Check out the new collection of products featuring Prairie Birds! The line art was originally created for my newest book, Birdy, and while waiting for it to be finalized and printed, I started working on a coloring of the Prairie Birds using a mix of colored pencils, watercolor pencils and gel pens. I then digitized the art on my iPad so it was easier to resize for a variety of products.
While I am smitten with the sling chair (alas, not in my budget right now), I ordered a tote bag, water bottle, laptop sleeve and coffee mug for my own personal use in my studio and for little trips. I am sure you’ll see the mug on my desk before too long. Many of these products (just a few are featured below) come in different sizes, and some, like the water bottle, have additional options as well.
Check the prices occasionally because items go on sale at Society6 all the time and they offer special discounts for subscribers. Please note that these products are all made to order, and they typically ship within 3-4 business days from several facilities around the country.
A little about the company … Society6 makes all of its products on demand. Artists (like me) submit their designs to create a collection, and when a customer orders a product, Society6 then produces it using the artwork and ships the products directly to customers (not to me). A bulk of each item’s price covers the cost of the item itself, but every artist makes a modest commission on the products sold using their designs, too⏤which is pretty cool.
I have ordered products from Society6 multiple times and have always had a great experience. If you do have any issues with their products, however, they have a great return policy (though a few items, like furniture of course, are not eligible for returns).
I just got an email saying my laptop sleeve already shipped!
Off I go to give my little studio space a good cleaning. Hope you all have a wonderful day!
I am excited to announce that the Artist Edition of my newest book, Birdy, is now open for preorders! Shipping begins mid-September, so grab a copy early if you want to be sure to secure one. Quantities are limited as this book is independently published and being printed by a small press.
The Artist Edition of Birdy is a 9″ x 9″ square, spiral-bound soft-cover book printed on heavier 80# / 120 GSM paper. It is 140 pages.
My goal for this book was to create birds with an imaginary flair so you can color them any way you like. Imaginary birds open the door to a colorful world that begs for creativity. Don’t be afraid to color on the wild side!
Each design is printed on one side of a page so you don’t have to worry about ruining artwork on the back side. I also included two versions of each of the 28 designs because, based on years of feedback from colorists like you, some enjoy working with black line art (which can be easier to see) while others prefer lighter grey lines so they can more easily color over (or even recolor) the lines and add more of their own details. You don’t have to color both versions—my goal is to simply give you options. And if you prefer one style over the other, you can use the extra page for testing out your colors!
For eight of the designs, I created a special dark (or night) version so you can color with a black background, and I threw in few extra designs as well.
Please note: the less expensive version of this book will be available on Amazon.com soon. It is smaller (8.5″ x 8.5″) and is not spiral-bound. The paper is not as thick as the Artist Edition, but can still bring hours of coloring enjoyment!
My newest design⏤so new it’s not in the Colouring Heaven SeaLife collection⏤can be found here on my website, and also on Etsy. I really enjoyed drawing this Dolphin Trio and then spent a few days taking it for a test drive. My colors are a bit on the soft and muted side and there are a few things I might have done differently, but I had fun adding some extra details and giving my Caran d’Ache Luminance, Derwent Lightfast, and Irojiten pencils a workout.
If you are a part of the RubyCharmColors community on Facebook, we are taking the month of January to post photos (and maybe some videos) of how everyone is filling in their Big Book of Color Charts. Stay tuned because I’ll be doing a blog post about the benefits of color swatching and will be featuring color charts and pages from our community!
That’s all for now⏤cheers to a new year ahead, my friends!
I don’t know about you, but I am ready to start fresh for 2022. I am done with 2021 and counting the days until it is over. Back in August and September, I had plans to push myself and my little business for the holidays, but just before Halloween even hit, a glut of red and green things started appearing in the stores. My stomach turned and I hit the brakes. It’s not all about consuming and accumulating more junk. It’s not about the frantic sales and the money to be made during Christmas, and it’s not about any religious sentiments or beliefs for me either. It’s about slowing down⏤my natural instinct to hibernate and rest. Time to reflect and take stock by appreciating the here and now and what we have (which is what we should be doing each and every day, yes?). And so I have been doing some artwork because that is my sanctuary⏤the place where things make sense to me.
In addition to a drawing a new design for coloring (more on the Winter Wolves below) I have been taking pages out of my newest Creative Companion (2022) and coloring them. The first one I completed was Juno (an arty nod to the newest member of my family). I used a blade to cut the image out of the book (which is printed on what many know as “Create Space” paper) and used mostly Tombow Irojiten pencils. I also used a Caran d’Ache Buff Titanium pencil (801 to be precise) to blend my colors and give the image a softer, almost timeworn, vintage look. A Caran d’Ache Blender Bright stick was also used to bring up some of the colors a notch (saturate them). If you use the colorless Blender Bright, be sure it is your final layer because it does have a tendency to crush what’s left of your paper tooth. The good news is that while the Blender Bright mixes and unifies your colors, it also burnishes them with a somewhat glossy finish that “locks” them in and can make the treated areas of your art water-resistant. It also increases lightfastness so even if your colored pencils are not highly rated, the Blender Bright will protect them from fading a bit.
Another tool I use when coloring is, of course, my color charts. I started charting my pencils in the original Big Book of Color Charts (on Amazon) last year, but once I had my own spiral-bound copy of the Artists Edition of the book that came out this year, I cut pages out of the original book and folded them to fit inside my zippered pencil cases for quick reference. It works really well, especially when my desk starts to get a little crowded, and I don’t feel like the time I put into charting my favorite brands in the original book has gone to waste. I use the heck out of my charts!
The second piece I colored was a fancy little bird using the same Irojiten pencils and Caran d’Ache blenders. I grabbed a little video of the process (layers of Irojiten, blending with the Buff Titanium and the Blender Bright) so you can see what I am talking about.
Here is the finished bird. The original line art for this design in the 2022 Creative Companion does not have much in the background, so I added the cloud shapes and used sharp Irojitens to draw designs (mostly vines, dots and flowers) over two light layers of background color. From there, I used the Buff Titanium (and the white Luminance pencil) to soften and blend. For the brown branch, used the Blender Bright so my colors were more saturated and intense (instead of soft and muted).
Next, I colored a cat and then a horse from the Creative Companion using the same technique⏤same materials, same paper. It’s a technique that I usually seem to gravitate toward⏤my style maybe? It’s something I have been thinking about lately as I watch other colorists foster their owns styles whether they realize they are developing them or not. Are there any colorists you know who, when seeing their work, you know it’s theirs right away?
I also hate to admit this since I can be a big paper snob, but sometimes I really, really enjoy working on the “Create Space” paper. It has nice tooth and is pretty tough even though it is definitely on the thin side, and for this particular technique I use, it works great⏤better than some of the smoother card stocks I typically use. For what it’s worth … you can buy the best of the best (paper and pencils and paints) but they all have their own personalities and some play together better than others. It’s all in the combo so never be afraid to experiment to see what works best for you and the art supplies, paper and books you have available.
So the Winter Wolves … if you made it this far, I have something exciting to share. This new design is available on Etsy and here on my website, but if you belong to the Ruby Charm Colors Facebook community, I am offering it as a free download as a special thank you to everyone who has stuck with me through 2021–all my tragedies and milestones . I truly appreciate each and every one of you!
In the meantime, enjoy these two colorings of the Winter Wolves by Paula Stone Leach (left) and Betty Hung (right)⏤I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends who are willing to color my lines!
Have a wonderful holiday season everyone⏤stay healthy and stay creative!
The line art for Foxy was originally created as a PDF to download and color, but after I took the design for a test run with some color, I decided to turn it into the cover of the new Creative Companion for 2022. It’s been a rough year for me (and for so many), but working on this piece was a much needed creative release and I am looking forward to a new year and new art.
I took videos of the process I went through and plan to eventually splice them together and edit them for a YouTube tutorial, but for now, here is a little peek at my process.
You can find the new book here on Amazon! And I will be posting more about this new planner after Thanksgiving.
Let’s start with the packaging. I opted for the set of 100 colors and received five gorgeous cases or “books” containing 20 pencils each which are organized by color family (for the most part). There was also an option to purchase a set of 50 pencils (5 “books” of 10 pencils each). I paid just a little over $60 for the set of 100 pencils (including shipping) but have seen the price jump all over the place depending on the vendor.
The covers of the books are stunning. Each one has a different color theme and artwork. What makes these cases even more special is that the designs feature a three-dimensional cutout layer. Each cardboard book flips open to reveal a grooved, plastic tray which holds its pencils in place. Also inside the box (left side) is a list of colors corresponding to the pencils, but I have not taken the time to try to translate the list. That’s on the someday list because I really am curious about the names.
Finally, the cover of each book snaps closed thanks to a hidden magnet so it is less likely to flop open and allow the pencils to spill out. Overall, I give the packaging a solid A.
The pencils themselves are quite beautiful. Each color has its own unique design printed in gold on the barrel (along with the Phoenixcolor name on one side and the color name (in Chinese) on the other side. The ends of the pencils are dipped in the same lacquer covering the length of the pencil; the colors are a fairly good representation of the color core; and they all came sharpened with a somewhat blunt point. The round barrels are about the same diameter as the Irojiten pencils.
I charted out the Phoenixcolors in my Big Book of Color Charts in the “Blank Charts” section for reference, and started giving the colors my own names. These oil-based pencils feel smooth on paper, but not as smooth as Holbein pencils, and they do not seem to lay down as much pigment as the Holbeins, either. They seem to take some work.
While charting, I used a Staedtler Lumocolor permanent marker to write a corresponding number on each one of the pencils starting with the white (or neutrals) set. A little sloppy but that’s fine⏤as long as I can find the colors I need, all is well.
Now on to the coloring. I used a brand new Ruby Charm Colors design (Two Flamingos and a Parrot) with a patterned background to see how well these pencils layered color.
I started with the lightest purple (number 3 in my chart) and the palest green (number 80). It’s hard to see the colors in the video because the first layer was intentionally very light. From there, I added more blues, purples and greens to build the patterned background. I ended up sharpening all of the colors I worked with to a better point and used the Mitshubishi KH-20 (sent to me by a dear friend). I adore this sharpener because it doesn’t chew up too much pencil, plus it has two settings for point preferences.
Two or three more layers down and I was not super happy with the blending. Of course every new pencil brand / type takes some getting used to, but I felt like these were not blending the way I had hoped. At about 1:04 in the time-lapse video below, I used a Prismacolor Colorless Blender with so-so results, then tried a colorless Arteza Everblend Art Marker (which is alcohol-based) to see if that helped. I got a little more blending, but less than expected. Interestingly, a few early reviews of the pencils mentioned that these pencils are somewhat water soluble, but I don’t think they are⏤at least with the colors I tested.
More layers here and there and then I outlined the background pattern with darker blues and greens and used the Arteza Everblend to “fuzz out” my lines a little. For how many layers I put down (I think about 5 or 6 total), I expected a little more color saturation and more even blending. I broke a few pencils tips while coloring, but this does not mean the pencils are weak. I just sometimes have a really heavy hand when coloring⏤the pencils (even with a very sharp tip) seem to hold up pretty well overall.
Toward the end of the video, I drew some little circles in some of the pattern areas just to see how they compared to the nice sharp lines I can get with my Irojiten pencils. Fairly happy with those results, though the Irojitens are a bit harder and I can get sharper lines with them, so they will probably remain my go-to pencil for detail work.
I did notice that I enjoyed working with these pencils a lot more once I started coloring the smaller spaces within the flamingo. By this time of the testing process, though, I was tired and a little disappointed in my color choices, so I stopped coloring and finished up with some gel pen embellishments.
The pencils themselves land somewhere around a B (they are nice looking, sharpen well, don’t seem to crumble, and the fully lacquered barrels and ends are great), but as far and the workability or usability of the pencils goes … I’d say they fall somewhere in the C range. Not bad, just average.
Take my review with a grain of salt since we all have different needs and preferences when working with colored pencils … plus, this is the first time I have used them and there is, like I mentioned earlier, a learning curve. Funny thing⏤I did not like the Polychromos pencils the first time I tried them, either. I couldn’t understand why people gushed on and on about them, but I grew to absolutely love them once I got a better feel for how they performed.
You can find the Two Flamingos and a Parrot design on my website along with many other Ruby Charm Colors designs for coloring, and on Etsy, too. That’s all for now⏤hope you are staying creative and staying healthy!