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!
Winter is knocking on my door here in Michigan and it seems the older I get, the less I like it. And this is what inspired me to take a little time to color Sunshine⏤the need for warm colors and plenty of greenery.
Since Sunshine was specifically designed for the Companion’s printed book page size (approximately 6 x 9.25″), you will probably want to expand the design using your printer’s settings if you have the PDF and print your own copy. My old Epson has a “fit to page” option, plus I can also enter a percentage to expand the design to better fit an 8.5 x 11″ piece of card stock. I chose Kraft card stock (which I get at Michaels) and printed page two of the PDF (the grey line version I include with all my PDFs on Etsy).
I started coloring Sunny at about 3 o’clock in the morning. Another sleepless night, and honestly, I have had so much on my plate the past few weeks, I really needed to do something more arty than staring at a computer screen. When people claim that coloring (or doing any sort of artwork) is cathartic and relaxing, I can certainly vouch for that. I also thought it would be fun to capture the steps I took and share them with anyone who might be interested in how I do what I do.
I decided to work with my Derwent Drawing pencils first since they are very soft (and release a lot of pigment on the paper), and I knew that would they would provide an excellent base layer on the Kraft card stock which is thick and fairly toothy. I first used Wheat for the areas I planned to highlight (like the cheeks and nose) and Brown Ochre for the darker areas or shadows around the edges of the sun’s face. From there, I continued to add very light layers of Yellow Ochre and Mars Orange, then put down a layer of white (Derwent Lightfast) inside the eyes and over the cheeks and nose to bring up the highlights a little more. I usually like to work with fairly sharp pencils and when I hand-sharpen them, I don’t waste as much pencil lead as I do when using the electric sharpener. I save that one for seriously blunt pencils only.
More colors added in very light layers: Sanguine, Venetian Red, Ruby Earth, and then for a little intensity (since the Drawing pencils are fairly muted colors) I worked in Lightfast Strawberry and Cherry Red which are far more vivid hues. I then started filling in the flower petals with a layer of Yellow Ochre. Olive Earth, Crag Green and Pale Cedar were the first layers of the leaves. You can scroll through the phots above to see those steps.
The color charts for my Derwent Drawing pencils came out of one of the author proof copies of the Big Book of Color Charts. I removed a few of the pages with a blade and now keep them in my zippered cases with my pencils for ease of use. (Over the past years years, I have bought a few Soucolor and BTSKY cases through Amazon and they are pretty great if you are looking for sturdy cases.)
Since I started with three fairly muted greens, I got out my Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils, which by the way play very nicely with the Derwent Lightfast and Drawing pencils, and added Moss, Dark Phthalocyanine Green, and Dark Sap to give my leaves more variety, depth and saturation. Still applying gentle pressure and creating light layers, and if you look closely at the photo below, you can see that I am not too worried about blending just yet and you can see how toothy the Kraft paper is.
The next hour or so was spend fine-tuning my layers, adding greens and more orange, red and yellow as needed. And then I started refining some of my lines and smaller shapes with my Irojiten pencils. I like using these for finer details because they are pretty hard and I can get nice sharp lines. With Autumn Leaf, I drew small circles inside the swirls of flower petals for extra texture and interest, then added Smoke Blue and white little petals over the eyes and in a few other places. I also used Malachite Green to add veins to my leaves, and in some of the areas I wanted deeper shadows. Same with Carmine Lake for some of the areas I wanted deeper reds.
Once I was comfortable with the basic colors I had on paper, it was time to start doing some blending. First, I put down a layer of plastic to rest my hand on since I noticed some of my colors were starting to smudge a bit. This can happen with pencils that have soft leads some sort of protection can really help. If you have any of my handmade books, you can use the plastic protection sheet I included. I like using it better than using paper because I can see through it, but paper works perfectly fine, too.
I used the Prismacolor Colorless Blender over the face and larger areas moving the blender with medium pressure in small circles. It helps to move your blender pencils in multiple directions to really work those pigments together and fill in the tiny ‘holes’ where the pigments skipped on the toothy paper. “A Few Thoughts About Pencils, Blending and Burnishing” is a post I did a few months ago that talks a little more about some of my blending tools if you are interested.
Once in a while I brush crumbs off my paper with this really nifty Tim Holtz Retractable Blending Brush I found this summer. It is meant for applying Distress Ink and Distress Oxide while using stencils, but I thought it would be great for colored pencil work, too. And it is. And because it is retractable and has a cover, I can toss it in my bag and not have to worry about crushing or ruining the bristles.
Next, I used the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright in a few areas to bring up the color saturation, and make a smooth surface for the ink and gel pens I planned to use⏤primarily around the eyes. I have found that if I use the Blender Bright to essentially seal my coloring, I can get much sharper lines with my Pitt pens, and lessen the chance the ink will bleed or snag on the tooth of the paper and then ‘blob’ which is a huge pet peeve of mine (and very frustrating since I don’t usually ink anything until all of the coloring with pencils is done).
In the photo below, you can see the sheen that developed over the flower petal swirl in the top left corner after using the Blender Bright. When I am working with both types of blender pencils, I am very careful not to burnish with the Blender Bright in areas I plan to add more color, or blend with the Prismacolor Blender. Why? Once you burnish with the Blender Bright, it’s nearly impossible to add color or blend further because essentially the surface becomes sealed. The paper becomes crushed and compacted and there is no more tooth left to grab your pencil pigments. A workable spray fixative will allow you to add more color, but since I work in a very small studio space, I don’t like to spray anything.
Once all my blending and burnishing was nearly done, I used a Faber-Castell XS Pitt pen to redraw and refine the eyes and eyelashes so that they became more of a focal point of the art.
Have you tried the Arteza white gel pens yet?! I thought the Uni-Ball Signo’s were my go-to white pens, but after tripping across these, I am sold⏤they are great!! If you like working with gel pens to create highlights and embellish your colorings, I think the Arteza’s are a must-have. As long as you keep the tip of the pen clean, it rarely blobs or skips, even over more waxy surfaces. As with any gel pen, they take a little coaxing and fiddling, but I am very impressed with these. And the box I got has three tips sizes: 0.6, 0.8 and 1.0 (smallest to largest).
I also used a few more Irojiten pencils to add details and darken some lines, then started embellishing with white dots (with the Artezas) and also turquoise (Sakura Souffle gel pens) and a few sparkly blue and turquoise Gelly Roll Moonlight gel pens.
I can’t seem to stop myself when it comes to embellishing with dots. I feel it adds a little playfulness to my art and it can be a lot fun to do. Mostly fun⏤sometimes really tedious. A tip for using gel pens: do small sections at a time and make sure your ink is completely dry before working in or over a freshly inked area. I have had far too many whoopsie-smudges and now use a Chandler heat gun to speed up the drying process.
Hope you found my notes and photos helpful, and that you have fun pushing your own coloring in new directions if you so choose. I am storing Sunny in my Pinchbook (more on those soon!) and will be making a few fun products with this design in the near future.
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.
Sometimes inspiration comes from things in our own backyard and the trio of designs for this coloring bundle was no exception. Our last hen to survive a fox massacre about a month or so ago has decided that she prefers hanging out on our back patio near me, my daughter, and our dogs. She still wanders the yard looking for bugs, but seems to like the protection of the trees and roof over part of the patio, and even sleeps on a small table close to the house at night. Chickens are notoriously pea-brained, but Chiquitita might be an exception. This is her coming around to see if I have any snacks:
Isn’t the real Chiquitita a lovely model?
Like the rooster and the baby chick designs, I sketched Chiquitita (and the beet leaves behind her) on my iPad, then used a new layer to create a clean black line drawing. Each design took about 8 hours from sketch to final line art, and then I had to convert them into vector files and then into PDFs. It is a process, but one I truly enjoy. A little worried about running out of space on my computer though … still chugging along on an old laptop with my fingers crossed it won’t lock up.
After the designs were done, I sent them along to my coloring team and was so excited to see what Lora King did with the rooster using Holbein, Irojiten and a mix of vintage pencils she found online. Lora typically sticks to softer colors, but she went bold with the roster and he’s gorgeous! Betty Hung colored Chiquitita with assorted colored pencils plus Stabilo Carbothello pastel pencils for the soft beet leaves in the background. Stunning, yes?
Lora King’s rooster and Betty Hung’s Chiquitita
Now that the chicken bundle is on Etsy and I’ve had a chance to do a little color-testing of the designs, too, I thought I would share a few tips.
My original thought was to stick with only Caran d’Ache Museum watercolor pencils, but as I progressed and became obsessed with the possibility of finishing Chiquitita, I broke out the micas. Yes, the micas! If you have not seen Karen Spencer’s watercolors on Etsy yet, check them out—worth every cent as they are gorgeous, fun to work with, and they really seem to last a long time. I use mine a lot but have barely put a dent in the pans!
My first step was to color a base layer with the Museum pencils (Brown Ochre and Plum for the neck feathers, and Violet and Sepia) for the body. I do like using a watercolor base layer when I have time because it makes a really nice surface for my colored pencils. I try to apply medium pressure with the pencils and overlap the colors a bit so that when I grab my waterbrush, they are a bit easier to blend. I do not use a lot of water and just keep the brush moving while focusing on the smaller spaces. I also pay attention to where I pull the brush tip up because that usually leaves a little blop of pigment. Good for areas I want a little darker.
Remember to try different color combinations on a scrap piece of paper. It may not seem like Brown Ochre and Plum would go together, for example, but they create an unusual and striking blend. For those in the Ruby Charm Colors Facebook group (to join, just find us off the main RubyCharmColors page), you can print out the freebie I included in our Files folder to experiment with the feathers. And there’s a cute chick in a nest with eggs for coloring, too!
Sometimes experimenting does not always turn out the way we imagine but there is usually a fix. I used the wrong yellow (too harsh and bright, wrong tone) for the petal-feathers above Chiquitita’s face (yuck!) but later went back and painted over them with a mix of red and violet mica paints (below). I also used the micas to paint the edges of the feathers and started filling in more feathers with the Museum watercolor pencils.
Because I don’t use a lot of water while working, the watercolors dry fairly quickly. I usually bounce back and forth between areas during the whole process, too. For example, while the belly feathers were drying, I started coloring the section of yellowish-green feathers near the tail. Then the blue feathers, then the tail feathers, all the time keeping my colors fairly muted. Fun fact about the mica paints: once your brush has a little mica in it, even while using plain water to blend watercolor pencils, a subtle, lovely shimmer will show up in your coloring.
I used metallic gel pens for some of the embellishments on the feathers, then sharp Irojiten pencils to add some of the sharper lines. Instead of black, I often pick dark reds, blues and greens to give the lines a little more color interest.
I may go back over parts of the hen to add more detail and shading with my pencils and gel pens, but this is where I have left off with Chiquitita for now.
Since the rooster is part of the trio, I decided to use the same pencils and paints on him, too, though a little brighter colors and I added Inktense and Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils.
Once the watercolors dried, I used a mix of regular colored pencils to work in more shading and detail. It takes me forever to complete a piece because I can’t help working it—adding more layers and details until I get it where I want it. But I do enjoy the process so even if I don’t finish a coloring (I have stacks and stacks of them) it still feels good.
Another note about mica paints … sometimes it is difficult to capture the shimmer in photos! You;ll notice in the Chiquitita photos above that some show the shimmer, others do not. You need to get the angle just right if you want to micas to show up in photos. You can also try different lighting situations as well. Goose-neck style lights work pretty well because you can adjust the angle of the light.
Rooster with touches of gold and pale silver-blue mica feather tips
The final design in the trio bundle, baby chicks, is a bit challenging because of the wheel in the background. Even drawing the lines was a little tough (time-consuming) due to all the overlapping shapes. I did a fairly quick coloring of this one in hopes of helping colorists see how the design works, though there’s nothing wrong with coloring it any way one likes when it comes to the wood, metal bits, and open spaces.
Last pic of the day before I get going on my next project—I just stepped outside for a break from the computer and said hello to Chiquitita who is hanging out in the crate we set up for her on the patio next to the house. I have a feeling she’s going to start laying her eggs here instead of random places in the grass. Thanks for the inspiration, my pretty friend!
Chiquitita, tell me what’s wrong … oh, Mamma Mia!
Chicken Trio Coloring Pages
This black & white adult coloring line art bundle includes 3 designs, each with a bonus grey line version. PDF will be emailed to you upon payment acceptance.
I am working on a new book for 2019 and it will be filled with fanciful insects for coloring. My first few drawings were of dragonflies and I was having so much fun with them I decided to list them in my Etsy shop as a teaser of what’s to come for this new collection. The book (still undecided on the title) should be available in April/May and will contain at least 30 eccentric insect illustrations.
The first dragonfly design was sent to my coloring team so they could test out my lines. What came back to me were wonderful examples of colorists who take adult coloring to new levels—and that can inspire us to be more creative and push ourselves artistically.
Ruby Charm Colors ‘Dragonflies’ design colored by Lora King
The orange flowers work so well against the black background while the cool colors Lora chose for the dragonflies provide a lovely, effective contrast.
This ‘Dragonflies‘ design for coloring is currently available as a downloadable, printable PDF on Etsy. You can choose your favorite paper and coloring tools (pencils, pens, watercolor, etc.) and be working your own magic on these winged creatures in minutes.
I have a second design, ‘Dragonfly with Lotus,’ also available on Etsy and once colored, they would make a beautiful set you could frame and hang in your coloring space or give away as a gift.
Though the phrase has become cliche, it’s true. Team work does make the dream work. I am lucky to have such a smart, talented and kind coloring team who support what I do, and want to share a little of what these amazing ladies do behind the scenes for Ruby Charm Colors. First and foremost, they truly motivate and inspire me to keep moving forward. And that’s half the battle, yes?
There have been times I’ve been close to giving up. Afraid I couldn’t do it all myself. Worried that devoting all my time to the project and not a “real job” was not going to help keep my head above water. The list goes on and on. And I am still dog-paddling. But a few kind words and caring gestures from the team at just the right times (and the support of my wise-beyond-her-years daughter and my amazing sister) helps me see that yes, I am going to be okay. I can do this. My team’s genuine interest in my art, and willingness to not only color it but help promote it, is my life boat.
Amazing things can happen when people believe in you.
I met my team members last year through Instagram originally, and we struck up conversations through comments and private messages. They had purchased my art through Etsy and colored it, and each time they shared what they had done over social media, I was in awe. They were not only coloring my art, but having fun with it. And even more exciting? They were taking my designs to the next level, each in their own creative way.
Once the team was together (virtually, since we are spread across the globe) we came up with a loose and fairly organic plan to help promote my work. Loose because I have always felt that too many rules stifle creativity, and organic in that the actions the team takes should always be fluid and grow and change as needed. And some great ideas have come out of this arrangement as well as some wonderful videos, promotional materials, and even tutorials. I keep the team supplied with line art to color (and other goodies when I can), and they rally around my latest ideas and work and help cast it out to a wider audience.
The team started a Colorist of the Month celebration through our Facebook community, and ran contests and color-alongs (which would be really difficult to keep up on my own). And when it was time for me to start working on my first self-published books through Amazon, they were there to help me sort through the good and bad ideas and deal with snafus. I spent hours upon hours staring at my computer screen working on the layout and making sure all of my designs fit, and felt lucky to have such smart, talented people just an email or text away. Friends to give me a pep talk when I was close to tossing my laptop out the window. Friends I could confess my frustrations about print quality and paper quality to. Friends to just say “hey, we got this.”
And over the past year, we have become friends. We jump online now and then to share stories and have a few laughs about our lives, and yes, plenty of talk about art supplies and coloring, too. I feel lucky.
So thank you, Paula, Lora, Betty, Steph and Lucia for being my dream team. You are all so very special to me in your own unique ways, and you are all appreciated.
Cheers to art supplies, coloring, creativity, and a very happy 2019 and beyond!
There’s a new addition to the RubyCharmColors Etsy shop and I really enjoyed completing the line art for this one. I had roughly sketched the bear months ago, but then it sat neglected in a folder on my iPad. A few days ago, I pulled it up and was inspired to finish it off for inclusion in my new set of books which will be offered on Amazon soon.
The Bear with Fish will be included in Volume 1, but it is also available on Etsy right now as an instantly downloadable PDF for coloring. Two pages are included in the file–the black line illustration and also a grey-line version in case you enjoy working with lighter lines.
Here’s a sample of the color test I did of this design – it is still a work in progress and might be for some time since I’ve really got to get back to the books and finish them up for a September release.
I started with lots of light layers with the Luminance pencils, then worked in my Polychromos for variations in color and more blending. The Irojitens pencils were used to burnish and set my colors. When I have a chance, I plan to use Neocolor II pastels for the background.
The past month has been busy for the Ruby Charm Colors project. In addition to working on an upcoming book (which has somehow morphed into two 100+ page volumes) I’ve created a few new illustrations for my Etsy shop and have released several sets of cards for coloring.
The first illustration I completed was actually started a few months ago and was a special request by a fan, Lucia, who is now on my coloring team. Lucia’s Crestie gecko, Nacho, was the inspiration for this illustration and I finally got around to finishing up the background in July. The gecko itself was done quite some time ago, but as with several of my mini projects, sometimes they fall by the wayside until I have a reminder to git ‘er done, as they say. The line art, if you would like to color this finished design yourself, can be found here in the RubyCharmColors Etsy shop.
I started coloring this illustration using a mix of Caran d’Ache Neocolor II pastels and colored pencils. I had ordered about 8 individual (open-stock) pastels from Blick to try them out as I had seen a number of beautiful colorings on Instagram and Facebook using the Neocolors. I was attracted to their intense hues and how they appeared to blend really well. I used Turquoise, Chromium Oxide Green, Olive Brown, and Fast Orange for the background, sun and leaves for this piece. Though it was my first time using the pastels and I was still getting the hang of blending them with my Kurtake and Aquash Pentel water brushes, I was pretty happy with the outcome and decided to order a set of the Neocolors through Amazon so I would have more colors to work with in future projects.
Gecko line art for coloring books and pages (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, colored by the artist
Once the pastels dried, I started going over different areas of the illustration with a mix of colored pencils – mostly Caran d’Ache Luminance and Pablo pencils, Polychromos, and Prismacolors. Once my overall colors were in place (lots and lots of layers as usual) I started burnishing the colors using my Irojiten pencils.
Close-up of Gecko line art for coloring books and pages (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, colored by the artist
The final step for the gecko was to add small embellishments with Sakura Souffle gel pens. This piece has a long way to go before it’s complete, so it’s now living in one of my “unfinished projects” folders for safe-keeping. I am sure I’ll pull it back out again when I have some free time.
Gecko line art for coloring books and pages (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, colored by Lora King
The next illustration I completed recently was the Toutterkoi. It started out as a butterfly but I added a toucan’s face to the tips of the wings on a lark. It was weird but I liked it enough and decided to work in some koi on the bottom wings and tail. I really enjoyed fitting creatures into the butterfly and had fun color-testing this piece with a mix of Polychromos, Prismacolors and Irojitens. I really appreciate the sharp tips I can get on the Irojiten pencils for small details.
Toutterkoi line art for coloring books and pages (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, colored by the artist
Toutterkoi line art for coloring books and pages (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, colored by Vanessa Black
Paula Leach used Schpirerr Farben pencils for her Toutterkoi. Using a blend of greys moves her fronds to the background while the brighter colors move the Tourrtekoi forward.
Toutterkoi line art for coloring books and pages (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, colored by Paula Leach
Here is a close-up of Paula’s work including her signature sparkles as embellishments on the body and wings – lovely color choices.
Close-up of the Toutterkoi line art for coloring books and pages (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, colored by Paula Leach
My next project consisted of modifying some of my line art to make greeting cards that can be printed at home, colored and given away. There are 6 designs in the first set: Little Bird; Horse with Flowers; Insects; Lion, Hare and Moon; Mice in Freesia; and Spring Hare.
Little Bird line art for coloring books, pages and greeting cards (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, colored by the artist
After that, I modified a collection of my moth and butterfly illustrations and turned them into greeting cards, too. This set of 8 designs can be printed at home (card stock is best), trimmed to size and colored with your favorite media.
So about the Caran d’Ache Neocolor II pastels …. I did order a set of 40 off of Amazon and I was so excited to get them in the mail. After opening the box and grabbing a few pastels to try out of a scrap of paper, though, my heart sank. They did not blend at all with my water brush. What the hell? And then it dawned on me … I had mistakenly ordered the Neocolor I pastels (which happen to be water-resistant) instead of the Neocolor II pastels which are meant to be blended with water! The Neocolor I pastels are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but they were not what I needed. I repacked the box and sent them back.
If you order Neocolors through Amazon, be sure you are ordering the correct type of pastel you need (I or II)! The item description did not specify which set I was ordering, and since there was a picture of paintbrushes next to the pastels, I assumed I was getting the watercolors. Nope.
Just a few days later I opened my mailbox to discover a rather large and heavy package inside. I carefully slid it out (because I didn’t want the ginormous black spider who has taken up residence in said mailbox to hitch a ride on my package). It was a full set of gorgeous Neocolor II pastels gifted to me by a dear fellow artist! I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that someone would send me art supplies – such a thoughtful and generous gesture and I am still in awe. i got to work right away using the pastels (and some colored pencils) to color in one of the greeting cards I designed as a thank card.
Horse with flowers line art for coloring books, pages and greeting cards (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, colored by the artist
Horse with flowers line art for coloring books, pages and greeting cards (c) 2018 by S. Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors, finished card colored by the artist
So that’s what I’ve been up to the past few weeks. My gardens are going wild and I really need to do more weeding, my tomatoes are finally ripening, the cicadas are buzzing, and I have fresh flowers in the kitchen each day.
Now back to the business of making the book(s), and I’ll have a teaser about that in the coming days ….
Flowers from my gardens-gone-wild: Tree Lily, Phlox, Lavender, Day Lily, Crocosmia, and Jerusalem Artichokes