Saturday, May 22, 2010

Coloring With Reds

Red is a strong vibrant color and has a lot of emotion in it. It can also cause a lot of emotion when you're in the middle of a great project and it bleeds into your other colors. Here are some tricks for keeping your reds in place.

If you look closely at this cute little stamp from Hero Arts (click on image to enlarge), you can see that his red shirt has bled out. I colored him in the traditional way I would usually color. I started with my lightest color, coloring in circles, evenly soaking the page. Then, I added the darker red, came back with the light, and blended them together.

The back of the paper is smoothly bended so I must be doing it right, but...Uh oh! Those reds bled outside the lines on the Neenah paper I was using. How can I prevent that?

Here are a few tips that should help you out:
• Work on an absorbent surface. Make sure that the ink is not bleeding simply because you're coloring onto something that is making the ink spread.
• Try a different paper. Neenah is on the soft side of the spectrum. Bazzil Simply Smooth (formerly Prism Simply Smooth) won't bleed as much, but then again, it may not blend in the same way either.
• Use Less ink. You don't really need to completely soak your paper, as red is forgiving. If it looks like the surface is evenly covered then that's good enough. Ignore the back of the paper, as the front is more important anyways.
• Try feather blending colors together. If coloring in circles over soaks the paper, then feather-blend your colors together, as this uses less ink.
• Let base layers dry before you add darker colors on top. The paper can only hold so much ink before it wants to bleed. if you let it dry a little (don't let it get completely dry or it will take more ink to blend) then it will accept more ink in the same spot before it begins to bleed.
• Avoid edges. If none of those techniques work for you, then be extra careful and don't color right up to the edges.
Note: It is very hard to fix bleeding reds with the colorless blender! You are more likely to create a bigger mess.

Here is how I colored him for my final picture. Since I didn't want to switch paper, I changed my technique instead. I decided to go with feather blending. I am working with the Natural Blending Group of R24, R29 and R59. Since R29 is the darkest in the R20's group, then I can shadow it with either R39 or even darker, R59. Since I like more contrast, I went with R59.

1. Start with your light color (R24) and feather it into darker areas. Leave it white where the darker color will be added.

2. Lightly feather in the darker red (R29) from the opposite direction.
3. Let the middle red dry a bit, then add the darkest red (R59). You don't want to take any chances, and two or more layers of red are really going to risk bleeding.
4. Let it dry some more and then feather some R29 into the R59 area, and feather the R24 into the R29. It may take a few LIGHT layers to really get the colors to blend, but it will work eventually.

Here is my final guy. As you can see from the back of this image, I used a whole lot less ink on this smoothly colored picture than I used on the first image, and it still looks great.

I lightly feathered the BG10 out as simple sky accent from his shirt. If my reds had bled at all, then this would have caused the red ink to spread all over the place as well. But you can see from the back of the paper that my ink does not soak all the way to the lines, unlike the first image. By using less ink overall, I am able to get my reds to work better.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

coloring flowers

The image is so tiny that it is very easy to blend, and coloring took only a couple minutes. I started with BV00 for the centers of each flower, then blended in RV00 to create the base tone for the image. To blend, I simply colored in circles over each petal until the BV00 softened out into the pale pink.

For contrast, I added E04, then softened it in with a bit more BV00 and RV00. My leaves were a simple base of YG11, then I added G85, since it is a nice earthy green that is not too vibrant. I went back with the YG11 to blend in the G85. On the final image I darkened any areas that blended out too much by adding a touch more of the G85. This helps keep strong cotrast in my image, and contrast is what makes things look interesting.
Then I scribbled some W3, Y11 and W1 around the image for a soft background (not pictured in this diagram) and blended it out with my colorless belnder, again by scribbling.

Hair Coloring

Coloring Hair
Today I want to share some great news, show you a simple tutorial.
Hair Colors
One of the questions that came up a number of times was how to color hair.  I've talked about coloring hair before, but it's a subject that is always handy to review.
First of all, hair comes in many colors. You can choose almost any color combination of browns, yellows, YR, R, grays... you get the idea. Experiment with lots of colors, and write down the ones you like.

How Much Dark?

You can use the same colors and get different results depending on how much of a color you use as well. Look at these two examples of brown hair. When coloring hair, start light, then work in your darker tones. Streak color in the direction of the grain of the hair.
On both of these examples I started with E31. For the lighter hair I left more white, whereas on the darker head I darkened the E31 by coloring slower, still in streaks, and not leaving as much white.
With the lighter hair, I used less E35 and E37 on each step than I did in the second example. As you can see, the results very greatly just by how much darker color you use.
Note: On hair, I don't usually layer more light over the top of my darker colors, or else the colors will blend together. In this case we want to keep the streaks, since it makes the hair look more believable and natural.

Base Tones
Hair color can change dramatically if you change the base tone or add another color. People frequently ask how to get black hair. Since Copic makes so many shades of gray you would think that you could make black from any of them, but carefully test each color combination. Look at the example. The cool grays make a very different gray than the warm grays. In my opinion, I think the cool gray looks more black whereas the warm grays look more like her hair is fading to gray. Again, it's personal preference.
In the red head example here, you can see that the hair with a yellow base tone looks very different than the hair without. I like to add a yellow base simply because I think the color looks richer, but again, it's a personal choice. Don't be afraid to experiment!


When you want to show dimension, choose your light carefully. Since the girl's face in this example is turned to the Left, then I am going to have my light coming from that direction, that way the front of her face has the strongest lighting. Then, the side of the hair closest to the light will have less color, whereas the side in shadow will have slightly more dark color. This helps give dimensionality to the image.