Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Basic Coloring Troubleshooting

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their enthusiastic support of my new blog. I apologize that I am new to blogging, I didn't realize that I needed to set up a subscription feature, so there it is, happily gleaming at the bottom of my page for all of you who are dying to get updates about this site (I hope I set it up correctly).

Second, I will try to post every day or two, or something like that. I currently don't have a laptop, meaning that when I travel, no one can get in contact with me (I like to think of it as my subtle protest against technology). It also means that I enjoy myself more when I travel :) So when we go to CHA this summer I may be sadly out of touch, but know that you are still loved. As for content, I will try to mix beginner with advanced, with color theory, with general tips, so hopefully each week there will be something new for everyone. Please let me know if there is something you want to see more of, (besides Copic Certification classes closer to your hometown- I know everyone wants those! Just e-mail me to get on my mailing list) Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

A question I get all the time is "HELP! My coloring looks Awful! What am I doing wrong?" And while I would like to say there are easy answers there really aren't because there are too many factors involved. I will ask 1. What Paper are you using? 2. What Ink are you stamping with? 3. What do you mean it looks awful? Does the colored area look bad, is the ink line smearing, are you getting blotching, the colors don't blend right... help me here, since I need these details to make it all come out happy in the end.

However, without talking about papers, line quality, or blending (yet- have patience I will cover these in the upcoming days) here are some troubleshooting tips for everyone to try when coloring plain, smooth areas. These are simple circles that I drew onto color laser copier paper- my favorite scratch paper. It's thin for stampers, but it is good for exaggerating problems. I colored each one with a B32 marker. The colors on the reverse are slightly off because I increased the contrast to show the effect more. The pic on the left is the front, the pic on the right is the backside.

My coloring is uneven- this is the most common problem and the easiest solved. You're not saturating the paper enough.

S L O W D O W N. Color in circles and really saturate the paper. Flip the paper over- does it look even on the backside? If it looks uneven then color over the same area with the same marker. Really soak the paper smooth.

I've got streaks! - You got streaks because you let an area dry before you finished coloring. This is a problem on larger areas more than small areas. In this case, Speed Up, but make sure the paper is saturated and stays "wet" along the edges. See how the streak is darker, especially on the back? You can layer the same color over an already colored spot and it will make it darker. This is a quick way to add simple shading.

I was coloring along just fine, I shifted my paper and it smeared- This one's easy. ALWAYS color over scratch paper. You most likely were coloring a piece of cardstock on top of a smooth surface like plastic or your cutting mat. When you really soak the paper it soaks right through to your table and you moved your paper while it was still wet, ruining all your hard work. Scratch paper, or something absorbent solves this problem.

I was coloring along just fine and suddenly a new color appeared in my pretty picture- This goes with the above problem. Always color over CLEAN scratch paper. In this case my pretty blue picked up a nice purple that was left on the paper from something I colored earlier. OOPS! Just keep a few sheets of clean newsprint or copier paper under your artwork. If you get ink on a tabletop you can clean it up with hand sanitizer, but try to avoid messing up tables in the first place :)

I've had the markers for a while and they just have a hard time soaking the paper nowadays. Time to refill. You'll find the more you use your markers, you'll end up using more pale colors and especially your favorite background colors will go dry first. Ciao markers will need refilling sooner than others. Of the three B32 markers on my desk, only one is really juicy. I'm lazy or else I would have filled them a while ago. Check the chart on the sidebar for refilling, or go to the Copic website.

So what does a well colored area REALLY look like?

Like this- front and back are pretty smooth. Even in my example you can see where I have room for improvement in smoothing my coloring (note: on some cardstock it is harder to tell from the backside that it was smoothly colored because it is so thick. Practice on thinner, high-quality paper until you get used to how much the paper needs to be saturated). I highly suggest that you do NOT color on watercolor paper. This will suck your marker dry before you can smoothly color an area.

I hope this helps a bit. Practice will make the most difference in your coloring results.


Anonymous said...

Sooo glad you are blogging!! I think I'm on your mailing list and hope that one day you'll have a Copic certification in N.Ireland or mainland UK! All the info on the side of the blog is so helpful. I was having trouble with my spicas so I'll try turning them upside down.

Joan Fricker said...

Your new blog is exactly what I need. I am a brand new user of the Copic Markers and I have lots to learn.

I think one of my problems is the paper I am using, so I am excited about your upcoming blog on paper.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...


Welcome to the crazy world of blogging. This is great for me since we never were able to meet in "real life" I hoping that by the time you come to Boston I'm feeling well enough to travel. Until then this is fantastic! Congrats again, I know you will quickly be a favorite of everyone!

Cheryl of Inspire Me

Alhambra Club said...

thanks for sharing your talent and knowledge, love this new blog and have you in my google reader

stampingtink said...

This is so what I need! I'm tip-toeing into the world of copics and I want to be able to use them properly. You so rock!

Broni said...

Wonderful tips! Thanks so much!

Terri said...

Marianne, I am so glad you started this blog! I am beginning to have success with my Copics based on the thread you helped me on at SCS. I have a question about the airbrush system. When I put the marker in, it snaps into place and works fine for the first couple of sprays, but then stops working and I get no color coming out. It begins to work again if I take the marker out and start the process again. Any tips for me? I also thought I'd send you this link to a card I made using my markers and the airbrush--although it took me forever to accomplish because the spray kept stopping. http://www.splitcoaststampers.com/gallery/photo/934077?cat=500&ppuser=95007 Thank you! Terri

Alicia said...

Thank you thank you! I am excited to start using my markers more so that I can color correctly with them!
Welcome to the bloggig world as well!!

Debbie said...

This is so exciting! I wanted to go to the class in Chicago but can't take the day off... this is the next best thing. Welcome to the world of blogging, you will find it addicting

Renee said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful tip! Can't wait to hear more!

Renee said...

I have a question for you....if you're just starting out what colors would you recommend getting first? I would like to get my grandma started but don't want to overwhelm her with too many colors.

Thank you

Kevin Renz said...

Hi Marianne! Woo Hoo, your blog looks so cool. I just had to stop by and say hello - I will definitely be reading in more depth later. Can't wait to meet you in Seattle.

Came on over from PTI message board where somebody posted that you had started a blog :)

marianne walker said...

Terri H-

The airbrush is bowing ink off the tip, onto the paper so sometimes it takes a little longer for the ink to flow from inside the marker down to the tip. Your problem is that the marker has probably been used a bit, or with denser colors it takes longer for the ink to flow down to the tip of the marker. Spray in short bursts, or refill the marker. I WILL be posting airbrushing stuff later...

marianne walker said...


What color to start with is so tricky. Pick a lighter and a darker color that are about 3 digits away from each other in a few color families, so have 2 reds, 2 blues, 2 pinks, 2 yellows, 2 greens to start with (or whatever her favorite color families are) I show a B32 in this post, a good companion color would be a B34 or B37.

Kim Burmeister said...

I just found your blog and I want to say THANK YOU! I have been wanting to know more about these great markers and now I have found it. I can't wait to see what you teach us. You are a blessing!

Becky said...

Can I kiss your feet?? OMIGOSH! This is like an answer from above! THANK YOU FOR BLOGGING! Thank you for sharing with us.

I had to laugh out loud when I read in your post that your family knows they are "mamma's markers" cause everyone in my household knows that unless they want to die a harsh death they arent to touch my Copics.
ME: "No, you cant even write just ONE thing. NONE."
FAMILY: "I cant possibly hurt them by writing ONE thing."
ME: "Well, lets just not take that chance ok.."


Sharon in NE said...

Good...someone I can ask without feeling stupid...I hope no one else is reading this... ;)
...How is it pronounced? As in "cope" or "cop" ?

Kate said...

Hi Marianne...I love your blog! I tried to print it, but it didn't print both sides of the page. On one page the left hand side printed, and on another, the right hand side printed. Hope this can be fixed because I want to keep all your posts in a binder.

Sheri said...

Hey, perhaps we can get sorta certified by reading your blog. At least I will know more than I did before. I have a ton of Copic Sketch markers and love them. Now I will use them properly!


Robin C said...

I'm not sure if you're going to set up an area on your blog, but I also have a question.

I have been a Stampin Up junkie, but have had issues with the relatively short life span of their markers. I has been reading about Copic and was thrilled with the refill options available.

I've been playing around with my markers and have had numerous problems with the ink I used to stamp the image bleeding once I start coloring in.

My question is - is it the paper or is it the ink I'm using for the outline. I see that you're going to have a paper discussion, but hope that you will have a discussion about 'bleeding.'

Renee said...

Thanks for much for giving insight on what colors to choose for my grandma! I think this would be a good start for her.

Thanks for taking time to answer my questions :)


Stampin_Melissa said...

Thanks for the tips! Definitely helps me out!

Unknown said...

This has been SO extremely HELPFUL!! Thank you so much.