A few months ago, I had the pleasure of working on a commissioned painting—something I don’t do that often since I have been funneling all of my time and energy into drawing designs, working on books, and going to lots of my daughter’s volleyball games. But when Vanessa reached out to me about this project, I couldn’t resist. I wanted a break from drawing black lines, so mixing up some colors to splash on a canvas was just what I needed. And it was a secret project since it was going to be a surprise for Vanessa’s daughter, Elizabeth, and her business partner, Shaelene, who were getting ready to open a brand new salon in Lethbridge, Alberta, called Rebel. Vanessa wanted a piece that would complement the colors they had planned for the salon and tie in with some of their personal interests.
I pulled together some swatches that might work with the photos and description Vanessa gave me of their colors, we messaged one another back and forth on ideas, and the image I wanted to paint took shape fairly quickly. Off to the art store for a new canvas and extra paints.
One of the ideas that came up was to incorporate a pair of scissors in the painting—hidden just enough that they didn’t dominate the painting, but instead, offered a little ah-ha moment for those who looked closely enough. After a few sketches, I decided the scissors would fit nicely into the tail of this rather extravagant moth I had sketched. And they had to be gold.
Once I had the design transferred to my canvas, I stated laying down blocks of color starting with the gold scissors. The first coat was a bit translucent, so I had to keep building up my layers until I was happy with the outcome.
I’ve long been keen on incorporating found objects into my beading and embroidery projects and wanted to do the same on this canvas to give it more depth and interest. I dug through my boxes of buttons, metal, jewelry and beading bits and settled on a number of pieces that would work including a large wood circle that would work as a focal point.
And here it is in its new home at the Rebel Salon with Shaelene (left) and Elizabeth (right). Cheers to these lovely rebels and their new business venture! Congratulations, and I wish you both so much success!
And last but not least, cheers and a very special thank you to Vanessa for bringing us all together in a creative way. I love knowing my moth is north of the border and with fabulous company—the best to you always, Vanessa!
A little about the Rebel Salon from their Instagram feed:
* A person who rises in opposition that defies rules and norms. They value spontaneity and their freedom, and are independent-minded. They want their lives to be a true expression of their values •
When we were trying to name our salon, we easily went back and forth for about a month on different ideas! We wanted something that spoke to us, had meaning, and represented our journey/ who we are!🌟
And then came REBEL⚡️ Immediately we both knew this was it! We look up to strong, independent-minded women both within our industry and outside of it, and wanted our salon to be a collective of women who embody these characteristics. So here we are, taking our shot at our dream for a space where creativity can flow and we can share our passion with you all!
Love this so much. Keep creating, stay smart and strong my friends!
Following a few photos of the book, I included a description of what you can expect to find in the Big Book of Color Charts. I spent a lot of time polling coloring book fans and members of the Ruby Charm Colors Facebook community to find out what their favorite pencil sets were and a lot of time researching pencils on the Internet to settle on a list of the most popular brands (see below).
Of course there are many more brands in existence, but to fit them all into one book would fill hundreds more pages and wouldn’t be terribly practical for any of us. Hence the ample number of blank charts at the end of the book for adding in those lesser-known charts. In the end, I hope this is a book that will help you further enjoy your coloring adventures!
I removed the Tombow Irojiten page from one of my ‘author proof’ copies of the book to swatch out the colors I currently have, then wrote numbers in pencil next to the colors I have more than one of. This will help when it’s time to order replacement pencils since I’ve accidentally ordered duplicates in the past from Blick. I folded this chart in half and keep it in my zippered pencil case with my Irojitens for quick reference.
This big book of colored pencil charts for adult coloring book and colored pencil enthusiasts is useful for those wanting all of their coloured pencils, pastels, inks, watercolor pencils, gel pens and markers swatched in one handy book.
This is a landscape-oriented, perfect-bound book with a full color cover, black and white interior, and is 230 pages long. It consists of:
Table of Contents
Index page to list your custom color charts and page numbers
27 pre-labeled charts for popular colored pencil brands (see list below)
Pre-labeled charts for pastel pencils, ink, watercolor pencils & markers (see lists below)
Blank charts by color family (reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, violets, browns, greys, blacks & whites)
Blanks charts for additional brands & color combos
Black charts for swatching light colors
Room for notes
A few fun Ruby Charm Colors designs you can color
Basic color theory (inside) with color wheel (back cover)
PRE-LABELED COLORED PENCIL BRAND CHARTS:
Caran d’Ache Luminance
Caran d’Ache Pablo
Chameleon Color Tones
Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
Prismacolor Premier + Verithin
Special Luminance & Lightfast Combo
PRE-LABELED PASTEL PENCIL CHARTS:
Caran d’Ache; Derwent; Faber-Castell; Koh-I-Noor; Stabilo
PRE-LABELED INK CHARTS:
Dr. Ph. Martin and Tim Holtz Distressed
PRE-LABELED WATERCOLOR PENCIL CHARTS:
Arteza; Bruynzeel; Caran d’Ache Museum, Neocolor II & Supracolor; Derwent Graphitint; Derwent Inktense; Derwent Watercolor; Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer
PRE-LABELED MARKER CHARTS:
Arteza Real Brush Pens; Copics; Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens; Spectrum Noir Illustrator Markers; Tombow Dual Brush Pens
The blank charts section of the book will give you ample room to swatch additional brands that are not listed. Some of the charts are numbered while others have a total count of the swatch spaces so you can more easily determine which chart will work best for the sets you have. Charts organized by color family let you swatch all your reds on one page, blues on another, etc. which is helpful when looking for the perfect hue regardless of brand.
IMPORTANT: watercolor and marker pages have black-backed pages to minimize bleed-through. The paper in this book (depending on where it was printed through KPD) is fairly tough, but obviously thinner than watercolor paper or card stock. Colors can look splotchy until they are completely dry. We recommend using a sheet of card stock or plastic to help protect the pages underneath from colors bleeding through as well as potential rub-through of pencil pigments while swatching.
You can make PERSONAL COPIES of the charts you plan to use onto your favorite paper or card stock if the paper in this book feels too thin for your needs, or, if you just want to put those pages of the charts you are using into a ring binder for safe keeping.
You can also deconstruct this book for ease of use, so feel free to take it apart, keep the pages you are using in one binder, and store the rest in case you need them later. Many office supply stores (and FedEx service centers) will remove the spine and even spiral-bind or punch holes in the book for you for a small fee.
If you choose to do it yourself, I have a step-by-step tutorial using another Ruby Charm Colors book (Creative Companion Book Binding DIY) on my blog. Or keep it as is—the choice is yours! It is meant to be a book that grows along with you and your artistic needs.
Hi all, interested in joining a fun club that will offer you new coloring book artists to discover each week? And receive a free, exclusive, Ruby Charm Colors design for coloring in addition to 15% discount off all digital art in the RubyCharmColors Etsy shop?
Make your way over to the Colouring Heaven Discovery Club and sign up soon! You must be registered by noon (London time) on Thursday, October 8th, in time to receive your email featuring my exclusive design created especially for Colouring Heaven, and the 15% discount code, plus a fun interview and a few coloring tips and colored examples.
Your email from the Discovery Club will be delivered on October 10th, and don’t forget – the only way to get this particular design (still top secret) is by joining the club!
Join the Colouring Heaven Discovery Club and let us introduce you to a different artist each week! Receive an exclusive design, artist interview and discount code direct to your inbox every Friday at 6pm!
Hi all, and happy Thursday! I thought I would share some thoughts I had while responding to a friend through Etsy about colored pencils recently. Because who doesn’t like a few tips when it comes to working with colored pencils? Keep in mind that I am not an expert by any stretch, but these are a few tools and techniques that work well for me. And to illustrate my thoughts, I colored my Rocky Raccoon design (available on Etsy).
My friend is one of those lucky owners of the Holbein colored pencils. I have a few and it’s so tempting to order the complete set, however I desperately need new eye glasses so the Holbeins will have to wait. She reached out to me because she wanted to learn more about the Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils. In short, I love them! They are highly pigmented and opaque, and lay down on most types of paper very nicely.
Working on more toothy paper can make ‘white speckles’ appear in your coloring. Basically, it’s simply your pencil skipping over the little divots in the paper while sticking to the more raised bumps with textured paper. You can feel a paper’s texture with your fingers, and if you look at it with a magnifying lens, you can see all the little peaks and valleys of the paper’s fibers. You’ll see more of them in highly textured watercolor paper, and less in more smooth papers like certain Bristols and card stocks. A Prismacolor colorless blender pencil can help further blend your colors and get rid of those white spots that appear on more textured papers, and I also do a lot of burnishing with the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright stick (but more on that shortly).
I have found that the Luminance pencils, combined with the Derwent Lightfast and the Derwent Drawing pencils, is a perfect combo. They work so nicely together, and the color range is gorgeous. They are all fairly earthy colors (which I tend to gravitate toward) and some brighter colors, too. These pencils are what I would call soft and highly responsive, though you can get a nice point on them for tighter areas and details. I typically use them for my base layers, then use the Tombow Irojiten pencils (which are quite hard and can be sharpened to a really sharp point) to add little details, extra color, and even burnish.
The few Holbeins I do have (thanks to another friend who sent me a lovely set of 12 pastels) work well with my Polychromos pencils (another perfect combo in my humble opinion) and I use the Irojitens with them for fine details and burnishing, too.
It’s taken me awhile to refine my approach to coloring and mixing pencils brands, but I think I have it down pretty well now for my tastes and coloring habits. Basically, I either use my Luminance, Lightfast and Drawing pencils together, or I use my Polychromos and Holbeins together. Do I prefer one grouping over the other? Difficult to say. I think the group I choose depends on my mood, though when working on black paper, I do prefer the Luminance, Lightfast and Drawing grouping because they are a bit softer and color over black paper more readily. And of course I still mix in other pencil brands as well including my tried and true Prismacolors and Pablos.
I know I have mentioned this before in other posts, but I find that smooth card stock sometimes needs a layer of watercolor pencils to give me a little extra tooth. I pick a few colors that will work well for my base layer, use a water brush to blend, let it dry thoroughly, then work with my colored pencils on top of the dried watercolor pencils. My favorites are the Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer and the Caran d’Ache Museums, though I love working with the Caran d’Ache Neocolor IIs, too. Lots of steps for coloring a design, I know, but I truly enjoy the process and am always pushing myself for better results.
Buying a set of the the Luminance pencils or the Derwent Lightfast pencils can be a bit daunting (for the old wallet) so if you think you would like to try any of these, order a few of your favorite (or most used) colors from Blick or Cult Pens first to see if you really like them before investing in the whole set. There are also a few places that carry single Holbein pencils, but buyer beware. I had emailed Holbein back in May with a few questions about their colors, color names, and where to find individual pencils and they responded with the following:
"The Holbein Colored Pencils are not available in North America yet as they currently present serious health concerns. A few of the colors can cause severe Chronic and Acute issues. They have been sold illegally by off shore retailers with no regard for Health labeling. The US and Canada have very strict regulations and these have been blatantly disregarded. We have advised those who write to return the pencils to the retailer who sold the pencils to them ....
The good news ... We will be launching the North American edition of the pencils by the end of the year. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the launch. You will be able to find them at all large US retailers in the months to come. For the record, your pastel set does not contain any of the invasive colors ... Rest easy!
So there you have it – Holbeins are coming to America! Not sure how they will compare to the pencils made in Japan, or if they will be available as singles, but I am very excited to find out and am saving my nickles.
As with any pencil brand, it takes time to get used to how it behaves on paper. Some pencils will feel natural and easy to use right away, while others require more time to adjust–and this is different for everyone. If you get new pencils and are not sure if you like them right away, play with them a while! It took me months to get a real feel for the Polychromos pencils after using only Prismacolors for years, and I had a similar experience with the Luminance. It took time, trial and error to really understand how to use them.
My three must haves? The Caran d’Ache Blender Bright stick, the Prismacolor Colorless Blender pencil, and the Caran d’Ache Buff Titanium pencil.
I use the Buff Titanium to blend and soften my colors, the Prismacolor Blender to simply blend, and the Blender Bright to do a final burnish of my work. All three pencils work differently and will give you different results, though they can be hard to distinguish at first.
To illustrate my thoughts on these blenders, here is a sneak peek at a raccoon I recently drew and colored. This little guy will be in the 2021 Creative Companion (and is now on Etsy as a downloadable PDF for coloring), but I used all three types of blenders to achieve the results I wanted.
First, I started with Luminance, Drawing and Lightfast pencils for my layers, then Irojiten pencils to draw in the additional background details (the little cloud shapes in the top half, the scribbles on the tree bark, and the green vines for the bottom half).
Once I had all my colors down, I used the Prismacolor Blender pencil to fine-tune areas that needed blending. This pencil “squishes” or rubs the pigments together on the paper without creating a sheen. In fact, it’s sort of like using super-super-fine sandpaper and retains a matte appearance. Don’t overdo it, though–blend with this pencil too forcefully and you can lose some of the pigment on your paper or rip a hole in it.
For the sun and the clouds, I used the Buff Titanium pencil (which is not technically a blender but I like to use it as such) because it has a faint yellowish cast (almost antique) and it really softens my colors.
For everything else, I used the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright which is a grayish, solid stick of high quality wax. It can be sharpened with any old pencil sharpener or blade so you have a fine point, or you can turn it sideways and use one of the flat sides to burnish large areas since there is no casing around the stick. One of the big reasons I love the Blender Bright is because in addition to intensifying my colors, it also creates a bit of a sheen and protects my art from UV light and water. It’s not necessary for a lot of colorings done just for fun, but since I sell some of my original colored pencil artworks, I want to be sure those pieces won’t fade.
Burnishing with the Blender Bright brings up the saturation level of the colors and essentially ‘locks them in’ under a smooth layer of wax. This is ideal for me because I use a lot of gel pens for embellishments. Because of that nice, impermeable burnished surface, the gel pens stay on top of the art and don’t soak into the paper so I get cleaner, sharper dots, lines and squiggles. This also means it takes a little longer for the gel to dry (because it essentially floats on the surface), but if you have a heat gun, just run it over your work on low for a minute and that usually does the trick. Just don’t let the heat get too close to your work or you can burn it. And that can be heart-breaking.
Don’t burnish anything until you have all your colors down–once burnished, it’s nearly impossible to add any more pencil layers because burnishing literally smashes all the tooth of your paper–compresses it down to a slick, flat surface. That’s why the colors look more saturated. Once burnished, the only thing I can add is gel pens, acrylic paint and Pitt pen (or other fine, opaque pens).
If you are anxious to burnish certain areas of your coloring (I get ahead of myself all to often), be especially careful when burnishing colors next to empty spaces that you plan to color (or add more color to). Especially with the Blender Bright because it lays down a layer of wax that is nearly impossible to color over. In theory, you could use a workable fixative spray over the burnished areas to add more pencil layers, but I have not tried that myself. I rarely use sprays since my studio is very small and am not too keen on asphyxiating myself.
When you have a little time, grab some scrap paper and give these techniques a try to get a feel for how they will work for you. I messed up a lot at first, but once I realized the steps (basic pencil base layers first, blending, finer details, burnishing, then gels if you like) I started to have so much fun and started to see much better results in my coloring. Burnishing is not for everyone (it is especially hard on your hands) but it can be very helpful to use a blender.
Hope this helps a bit, and as always, happy coloring! I am off to watch my daughter play some volleyball!
As some of you know, I spent a little time out west this summer and am easing myself back into all things Ruby Charm Colors. While the trip was inspirational (and I had lots of fun with my sister), I came home to a big, old pile of stress and am still working my way through it all trying to get my creative mojo back (and finish my charts book which has just about sent me to the funny farm). And that’s where the dragon comes in.
I was invited to the Smaugust coloring event by the Serendipity Colouring Group (Inspired by Nature) on Facebook (thanks my friends!) and that’s what started me thinking about dragons. So later that evening, I pulled out my iPad and started sketching. I had a Chinese dragon in my mind’s eye partly because I have always been attracted to the stylized lines, but also because I felt I needed a little stroke of luck to help get me drawing again and get that book done. More on that soon.
The Lucky Dragon was as much fun to color as it was to draw, so I thought I would share a few of the steps and materials I took to complete it.
I printed the design using the grey line version I now include as a bonus in all my PDFs on Etsy on a medium/dark bluish-grey, 65# card stock by Recollections (you can get it at Michaels craft stores). Since I had just received a few piston waterbrushes from Blue Heron Arts (thanks to a great recommendation from Susan at The Gossamer Web) and wanted to take them for a spin, I choose two blues from my box of Caran d’Ache Neocolor IIs (Night and Indigo). I shaved a little pigment from each into two small pans and used my mica water to mix them.
Mica water? Whenever I rinse my brushes containing pigments from my favorite watercolors (Karen Spencer‘s gorgeous micas, specifically), I use a particular cup. The color of the water itself is a bit muddy, but it also has flecks of mica floating in it and these flecks add a subtle sparkle to my regular watercolors. If you want to try this yourself, just be sure to stir the water thoroughly so you kick up the mica before filling your waterbrush. Aside from the new Blue Heron brushes, I also have a growing collection of Sakura, PentelTombow, Kurtake, etc. waterbrushes and they all work fine with mica water, too … just be sure to occasionally shake your waterbrush while using it to keep those mica flecks suspended in the water.
The piston waterbrushes from Blue Heron Arts are quite lovely. I have the more compact A10 and A20 (I’ll probably use the A10 the most because it has a fine tip), as well as a few of the larger brushes (and they are ginormous). For the dragon design, I stuck with the compact waterbrushes.
Once I had my paint colors mixed ready to go, I used Derwent Lightfast White, Fossil and Wild Lavender pencils to add some designs to the background that would resist the water color.
I don’t always start coloring in a background first, but I am glad I did this time, and I think the Lightfast pencils seemed to resist water a little better than the Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils. I took my time adding pigment and kept gently “scrubbing” the surface of the pencil lines and circles so that I had enough blue coverage, yet allowed the pencil to show through the painted surface. I probably should have taken more time drawing … some of my circles are more oval and a little sloppy, but that’s fine.
Once the background had thoroughly dried, I used a mix of Derwent Lightfast, Derwent Drawing and Caran d’Ache Luminance colored pencils to start coloring in the wings. These three pencil brands play very nicely together. The gorgeous Derwent Drawing pencils are super soft and put down a lot of pigment, but because they are so soft, they are not idea for tiny details (at least for me). The Lightfast and Luminance pencils work well to refine and layer over the Drawing pencils. The Drawing pencils are a bit limited in color options (they come in 24 different earthy, rich hues) so the Lightfast and Luminance help bring up the color vibrancy I am looking for. I love all three dearly.
I used Karen Spencer’s mica watercolors straight out of the pan to paint the moon and the frames of the dragon’s wings. The green is not this bright in normal lighting – it is more turquoise. I think I just happened to catch it at the perfect angle to get this intense glow.
Adding more layers of color using the Derwents and Caran d’Ache, but also starting to further refine some areas and lines using the Tombow Irojiten pencils. They can be sharpened to a very fine point (which is great for carving in fine detailed lines), and are fairly hard so they work well to blend and burnish over some of the softer pencils when the tip is a little more rounded (and not super sharp).
Here are a few close-ups of this process, plus the addition of gel pens.
I should also mention that I use a Prismacolor Colorless Blender and the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright to blend and burnish my colors. I especially like using the Blender Bright on areas I know I’ll be adding fine gel pen details to because the waxy-sealed layer helps keep the gel pen pigments from soaking into the paper and expanding (or bleeding). The ink sort of floats on top of the surface. Just be sure to let it dry thoroughly … I have smudged my fair share of ink. Sometimes I pull out my heat gun to speed up the process.
Below is the finished work. I think. It took about 10 hours to color (not all at once of course) and overall I am pretty happy with it.
If you want to take this design for a spin, it’s in my Etsy shop. The color combinations (and types of media) you can use for this lucky dragon are limitless, and if you do color one, be sure to tag me on social media so I can see it (#RubyCharmColors)!
Hardly a day goes by when my coloring team (and beloved FB community admins) Lora King, Betty Hung and Paul Stone Leach and I don’t hop on WhatsApp for a few minutes to say hi and share everything from gardening pics to funny stories, colorings and ideas, and updates on social media. A few days ago, we were talking about background options for the Botanical Giraffes coloring Lora was working on. She said that she had started with a pale blue background, then started adding brown and wasn’t too thrilled with it—shit brown, she called it. She shared a pic of her progress, and honestly, I liked the way she blended her browns into blues, but she didn’t (and that’s what ultimately counts).
So I asked her, half-jokingly, “Do you have an X-Acto blade?”
“You want me to cut it out and put on Holtz paper?” she asked. Since we have all been playing around with printing out coloring designs on scrapbook paper, I thought it might be a fun technique to explore.
“Scratch that idea,” I said, “too much cutting, lol!”
“So cut the sky out?…. that’s what I’d cut out right?”
“Yep, cut the sky out. But there are too many little vines and leaves—you would drive yourself mad, Lora.” The thought of superimposing the giraffes and vines over a piece of scrapbook paper was intriguing, though.
We then went back and forth with Betty about blending pencils with Pitt pens to create a dark background (and coaxing Betty to make a video tutorial for us). Lora disappeared from the conversation for a bit then came back and asked me to send her some .jpg designs that would look nice as a background.
“You cut that out already? I am impressed!” I said, then realized she had probably scanned her giraffe coloring into her computer and pulled it up in Adobe Photoshop. She removed the background using the magic wand and eraser tools—brilliant! So I did a quick search for free backgrounds and patterns online and started sending her a few.
In the meantime, Paula popped into WhatsApp and shared a screen shot of her phone—we racked up 130 messages! Yep, we get a bit chatty some days and those messages can pile up fast. And then Lora’s giraffe images starting appearing in our feed and we had fun voting on our favorites and talking about the way a background can change the look and mood of a coloring. Here is how Lora’s coloring looked with the background cut out in Photoshop—the background is empty space—not white, but transparent:
First she placed a vintage flowery pattern behind her already-colored giraffes layer that was tinted with greens, blue and purples. It looked pretty nice. Busy, but pale enough to contrast with the giraffes and it worked nicely with her green leaves.
Next came the old map background and we all loved it right away. Lora manipulated the map so that the African continent created a halo around the face of the middle giraffe and the theme and colors seemed to work really well together. Betty said it gave the piece a safari feel which fit perfectly. With the map, not only is there a visual impact, by intellectual as well—the map imparts meaning.
After the map, Lora tried a layer of colorful, dainty flowers—pale and very feminine. We liked it (despite how busy it was), but the map was still our favorite.
Then she added a layer of pale grey flowers. It offered a little more contrast, and might have worked even better if the opacity was reduced a bit so the pattern was more faded.
The great thing about Photoshop is that you can experiment till your heart’s content, though it does take some skill to use all the tools in the program and it’s expensive to purchase outright. More on that later.
Next came a series of blue backgrounds. The first one, with faint vertical stripes, made Lora’s colored giraffes stand out so much more clearly than the patterned backgrounds and it picked up the blue in the flowers she colored and made the pink flowers pop more prominently. And though this seems purely visual, the deep blue elicits meaning since we associate it with a night sky.
The blue splatter background had a nice effect, too, but you can see the giraffes sorta blend back into the background again. Not bad, but they don’t stand out like they do with the deeper blue above.
And finally, the blue paisley-style background. I like the way the blue is lighter in the center and darker around the edges because it highlights the circular feel of the composition and draws your eyes to the center giraffe.
Slight differences in background can make a difference in how we “see” a piece and this concept can be applied to how we color our backgrounds with pencils or paints as well.
When we started talking about sharing these experiments combining coloring with technology in a blog post, Betty reminded us that Photoshop is an expensive program / app but suggested people could still cut out open spaces on paper with a knife.
Physically cutting paper would be a very time-consuming process depending on the amount of detail and desired background space in a coloring design, but a fine X-Acto blade would work well. Printing and coloring your design on card stock would probably work best, of course, but there could be problems with the cut edges of the paper curling a bit and not laying flat on the chosen background paper—whether it’s scrapbook paper or some other special paper you are using. But maybe a thin layer of Mod-Podge over the whole thing would help sandwich the papers together? At any rate, it would be wise to experiment with all of this before committing to trying it on a prized coloring especially if you plan to coat or glue layers of papers together. You could even cut out shapes of scrapbook (or other) paper to add over your coloring design I suppose—as a collage effect. Another thought: a number of craft stores like Michaels here in the USA carry float frames that would be perfect for holding and flattening coloring cutouts since the two pieces of glass would essentially sandwich everything together.
Some of my favorite scrapbook papers are made by Tim Holtz, but there are lots of beautiful sheets and pads to be found online and in craft stores including Simon Says Stamp. If you do not have scrapbook paper at home, do a search on Etsy for “printable digital paper” and see what comes up. Lots of shops have gorgeous floral, vintage and other designs you can download and print or use digitally right away. You can also find patterns online, too, but be sure they not protected by copyright and truly free to use.
If you have the means to pursue the digital route (i.e. a computer or iPad, an art program that lets you edit like Photoshop, and the ability to use it or patience to learn how to use it), it can open up a world of possibilities for playing with backgrounds to create the perfect coloring art piece based on your personal tastes and needs.
Adobe Photoshop is amazing but it can also be overwhelming to learn if you are not comfortable with computers and the terminology used with this software. Photoshop used to be available on CDs as Graphic Suites, but now you can purchase an online subscription for a monthly fee if you don’t want to purchase the software outright. Unless you plan to use it daily for photo edits and graphics, though, I would look into other programs. If you have an iPad, I highly recommend checking out the Procreate app. It takes a little getting used to, but it is more intuitive than Photoshop and far less expensive. Basically, for a one month Photoshop subscription you can purchase Procreate outright and have plenty of change left over for a few colored pencils. And I can do almost everything I do in Photoshop in Procreate. And if you have an Apple Pencil, even better!
Betty mentioned that there are free background app for phones, but I can’t comment on them here since I haven’t used any myself. They would be fun to explore, though. The big take-away here is that I think experimenting with backgrounds using either physical or digital “cutouts” could be creatively rewarding for colorists.
Placing Lora’s experiments side-by-side offers an interesting overall perspective. From a “distance,” there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the first four patterned pieces aside from the more pronounced yellow hues of the map background, and the fact that the map elicits a more intellectual connection to the art.
The blues give us a whole new perspective. If we had more time, we probably could have gone on even longer playing with different background colors and patterns, but hopefully this gets your wheels turning a bit to play around with whatever you can get your hands on—whether it’s scrapbook paper or digital. Experimenting with color and different media can take your creations to new levels, and as always, the process of getting there can be enjoyable, too.
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.