Thursday, November 13, 2008

Coloring large areas, Part 2- Basic techniques

Yesterday I gave you some ideas on how to prepare to color large areas, today let's get started with the first couple techniques and rules of thumb to keep in mind so you don't get streaks.

Large areas, One color
First, we're going to cover just basic, one color backgrounds in large areas. Just like yesterday, these rules can apply to anything you color, not just large areas but when you are working on large areas these small problems become large ones very quickly.

I don't really know which I prefer doing first, background or details. I guess it depends on the picture. Most of the time I do details first, but really, I should do sky first because I can make more mistakes and hide them easier if I color the sky first. As with anything, this takes practice. A lot of people say that they color largest areas first, then work to the details. Other people have said that it's best to start with things far away and work your way closer. With either of those rules, the sky would win as the first thing to color, since it is far away and large.

1. Start at one edge. I am right handed, so I always start on the left and work right. That way my hand isn't dragging through my wet ink. Also, I usually start at either the top or the bottom (it depends on the image) and work my way across. I try to keep details last.

2. Keep all your edges wet. Whenever you get a dry edge is when you'll see streaks, so try not to let an edge dry by constantly going back over colored edges and evenly soaking them. Depending on your paper, you'll be able to tell what is too large an area to keep wet before you can get back to it. Try to color in a pattern that leaves the fewest edges to keep wet.

3. Work quickly and evenly. If you start out soaking the paper, then keep evenly soaking the paper all the way across. Any place that you change your technique will show up and look bad, particularly if there isn't as much ink in some areas as there is in others.

4. DON'T STOP. Even if you make a tiny mistake, keep going so the whole thing doesn't look bad. So what if you go over the lines a little bit? If you are working with a light blue and you accidentally color over the tops of the grass it really doesn't matter, since light blue is in green and you can color over it.

5. If you leave streaks, leave them in a natural direction. In a sky it would be OK to see horizontal streaks more than streaks that run up and down or diagonal. Also, in a sky if you leave streaks, try to be consistent and make them look like they were supposed to be there. Don't change direction of your stroke in the middle of your artwork.

6. If you must let an edge dry, make the edge soft. Sometimes your work is so large that there's no getting around it drying somewhere as you work around the side of another shape. In this case, feather out that edge instead of leaving a hard line. It's easier to smoothly come back to that spot later if you're not having to re-wet a crisp edge. You can feather the same color back in from the other direction once you finished your large area.

Here is a diagram of how I colored yesterday's sky. I started at the left (1) and colored at a horizontal angle down and to the right. This felt more natural to my hand. I colored in small circles with the chisel end of my marker (because it's larger), keeping all my edges wet and juicy.

When I got to the man (2) I colored the smaller side first and quickly so the other side wouldn't dry. (3) Then I quickly came back and finished the rest of the picture. I wasn't too careful about the water line, since I knew that the water was going to be blue anyways, but I tried to stay out of the grass as much as possible.

With Practice you will find a method to your coloring. It also helps if you turn your artwork so the strokes flow with the direction your hand most easily moves. For this piece I had the artwork turned sideways because my hand flows smoother that way.

For my final artwork today I'm working on the large Lavender Flower Fairy by Stamps Happen. My sky is BG10, one of my favorite sky colors. Because the fairy is interrupting the big blue sky, I start in the bottom left corner and work my way around. Then I come back and work from the middle, then the bottom right side of the tall stalk. You can't see the next step, but because the lavender at the bottom is hard to distinguish from the sky, I just colored my sky right over the top (since blue is part of green). Notice also that I feathered in some BG93 along the bottom to give the sky around the lavender a bit of depth.

Then I finished up the sky by cleaning up my mistakes with the colorless blender and coloring in all the details last. I hope this inspires you to try coloring in larger areas and practice some of my techniques. I'll have a few more posts about coloring large areas, with other methods and tools, so stay tuned. Paper: Copic Sketchbook paper Ink: memento tuxedo black Image: Lavender Flower Fairy by Stamps Happen


Alfredo Gallardo said...

Nice Technique...

Just a note... I have that Flower Fairy stamp... :D I havent used it because I didnt knew how to make the sky look good, now I have a pretty good idea...

Nancy Jensen said...

Thank you for all your tutorials. I'm very new to copics and you are really helping me learn how to make the most of them.


Kathleen said...

This is a lovely image - so beautifully coloured.
I don't have any Copics (yet!?) but I've added a link on my blog to your wonderfully comprehensive blog and one of your lovely images so that I and many others can find your blog in the future when we need advice!!!

Cheryl said...

thank you!