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.

Pencils

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 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

 

Colouring with Stabilo’s – Shading

Once you are ready to embark on shading the Stabilo 68’s and 88’s are probably one of the simplest to learn with, there is no blending with these so don’t expect smooth transitions every time, some colours do work better than others but you will always have a darker shaded area which allows you to add that extra level of depth to your colouring.

If you haven’t read it yet I suggest reading the flat colour guide to see how I work with these pens.

Onto Colouring

Greys can be your best friend with shading, because they will work with any colour. Don’t reach for the grey that is a darker tone to the main colour though as it will end up appearing too dark. Choose a grey that is a shade lighter than you think you need. With colours though you will be using one shade darker.

When it comes to shading I do a lot of the work with the finer point 88 pens as it is easier to graduate the colour by fanning out the lines drawn the closer I get to the light source. It is achievable with the pen 68 but you will get a denser colour.

These are the colours I am working with:

  • Light green 68/33 or 88/33
  • Green 68/36 or 88/36
  • Yellow 68/44 or 88/44
  • Orange 68/54 or 88/54
  • Lilac 68/58 or 88/58
  • Purple 68/55 or 88/55
    and
  • Grey 68/96 or 88/96

I am starting with the grass again, I will be colouring this in exactly the same main colours as I did for the flat colour guide. Decide where you want shade to appear. For the grass I have opted for light shading on the blade that appears to be behind in the image and have added a “centre line” in the front blade to show the “fold” you see in grass.

You can then go over the grey with the main colour. If the paper saturates easily or is prone to loosing fibres wait until the grey has dried.

Again with the grey I have added shade to the top of the stem quite heavily as the shadow cast by the flower would be denser there. A little shading between the grass and shading that fans out on the leaf working from the stem.

Go over all the shading with the main colour (in this case light green) I realised at this point that the grey was perhaps to dark for the light green but hopefully it shows you what I mean about going a shade lighter than you think you need with greys. As the grey I am using was the lightest I had at the time it was all I could work with though there is a grey one step lighter in the range.

Next I add a little orange alongside one edge of the centre of the flower.

Colour over that with yellow. I didn’t wait for it to dry here and as you can see a little blending has occurred with this combination though it is not something I would rely on happening.

Next I use the purple and add some quick lines into one of the petals at the front of the flower, this will keep the shading fairly light as I don’t want it too dark and the lines created by the point 88 are perfect for this. Follow the lines within the drawing as if you were just adding a few more.

Do the same on the other three front petals.

Once the shading has been added and dried using the lilac in the pen 68 colour all of the front petals. I have found the combination of purple and lilac to work rather well.

You can then start on the back petals.

With the purple again but this time filling the area you want shaded (the point where it meets the front petals) with a denser bit of colouring, for this you can either use the point 88 or pen 68, though I continued to use the point 88 and used obvious lines that were just a lot closer together.

I then coloured the petal I had shaded.

Continue to add the shading on the remaining three petals.

Then,  when dry, go back to the lilac and colour the other back petals.

Finished you will have an image, with the extra depth shading provides. I use this technique in my animal kingdom book as well as on some free printables.

Experiment with different colours to find which ones work best together or give the effect you are after. Some combinations will appear seamless while others will be noticeably darker, some of course won’t work, even if you think they should.

Let me know how you get on shading with your Stabilo’s or other fineliners/fibre tips in the comments below, or show me your coloured images here, on facebook, @scarletleonard on twitter or @scarletimpressions on instagram.

Happy colouring!

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