Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back to School Grays

Back to School
Recently, my children went back to school. While my husband and I are cheering, our son has been gray, since school is obviously not as much fun as hanging out with friends all Summer.

Grays might seem blah, but when you are working with a limited color palette, you can't underestimate the power of grays.

Working with grays
Copic makes 46 shades of gray. Each shade is used for a specific purpose...
Cool Grays are very blue-toned, and useful for shadows and metal.
Neutral Grays are neutral and good for generic gray things or for storyboarding.
Toner Grays are slightly warm, but not too warm.
Warm Grays are very warm and earth-toned, great for wooly or earthy things.

Working with limited colors
People frequently ask me, what are the best colors to start with when collecting Copics. I always answer that it depends what you are going to be coloring. If you color people, then go for skin tones and build from there. If you enjoy nature, then start with greens and browns. However, you may have only a few colors from each family and feel that your artwork has no depth until you get more colors.

This problem can be solved if you have a few grays. My first two markers I got after the 12 basic marker set I started with were two shades of gray. This instantly multiplied those 12 colors into twice as many options.

Here is a girl who is heading back to school. I started by laying down a C5 to mark my shadows. You may think this is too dark to start, but an interesting quality of Copic markers, is that any lighter color can push a darker color out of the way, so this C5 will lighten up as we layer colors over it.

I tried to keep all my shadows consistent, so you can easily tell that the light is coming from the upper right. (For more ideas on shadow placement, run a search on "shadows" on this blog using the search bar at the top.)

Usually when layering grays it is a good idea to match gray type to color family. However, I have limited colors, and I only have this one gray. That is OK. Shadows tend to cool down, as the sun is not hitting them directly. Skin would usually be a warm brown, but, it is OK to add a cool color in the shadow of skin, so I frequently add blue or purple into my skin shadows. Cool gray is cool, so that will be fine to use to accent the colors in the shadows.

Now that I have planned out my shadows, I can layer my limited colors. Since I like drawing people, I have a good range of skin tones. I start by adding E000 over all skin areas, including the gray colored parts. then, over the gray shadows, I added E11 and E04. See how much lighter the gray is now?

I colored her bag and shoes with E15 and E19. I colored the paper sack with the E11 I used on her skin.

Last, I colored all the other areas of her with my limited colors.

I colored her hair with Y21, Skirt with R83, and her shirt with BV13. I lost some of the shadows when I colored the shirt with BV13, so I went back with my gray and darkened those areas again.

As you can see, using a gray helps cut back on the colors you need to own when starting out your collecting. In total, I used 1 gray, 5 browns, 1 yellow, 1 blue-violet, and 1 pink. The 1 gray meant that I did not need a darker shade of yellow, pink, or blue-violet. If I had colored her book bag purple, then I could have eliminated 2 browns as well.

She doesn't look too bad, in my opinion.

Enter our coloring contest!
For a blank image of this girl to download, and to see another way to color her, please visit our Copic blog. There you will also find information on how to enter this month's coloring contest via Facebook and copiccolor.com

Not a member of Copic Color yet? Now is the time to register and see what people are making with Copic markers. Registration is free and easy!


Michelle Quinno said...

Wow, that is amazing! Thank you so much for the daily instruction! I'm going to try my grays under color!

Take care and STAY POSITIVE! Trena said...

Great tutorial!! Thank you Marianne!!

Take care and STAY POSITIVE!

Conniecrafter said...

such a cute image and neat techinique

Jan Castle said...

Who would have guessed you could color with so few Copics! Thank you for the tutorial...now to use my grays!!!
Jan Castle

nancybabb said...

off to buy my grays now! THANKS!

Shasing19 said...

It was a cute images and I love it. Thank you for sharing.

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Kimberly said...

Wow, this is great! I'm just trying out copics. Love the idea of being able to do this someday!

StampNScrapJunkie said...

This is so awesome! :)