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!
I heard about the Derwent Chromaflow colored pencils through a friend who had ordered a set and said she was quite happy with them. Once I got the pencils in my hands and did a quick swatch chart of all 24 colors, I put them to the test by coloring a few of my designs on charcoal and black card stock. And it was so much fun!
UPDATE (13 May, 2022): In addition to 12 and 24 color sets, Derwent now includes sets of 36, 48 and 72 Chromaflow colors!
After a quick review of the pencils, I’ll share some of what I have colored with them so far … and I’ll give you the low-down on how to:
win a set of Chromaflow pencils!
A hearty thank you to Derwent , via Blick, for kindly sending me a few sets to give away! My first giveaway starts today (Wednesday, June 16, 2021), and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Be sure to see the rules for entering at the end of this post and keep your eyes open for more giveaways this summer including more Chromaflow sets, a set of Derwent Drawing Pencils, a set of Derwent Watercolour pencils, AND a spiral-bound Artist Edition of the Big Book of Color Charts which includes a chart for the Chromaflow pencils. And a little more good news … Pre-orders for this special Artist Edition are right around the corner in my Etsy shop!
About the Derwent Chromaflow Pencils
Derwent’s new Chromaflow colored pencils come in sets of 12 and 24 colors (pictured above) and have round, black barrels with a fairly creamy 3.5mm core. The ends of the barrels are dipped in color to match the cores and the name and number of each color is printed on each pencil. Here is what is included in each set:
Set of 12: Sun Yellow, Flame, Scarlet, Blush Pink, Lilac, Denim, Blue, Basil, White, Natural Brown, Grass Green, Black.
Set of 24: Sun Yellow, Flame, Scarlet, Blush Pink, Lilac, Denim, Blue, Basil, White, Natural Brown, Grass Green, Black, in addition to Foliage, Golden Sun, Violet, Salmon, Magenta, Amber Gold, Strawberry, Light Blue, Raisin, Turquoise Green, Platinum, Burnt Sienna.
I love the colors overall and feel there is a nice mix of bright colors (Grass Green, Magenta, Scarlet and Yellow), and colors that are a little more muted or natural (Golden Sun, Burnt Sienna, Raisin and Foliage). Of course, like many people have already expressed, I would love to see even more colors in this collection eventually⏤partly because they are a decent value for beginners and experts alike⏤and partly because I am a color junkie. I am always craving more colors, though truthfully, I found I could do a lot with these 24 colors by simply layering and blending, and these pencils performed fairly well in that department.
As with any colored pencil, paper quality and texture does make a difference. Very smooth papers are not ideal for most colored pencils (including the Chromaflows). Smooth paper can make layering difficult, sometimes impossible. On paper with a little more tooth, however, they perform quite well and I can typically get between 3 to 5 layers depending on how heavy-handed I am working. They work nicely on the paper Amazon uses to print my art journals and coloring books, and on one of my favorite card stocks made by Recollections and sold through Michaels. The Chromaflow pencils leave a little more pigment crumbs on my paper than other pencils, but they are easy to dust away with a small brush. I have not noticed much (if any) wax bloom.
The Chromaflows lay down a lot of pigment without a lot of effort and they feel nice in my hand. The barrels are not lacquered as nicely as the more expensive Derwent pencils, but that’s probably part of what saves us a little money. I tend to color with a lot of pressure at times, and I did break a few of the tips I had sharpened to a super fine point for detail work, but that is not unusual for me. I can be very heavy-handed. These pencils sharpen beautifully and I have had no issues with the cores breaking. They sharpen to a fine tip very nicely, and when they are more blunt, they can lay down a lot of color fast. I feel they fall between the Derwent Coloursoft and Procolour pencils in regard to core softness / hardness. They work well with a few of the blenders I tried, and with other pencils and watercolor pencils. All-in-all, they are versatile and affordable and I am happy to have them in my coveted pencil collection.
Most of you know I am madly in love with the Derwent Lightfast colored pencils, but they are expensive. I am still working on completing my set of 100 colors and use them for colorings I plan to turn into art for products and prints. The Lightfast pencils are great for professional artists because of their beautiful color range and exceptional lightfast quality, but perhaps overkill for those who simply love to color. If you are on a budget and want softer, creamy pencils instead of the run-of-the-mill, off-brand colored pencils that can typically be quite hard and not layer well, then the Chromaflows might just be the ticket for you.
Coloring with the Chromaflow pencils
Now comes the fun part⏤coloring! While this is not a step-by-step tutorial, you can see how I start building my layers and work in my colors. For this particular piece, I wanted to keep my overall color palette somewhat limited to more accurately reflect what the Candytuft in my garden looks like, but in a more loose and “painterly” way with pencils. It’s a little departure from my usual coloring style.
After printing my new Candytuft flower design on 65# charcoal grey cardstock, I used Foliage (naturally) as a base layer of color for the leaves and stems in the design. From there, I started building more colors. You can see how readily the Chromaflow pigments fill larger areas and how, when sharpened to a fine point, they work well for details, too.
The next video is a continuation of my coloring process. Some of you might notice I wear an artist’s glove on my right hand when coloring. I started using one when working on my iPad creating line art, but soon realized it worked well while coloring with pencils, too⏤especially when it is warm and my hands get a little sticky. It keeps oils (from hand lotion, etc.) from smudging my paper and minimizes some of the color lift from my pencil work. Using a glove really helps, and my hand does not get hot at all while wearing one.
Also appearing in the video (though very briefly) is a Tim Holtz Distress Blending Brush which I use just for keeping my paper clear of debris. It’s a round brush that retracts into its own nifty cylinder so the bristles stay neat.
Once you download the PDF, you can print it on your favorite paper⏤and as always, my PDFs come with a bonus grey-line version of the design if you prefer less emphasis on black lines.
Win a set of Chromaflow pencils!
Thanks to Derwent and Blick kindly sending me several sets of pencils to give away, I’ll be holding multiple contests and giveaways between now and the end of summer, 2021!
The first giveaway for a brand new set of 12 Chromaflow colored pencils starts today (Wednesday, June 16, 2021, and the winner will be chosen on Wednesday, June 30, 2021!
Here are the rules:
Follow my blog, give this post a like, and let me know your favorite Derwent pencils in the comments section of this post.
Find the two RubyCharmColors videos posted above on YouTube, give them both a thumbs-up, and let me know your favorite flowers to color in the comment section under one of the videos.
Visit the new Ruby Charm Colors PDF Shop, scroll to the bottom of the page and subscribe for special announcements. You can always unsubscribe down the road.
Participants who complete the three steps above by midnight (EST) on Tuesday, June 29 will then be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be announced here and on Instagram and Facebook at noon (EST), Wednesday June 30th.
Winner will also be contacted via email and will need to provide a physical mailing address so I can ship the pencils. Winner will be provided a tracking number when their pencils are shipped.
** Please note that although I received pencils from Derwent via Blick, I do not work for either entity and this contest / giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Derwent and/or Blick (aside from providing the products to award a winner), Instagram or Facebook.
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. 😉
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.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of working on a commissioned painting—something I don’t do that often since I have been funneling all of my time and energy into drawing designs, working on books, and going to lots of my daughter’s volleyball games. But when Vanessa reached out to me about this project, I couldn’t resist. I wanted a break from drawing black lines, so mixing up some colors to splash on a canvas was just what I needed. And it was a secret project since it was going to be a surprise for Vanessa’s daughter, Elizabeth, and her business partner, Shaelene, who were getting ready to open a brand new salon in Lethbridge, Alberta, called Rebel. Vanessa wanted a piece that would complement the colors they had planned for the salon and tie in with some of their personal interests.
I pulled together some swatches that might work with the photos and description Vanessa gave me of their colors, we messaged one another back and forth on ideas, and the image I wanted to paint took shape fairly quickly. Off to the art store for a new canvas and extra paints.
One of the ideas that came up was to incorporate a pair of scissors in the painting—hidden just enough that they didn’t dominate the painting, but instead, offered a little ah-ha moment for those who looked closely enough. After a few sketches, I decided the scissors would fit nicely into the tail of this rather extravagant moth I had sketched. And they had to be gold.
Once I had the design transferred to my canvas, I stated laying down blocks of color starting with the gold scissors. The first coat was a bit translucent, so I had to keep building up my layers until I was happy with the outcome.
I’ve long been keen on incorporating found objects into my beading and embroidery projects and wanted to do the same on this canvas to give it more depth and interest. I dug through my boxes of buttons, metal, jewelry and beading bits and settled on a number of pieces that would work including a large wood circle that would work as a focal point.
And here it is in its new home at the Rebel Salon with Shaelene (left) and Elizabeth (right). Cheers to these lovely rebels and their new business venture! Congratulations, and I wish you both so much success!
And last but not least, cheers and a very special thank you to Vanessa for bringing us all together in a creative way. I love knowing my moth is north of the border and with fabulous company—the best to you always, Vanessa!
A little about the Rebel Salon from their Instagram feed:
* A person who rises in opposition that defies rules and norms. They value spontaneity and their freedom, and are independent-minded. They want their lives to be a true expression of their values •
When we were trying to name our salon, we easily went back and forth for about a month on different ideas! We wanted something that spoke to us, had meaning, and represented our journey/ who we are!🌟
And then came REBEL⚡️ Immediately we both knew this was it! We look up to strong, independent-minded women both within our industry and outside of it, and wanted our salon to be a collective of women who embody these characteristics. So here we are, taking our shot at our dream for a space where creativity can flow and we can share our passion with you all!
Love this so much. Keep creating, stay smart and strong my friends!
Following a few photos of the book, I included a description of what you can expect to find in the Big Book of Color Charts. I spent a lot of time polling coloring book fans and members of the Ruby Charm Colors Facebook community to find out what their favorite pencil sets were and a lot of time researching pencils on the Internet to settle on a list of the most popular brands (see below).
Of course there are many more brands in existence, but to fit them all into one book would fill hundreds more pages and wouldn’t be terribly practical for any of us. Hence the ample number of blank charts at the end of the book for adding in those lesser-known charts. In the end, I hope this is a book that will help you further enjoy your coloring adventures!
I removed the Tombow Irojiten page from one of my ‘author proof’ copies of the book to swatch out the colors I currently have, then wrote numbers in pencil next to the colors I have more than one of. This will help when it’s time to order replacement pencils since I’ve accidentally ordered duplicates in the past from Blick. I folded this chart in half and keep it in my zippered pencil case with my Irojitens for quick reference.
This big book of colored pencil charts for adult coloring book and colored pencil enthusiasts is useful for those wanting all of their coloured pencils, pastels, inks, watercolor pencils, gel pens and markers swatched in one handy book.
This is a landscape-oriented, perfect-bound book with a full color cover, black and white interior, and is 230 pages long. It consists of:
Table of Contents
Index page to list your custom color charts and page numbers
27 pre-labeled charts for popular colored pencil brands (see list below)
Pre-labeled charts for pastel pencils, ink, watercolor pencils & markers (see lists below)
Blank charts by color family (reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, violets, browns, greys, blacks & whites)
Blanks charts for additional brands & color combos
Black charts for swatching light colors
Room for notes
A few fun Ruby Charm Colors designs you can color
Basic color theory (inside) with color wheel (back cover)
PRE-LABELED COLORED PENCIL BRAND CHARTS:
Caran d’Ache Luminance
Caran d’Ache Pablo
Chameleon Color Tones
Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
Prismacolor Premier + Verithin
Special Luminance & Lightfast Combo
PRE-LABELED PASTEL PENCIL CHARTS:
Caran d’Ache; Derwent; Faber-Castell; Koh-I-Noor; Stabilo
PRE-LABELED INK CHARTS:
Dr. Ph. Martin and Tim Holtz Distressed
PRE-LABELED WATERCOLOR PENCIL CHARTS:
Arteza; Bruynzeel; Caran d’Ache Museum, Neocolor II & Supracolor; Derwent Graphitint; Derwent Inktense; Derwent Watercolor; Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer
PRE-LABELED MARKER CHARTS:
Arteza Real Brush Pens; Copics; Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens; Spectrum Noir Illustrator Markers; Tombow Dual Brush Pens
The blank charts section of the book will give you ample room to swatch additional brands that are not listed. Some of the charts are numbered while others have a total count of the swatch spaces so you can more easily determine which chart will work best for the sets you have. Charts organized by color family let you swatch all your reds on one page, blues on another, etc. which is helpful when looking for the perfect hue regardless of brand.
IMPORTANT: watercolor and marker pages have black-backed pages to minimize bleed-through. The paper in this book (depending on where it was printed through KPD) is fairly tough, but obviously thinner than watercolor paper or card stock. Colors can look splotchy until they are completely dry. We recommend using a sheet of card stock or plastic to help protect the pages underneath from colors bleeding through as well as potential rub-through of pencil pigments while swatching.
You can make PERSONAL COPIES of the charts you plan to use onto your favorite paper or card stock if the paper in this book feels too thin for your needs, or, if you just want to put those pages of the charts you are using into a ring binder for safe keeping.
You can also deconstruct this book for ease of use, so feel free to take it apart, keep the pages you are using in one binder, and store the rest in case you need them later. Many office supply stores (and FedEx service centers) will remove the spine and even spiral-bind or punch holes in the book for you for a small fee.
If you choose to do it yourself, I have a step-by-step tutorial using another Ruby Charm Colors book (Creative Companion Book Binding DIY) on my blog. Or keep it as is—the choice is yours! It is meant to be a book that grows along with you and your artistic needs.
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.
A few weeks ago, I started playing around with printing my coloring book line art on scrapbook paper. At the time I was running low on inspiration for a winged horse design I was working on for my Etsy shop and couldn’t come up with a background I was especially happy with. I sketched out quite a few different ideas but nothing was clicking. A few hours later, I printed a copy of the horse on white paper and left it on my desk for the rest of the day. Still nothing. As I was falling asleep that night, I realized I had a few sheets of specialty paper stashed away in a file cabinet.
The next morning, I found the paper and ran a sheet through my printer with the horse design. The faint pre-printed leaves and flowers looked interesting behind the horse even though a fern leaf made the horse look like a unicorn. I pulled out the Polychromos color chart from my Creative Companion and picked out a few pencils that matched the colors of the pre-printed paper and started to play around. The paper was a bit too thin for my liking, but the process of coloring this horse got my wheels turning.
In light of thinking about my friends in the coloring community being in isolation during the corona pandemic (with all the potential stresses about getting sick, losing income, not having enough to eat, etc.), I decided to give the design away as a gift and also encourage others to find some non-white, pre-printed paper to print the horse. Sort of a scavenger hunt and art challenge wrapped into one to help focus on something positive and creative during these uncertain times. So I let the horse go and added it to the collection of freebies in our Ruby Charm Colors Facebook community.
A few days later, colorists in our little community started posting beautiful winged -horse colorings and that inspired me to try printing different designs on pre-printed paper. I pulled two boxes filled with scrapbook paper I bought several years ago for a special project and printed the winged horse again—this time on Tim Holtz Idea-ology scrapbook paper. Then I printed my Botanical Crab on paper featuring the Eiffel Tower and handwriting. And the giraffes (which is a new design I recently listed on Etsy) on paper that looked like elephant skin (or maybe marble?), and a cat on a map.
I got busy coloring. It helped take my mind off the Rona and gave me a chance to mull over a few ideas while having fun with the whole concept of incorporating pre-printed scrapbook paper backgrounds with my own art. Collage art in a way.
There are times I truly enjoy filling up a whole page with color and putting a lot of thought into a background, but there are also times that coming up with a background presents a challenge—lack of ideas, lack of time, etc.. Having the background already done can give us the ability to focus on the subject and also give us some degree of direction when it comes to choosing a color palette. For example, with my first winged-horse coloring, I tried to pick up the colors of the flowers and leaves with a few additional colors to make the horse stand out.
More colorings of the winged-horse started appearing in my social media feeds and colorists seemed like they were having a lot of fun working with pre-printed paper, and some even went a step further and created their own patterned paper as a backdrop. It then occurred to me that having a collection of simple, single designs for printing especially on scrapbook or other specialty paper might be a lot of fun for colorists to experiment with.
Scrapbook paper seems to work well because it is fairly thick like card stock and can handle a bit of water as well as colored pencils. I have a few packs of paper designed by Tim Holtz (Crowded Attic, French Industrial, Destinations, Wallflower and Kraft Resist collections which each have a mix of about 36 pages). I also have two large packs of scrapbook paper made by Recollections but the paper is a bit thin and a little on the slick side. Not impossible to work with, but not as luxurious as the Tim Holtz Idea-ology papers when it comes to colored pencils and watercolors. You can find lots of different designs and collections of scrapbook paper by the sheet or pad at Joann Fabric, Michaels, the Scrapbooking-Warehouse and even Amazon. There are so many different styles and themes you are sure to find something that inspires you.
One of the Tim Holtz pages I found (not positive which collection since some of the papers in my boxes got mixed up) featured a map. Since the background was filled with geological features likes hills, lakes and rivers, I used those features to adorn the cat by simply drawing over them with sharp Irojiten pencils over a layer of Polychromos.
Once finished, I trimmed the page even further—from 8.5 x 11″ down to about 7 x 9.5″ so it would fit in my Creative Companion notebook (a pretty pale blue Franklin Planner and you can see how I did this here).
Choosing the perfect piece of paper to print a design on can be a little daunting. Some of the patterns may be too dark or too busy, or maybe the style of the art itself presents challenges. Like a collage, though, you can come up with some really unique and interesting juxtapositions and variations. The next challenge is figuring out where on the paper the design should print. Since my scrapbook pads are 12 x 12″ sheets, I knew I had to trim them to fit my printer.
The best way to figure out where the design needs to be on the scrapbook paper is to print a copy of the design itself on regular white printer paper first. I used the “shrink to fit” setting on my printer as well as the “economy” setting so I wouldn’t waste too much ink. Why take this extra step ? You could print your design without checking first, but since scrapbook paper can be a bit expensive, and since the number of your favorite pages are limited (sometimes only one or two copies of a particular page in a whole pack) it would be a shame to muck it up. The fancy paper I am using for this design is from the Tim Holtz Paper Stash collection called Wallflower. If you have a really nice sheet of scrapbook or fancy paper you don’t want to ruin, learn from my mistakes and print on plain paper first!
Okay, next, I placed my white printed page over the nice scrapbook paper and carefully lifted it up in a few different directions to see where things would align and overlap. In the video below, I tried to make sure my bird design would not interfere with the pre-printed bird, a Robin, but I wasn’t as worried about my bird overlapping the egg or the tree.
Once I had the design where I wanted it, I simply traced around my 8.5 x 11″ sheet of paper with a pencil (see below). I could have been more precise by using a ruler, but I wasn’t too worried about perfect edges. As long as it would feed through the printer, I’d be happy.
Below is the scrapbook paper cut to size with the new bird design printed on it. Tip: save the scraps of paper you trim off—they are great for testing your pencils and paints. Some brands will work better than others depending on the quality and surface texture of the scrapbook or other specialty paper, and some colors will be more perfect than others. I also test out which blender pencils and burnishing sticks work best on any given paper, and test my gels pens on the scraps, too.
For this bird page, I used my color chart to pick the Polychromos colors I wanted to work with. For the Tim Holtz Paper Stash papers, the Polychromos and Irojitens seem to work really well for me.
Build your pencils layers slowly and add depth as you go. And again, test on scraps first as this can save heartache when something doesn’t go right on your good paper.
All I colored for this project was the bird I printed, a little bit of green on the leaves of the tree, and a little purple and green along the left edge number chart. It didn’t take long at all, was very satisfying, and I ended up with an interesting coloring that would look nice in a frame on a wall. Might be sort fun to make a few of these for gifts, yes?
Part of the paper I trimmed off had a feather on it so I started cutting it out to maybe glue to the finished piece … just an idea for now.
Each one of these designs can be printed at 100% or enlarged or shrunk depending on your computer skills and available programs or apps, and on your printer’s capabilities of course. It really does help to print a copy of the design you like on plain inexpensive paper first. Try resizing the design by playing with the print settings from the PDF file.
You can even take a screenshot of the design and paste it into a program like Photoshop, Microsoft Word or Pages if you want to rotate or flip an image. I flipped my bird by doing this in Pages. Here are a few screenshots showing some of the settings I have in Pages. Once I took a screenshot of the PDF image (using Command + fn + Shift + 4 keys on my keyboard on a Mac) I pasted the captured image into a page.
From there I could resize the image, Flip it horizontally, and rotate it. Once I had it where I wanted it on the page, I printed a copy on plain white paper.
It took a few tries to get it where I wanted it, but again, printing a few copies on cheap paper saved my more expensive scrapbook paper for the final copy. And again, since there are sometimes only one or two sheets of a certain pattern or design in a scrapbook pad, you really want to make sure you get it right the first time.
I hope to put another pack of simple designs together in the future (maybe add a few plants and flowers) and am looking forward to playing around with this whole coloring on scrapbook paper even more in the future. Coloring is such an enjoyable activity, and taking it to the next level by experimenting with different paper can really elevate the outcome.