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.

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