourite colours or working in a particular way.

So here’s a list of 10 challenges that you can try, do them all separately even though some may work for a few challenges.

I’ve written these because personally I can get rather uptight about my colouring books and before I get too far into any of them I really need to break the fussiness of each book must be done in a certain way.

I thought that I had to colour all my Johanna Basford books using my Inktense pencils, my Millie Marotta with the Stabilo pens and I had Zen Colouring for my Promarkers. I also really enjoy colouring with shading and blending, but forgot that flat colour can be just as enjoyable.

Is there anything you struggle to do when colouring?

Have fun and enjoy colouring for more than just that one way of doing things.

Use One Colour

This works best with coloured pencils as you can apply different amounts of pressure with the pencil to vary the tone. This will also help you refine the skills in other projects because you have to think more about the amount of pressure you are using.

No Green Leaves

We all do it, when we see leaves out come the green pencils. Break the monotony by choosing different colours for your leaves, if you find it hard to break realistic colours go for an autumnal colour pallet first then progress on to things like purples, links and blues.

Colour With Dots

This one will take a while and is probably best attempted with fineliners or something with a good point, but instead of just filling an area with solid colour fill it with lots of dots.

Use A Colour You Hate

Got a colour that you always avoid using, get it down on the paper as the main colour for that page.

Don’t Look

Obviously look at what you are colouring but don’t look at the pen or pencil you are choosing. If you have a really organised colour collection use a random number generator and count from the beginning of the box. This will break colour habits and can give you some really amazing results.

Tip: If you aren’t quite ready to attempt challenges in your favourite books use downloadable pages or get a colouring magazine like relax with art to try out challenges.

Split It Up

Draw a couple of straight lines on the page to break up the image, colour each section differently.


Red, orange, yellow, green blue, indigo, violet. Use the colours of the rainbow, either in order or not, to complete your picture.

Mix Your Media

Using different media can highlight certain parts of the image break habits by working with mixed media in one image.

Back To Your Childhood

Colour with kids crayons, something just for fun if you really don’t feel like anything else.

Leave Some White

You don’t colour the whole picture, choose areas to leave as white use the paper as a point to fade out to rather than an actual colour. In some colouring pages just the line art as the background can look fantastic or try it with something from the foreground.



Colouring Therapy Art Book

With no other editions this colouring magazine from Magbook is a bit different from the other magazines. Magbook release individual bookazines on popular topics. This one is also available on Amazon. Priced at £5.99 it’s a little more expensive than I thought it would be, compared to other magazines on the market.

There are 56 Images to colour in this double sided print edition, the publication is split into 5 “chapters” Animal Kingdom, Patterns, Spiritual, Nature and Art Inspired though there are only 3 images in the art inspired chapter and the nature chapter is mostly things that could have easily gone into other sections the splits seem kind of redundant.

At the start of each chapter 3/4 of a page is taken up by a single paragraph of text and the final 1/4 has part of the double spread image, it seems that most of the images would have been fine on just a single page, some of the actual double page spreads are like this too, only taking up half of each page but split across a double.

The artwork is a bit of a mix, there are a few highly detailed images but a lot are really thick lines so not great for more advanced colourists, the paper is also quite thin you can see the print from the image on the other side on practically all the pages.

Onto Colouring

Knowing there wasn’t any chance of using alcohol markers as it was double sided I tested my stabilo 68’s on the tiny image from the front page. Even though I am light handed with my colouring the colour is obvious on the opposite side of the page.

Even gel pens where the ink doesn’t soak into the paper, so don’t bleed, showed through on the opposite side.  So I switched to coloured pencils, which are about the only media you can really use on this paper but you can tell on the opposite side areas that have been filled with pencil, especially darker colours, even though you don’t see the colours coming through.

In Conclusion

I would say this one isn’t particularly worth the money. While there are a variety of designs that would be good for anyone that wasn’t sure what style they like to colour the thin pages really let this down because you will see the design on the reverse side.

All right if you only want to use pencil and want the variety of designs this publication has to offer, but it is not one I would recommend.

colouring therapy by magbook

chapter start in colouring therapy

colouring in colour therapy


Creative Colour

A colouring magazine from I didn’t get this one when it first came out but I did snap it up before the release of issue 2 at the end of May. Now we are at the end of June and issue 3 is in the shops.

I left this one untouched for quite a while but one evening as the boys were watching the Avengers I sat myself in the corner under the floor lamp and decided it was time to make a start.

This is another single side print magazine with 24 images to colour and staple bound. Paper quality seems good and the artwork is a mix of single images, full page patterns and contained images, ranging from fine detail to larger areas making it good for any level of colourist. The cover price is 2.99 and is published monthly.

Onto Colouring

I’m back with my Stabilo pen 68’s and the paper is all right, the colour goes on reasonably smoothly although it does show through on the other side it is single sided so that isn’t a problem.

The first one I completed was the bird, it was my favourite image in the whole magazine. I used a combination of flat colour and a bit of shading. As well as the pen 68’s I also used some of my point 88’s to work on the more detailed areas. It was a really enjoyable image to colour though.

I also had a go on the inside cover with the stabilo pens, the little flower was a great, quick to colour piece. After colouring that though which is a smoother card rather than the paper I was wishing the whole book was printed on that.

I also had a go at a page with my inktense pencils, I did this one using a blender pencil to smooth the colour rather than using water. This came out beautifully I certainly got better coverage with the pencils than the pens.

With Promarkers the coverage can be slightly patchy as the ink dries quickly on the paper, though as I got more used to how the ink was behaving on the paper reducing the size of the circles I coloured in allowed me to get a more even colour.

In Conclusion

A reasonable magazine, the range contained in it does make it suitable for anyone though I haven’t bought issue 2 or the recently released issue 3. With such a large selection of magazines available now and considering my collection already I did find a lot of the images to be rather similar and I personally preferred the selection in the later issues of relax with art.

If you are a new colourist though take a look at this magazine along side the others because you might find the artwork more to your tastes and without having earlier magazines there won’t be similarities like I experienced. You can also use any media to colour but make sure you add a sheet of card under the page you are colouring if you intend to use pens and keep your strokes shorter than normal to reduce patchy coverage.





A Chat with Sarah Bigwood

If you were ever struggling to get motivated then this lady is the one that will show you what can happen.

Sarah’s Book Animaux à colorier was released at the beginning of June through the publisher Editions First. But what if I told you that this time last year Sarah wouldn’t draw, she didn’t think she could.

I got hold of Sarah and had a bit of a chat with her, (read as bombarded her with questions) I already knew bits of the story as we are both paper cutters and enjoy adult colouring so we frequent the same groups. But I was really interested in hearing more, Sarah began drawing in around the same time as I started playing with drawing too. Her journey sparked in much the same way and taking such an inspirational direction, let me tell you her story.

A paper cutter since February 2014, leaving 10 years in retail management after being diagnosed with severe depression. Sarah decided to open her own business doing paper cuts and templates under the name Pixie Rah Designs in July 2014. (She also does dog walking and daycare)

I have the most understanding husband who has really supported me through everything that’s happened.

But in December 2014 Sarah began drawing, she wanted to move away from digitally created paper cut templates and be able to hand draw all her designs. As someone with no prior experience she bought a book on zentangle and started to have a go.

There was no right or wrong and that I could make interesting art that seemed to come naturally to me.

Mr Rhino was her first creation, originally intended as a paper cut template when Sarah showed the design to a group of peers within a facebook paper cutting group it came about that he would make a fantastic colouring page. 9 drawings later she had her “African Animals” set which she uploaded to her etsy store to sell as downloadable colouring pages.

Just 4 days after these listings went live Sarah was contacted by a French publishing company who wanted to turn her animals into a colouring book. They wanted 80 animals within 3 weeks!!!

Sarah's Desk, getting drawings ready for the next colouring book

Sarah’s Top Tips

Just by drawing once a day I can see how much I have improved in 6 months.

  • Draw once a day
  • Practice is important
  • There is no right or wrong
  • Surround yourself with supportive people
  • Join groups, ask for constructive feedback
  • Above all. Give things a go!

But she did it, the book was released 4th June 2015 and she was asked to do another book.

Right now Sarah is working on the next book, due for release in October and is currently working on 80 Christmas and winter drawings to submit to the publisher, so far she has 61 done with a week to go on her deadline.

This one I have found harder than the Animals as its quite hard to think of different things to draw!

When drawing Sarah uses Uni Pin pens, 0.8mm for outlines and 0.3mm for the internal details, but she still loves colouring too, her facebook group Adult Colouring has in excess of 2,500 members now all there to enjoy the same things and share their love for colouring. As a member myself I know how supportive the group is as a place for anyone that enjoys grown up colouring and art therapy.

Sarah also has ideas for the future, keep an eye on her because she really is a hit.