It’s been a while since I posted (sometimes life takes us in crazy directions … and I have a daughter very close to graduation and getting ready for college so that’s thrown things into a very expensive, busy-tizzy time for this mom) but after making the Floral Coyote available on Etsy and my website as a downloadable coloring page, I colored a version on black card stock just to spend some time with my pencils. I haven’t colored much lately and really need to get back to it for my sanity and for some personal inspiration. And honestly, sometimes there’s no better way to chill out and regroup.
The slides below show my progress coloring this piece. I used a mix of Prismacolors to lay down my base layers of color (lots of very light-pressure layers) and then Irojitens toward the end for some burnishing and blending in areas, and for a few details. The Irojiten pencils are fairly hard and sharpen to a really nice point so you can get into small areas, and I like them for adding extra designs to a coloring (like the simple leafy vines toward the end).
In the slides, you can see the slow build-up of layers. I haven’t fully burnished this coloring yet so you will notice a lot of black speckles in the photos. Burnishing will remove them, but for now, I am happy with the coloring and it looks less speckled in person. My camera really picked up the texture of the paper!
I also used a few opaque Sakura gel pens for the embellished dots toward the end.
Here is a still shot of the finale piece, plus a picture of the coloring I did on white for the Etsy and website downloadable, printable coloring page listings. The coloring on white was done with Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils, Polychromos pencils, and the Caran d’Ache Buff Titanium pencil. I added extra leaves to that one as well, and used Sakura gel pens and a fine tip Molotow Liquid Chrome Marker for the embellished dots. The card stock warped a bit with the Inktense because I used a bigger waterbrubrush that spit out more water than I usually use. I was impatient … lesson learned (maybe).
That’s all for now, but I’ll be back soon with a few exciting announcements on my blog, as well as in our Facebook group and Instagram. In the meantime, I hope you find time to do a little something creative each and every day!
Hello, coloring friends, it’s time for another shameless plug for my Artist Edition books, and an announcement about the 2023 Creative Companion coming out very soon on Amazon! Plus, I’ll have a few brand new designs coming out soon for Christmas. 😉
First, since my Artist Edition books are printed by a small press and shipped to me in big, heavy boxes, I only offer them a few times a year. I work alone (draw, create, and ship) and shipping is a really big, messy undertaking. My dining room becomes filled with boxes of bubble mailers, tape, books, rolls of stickers, thank you cards and shipping labels so I can process all of my preorders as quickly as possible. It takes me about 8 minutes to pack up a book, write a thank you note, and attach a label and stickers from start to finish (a little RCC trivia for you). Though the whole process can be a bit overwhelming at times, it is also very exciting to drop off all of those packages at my local post office (and the UPS store which is a bit of a drive) knowing that the books will be in their new homes in just a few days.
Why the Artist Editions? Are they better? If you don’t mind what everyone calls “Amazon paper” (which I don’t mind at all with certain colored pencils) then the Artist Editions might not be a big deal, but if you are picky about paper, the Artist Edition books are a step up. In addition to heavier paper, my Artist Edition books are also spiral-bound which helps them lay flat for coloring, and the Charts book has tabbed section dividers.
The Artist Edition of Birdy is a 9″ x 9″ square, spiral-bound, soft-cover book printed on heavier 80# / 120 GSM paper. The Amazon version has the same content, but measures 8.5″ x 8.5″ square, is not spiral-bound, and it is printed on thinner paper. If you have or want this version (it is less expensive than the Artist Edition) keep in mind you can always makes copies of the pages onto your favorite paper (for personal coloring use only, of course, since my work is copyrighted).
The Artist Edition of the Big Book of Color Charts has multiple upgrades from the original, less-expensive Amazon version. The Artist Edition includes tabbed section dividers, spiral-binding, and heavier 80# / 120 GSM paper. Pages with charts for watercolor pencils, inks and markers have a black backing which helps lessen bleed-through.
The Artist Edition also includes additional notes about the colored pencils (information about the sets), pastel pencils, watercolor pencils, inks and markers; revised color names for brands that have changed their color names & numbers (since the original book was released on Amazon); new designs to color; and the new Derwent Chromaflow colored pencils have been added as well. There are blank charts at the end of the book (for extra brands or sets you may have that are not in the book, or for organizing colors and color combinations the way you prefer) and expanded room for the color family charts. You can learn more about this book here.
This will be the last time I print the Artist Edition of the Big Book of Color Charts and the new Artist Edition of Birdy this year. Both books can be preordered here as well as here through my Etsy shop, and they will begin shipping this month – just in time for the holidays and gift-giving season! Both sell out fairly quickly, and I won’t be printing either of these books again until late spring, 2023, most likely.
My next big project is to focus on coming up with new artwork for a future coloring book (and downloadable PDFs, too). Plus, I need some time to paint! I’ve got two big empty canvases sitting in a lonely corner of my studio just waiting for splashes of color. I don’t know about you, but I need to do more art!
Here’s a sneak peek at the cover (and spine) and a few pages from the book. It is the same 6″ x 9.25″ format as the 2022 Creative Companion (small enough to fit in a bag); has around 20 designs to color; monthly calendars for 2023; plenty of room to write, make lists, create and track special projects, and more.
It is a semi-structured Organizer and Art Journal meant to be personalized by the user, and there is no right or wrong way to do it.
That’s all the excitement for now! I’ll be posting announcements on social media when the 2023 Creative Companion is available on Amazon, but if you can always peek at my Amazon Author Page to check for yourself. You might even see it before I do!
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.
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.
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!
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!
A new design for your coloring enjoyment! These two Fancy Birds are ready for some color and are offered here on my website before they head to my Etsy shop next week.
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.
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!
What could be better than combining your love of coloring with your love of books and reading? And aside from using these DIY bookmarks in your own books, they make wonderful handmade gifts, too. They are a lot of fun to color and assemble, and I’ll show you the basic steps I took to make my very first one which turned out like this:
I highly recommend printing your bookmark page on heavier paper. I use 65# white card stock by Recollections which can be purchased at any Michael’s craft store, but I also like a few other brands as well. Card stock is nice to color on and you can use some watercolors too (with just a little buckling depending on the amount used), plus the card stock just feels sturdier⏤like a bookmark should feel.
Don’t forget to check your printer settings to be sure the entire image fits on your page. You want to be sure you can see the guide lines (and the little scissors around the edges). After you print out your bookmark, get busy coloring! I prefer to color the entire bookmark first, before making any cuts, but you can do whatever you are comfortable with. If you decide to color before cutting, you can easily test your colors in the margins since the excess paper will be trimmed away. You might recognize the color chart on the left⏤it is one of the Holbein pages from the Big Book of Color Charts. I used mostly Holbein pencils for my fish bookmark.
In the photo below, you can see how the bookmarks are laid out. For each sheet, you have the option of making 2 two-sided bookmarks (when two of your colorings are back-to-back and folded), or, you can cut along the fold line instead and make four individual bookmarks (with black backs).
If you choose to make four bookmarks but still want a sturdier feel, you can always tape or glue scrapbook paper or some other type of heavier paper to the back side using double-sided tape (or glue if you prefer).
Each bookmark sheet has simple instructions and I included cut and fold lines for guidance.
Once I had the fish side of the bookmark colored, I colored the other side (the octopus). The fold line runs down the center between the two:
I also did a little blending and burnishing with the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright which should also help protect the bookmark. And of course I had to add some gel pen embellishments. I can’t help myself.
Once the octopus was colored, I cut along the right (outside) edge of the bookmark.
Then I cut along the left side (toward the center of the paper). Make sure you don’t accidentally cut along the fold line unless that is your intention.
Next, trim off the bottom and top pieces:
Once the edges are trimmed, I used a ruler and a fairly dull x-acto knife to gently run a straight line down the fold line. Make sure you do not cut all the way through the paper⏤all you need really to do is make a dent in the fibers of the paper itself so it is easier to make a clean bend and fold. You could use a proper paper folder tool like this one from Michaels, but any fairly blunt, hard edge will do.
Next comes the paper folding. I wrapped my hand over the card to get it to bend at the fold, then laid it down and carefully pressed my thumb down all along the folded edge to give it a good crease.
Once your bookmark has a good fold, it’s time to get out the double-sided tape. You could try glue but that can be messy and tape works great.
I covered the back of one side of the bookmark with double-stick tape and didn’t worry about going over the edges since that can always be trimmed. The important thing it to get a good seal along the outside edges.
Press the insides of your bookmark together and apply firm pressure all over the bookmark to get that tape to really stick. I tried not to rub back and forth too hard because I didn’t want to smudge my pencil and gel pen work …
I then grabbed a hole punch and added a piece of yarn so my bookmark has a tail. The yarn is about 8″ long so I folded it in half, pulled the folded end through the hole in the paper so I had about an inch or so long loop, then fished the two “tails” of yarn back through the loop I created and pulled it snug. Easy!
Since I want my bookmark to last a while, I decided to cover it with some sort of protection. First, I tried Mod Podge on the octopus side of the bookmark (after removing the yarn tail) and I ended up smudging the turquoise gel pen I used for the tentacles. Not terrible, but not great. It did not smudge the metallic pens I used thankfully. I used “Furniture Matte” Mod Podge (which is pretty thick) so I am wondering if maybe the regular Mod Podge would have been better? I also could have thinned it with a little water, but didn’t.
The next thing I tried (on the fancy fish side) was Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish. It did not smudge any of my colors at all, but since I didn’t use the turquoise gel pen on this side of the bookmark, I can’t be certain that wouldn’t have smudged, too. I also got a lot of paintbrush lines using both mediums but I don’t mind the texture too much. You could try a sponge or roller sponge for different texture, or slightly thin your medium with a little water for a smoother surface.
If you do plan to use a final fixative, be sure the test it out on a scrap of paper using the same pencils, gel pens, etc. you used on your bookmark to be sure it doesn’t get ruined. The safest best is probably a good spray fixative (using several coats on each side) but I just used what I had on hand. Lamination is another option worth trying if you have a laminator or don’t mind running to your local office supply store to have them do it for you.
Below is side two of Paula’s fishy bookmark (so beautiful!) and she told me she had no issues scoring and folding the watercolor paper she used. Wouldn’t this make a lovely handmade gift for someone who reads a lot?
These colored bookmarks can make wonderful handmade gifts. Pop one in an envelope and send it to a friend or family member to let them know you are thinking about them and spread the joy of coloring and reading!
As always, happy coloring and crafting, my friends!
UPDATE! Check out my friend Lora King’s fully colored sheet of bookmarks – so inspiring!! Lora is also on my coloring team and an admin in our Facebook coloring community. If you love coloring the Ruby Charm Colors designs, this wonderful community has a lot to offer in terms of inspiration, coloring techniques, art supplies … just plain fun. If you join, be sure to answer the simple questions so we know you are not some rotten bot. 😉
One of my coloring team members, Lora King, had an itch to color something really detailed, and since I had spent a little time working on a card-sized piece from the Mini Box collection, I thought it might be fun to redraw one of my original rabbit designs from 2017 with lots more detail. Below is my (unfinished) coloring of the original 2017 design using a mix of watercolor pencils and colored pencils. I did this when I first started playing around with coloring.
The rabbit design I included in the Mini Box collection had been resized to fit a 5.5 x 7.5″ card, so a portion of the artwork was cut off. I did this intentionally so the line art details would not be too reduced and too hard to color in this smaller physical format. Here is my colored version of the card (which is now in a sleeve in my planner) next to the original which was printed on 8.5 x 11″ card stock:
This smaller piece was a lot of fun to color and I used mostly Derwent Drawing and Lightfast pencils, plus Caran d’Ache Luminance and Irojiten pencils for all the details that I added in. And then I used a Luminance Titanium Buff pencil to blend all the patterns I created. For the sky background, I used Karen Spencer’s fab mica paints with a touch of watercolor pencil, and the colors were inspired by Paula Stone Leach’s coloring of my Kanga + Roo design.
After I finished this mini piece, I shared it with my coloring team, and that’s when Lora mentioned I should create a version with all of my little extra patterns already drawn in so she could color all the details. So I did (it took forever) and then sent her and the team the new line art PDF. A little time passed (a day or two?) and here is what Lora shared with me:
To say I was giddy when I saw her colored version is putting it mildly⏤how gorgeous! Lora’s colors are clear and bright, and I love that she incorporated what we call her signature turquoise and reds. Lora told me she used a mix of Holbein, Derwent Lightfast, and Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils along with Posca for the dots Cretacolor pastels, and also Caran d’Ache pastels for the background.
It is a challenging design to tackle, but one that will let you really become absorbed in color and pattern⏤and right now, in the time of the Rona and everything else that’s happening⏤is a very good thing. You can find this Fancy Rabbit design on Etsy!
Happy coloring and stay safe and healthy, my friends!