Hi guys, today I have a bit of a different post for you. It is the result of all your wonderful comments in my blog and YouTube channel about my coloring and my cards in general. I also have a fantastic coupon for coloring classes at Kit and Clowder – you will find all the information at the end of the post.
As awesome as it is to read your praise, sometimes it also makes me a bit sad when I read:
- “I have given up this technique.”
- “I could never do that!”
- “I’m so intimidated by (some type of coloring) that I’m afraid to try it.”
Here’s the thing: half a year ago I had no clue about how to use colored pencils or Copics, either at all or properly. I had the supplies, and I was messing around with them, but I had no methodical approach to it. It was sheer dumb luck that my cards turned out ok. Now, half a year later I’m still far from being great, but I’m better. Noticeably so, as a lot of you have commented and I noticed the change myself. How did I do that?
The Big Truth
It’s not magic!
And you know what that means? You can do it as well! Of course, I watched a ton of videos on YouTube. I tried replicating what the crafters there were doing. I bought the same color of markers and pencils so I could make sure that my work would turn out the same. But it didn’t. At least not to a degree that I was happy with and I started to avoid certain types of images since I didn’t know how to color them.
Here’s a comparison of one of my early coloring attempts and one I did after taking a class:
As you can see, the early attempt on the left might look fine by itself, but once compared to a more recent coloring on the right it’s clear that I was seriously lacking skills. There are almost no contrast areas in the dwarf, he looks rather flat and uninteresting. I didn’t know how to draw in folds into his clothes to make them more interesting and I was afraid of darker colors which are necessary to create dimension.
On the left, you can see my (feeble) attempts at giving hair more dimension and how I added folds to the dress, and also tried to accentuate the roundness of her arms with the sleeves. Not to mention some subtle shading on the skin on her face.
Take a Class
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the organizations which offer online courses. I have taken them myself, as a paying customer.
Now, if you are lucky to have a real world coloring class in your area, take it. It’s not just great to socialize with other crafters, you might learn something that you wouldn’t pick up from watching YouTube videos.
If you are a total novice and have just gotten your first Copic Markers, you might want to take a look at the Online Card Classes course for Copic Coloring. It’s geared towards card makers, and it offers a very very easy entry into the entire topic of Copic coloring. If you have never worked with Copics before, if you have no clue what those cryptic numbers mean and also you don’t know how to blend with Copics, I’d say you can start with this class.
It’s not geared towards crafters looking for advanced coloring skills, but if you need a crash course about Copics, and some really easy tutorials on how to use them and get the most out of them, Online Card Classes is a great place to start. Remember: it’s geared towards card makers, not aspiring artists!
But I wanted more. That’s when my research brought me to Kit and Clowder, a whole range of online courses offered by Alyce. At first, I was unsure about the courses because of the example images. I’m not a huge fan of “girly” girls, but I liked the shading and the dimension in the images. This is what I wanted to learn, how to create depth from nothing. Signing up for her courses has been one of the best investments I ever made in terms of crafting because I have learned a ton. If you have noticed an improvement in my coloring over the last half year (starting early 2015) it’s only because of her classes.
Why I love Kit and Clowder
I’ve taken a few different courses by Kit and Clowder, and here are the differences between them and what I liked best:
- Copic: Skin and Hair: You get two or three skin examples, and the rest of the class focuses on different hair styles. You learn everything from short to long, flat to curly. I haven’t finished the class yet, which is why my hair coloring still sucks. My motor skills when it comes to those fine flicks necessary for hair are just … off. Which is why I practice hair at least once a week.
- Copic: Clothes: Fantastic course which teaches you how to color folds in dresses, shade pants and shirts … the principles you learn here can be applied to all different kinds of fabrics – think dresses, Santa Clause robes, t-shirts… . If you only take one course for advanced Copic coloring, this should be the one.
- Pencils: Perfecting Pencils: I’m taking this course right now because I wanted to improve my skills with pencils. It takes you from a very beginners level (explaining different brands and which pencil has what effect) to advanced coloring techniques. You learn how to color skin, clothes, backgrounds. I think I’m benefitting because I took the special Copic courses first because the techniques are explained in more detail there, naturally. I’m SO loving this class, though, because I finally can make the pencils do what I want them to do.
- Copic/Pencil: Monthly Courses: These are a subscription. Each month is a complete coloring project where you learn how to create a background and you can also use the skills you have learned in the other courses. I tried this first for my pencil skills, but realized that I wanted a better foundation so I stopped taking these classes and started the Perfecting Pencils course.
Alyce has in depth videos for all of her courses – hours and hours and hours of them! You will see in great detail each flick of a marker and each stroke of a pencil. Yes, that makes the videos rather long, but there is literally no chance that you will miss something. I find myself referencing the videos again and again to see how she did something specific and then practicing that. You can download the videos, and I store them in iTunes, send them to my iPad, and have them on my desk with me while I’m practicing.
For the full courses (not the subscription courses) you can upload your images to the class room and Alyce will, in short time, give you personalized feedback on your strength and weaknesses. She tells you clearly where you can improve and gives you tips on what to do differently. It’s been incredibly helpful when I have been stuck.
So, all my improvement has been due to Alyce and her courses, really. The instructions come with videos, with a printable PDF file, with color combinations, with practice sheets, and with discounts on the digis she uses in the classroom. Of course, you can also use your own images with the same techniques, if you’d prefer to stamp something instead of print.
The coloring I am shoring you below should not be seen as “This is the ultimate skill level”, because I am still far from it. Instead, I want to show you how far I have come from “No clue about colored pencils” half a year ago to today, where I feel comfortable with the medium.
I will not show you the entire coloring process in this video simply because that would take about two hours, and if you are serious about improving your coloring skills, you should really check out Kit and Clowder and sign up for a course. But in the video, I want to show you some basics that I learned in the online course and which have helped me to take my coloring to the next level.
As for which pencils to use, because I get that question quite often: I had started out with the Prismacolor pencils. I know that you US folks can get hold of those pencils easily, and they are also available from a few select shops here in Germany. They are wax based and I didn’t like how quickly they got used up and how the waxy build up left a sheen on my images and eventually didn’t add me let any layers anymore. My colleague also had some quality issues with them (broken lead), I didn’t have those.
By now, I have switched over to Polychromos from the Germany company FaberCastell – and no, it’s not national pride that made switch 🙂 The Polys are oil based and I like the overall finish more. They also stay sharp longer, get used up slower, and have a higher quality. On the downside, they are a tad more expensive.
Also, a word on the paper I am using. My most favorite – and since I use it for card making – is the Hahnemühle Torchon paper. It’s sturdy and almost as bright white as Tim Holtz watercolor card stock. You need a paper with a little bit of tooth (like watercolor paper) so the pigment of the pencils can hold on to something. Some artists also like smooth paper, but I personally can’t work with it very well. Try different sheets of paper and see what works best for you!
Get Started with Kit and Clowder
with this Coupon!
Coupon is no longer valid!
Alyce has generously offered a time-limited coupon for my readers and YouTube subbies. You have the fantastic opportunity to sign up for her classes at a 10% rebate between today (Sep 21, 2015) and Oct 21, 2015! When you buy one of her classes, enter the following coupon to get the discount (all lower case letters):
Please note: her currency is Australian Dollars! Luckily for most of us, our currencies are stronger, which means you’ll pay much less than what the price is in $AU!!
Thanks for stopping by today and for making it through the whole article, I know it’s rather long. I hope you enjoyed it and I can’t wait to see how your coloring improves, too!