This week’s technique focuses on a foolproof method of coloring images that have realistic shadows and bold, intense color. I’m breaking this post into two parts. You are viewing the first part. Here is a link to the second.
I love to use paper that has a resist pattern on it, as a starting point. That way I know my contrast is already built in somewhere. You can use a paper with a manufactured heat thermography print on it, or create your own using stamps and embossing powder, which is what I did on this sheet of watercolor paper.
Now that your paper is prepared, you can stamp an image with a ‘Copic-proof’ ink, such as Memento by Imagination Crafts / Tsukineko. Or you can sketch an image using Copic Multiliners or a Marvy Uchida Technical Pen. Here is a flower I sketched first in graphite and then went over with pen.
This flower is very OPEN. It’s almost scary, isn’t it, to color something like this?
Another image I like to use are floral stamps, such as this one from Hero Arts:
or this one from Rubbernecker:
Or a delightful line image such as this buttercup from Cornish Heritage Farms.
I used to do the entire coloring with Copic markers, but I found that when I was adding shadows, especially the lighter colored areas, I would LOSE the coloring I’d done. And by coloring over the shadows, I’d lose the shadows.
Copics are wonderful, but they can be frustrating. So I came up with the best of both worlds to retain the wonderful blended shadows but not put all that hard work at risk with my coloring and vice versa.
Stamped images do not have gray areas. They may be quite open, or have some stippling or linework to mimic shading – which is helpful to follow with your grays. But the only way to make the images POP is to add the shadows. So here goes.
Unlike pure Copic coloring, I am working on watercolor paper. With Copics alone, watercolor paper would not be a good choice, because the markers would just bleed over the lines and the ink gets absorbed willy-nilly by the paper.
But for this technique, I am using a very light hand with my Copics. Mostly ‘flicking’ the marker, by placing it down with the brush sideways and quickly stroking and lifting off the marker at the same time.
I will be putting a video together to show this technique more clearly for those who want some live-action sequences to help ‘get over it’.
So the first step is to add the darkest areas of shadow. I used a Copic Sketch N3 and flicked outward from underneath the center of the flower, creating depth and bringing that detailed portion forward. I also flicked inward from the topmost petal, where it curls inward and the bottom-right petal, where the petal curls upward and inward. Lastly, at the base of the flower, where it meets the stem and where the leaf meets the stem.
Now I bring in a Copic Sketch N2 and flick over the previous shadow with slightly longer strokes. then to add texture to the petals, I add long lines to follow the petal contours. I also traced along the dark side of the stem and added some shading to the center of the flower detail. We need to retain areas of white for contrast.
Finally, I bring in the lightest Copic Sketch N0, and once again, go over prior work with longer strokes. Each layer blends the last and we end up with a very blended, shadowed image. I also scribbled inside of the overhanging central petal to give is some lift. Pay attention to where petals curl upwards or downwards and come in from outside edges to create shadows underneath these points, as you can see in the center of the image. Still maintain areas of white.
Now you’ve done all the hard work. And it wasn’t that hard! But I would advise you, if you have the capabiity to SAVE your work by scanning or photographing it so you can have this image to use again and again.
The original image is on watercolor paper. Here is the same image, now printed out on ledger paper.
You can print it on a laser printer, or have it copied at a Fedex/Kinkos and use your art over and over again. Modify its size, add more flowers, duplicate it. The sky is the limit. Save your work! What a timesaver. The coloring is the really fun part, right?
On to the coloring in my next post…