Colouring In : 06 – 10

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6. Know Your Markers

Different pens will have a different result on different card-stock, and the colour on the barrel may not be exactly the colour you get when working with the pen, so my biggest tip is to actually colour in a chart with all your pens, and to do this on the actual card-stock type, or types, that you use most often for printing out and colouring in digi-stamps, and to print out the blank chart with the same printer that you’ll be using to print out your digi-stamps. (This way you’ll know if the ink in your printer is affected by the alcohol ink in the markers straight from the printer, or if you have to leave a printout overnight or heat set it before colouring in, as different printers have different inks and need different periods of drying out before colouring in for best results.)

sampleColoursampleBlankWith the Letraset ProMarker and FlexMarker pens there are colour and blank charts available on the Letraset website.

I’ve downloaded each of these, printed them out onto my preferred Super Smooth cardstock, and coloured in the blank ones with the pens I’ve actually got.  I do try to go over the designated box all over once, and then go over half the box a second time to build up the colour so that I can see how it would appear when the colour is built up.  I can not only see at a glance how the colours appear on my preferred card-stock, but I can also see which colours I haven’t got, and then refer to the Colour Charts to see what sort of colours the ones I haven’t got are.

  • ProMarker Printable Colour Chart – here.
  • ProMarker Blank Printable Chart – here.
  • ProMarker Printable 2012 and 2013 Limited Edition Colour Chart – here.
  • ProMarker Blank Printable 2012 and 2013 Limited Edition Chart – here.
  • FlexMarker Printable Colour Chart – here.
  • FlexMarker Blank Printable Chart – here.


7. Choosing Your Colours

What colours you choose to buy, and what colours you use on any particular project, depend totally on what you like.  You may like people to have nice flesh tones for their skin and natural hair colours, or you may like very tanned “orange” skin and blue, purple, pink, whatever, coloured hair.  Whatever you like – have a go.  If it doesn’t work out as you expect then you’ve only lost a piece of paper.

ProMarker-6Set-SkinT1-Cols-webProMarker-6Set-SkinT2-Cols-webIf you like natural skin tones then there are sets of marker pens that are put together to help you get a more natural result.  Whether light or darker.  I’ve even used some of the darker shades for colouring in teddy bears and hair, although there is also a set of hair colours available as well.

You also may like subtle shading that’s very blended, or you may like blocks of contrasting colours.  Neither method of colouring is wrong.  You just need to choose the right colours for you.  Again, Letraset have Colour Blend sets to help you with colour shading if you don’t just want to just buy assorted pens and experiment with shading.

Usually three colours are advised for shading, the closer the colours are to each other the more subtle the shading, but if you just want very subtle shading then you can achieve it with one marker, just building up the colour by laying on colour several times in areas you want to have a deeper colour.


8. Light To Dark Or Dark To Light?

If you’ve ever researched colouring in with alcohol markers you will come across some people who say that they always start with the lightest colour and build up to the darkest, and some who say that they get better results by starting with the darkest colour and working in towards the lightest.  Neither is wrong, it’s just down to experimentation and find out what works best for you.

Would you believe it, but to be different, I do both.

  • I start with a light colour and cover most of the area to be coloured with it.  Everywhere but where is going to be lightest at the end.
  • I then take the second colour and colour in most of what I’ve already coloured with this.
  • I then take my darkest colour and colour in as much as I want darker.
  • Then I work backwards, taking the darkest colour and just colouring the very darkest areas again.
  • Then the second colour and colour over the edge of the darkest colour and over most of where I coloured the second colour originally.
  • Then I take the lightest colour and colour over the edge of the second colour, over the original layer of the lightest colour, and onto the area I didn’t colour in originally, leaving a small white area if I want a white highlight, or covering the uncoloured area completely if I don’t.


9. Remembering What Colours You’ve Used

When I started learning the techniques with alcohol markers I only had a few and thought I’d remember what colours I’d used if I wanted to do a similar effect again.  But I soon realised that this was not a good strategy when I started to increase my number of pens. And boy have I increased my number of pens!

So now I try and make a list of the colours I use as I’m colouring in an image, either on the piece of cardstock the image is on, if it’s large enough, or on a post-it note to stick to the card-stock.  Then, when I make up a card with the coloured in image I copy the list each of colours I’ve used to a blog post and add a photo of the finished card.   This way I’ve got a reference to look back to if I want to create a similar colour shading effect in the future – though even using the same colours I rarely get the same effect.


10. Take A Good Look Around You

Yes, that’s right – no colouring in or anything – just look!  I know that we’re not aiming for photo-real colouring in, but if you aim on colouring light and shade, then have a look at the light coming in through your window and notice the shadows cast by furniture, the flowers on the windowsill, a person in the room, etc., and the shadows cast on a person by another part of their own body.  Have a look outside at the play of light and colour as well.  And do this looking at different times of the day.  I’m not talking about doing this once and then saying that it’s a task done.  I’m talking about becoming more aware of colour and shadows, etc., by just taking a moment to really look and take in all the time, rather than just glancing at things.

Some of the things I’ve noticed.

  • If a person in a red dress is standing in front of a blue wall, with the light hitting them in a certain direction the shadow of the person on the wall wasn’t a deeper shade of blue, it was more purpley as the red of the dress was reflected, and with the light hitting more from another direction it was more grey.  So sometimes the addition of a shade of grey over a base colour where the shadows are can have just as good effect as trying to blend in a deeper shade of the same colour.
  • Then there’s the fact that that quite often a shadow, whether thrown by a person or thing on something else, or by the drape of a skirt on a leg, or whatever, well the shadow can be quite a straight and marked line – it isn’t always a shaded/blended line.  So don’t get stressed out if you are colouring in and there’s more of a defined line, rather than a perfectly blended colour appearing in your work.  It really isn’t the end of the world.

I’ve no doubt that I’ll think of more things I’ve noticed over time, and you’ll probably notice other things, but those are just a few to start you off.


Please do come back and have a look at these pages again in the future as I hope to continue adding pictorial guides to some of the colouring I’ve done.

Please Note:

  • Other than the craftsUprint badge and the photos of Letraset products, the photographs used in this pictorial guide were all taken by me and are copyright to me – so no taking copies for your own use in either paper or electronic format.
  • The digital stamps I’ve been colouring in are copyright to the designers.  I’ve bought the digi stamps (and been given one as a prize from the designer) and have used them in my card making.  I’ve just used selected areas in these pictorial guides to show one way that they could be coloured, but if you buy the digi stamps you can colour them however you prefer – you will quite probably make a better job of it than me.  I’ve provided details of the stamp name and the designer for each one, plus I’ve put in links to where they are legally sold, so if you like them you can go and buy your own.