It took me some time to come around to the idea of offering the Big Book of Color Charts as a downloadable PDF, but I finally took the plunge and am excited to offer it here on my website (with a discount) and in my Etsy shop. Since shipping the physical book has been prohibitively expensive for those outside of the USA, offering a digital version makes it more accessible and affordable for everyone, plus, you can print out as many pages as you like on your favorite types of paper.
The book, with a few notable updates, is split into 4 different PDFs (to help keep the file size reasonable), plus a “Read-Print-Me” PDF that gives a quick overview of how the digital version is organized and includes a “book pages to PDF pages” index so it’s easier to find what you need.
You can learn more about the contents of the original Artist Edition here. In addition to over 50 pre-labelled charts (some with needed updates and additions) for the most popular colored pencils, markers, watercolor pencils and more, there are blank charts and a ton of Ruby Charm Colors designs to color. Because why have an uninspired spreadsheet when you could have fun putting your pencils to work with some art to color?
You can make this book your own functional work of art!
Even if you already own the printed version of this book, the digital version can be handy if you want to make extra copies of any of the pages. I know a few people who are doing this already. Personally, my “master charts” stay in the spiral-bound book, but I have printed out additional charts that I keep folded in half in my zippered pencil cases for easy access and for travel.
Also, if you use the digital version with a 3-ring binder, you can add in manufacturer or other charts as well.
There are so many different printer brands and models out there it would be impossible to give instructions for them all, but there are a few general commonalities. Most all home printers have a print dialog box that pops up when you print something. Look at all the options in that box because you can customize the settings of your print jobs. In addition to telling the printer which pages to print (like 1-5, or 2, 4, 6, 8 or all, for example) you can adjust the size of the image (scale) by chosing a percentage like 100% (or 85% if you want it a little smaller) of, many printers have a “Fit” option which assures that all of the data on the page fits on your sheet of paper. You can also choose whether to print in color or black and white, double-sided or not (if your printer supports color and/or double-sided printing) as well as page orientation. This book should print in the horizontal or landscape format for best results. Some printers have additional settings and most will give you a thumbnail preview of what the page will look like before it prints. If you are not sure what your printer can (or cannot) do, do an online search for the User Manual using the name and model of your printer.
Different printers use different inks. Home-use inkjet printers typically use inks that are not water resistant (and I don’t think any of them are considered waterproof) but I do know that Epson inks are far more water-resistant than the others I have used. It’s always a good idea to let your freshly printed pages dry for a bit before coloring with pencils, but it is especially important to let them dry (maybe even overnight) if you plan on using any wet media. If you are struggling with smudging or bleeding with your printer’s ink, let the page dry, but also consider spraying a workable fixative over your page. That should lock in the printer ink and give you a nice surface to to work on. My favorite is the Krylon Workable Matte Fixatif but Blick makes a wonderful fixative as well. Just be sure to use spray fixatives in a well-ventilated area (away from people and pets) and don’t breathe in the fumes!
Laser printers use toner cartridges. A combination of heat and pressure fuses the toner onto the paper and the toner is considered permanent, so there should be less smudging. But, that depends on the paper you are using so you might have to experiment if you plan on using paper that is textured (like watercolor paper).
There are lots of great papers to use when printing coloring pages or pages you want to use for color swatching. I like the Recollections Card Stock (65 lb) found at Michaels craft stores, but I am also fond of the Neenah Premium Cardstock (65 lb). There is a great selection of mixed media paper through Blick, but most of these specialty papers are not sized for printers. You will probably have to trim them down to 8.5 x 11″ (or 8.268 x 11.693 if using A4) if you want to use, for example, a special watercolor paper.
Some of this might seem a little over the top for printing a set of color charts, but if you are really into using certain types of paper for your coloring pages and artwork, having your pencils and watercolors swatched on the same paper you will be using will give you the most accurate results. The beauty of having digital charts is that you could print, for example, your Derwent Inktense chart on plain white cardstock, on grey or tinted cardstock (if you like working with tinted papers) and also on watercolor paper to see how the colors look and behave on each one.
A note about the black pages … there are quite a few! Originally, these black pages were put into the physical book purposely to help prevent colors from bleeding through to the back side of the page. It helped the book stay a little neater. I kept those pages in the digital version but you don’t necessarily need them. You can print your pages one sided only, then place them back to back inside plastic sheet protectors in your binder. If you do decide to print a few black pages (there’s lots of art plus a few black charts) just be aware that these pages will use a ton of ink/toner. Make sure you don’t accidentally print a bunch if you don’t need them.
Always pay attention to which pages you are printing⏤check (and double check) before clicking the print button!
That said, there is definitely use for a few black charts if you like coloring on black paper (which I do, and I know quite a few of you have my Black Magic coloring books and box sets). Black charts let you see which media and colors work well on black and which don’t. Markers are notorious for disappearing on black paper, but some gel pens (the pens advertised as opaque) and most colored pencils can look fantastic on black paper. So do the shimmery mica watercolors made by the lovely Karen Spencer⏤magical, in fact.
There is also a handy chart for comparing whites and blacks which we often use for shadows and highlights. You can see how the brands of white pencils I have look quite different from one another in the photo below. And black pencil brands are really interesting because some have a slight blue tint (like the Derwent Lightfast Midnight black), while others, like the Lightfast Mars Black, has a slight reddish tint. And the Chameleon Black looks more grey than black. The deepest blacks seem to be the Caran d’Ache Luminance and Holbein blacks … and this is partly why I find charting my colors so interesting (and very helpful).
That’s all for now! I’ve been busy trying to get back on track and will have a few new announcements in the coming weeks, so hang tight and stay true to your creative side!