Love in the time of Cholera, I mean, Corona … any other Gabriel García Márquez fans out there? My favorite book by him is still One Hundred Years of Solitude (which I hope is not the length of time we will need to be in isolation thanks to the Rona). Thankfully our love of all things creative is helping us, to a degree, get through this pandemic.
As a gift to the Ruby Charm Colors Facebook coloring community, I uploaded a copy of the Winged Horse design a few weeks ago and presented a challenge: print this design on anything other than plain old white paper and have fun with it! And guess what started appearing in the RubyCharmColors Instagram and Facebook community feeds? Gorgeous, creative and unique versions of the Winged Horse.
The collection below is a tribute to all the wonderful colorists who took me up on this challenge, and I am forever grateful for their support of my art and Ruby Charm Colors on Etsy and Amazon. If you would like your RCC Winged Horse to be featured here, please let me know and I would be happy to add it to this gallery. If you don’t have a copy of the Winged Horse, you can download it right here: Winged Horse Ruby CharmColors
Cheers, friend and lovers of creativity and thank you for making my world a better place!
Colorist Betty Hung using gorgeous patterned paper found in the bottom of a drawer
Colorist Ceri Mason using Strathmore Toned Tan Mixed Media paper. Galaxy background with Neocolor II and a posca pen, Luminance and micas by Indigo Art GB for the horse
Colorist Gabi Wechsler on beautiful spring green paper
Colorist Gail Mowry using a duplication of watercolor background paper she had and recreated using Derwent Procolours
Colorist Jeanine Gower who spent an entire morning coloring her horse on this lovely bubble background
Colorist Lisa Duggan who didn’t have any fancy papers so used grey paper and some stamps for the background and Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils, Kuretake “Starry Colors” metallic watercolours, plus the good Los Signo uniball white gel pen
Colorist Louise Lepage, whose starry paper is the perfect backdrop for her colorful horse, noted on her Facebook post she was feeling happy. Yes!
Colorist Virginie Planchon used a sheet of imitation wood paper for her lovely horse – her first creation as a coloring beginner – beautiful!
Colorist Helen Kulaja McMaster on the perfect circular opening of scrapbook paper adorned with butterflies – she used Polychromos, Prismas, and CD Luminance
Colorist Cheryl Shaw using Pablo pencils, Daniel Smith luminescence watercolors, and a gold pen on lovely soft pink scrapbook paper
Colorist Paula Stone Leach played around with a few signs of spring (found flowers and leaves), painted them with Inktense pencil and pressed them like a stamp onto brown card stock and Polychromos for the horse
Colorist Manuela Brettner used colorful mixed media and a variety of stamps to create the background for her striking horse
Colorist Lora King used crackled scrapbook paper as the backdrop for her Emerald City themed horse from Oz. She used only Guanghui, Holbein, Luminance & Lightfast green pencils!
Colorist Marilyn Holmes used adorable heart-stamps paper as the background for her majestic steed
Colorist Lisa Duggan printed the Winged Horse a second time and said it was her attempt at an icy looking pony. “The background was quite difficult but I hope you can recognise it as a snow storm” 😉
A few weeks ago, I started playing around with printing my coloring book line art on scrapbook paper. At the time I was running low on inspiration for a winged horse design I was working on for my Etsy shop and couldn’t come up with a background I was especially happy with. I sketched out quite a few different ideas but nothing was clicking. A few hours later, I printed a copy of the horse on white paper and left it on my desk for the rest of the day. Still nothing. As I was falling asleep that night, I realized I had a few sheets of specialty paper stashed away in a file cabinet.
The next morning, I found the paper and ran a sheet through my printer with the horse design. The faint pre-printed leaves and flowers looked interesting behind the horse even though a fern leaf made the horse look like a unicorn. I pulled out the Polychromos color chart from my Creative Companion and picked out a few pencils that matched the colors of the pre-printed paper and started to play around. The paper was a bit too thin for my liking, but the process of coloring this horse got my wheels turning.
In light of thinking about my friends in the coloring community being in isolation during the corona pandemic (with all the potential stresses about getting sick, losing income, not having enough to eat, etc.), I decided to give the design away as a gift and also encourage others to find some non-white, pre-printed paper to print the horse. Sort of a scavenger hunt and art challenge wrapped into one to help focus on something positive and creative during these uncertain times. So I let the horse go and added it to the collection of freebies in our Ruby Charm Colors Facebook community.
A few days later, colorists in our little community started posting beautiful winged -horse colorings and that inspired me to try printing different designs on pre-printed paper. I pulled two boxes filled with scrapbook paper I bought several years ago for a special project and printed the winged horse again—this time on Tim Holtz Idea-ology scrapbook paper. Then I printed my Botanical Crab on paper featuring the Eiffel Tower and handwriting. And the giraffes (which is a new design I recently listed on Etsy) on paper that looked like elephant skin (or maybe marble?), and a cat on a map.
I got busy coloring. It helped take my mind off the Rona and gave me a chance to mull over a few ideas while having fun with the whole concept of incorporating pre-printed scrapbook paper backgrounds with my own art. Collage art in a way.
There are times I truly enjoy filling up a whole page with color and putting a lot of thought into a background, but there are also times that coming up with a background presents a challenge—lack of ideas, lack of time, etc.. Having the background already done can give us the ability to focus on the subject and also give us some degree of direction when it comes to choosing a color palette. For example, with my first winged-horse coloring, I tried to pick up the colors of the flowers and leaves with a few additional colors to make the horse stand out.
More colorings of the winged-horse started appearing in my social media feeds and colorists seemed like they were having a lot of fun working with pre-printed paper, and some even went a step further and created their own patterned paper as a backdrop. It then occurred to me that having a collection of simple, single designs for printing especially on scrapbook or other specialty paper might be a lot of fun for colorists to experiment with.
Scrapbook paper seems to work well because it is fairly thick like card stock and can handle a bit of water as well as colored pencils. I have a few packs of paper designed by Tim Holtz (Crowded Attic, French Industrial, Destinations, Wallflower and Kraft Resist collections which each have a mix of about 36 pages). I also have two large packs of scrapbook paper made by Recollections but the paper is a bit thin and a little on the slick side. Not impossible to work with, but not as luxurious as the Tim Holtz Idea-ology papers when it comes to colored pencils and watercolors. You can find lots of different designs and collections of scrapbook paper by the sheet or pad at Joann Fabric, Michaels, the Scrapbooking-Warehouse and even Amazon. There are so many different styles and themes you are sure to find something that inspires you.
One of the Tim Holtz pages I found (not positive which collection since some of the papers in my boxes got mixed up) featured a map. Since the background was filled with geological features likes hills, lakes and rivers, I used those features to adorn the cat by simply drawing over them with sharp Irojiten pencils over a layer of Polychromos.
Once finished, I trimmed the page even further—from 8.5 x 11″ down to about 7 x 9.5″ so it would fit in my Creative Companion notebook (a pretty pale blue Franklin Planner and you can see how I did this here).
Choosing the perfect piece of paper to print a design on can be a little daunting. Some of the patterns may be too dark or too busy, or maybe the style of the art itself presents challenges. Like a collage, though, you can come up with some really unique and interesting juxtapositions and variations. The next challenge is figuring out where on the paper the design should print. Since my scrapbook pads are 12 x 12″ sheets, I knew I had to trim them to fit my printer.
The best way to figure out where the design needs to be on the scrapbook paper is to print a copy of the design itself on regular white printer paper first. I used the “shrink to fit” setting on my printer as well as the “economy” setting so I wouldn’t waste too much ink. Why take this extra step ? You could print your design without checking first, but since scrapbook paper can be a bit expensive, and since the number of your favorite pages are limited (sometimes only one or two copies of a particular page in a whole pack) it would be a shame to muck it up. The fancy paper I am using for this design is from the Tim Holtz Paper Stash collection called Wallflower. If you have a really nice sheet of scrapbook or fancy paper you don’t want to ruin, learn from my mistakes and print on plain paper first!
Okay, next, I placed my white printed page over the nice scrapbook paper and carefully lifted it up in a few different directions to see where things would align and overlap. In the video below, I tried to make sure my bird design would not interfere with the pre-printed bird, a Robin, but I wasn’t as worried about my bird overlapping the egg or the tree.
Once I had the design where I wanted it, I simply traced around my 8.5 x 11″ sheet of paper with a pencil (see below). I could have been more precise by using a ruler, but I wasn’t too worried about perfect edges. As long as it would feed through the printer, I’d be happy.
Below is the scrapbook paper cut to size with the new bird design printed on it. Tip: save the scraps of paper you trim off—they are great for testing your pencils and paints. Some brands will work better than others depending on the quality and surface texture of the scrapbook or other specialty paper, and some colors will be more perfect than others. I also test out which blender pencils and burnishing sticks work best on any given paper, and test my gels pens on the scraps, too.
For this bird page, I used my color chart to pick the Polychromos colors I wanted to work with. For the Tim Holtz Paper Stash papers, the Polychromos and Irojitens seem to work really well for me.
Build your pencils layers slowly and add depth as you go. And again, test on scraps first as this can save heartache when something doesn’t go right on your good paper.
All I colored for this project was the bird I printed, a little bit of green on the leaves of the tree, and a little purple and green along the left edge number chart. It didn’t take long at all, was very satisfying, and I ended up with an interesting coloring that would look nice in a frame on a wall. Might be sort fun to make a few of these for gifts, yes?
Part of the paper I trimmed off had a feather on it so I started cutting it out to maybe glue to the finished piece … just an idea for now.
Each one of these designs can be printed at 100% or enlarged or shrunk depending on your computer skills and available programs or apps, and on your printer’s capabilities of course. It really does help to print a copy of the design you like on plain inexpensive paper first. Try resizing the design by playing with the print settings from the PDF file.
You can even take a screenshot of the design and paste it into a program like Photoshop, Microsoft Word or Pages if you want to rotate or flip an image. I flipped my bird by doing this in Pages. Here are a few screenshots showing some of the settings I have in Pages. Once I took a screenshot of the PDF image (using Command + fn + Shift + 4 keys on my keyboard on a Mac) I pasted the captured image into a page.
From there I could resize the image, Flip it horizontally, and rotate it. Once I had it where I wanted it on the page, I printed a copy on plain white paper.
It took a few tries to get it where I wanted it, but again, printing a few copies on cheap paper saved my more expensive scrapbook paper for the final copy. And again, since there are sometimes only one or two sheets of a certain pattern or design in a scrapbook pad, you really want to make sure you get it right the first time.
I hope to put another pack of simple designs together in the future (maybe add a few plants and flowers) and am looking forward to playing around with this whole coloring on scrapbook paper even more in the future. Coloring is such an enjoyable activity, and taking it to the next level by experimenting with different paper can really elevate the outcome.
It is Monday, right? Is anyone else losing track of time? Are you all staying safe and healthy and practicing isolation? Strange days, indeed. I am so thankful for our coloring community, and though I have not been on social media much, please know I am thinking of you all and am so appreciative of your support through your beautiful colorings of my line art, your social media posts, purchases, and well wishes!
I have been trying to work on new art but find it happens in just bits and pieces these days. More often than not, I fall victim to watching the news or reading stories from my Twitter feed obsessively and that’s not healthy. So, the other night, in an attempt to turn off the Corona noise, I flipped open my 2020 Creative Companion to page 15 and started coloring my crazy Praying mantis. Then I moved on to the Ozara beetle on page 14, then the chubby Behati on page 16. It was a night (and good chunk of the next morning) of coloring bliss, and I enjoyed unplugging and trying something a little new.
Since the inverted art in the 2020 Creative Companion consists of designs with white lines on a black background, I played with watercolors to bring bring those lines to life and add interest. I had, in the back of my mind, a coloring done by Karen Zaback (you may know her as Zucchini Kitty and her You Tube channel has a lovely flip-through of both the Creative Companion and my Oceanimaginary book) in which she colored three fish. Of course I fell in love with her bubbles (so cool), but what really caught my eye was how the colors she used filled in some of the white lines around her fish and gave her coloring a batik look.
Knowing what I know about colored pencils and how they have the ability to resist water to a degree, I used my Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils to fill in most of the larger areas in the designs. And since I deconstructed my book, I was able to take out the pages and work on them separately on a flat surface.
What I like about the board (mine is 9″ x 11.5″) is that it stays put on my desk because of the little rubbery feet on the bottom, it rotates, of course, I can tape stuff to it, and the surfaces can be cleaned. I use the bottom board to mix and dab watercolors. Sometimes I have to swivel the top board to get to them, but it is super handy.
But back to the coloring. Here is a closer pic of the spaces being filled in with the Polychromos. For the most part, I tried to avoid coloring over the white lines and focused on getting the pencils to adequately cover my shapes to create the “resist” areas. Since the waxy pencils resist water (to a degree) the watercolor should soak into the white lines and resist what’s already been colored.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take a bunch of “process pics” as I was working on these three bugs, so I put together a quick video of what it looks like when I paint the lines using another black page (280 from the Companion).
The finer the brush tip the better (this one is a Marvy waterbrush I picked up at Michaels) and be sure your paint is not too thick. It should be fairly watery but with enough pigment to stain the white paper. You may have to experiment a little to get your best mix.
You can see how the paint resists the colored pencil (for the most part) and gravitates into the bare paper—the white lines. It also helps that during the printing process of the book itself, the black ink coats the paper so it, too, more or less resists the watercolor. If you get a little too much paint on the paper, just use a tissue to quickly blot it dry. Easy.
Note that I used a little mica paint for this video. It tends to stick to the pencil and black ink a little more that traditional watercolor does because of the mica flecks. Pure watercolor resists more readily, but if you have a steady hand, the micas can be a lot of fun, too.
Once the line painting was done, I let my page sit for a bit beneath a little (and pretty darn hot) halogen goose-neck lamp on my desk. It drys things out fairly quickly. I like to embellish with gels pens, but if the paper is damp, gel pens can be a bleeding disaster.
My pages didn’t curl or warp too badly but I did get some of my oily fingerprints on the black paper (thanks chips and brownies). They should fade away eventually, right?
Oh, if you are not into watercolors or simply don’t have them, you can also use markers to add pigment to your white lines. I have a bunch of Staedtler Triplus pens I use to write in my Creative Companion and they seem to work well, but there is a little bleed-through on the back of the page with some of them. Unless the back is black. My guess is that the finer the pen tip the better. Permanent markers probably not so great. But experiment to see what works best for you.
Below is the final Behati beetle complete with gel pen embellishments. I rather like the look of the colored lines as they don’t seem as harsh as plain white lines, but still provide stylistic definition.
All in all, coloring these bugs was a good stress-break and I enjoyed the process.
If you need a little something to do … a way to track your days, jot down notes, relieve some stress, think about adopting a 2020 Creative Companion and make it your own. Here’s a peek at how my own personal copy (which I use to track all my creative projects) is shaping up so far this year.
In the meantime, happy coloring, painting, and being creative—stay safe and healthy, everyone!