Monday, June 9, 2008

Limited Colors? Bring in Grays

I hope all of you had a great weekend and got your coloring fingers tuned up. I was going to post a color spotlight today, but I wanted to cover a few more points about color theory before I spotlight a color in depth, so look for that on Friday.

A quick note about Certification- The Chicago class on July 17th is full. However- the drop-in free event for papercrafting store owners, designers and teachers is still open on that day, just e-mail me and get on my list so I know how many to expect. I do have about 6 spots each day in my Seattle classes on June 18th or 19th (next week! aaack- it's so soon!). If these spots don't fill by Wed. then I'm opening the class up to ANYONE in the Seattle area- not just teachers and designers. I have plenty of space in my Milwaukee class on July 15th and the Chicago class on July 16th, so if you haven't signed up for those get in now by e-mailing me for details: office1@copicmarker.com

Layering Grays- Do you have only a few Copic colors and feel like you have to rush out and get more? I won't stop you, but I will show you ways to get more out of the colors you do have. You can make a lot of colors simply by adding together the colors you already have.

Most people, when they first see a big wall of Copic markers choose a few colors, get home, and realize they have the wrong colors. Usually, the colors are too bright, because bright colors catch our eye and we must have them. Or, you didn't know that you should have two or three markers in each color family to start with.

Here's a great way to adapt. With Copic, you can layer colors to get a more muted tone, or to get a totally different color. Don't worry about getting one color on the tip of another, remember it will come out.

I'm starting with this bright blue tulip. I colored it very smooth with B02 and YG05. This is nice, except it feels flat. And bright, very bright, since both these colors have a 0 in the middle. What to do? Should I rush out and get a YG07 and a B05 to make them more realistic. Not necessarily. Those color would just add shadows of bright colors to already bright colors. The picture wouldn't be flat at least, but it would still be too bright.

So what can we layer that will dull the brightness, but still keep the parts blue and green? Here's where a little color theory helps. Blue and green are COOL colors. Copic makes a color family for cool colors, Cool Grays. Grays dull down bright colors, so we can layer a Cool Gray over a bright color to make it less vibrant.

Here is the same tulip with C3 added for shadows to both the YG05 and the B02. Here's another example of Vo4 also shaded with the C3. Now compare it to the one below colored with V04 + V06, YG05 + YG07. The one with gray has much more muted shadows, the other just has darker tones of the same color. It's up to you which one you like more, but in a pinch that C3 sure is handy.

What if you have a bunch of muted colors and you need a blue but you only have a bright blue? This is a perfect way to mute one color so it matches your other colors.

What about WARM colors in your artwork? Use Warm Grays. Without getting too far into color theory, the YG marker I used is a color that could work warm or cool. The YR02 and Y02 however, are definitely WARM. Both of these are very light, so use a W2 or in this case, a W1.

How do I know which grays to try? For bright colors I can usually pick a gray that is one or two numbers lighter than the other color (look at the last digit- a Warm Gray one shade lighter than YR02 would end in 1, so I try W1 first). For darker colors I usually go with a gray that has the same last digit or is one or two darker (otherwise the gray doesn't do much). Yellows are so pale that I would tend to go light over those anyways.

How do I know if my color is warm, or cool? What if it could be both? Copic makes 44 different shades of gray, in 4 color families. Each color of gray brings it's own slight feel to a picture. Cool Grays add a hint of Blue, Warm Grays add a hint of Brown. Neutral gray is just that, Neutral. Toner gray is half way between Neutral and Warm.

So, if you want something to feel cold (shadow on ice, metal, etc) use Cool Gray. If you want something that feels warm or natural (wood, earthy things) use Warm Gray. For everything else the other grays can fill in for you. If you ever take a color theory class you'll learn that within basic color families (like Red) there are warms and cools, so it can really get confusing. For now, don't worry about it and just experiment.

When you find combos you like, add them to your swatch book so you don't forget. Tomorrow I'll be posting about cardstock and some blog candy, so stay tuned.

Image: I didn't have a stamp I liked at home when I made this post, so I just drew a flower a few times with a Copic Multiliner. The YG05 marker is one that I got 8 years ago in a special set. I don't use it very often because it is so bright, so I have never refilled it, yet it is still very juicy after sitting for 8 years!

33 comments:

amazingpapergrace.com said...

Thank you so much!!! (Light bulb going off over head)....I can't wait to try this!
--Becca

chelemom said...

I would never have thought to use the grays that way.......it makes sense!

Heidi said...

I just found this site, have just started my copic collection and I am going to "fav" you as this is a great deal of information that I will be using! Thanks Heidi

Terri H. said...

Great tip Marianne! I would have never thought of adding gray! I use them mainly for shadowing outside the image, but will definately try this one! Looking forward to your next post!

Dawn Easton said...

Very cool! Thanks so much! I'll definitely be playing with this idea today!

Peggy Maier said...

Thanks for the tip about the cool/warm grays. I already use my gray markers to shade & add contrast every time I color. It really makes a BIG difference! Now I'll pay more attention to WHICH gray! : )

Anita C said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial, I would have never thought of that. You have just given me a light bulb moment :D

cruzinkellster said...

Thank You for the tips....I am getting most of the colors need now...I need to add more gray tones now....

Sandy Knecht said...

Thank you very much for explaining the Grays. I had no idea really what to do with them. This was great.

Beth said...

Awesome tutorial! You have such a wonderful, clear way of explaining things. I was able to sit down last night and "catch up" on all of your posts. You are definitely on my blog "fav" list and I'll be checking in regularly. This is truly a service you are providing for the crafting community! Thanks!

wendy peatross said...

This is great information. Love your blog.

Alicia said...

I am so glad you covered the grays! I have them all and was not sure what ones to use with which colors!

Jeanette said...

Wow, I can't thank you enough for sharing your exceptional know-how. I am waiting for my first batch of copics which I ordered on-line. I am so glad I will have this resource available to me. I had orderd C3 know I'm patting myself on the back!

Kathi Rerek said...

Thanks so much for starting a blog. I've already learned so much!

I just received my first batch of Ciaos and am taking tiny steps on that learning curve!

Now I need to order more grays!

chinamomxtwo said...

must say, I did wonder why there were sooooo many grays! *NOW* it makes sense. thanks!

Kim Chase said...

Wow! Thanks for creating this website. I have slowly been collecting Copics through a marker club and really haven't used them because I am soooo intimidated by them. But after reading through your blog, I am ready to give them more of a try!!

Debbie Olson said...

Marianne, what a useful post! Thanks for your thorough teaching!

Barb W said...

WOW! Thank you so much for this info. I can't wait till your next post!

Kim Williams said...

I knew I just bought a handful of grays for some reason! I just found your blog courtesy of Cami, and have added you to my favorites. I look forward to learning even more about Copics from you! And, if you ever want to do a class in Austin, I will be the first to sign up!

Thanks for sharing!

Cris A said...

Yeah!! Now I don't need to rush out and buy ones that I won't use much. Gray....here I come!

Roz said...

So glad that you decided to join us bloggers! Your info is awesome. I wish you had a class closer to Orlando...I would sign up in a heartbeat. Looking forward to learning more from you in the future!

Monika in VA said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you (I just can't say this enough!) Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us! I can't wait for each entry!

Angie said...

Thanks for the great tutorials. I would have never thought to shadow with gray.

Robbin said...

I just found your blog and I am so excited!! I have slowly been acquiring copics...and I love them. My learning curve has been mostly trial and error and what I can find on various blogs. Soooo, I am loving your blog and feel like I am sitting in a Copic Class!! I will be visiting everyday. Thanks for the great explanations.....
--Robbin

Lori Barnett said...

I just came across your blog by way of Debbie Olson's blog - Thinking Inking. I'm SO GLAD I clicked on the link on her post and found YOU! How amazing that you are sharing all this great information! Taking time to type up all this up! I personally want to thank you for that! I look forward to getting certified in the future :) Hurry up and get to Phoenix would ya!! LOL! I subscribed to your blog and I'm gonna add you to my list of bloggers around the world on my blog so I NEVER forget how to find you :) (I need all the help I can get ha ha ha)

Lilian said...

Thank you for the helpful tips. :)

Conniecrafter said...

thank you, I never would have thought to blend with grays!

huntla1 said...

Thank you so much. I learned so much from this one tutorial and I can't wait to give those grays a new meaning in life. And I now learned even better how to shadow with them. I so appreciate your blog and the time you spend helping us out!

calliezant said...

Thanks for the tutorials...now I am learning something every day about my new Copic Markers! I tested Papertreyink's Stamper Select White, which works quite nicely.

Carolyn said...

Grays....I have several Copic Sketch Markers and never in my wildest dream thought I'd need a gray. Gray is not one of my favorite colors but now I see that it is a must have. Thank you for this very important tip, using gray to tone down other colors. Who would have thought!

Carolyn S

Rena said...

I wondered what the difference between the different gray families were but I never had anyone to ask before. This was a very useful tip!

Melody said...

Thanks so much! I definitely have bought colors that are too bright. I just had this problem. Now I can tone it down.

4kids2many said...

I feel so much more enlightened. I think copics are intimidating. You feel you need to go to art school. Although I wish we had more thorough and specific education for serious papercraters, its nice to have someone start to get down to the nitty-gritty.
Thanks Trish