Monday, December 19, 2011

Coloring a Swallow

I finally got the time to write up the tutorial for the picture I colored last week. Tomorrow, you can see the color spotlight I made this tutorial for. I'm please with this picture because it only took 10 colors to make it look so neat.

Barn Swallow
I drew this barn swallow after being inspired by seeing a beautiful Victorian cut-out of one last week. I draw my pictures with pretty simple lines, because I like to rely on the markes for giving depth, however, I like my line work to stand alone sometimes, so added a lot of little lines that I knew would get covered up by coloring. I drew it with a 0.03 mm Multiliner SP, then photocopied it a couple times before I colored it. For coloring reference, I found this amazing website by photographer Rick Cameron.

I started with a simple base of grays to define my shadows. I don't have strong shadows in this illustration, because I wanted the top of the bird well lit, but I also wanted to showcase the vibrant belly plumage. I started with C3 and BV23. BV23 is my favorite alternate for is more purple and adds a little more richness to my cool grays.

Next, I feathered in a light base blue of B91 and B63. I layered B66 over that, (B66 is the color spotlight color that I'll feature tomorrow). I deepened the blue with the BV23 and C7. I did not blend much, rather, I kept my strokes in the direction the feathers grow so it looks more like natural color variation.

I darkened around the eye with C7, and darkened the wings with BV23 and C7. Again, I did not blend, instead I simply layered and feathered colors together . The top of the head is the only area where I blended the colors, as that is a very smooth area of feathers.

Next, I added my YR's. In looking at the photos of barn swallows, I noted that their chests are pale orange to brighter orange, depending on gender. I wanted a base that was not too vibrant, so I went with YR31. Then, I blended in YR12 and YR18. The YR18 was a perfect match for the photos I found online.

At this point, I held my image at arm's length and squinted...was it dark enough in the shadows? Did it look right overall? This is the point of self-critiquing that we discuss in the Intermediate Certification classes. This is also the point when I would clean up any spots where I went outside the lines (look at the gray tail feathers and how I fixed the mistake).

Last I needed to add a background of some sort. Usually I would just add a simple blue fade to suggest sky, but I didn't want to overwhelm someone with that much blue, so I decided to go more stylistic on my sky.

I made a mask from one of my photocopies of the bird and attached it firmly with some weak double-sided tape. Using the chisel end of the B63 I added a faint blue around the bird, getting darker closer to the bird. Then, I added larger speckles with the brush end of the B63 and a G12 marker. By airbrushing very lightly from a brush end, you can get larger speckles than if you airbrush directly with the chisel. After I was content, I added a final touch of Opaque white to the eye and beak.

Here is the final swallow. As I mentioned earlier, be sure to check out the color spotlight later this week on the Copic blog for other color combination suggestions for B66.


Michelle said...

This is beautiful... I hope I can be as talented using my Copics as you are with yours one day.

Love how vibrant the Swallow is.
mpetrovich23 at yahoo dot com

Sandy S said...

Stunning Marianne.... I do love your techniques & talent...

thank you for the tutorials...

Sandy S
(copic certified going for the intermediate soon!)

Kreativmonster said...

Thanks for this tutorial, Marianne, always an inspiration! And thanks for the link to the photographer, in Germany swallows are brown, black and white!
I prefer to colour animals in her natural colours, too.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year for you and your dear ones!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your expertise. That sounds so spammy, I know, but it's true. I have so much to learn about copics and you are the copic godmother!

Margaret said...

This is so gorgeous. I'm so impressed with your talent and so happy that you share it with us.

Patricia St Martin said...

Beautiful! Your tutorials are always wonderful. I always enjoy them. Have a Merry Christmas and A Wonderful New Year.
Hugs, Patricia

mfc.melissamade2 said...

Gorgeous Marianne! I love the contrast and the gorgeous color! Fabulous and thanks for sharing!

Mary said...

I am new to coloring with copic markers but I love how they look. I was wondering if you could post a "before any type of coloring or shading" copy of the Swallow so I could practice with your tutorial. I cannot draw :(
Thank you for all your great ideas and tips...

Rose Curtis said...

Love your swallow... so pretty!

marianne walker said...


Unfortunately, I sometimes use my tutorial images for other clients, so I cannot provide a blank for you to color on this one. Sorry!