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

Converting a Tysslinge Frame

The Tysslinge frame from ikea is a lovely tiny frame which is great as it is but it can also be easily converted into a box frame at a low cost with no real specialist skills or materials needed. I use them for both front floating miniature papercuts and for putting pieces of glass work in or even for putting glass work and papercut together.

You will need


You will need to have whatever is going in the frame ready as this method does seal the frame up. I prefer to cut the foam board as it is needed rather than have pieces floating around but if pre-cutting would suit you better then just get the measurements and start cutting

The Method

The process is quite simple, to begin with, using your craft knife cut 4 pieces of foam board the first at 7.7cmx2.5cm two pieces at 8.2cmx2.5cm and the final piece at 6.7cmx2.5cm . I have found the easiest way to cut the foam board is to use a craft knife with a 11acm blade as it is fairly sturdy, two cuts along each line, one to score into the foam board and one to complete the cut. Use a self healing mat rather than glass as the foamboard can slip easily on glass.

Assemble the frame. (glass left out in this for ease of photography) After placing in the glass and anything else you need at the front of the frame. (mount, acetate, etc.) Starting with the 7.7cm length piece of foam board add it to one of the sides of the frame, don’t just push it down the side as this will jam the pin into the foam board which we don’t want.

Next add the two 8.2cm pieces to both the top and the bottom of the frame.

Finally add the smallest piece of foam board to the other side, again taking care not to jam it on the pin.

Assemble the back of your frame by putting on any backing paper, mounts etc then lay the card frame backing to the frame. Use framers tape to stick down the backing and secure your frame.

I put the tape on like this then use a craft knife to trim the excess from the front side after placing each strip of tape.

Once all 4 sides have been sealed your frame is finished. (not pictured as this frame didn’t include anything.)
Finish off the back of the frame with things like your logo or a designers credit sticker if you are using it for papercuts from purchased templates.

This method can be used with any sized frame that has a deep back, though on larger frames framers tape may not be enough to hold the back of the frame in place. Using push points allows for a more secure backing.

Now you know how to convert the frame have fun deciding what you are going to put in them. There really isn’t a limit to what you can do, they make excellent small memory boxes for little gifts. These frames do sell out fast though, so be aware there may not be many in stock.

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below.





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.

Types of Blades

If you are cutting with a scalpel then there are a few blade shapes you can choose from. For this article I will only be covering the main five blade styles that are most commonly used.

11 ACM

The standard art, craft and model blade if you buy a craft knife this blade is most likely the one that is in it. They are very sturdy and offer little flexibility but have a rather nice point on the end. They are thicker than the surgical blades below so very small details can end up larger than you intend.
Personally I don’t get on with these as I find them too ridged for the actual cuts but they are fantastic for when you are cutting straight lines for backings or mounts with a ruler as they are the most rigid blade.
These are probably the most expensive of the selection though so not as cost effective if you are cutting lots.

11 Surgical

Probably the most used blade by paper cutters the 11 surgical blade offers flexibility which helps with cutting curves, it’s suitable for larger areas and small details. The downside would be that the point isn’t as steep as on other blades though I have never had an issue with that. The 11 is also the most widely available.
These are the ones I use and I buy them by the 100. Non sterile are cheaper and packaged in in 5’s. Sterile are more expensive but come individually wrapped.

10a Surgical

Not to be confused with the 10 (which has a rounded blade) the 10a is the middle ground between the 11 ACM and 11 Surgical. It has the point of the ACM but does offer flexibility. It wasn’t one I particularly got on with though perhaps because I never got on with the ACM for the main cutting. Due to the shape of the base to the blade it can be slightly more problematic to find a knife that will fit these blades after the flat surgical handles, however the Fiskars soft grip holds these well.

15a Surgical

A nice short, pointy blade. If you are particularly into detail and find a longer blade a but unruly then this is probably the best choice of blade for you. Because of the length it doesn’t have the same flexibility as the other surgical blades but offers a lot of control without the thickness of the ACM blade. These can be slightly harder to source though and as with the 10/10a the 15 is rounded so make sure you are looking at a 15a.


This is the blade I use the most after the 11 a swivel blade uses it’s own type of handle (though I have not seen any particular make/model that is different so x-acto, x-cut, fiskars, jakar all use the same blade in their handles.) These are fantastic for curves though I wouldn’t recommend using them on a glass cutting mat as they do have a tendency to run away on those. Using a self heal you can easily cut beautiful curves in one smooth motion rather than with a fixed blade where you have to turn the cut to continue on the curve.

As with anything personal preference, your style of cutting and your style of design will all play a part in the blade you ultimately go for. There are also many other types of blades out there. Rounded blades do also have an advantage in that you are able to rock them over a line so for thicker paper or layers of paper they can be very useful.

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 with Promarkers – Blending 1

Mostly I colour light to dark with promarkers, early in my colouring journey I used the dark to light method because I didn’t “get” to keep the inks wet when I first tried light to dark, this lead to patchier results and I had no idea I was doing anything wrong, now I know better through my own experiments and light to dark colouring is now my preferred method.

Before you start with light to dark blended colouring I recommend that you get to grips with flat colour first.

The biggest trick is working while the ink is wet. As I have mentioned before the easiest way to achieve this is to work in sections, it does take longer but you will get better results.

To get a good blend you will want between 3-5 colours, this will depend on how much depth you need from a certain area of the image and of course the size and amount of detail in the image itself. For this little guide I will only be using 3 colour blends as the flower isn’t overly detailed and there aren’t any large areas to really warrant being able to add lots of layers of colour.

These are the colours I will be using

Remember the trick to getting the blend to work is to add colour on top of the colour underneath while it is still wet, do not pause between colours in each section.

Start by getting tulip yellow, leaf green and grass ready, this is for the blades of grass at the bottom of the picture.

Colour all of the grass with the tulip yellow, then take the leaf green and colour almost to the tip, then take grass and colour up to a point before where the leaf green stops.
Go back to leaf green and go over the point where grass meets leaf green then do the same with the tulip yellow where that meets the leaf green.

Get leaf green, grass and china blue ready. this is my favourite blend for leaves.
Colour the whole leaf and the stem with leaf green, then add a thick line of grass up from the base of the leaf and along the centre line also add some at the top and the base of the stem. Use china blue to go along the centre line of the leaf and at the base of the stem where it meats the grass as these will be the darkest points. Once you have done the blue, use grass to blend the blue into the grass and leaf green to blend the grass into the leaf green.

For the front petals you will need orchid, purple and plum. To make sure the ink stays wet as you are working only do one petal at a time, though dependent on the paper once you get used to blending you may find on small images you can work more than one section for certain details.

Begin by colouring one whole petal with orchid, then with purple add some lines that follow the lines on the flower from the lower edge of the petal, leaving you with a triangle look to the shadow in this example. Use plum to just add a thin line at the very base of the petal. As with the other colours use purple to blend in the plum and orchid to blend in the purple at the points where the colours meet.

Continue with the other front petals in the same way.

The back petals are using the same colour combination and process but the shadow comes further as the petals are partially masked by the front ones. As you can see in the example the purple comes up both sides of the petal quite a way, the plum is still a thin line at the base and up the sides, blend in as before by using the lighter colours to work the darker one to it.

After completing the first petal, work on the others individually until you have completed all four.

I did forget to photograph colouring the centre of the flower, though that is done with tulip yellow, sunflower and pumpkin. Tulip yellow is the base, colour the whole circle with that, using sunflower add a crescent moon shape on one side of the flower and with pumpkin just add a small deep shadow line on the edge of the circle within that crescent moon shape.

If you do have difficulty keeping the ink wet as you are working you can use the blender pen to dampen the area before you start colouring it, this will keep the ink wetter for slightly longer but it will lighten the colours slightly and dependent on the paper it will cause the ink to spread a little more than normal.

Choosing a colour blend can be part of the fun of colouring too, use a spare piece of paper to test out blends by colouring a square with the lightest colour, then going over 2/3 of it with the mid tone and then the bottom 1/3 with the darker tone. Having a colour chart of your pens will also help you identify colours that will work well together in a blend, or keep an eye on my library where I publish blends that I have tried, tested and used.

Once you have the hang of 3 colour blends you can look at adding further colours to build up greater levels of shadow or highlight.

While I work with promarkers the process isn’t any different between brands of alcohol markers, Spectrum Noir and Copics (the other two brands that are commonly used) work in the same way.

Let me know in the comments if you found this useful, or if you have any questions.

Happy Colouring



Personalising Enchanted Forest

wpid-wp-1433275975628.jpegThe other day I bought a copy of Enchanted Forest. After the title page there is a this book belongs to… page

So, write your name in, it can’t be that hard. Oh but it is, I wanted it to look pretty, I started pouring through my calligraphy and typography books looking for the perfect way to add my name onto this page.

My husband did suggest that I did an illuminated starting letter. In my sketch book I started playing with a few ideas but nothing looked right.

Then it all made sense, if I wanted it to look right I needed to write my name so it was in keeping with the book. Luckily for me practically every letter in my name appeared in the books title so it was quite easy to mimic exactly the right look.

wpid-wp-1433277972510.jpegWhile I had the pleasure of being able to reference each of my letters from the cover of the book, not everyone will have that luxury, after a few people asked about it I have written this as a mini how to draw your own enchanted forest style name.

Firstly you will need:

  • A Pencil (I use a mechanical purely out of preference)
  • An Eraser
  • A Ruler
  • Drawing Pens (I used 0.05 and 0.1)

I’m working on a blank sheet of paper as I have already done my book, you can practice on paper first or go straight into the book. Either way you will need three guide lines. (The bottom line is the dotted line in the book) The top line is where the highest point of your letters will go and the middle line is about 2/3 up from the bottom and will be the height for lower case letters. If you have a name where letters extend below the writing line, add a fourth line that is the same distance from the bottom as the middle line is from the top.

Next write in the basic shapes of the letters, the font in the book is quite rounded so I have used a rounded style of writing.

Now have some fun, the letters are all decorated with different styles of leaves and leaves are very simple. Nearly all of them follow a teardrop shape just with different parts inside. You can “shake” a little as you draw some to give the the edge of the leaves texture for others start with the tear drop and then take parts away to give more of an oak leaf style. Make the teardrops all look different by adding different styles of line inside.

As you add leaves make most of them follow the line of the letters, some can go off at angles or curve more than the line of the letter. Leave some spaces where it is just the letter though.

Where you have multiples of one letter, they don’t have to be the same. it can be hard to directly copy one you have already drawn and if they are different it will just make it more interesting to colour.

Once you have added leaves to all your letters it’s time to ink it, using the fine liner pens I did some of the smaller internal details with the 0.05 nib, all the other lines are with the 0.1 nib. Wait a moment for the ink to totally dry then erase all the pencil lines and sit back to admire your handy work.

Show me what your name page looks like, over on facebook, @ScarletLeonard on twitter or in the comments below.

Colouring with Promarkers – Flat Colour

wpid-wp-1430228815296.jpegBefore we look at blending it’s best to look at flat colour.

Promarkers are a great pen for flat colour because you can layer the colour to give slightly darker tones. This allows you to go back to areas you do want darker if you feel extra depth is needed without the complication of blending. Of course flat colour is easily achievable with any pen.

Onto Colouring

When you colour with promarkers you have to remember that if you do go over the same area twice you will have lines of darker colour. This doesn’t happen though while the ink is still wet so because of this we break down the image to minimise getting unwanted lines. Look at the different sections in this tutorial image we have two blades of grass, the stem, the leaf, the centre of the flower four petals at the front and four petals at the back. Each of these will be coloured separately.

I will be using four colours;

wpid-wp-1430228824544.jpegWhen colouring follow the line of the drawing, this way your strokes follow the natural line of the section you are colouring, you will get the most coverage in a single stroke and the paper won’t get as wet which will minimise any bleeding. To fill in larger areas circular colouring motions will minimise colour overlay with promarkers. Also by following the shape of the section if you do experience any colour overlay it will be in the right direction and not look out of place. (something you can use to your advantage in certain colourings.)

To begin with I will start with using the leaf green a couple of downward strokes starting from the tip of the blades of grass is enough to fill this small area.

With grass a single stroke going down the stem, then work around the edges and the line down the centre of the leaf, this then leaves a couple of small gaps which because of the size of this image are able to be filled with quick strokes. If they had been larger I would have used a circular motion.

Using sunflower colouring in a circle is the best way to fill the centre of the flower. As it is round this goes around the edge and fills the centre, if there are any gaps just dot the pen into them.

With the purple do each petal individually, working in the same way as you did the leaf. (The outer edges, up the centre, fill the gaps.) I start with the front most petals before working on the petals at the back.

wpid-wp-1430228859626.jpegOnce you have filled all the petals you could leave it there, though for extra depth once the ink has dried you can go back to areas that would be in shadow and re-colour them.

The right blade of grass has had a second layer of leaf green and also the four petals towards the back have had a second layer of purple.

Alcohol markers, no matter what the brand do bleed they will pretty much always show up on the opposite side of the paper. Don’t use them in two sided print colouring books unless you are willing to sacrifice the image on the other side and always insert a blank sheet to prevent any ink going on to the page below.

Be careful with your choice of paper too. Some papers are very absorbent and will dry the ink up really quickly, it is difficult to achieve even colour on papers like that. Others keep the ink wet for a very long time and this can cause the colour to spread so you end up with colour outside the lines. When you print a colouring page or draw your own images you can use a specific marker pad or a decent paper. (I used a 140gsm medium texture cartridge paper for this tutorial, though as you can see I did get a little ink spread from not being careful enough on one of the flowers.)


Shading and Blending

When working on your grown up colouring pages, sometimes you may feel you want to do more. A lot of people ask about shading and blending, so here is a run down of shading and some techniques used to create it also a brief run down on blending (a technique used in conjunction with shading).


Shading is an effect used in drawing and colouring. Shading adds depth, contrast, character, and even movement to your drawings by capturing the shadows and highlights of your object.

There are various techniques used in shading, though with all make sure you are working on a decent quality of paper as inadequate paper may be prone to tearing.

examples of Gradient, Layering, Cel-shading None of these examples have been blended (see below)

Gradient – a single colour but the range of dark to light of that one particular colour, often done in pencil drawings. Coloured pencils are usually the best media for colouring with a gradient as the more pressure you apply to the pencil the darker the tone becomes.
Layering – Layering is the process of using multiple colours to achieve dark to light stages, the colours used don’t always have to be from the same group, such as using blue tones with greens. Layering can work with any media.
Cel-shading – Often found in comic or animation and more often used in digital colouring. It is just two colours, one of a darker tone that is laid over the main colour in the areas where shade will appear. The technique is very crisp and there is an obvious line between the light and dark.


You can also blend your colour to make any transitions between shades or different colours flow together.

Dependent on your chosen media the blending process may happen at different times. Alcohol markers are blended as you put down each colour, coloured pencils are blended after all the colour has been put down.

There are various tools available to assist with blending your colours. Markers generally have a blender pen though that may not be needed. Coloured pencils can be blended in a number of ways, some work with you as you are colouring, some can be blended with water and others with oil (specialist blender oils, or baby oil can work well) and a blending or burnisher pencil or silicone colour shapers for media that allows movement.