An artist’s review of the Bambino clay crayons for coloring.
Due to a flood of requests since the fourth run of books sold out, I opened up preorders for the Artist Edition of the Big Book of Color Charts. These books are printed in small batches just a few times a year. This is an exact reprint of the previous Artist Edition book and they sell out pretty quickly. To learn more about this book and see the full list of color charts, click here.
Please note that shipping starts at the end of May, 2023 in the order of which orders are received. Preorders are available here on my website and also here through my Etsy shop – whichever you prefer.
Have you ever noticed how different your actual pencil colors look on paper compared to what’s been printed on the tin or on the pre-printed color chart that came with your set? Sometimes it’s a big surprise, other times a disappointment. This is why I use my personal copy of the charts book every time I pull out my pencils to color. Swatching and using color charts isn’t for everyone (it can be tedious no doubt), but I find having exact color representations of my pencils and other media helps me get the results I want while coloring.
The Artist Edition of this book comes with 5 tabbed sections, but I added removable tabs on the right side of the book for specific pencils I use a lot. You can pick these up at just about any office supply store.
Since I had already filled out many of the pages from the very first edition of this book (which is not spiral-bound and on thinner paper), I removed them from the book and keep them as extra charts in some of my pencils cases as a quick reference. This less expensive version of the charts book is here on Amazon.
Finally, even if you don’t love swatching, or if you don’t plan on collecting all of the brands in the book, there is lots to color! Almost every page has a little something to splash some color on, and there are full coloring pages scattered throughout as well. I love the little designs when I don’t have a lot of time to tackle a new full size coloring page, but really want to play around with my pencils. The designs in this book are great for experimenting, too. All of the art in this book was drawn by me … no artificial intelligence (AI) generated art or cheesy clip art. A heartfelt thank you to all who support my work – I appreciate you!
That’s all for now. Hope you are finding time for creativity – it’s good for the heart and soul.
January is off to a productive start with a few new designs in the Ruby Charm Colors shop and on Etsy, and, some of my art for coloring from the Oceanimaginary book is now featured in the new SEALIFE Colouring Heaven Collection! Check it out when you have a chance!
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!
Big love from the hermit of 2021!
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.
Happy coloring, everyone!
I ordered a set of the Phoenixcolor colored pencils this summer and finally had a chance to play around with them (see video below). Overall, they are beautiful and I am thrilled to have them in my collection of art supplies … but will they replace my Derwent Lightfast and Drawing pencils, Caran d’Ache Luminance, Tombow Irojiten and Faber-Castell Polychromos? Probably not.
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.
So perhaps there’s hope for the Phoenixcolors, too. Here is a link to where I found them, but you might want to do your own search to get the best pricing.
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!
Update: The Artist Edition of the Big Book of Colors Charts has sold out twice since first publication! It is now available again in limited quantities and won’t be reprinted until fall, 2022.
July 9, 2021: Well, it’s finally being printed as we speak and I am so excited! The second author proof I received in the mail is a gorgeous beast of a book and I can’t wait until my shipment of 150 book arrives at my door on July 22 so I can start sending them out on Friday July 23. What a nerve-wracking yet thrilling milestone, especially considering the year I have had so far!
❤️ BIG LOVE ❤️ and massive thanks to everyone who kept encouraging me to keep going and get it done⏤you are all amazing creatures and I appreciate you!
My coloring team tested out this design a few weeks ago (thanks, ladies!) and had a virtual reveal when Lora, Paula and Betty finished coloring them. It’s so much fun to see them all pop up on my screen, and it is interesting to see how each colorist had their own unique vision in regards to color palettes, texture, pencils and paper.
The first coloring (above) was done by Betty Hung using Derwent Lightfast colored pencils (found on Blick through this affiliate link). Some of you might recognize Betty’s coloring style by her gorgeous color choices, blending, and subtle leafy additions to the background. Her vision was tropical and she certainly pulled it off with all those rich greens.
The next coloring (above) was done by Lora King using a mix of Derwent Chromaflow, Holbein and a few Lightfast pencils as well. Lora wanted to accentuate the Art Deco style of the line drawing, and I feel she was successful. The white Chromaflow pencil was used beautifully to make the flowers, globes and details on the birds pop against the grey background, and the oranges and reds used for the birds create an eye-catching focal point.
The third coloring, by Paula Stone Leach, is soft yet vibrant, and also feels very jungle-like but more steamy. I think the Derwent Chromaflow colored pencils worked beautifully for her due to how well they lay down color and are quite rich. Paula and Betty (unknown to one another at the time) used similar color palettes, but different aspects of the art (like the branches) appear more shadowy and recede into the background in Paula’s coloring. I think this is why it feels “steamy” to me⏤as though we are deep in that jungle watching her beautiful birds.
You may notice that I am now adding more watermarks to the art I post online … I know it can be distracting to a degree, however art theft online is becoming an issue and I am tired of people stealing my designs and colorings by friends and selling them commercially. It’s becoming a problem, sadly. They cut off my copyright info and feel they have the right to do whatever they want with my art. So not cool. This is how I put food on the table and pay my bills. So on behalf of artists everywhere, if you see something that doesn’t feel right, reach out to the artist(s) to be sure they are aware of potential copyright infringement and theft.
But on a happier note – Paula was so pleased with her bird coloring that she framed it and hung it in her coloring space⏤how fun is that?!
Such a bright, peaceful space to work in, and the birds look wonderful framed on the wall! The photos below show the framed version and Paula’s coloring with the Chromaflow pencils.
I hope you are all finding time to color and be sure to check out this blog post for information on how to WIN A SET of the Derwent Chromaflows all your own! And if you want to color the birds, they can be found right here.
That’s all for now, my friends! Happy coloring!
Blick has a wonderful selection of art supplies for coloring and more, and I typically only link to products I have personally used and like to use. As a Blick Affiliate, I may earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase through my website and/ or blog using links to specific products on Blick’s website. This does not affect your shopping experience or your privacy, but earning a small commission does help me continue my work as an independent artist. Thank you!