Volume 2 is finally done and residing on Amazon as a link you can click to purchase a book full of coloring goodness—especially when paired with Volume 1 (see a review of V1 here). I ran into a few issues during this project and they set me back in regard to time, but I think it was worth the wait. The books are done and I am ready to work on an Art Journal companion that should dovetail nicely with the adult coloring books.
The upcoming Companion will be more like a journal (similar to a bullet journal) with plenty of room to write, calendars, and lists for those who love coloring and art in general. There will also be lots of little illustrations to color and doodle around with, so stay tuned! The tentative release is late October / early November—definitely in time for the holidays!
Volume 2 of the Ruby Charm Colors Adult Coloring Art Journal
Paisley Fox page from the Ruby Charm Colors Adult Coloring Art Journal, Volume 2
My review proof of the Ruby Charm Colors Adult Coloring Art Journal arrived in the mail yesterday and I took a moment this morning to create a quick flip-through of the contents if you are interested in checking it out. My video skills are not the best, so my apologies, but here it is …
Like Volume 1, this book was designed especially for colored pencil fanatics and has full plate illustrations (22 in v1 and 24 in v2) along with room to test your colors and play around with smaller bits taken from the illustrations, plus new tips, color charts and room for notes. It should be available on Amazon later this week!
My Sea Lions illustration for coloring was completed using a simple “resist” technique for parts of the background and for the fish and sea lions.
In Volume 2 of the RCC Adult Coloring Art Journal (which should be on Amazon before too long), I wrote a bit about experimenting with a resist technique so I wanted to share more information (and photos) in conjunction with the upcoming book. I used the Sea Lions circle design on page 107 from Volume 1 of the RCC Art Journal which is available on Amazon now so I could take some photos for this tutorial. Since I tend to be a little long-winded, I’ll try to break this all down to the most basic steps. More pics, less talk. 😉
Feel free to post questions in the comments below if you need to know more—I am always happy to help!
A shot of my messy desk and (nearly finished) work in progress
For starters, using the wax/oil resist technique can help you add more interest to your backgrounds and add unique patterns to your subjects. You can cover a lot of ground fairly quickly when using watercolors in conjunction with pencils, and add more depth and richness to your coloring overall.
I would recommend copying the illustrations you plan to use watercolors with onto thicker card stock if you can. If water is used sparingly, though, it can be used in a book like I did. Of course, one of the best benefits of making a copy is that you always have a clean image to go back to and copy again if needed.
I did have a little bleed through on page 108, but since it is a worksheet / journal page for the accompanying full Sea Lions illustration (Plate 21) on page 109, I wasn’t too worried. I can still test colors on this page and play around if I want (though I won’t use watercolors or markers on it now that I colored the circle image on the other side).
I used a clear clipboard underneath the page I was working on to make sure nothing bled through to Plate 21, but also so that I had a nice hard surface to work on and could fold the rest of the book under it.
A little bleed-through on page 108
Which pencils work best for the resist technique? All colored pencils have a mix of waxes and oils in them, but some work better than others when it comes to resisting water. Here’s my first quick and messy test with the pencils I have on hand:
Prismacolor won by a long shot with the Pablo, Bruynzeel and Luminance coming in a close second. I do not have a white Holbein pencil, but based on my test using a yellow Holbein, they seem to do quite well, too. I used fairly firm pressure when applying each pencil stroke. The tip of the Bruynzell pencil snapped when I was writing the “N” and it was pretty crumbly overall. A little disappointing, but it could just be my pencil. They still seem to perform fairly well for resisting water. I used Winsor & Newton watercolors and worked on fairly thin but tough paper in the RCC Art Journal so there is a little wave where the water was applied.
My guess is that if you don’t have Prismacolors or one of the other brands that did well in my test, you can still make this technique work by going over your “resist” areas a few times. Here is another swatch I made using one of the color charts (included in the back of my book) using a few colors in addition to white. I could have done more color combinations, but you get the idea … the sky is the limit when it comes to the variety of colored pencils and watercolor hues you can use. Test them out first, though. Some of the colors I thought might look nice just didn’t produce the results I wanted:
Color chart from the RCC Art Journal testing various colored pencils with Winsor & Newton pan watercolors
I also tried a Caran d’Ache Blender Bright (the scrap I tested it on disappeared, sorry) and decided to use it for the first sea lion by drawing small circles for the resist. It was difficult to see where I was drawing, so I angled my small goose-neck desk lamp around until I could see the shine of the waxy pencil against the more matte surface of the paper:
Adding white (clear) circles
Adding a little Holbein Sky Blue for the resist
After adding blue circles, I used my Kurtake water brush to lightly wash some paint over the surface. I got a little sloppy, but after I work over these areas with pencil, they shouldn’t be too noticeable. While that dried, I added spots to the fish scales with Holbein Cream and Salmon Pink—again, pressing fairly hard with the pencils:
After the spots were added, I washed over the fish with a mix of red and yellow watercolors. You can see the how the wash over the pencils really adds nice depth and texture to the fish scales once the resist works its magic. If I had tried to shade each one of these little scales with just pencils, it would have taken me weeks!
Watercolor over Holbein spots on the fish
All the fishies with watercolor wash
After completing the scales on all the fish, the second sea lion got a few stripes with Prismacolor Sky Blue Light. I went over my squiggle lines twice to make sure the wax from the pencil really coated the paper. I also used a small dry brush to whisk away the crumbs:
And then the second sea lion got a wash of blue. I tried to work fairly quickly and smoothly, but watercolors can pool and streak a little. I picked a small section at a time and kept my brush moving with just enough water to blend.
The nice thing about going over watercolor (once it’s dried) with colored pencil is that most of those weird streaks and spots can be smoothed out. Of course sometimes they can be pretty interesting, so be sure to look at your work carefully first to see what can stay and what might need a little blending. In this pic, the Sea Lion is still a little blotchy because it is wet.
Still wet and blotchy but it will dry just fine
Here’s a shot of my clip-board set up. I tucked it under my page snugged up to the spine, tucked the left side of the book underneath, and clipped the top of the page under the bar. Once I folder the rest of the book under the clip board, it was a lot easier to rotate the book around at different angles so I could reach areas of my art without smudging it or getting my hand full of blue paint.
Next I added some white squiggles in the center of the circle on the back of the first sea lion. Not the best picture of the squiggles, sorry! The sun was coming in and out of the clouds while working in my studio and playing all sorts of havoc with my lighting. No complaints, though—the sun can shine all it wants.
After I painted over the squiggles in the circle, I snapped a pic right away to show you something important. Can you see the dark blobs from the page behind it showing through? If this happens to you (especially if you are working in this or another coloring book) don’t freak out. Let it thoroughly dry and those dark blobs should disappear.
And pulling back a little to see where we are so far. The paper in the RCC Art Journal is a little wavy (but it will flatten out once you start coloring on it with your pencils):
I grabbed my coveted Luminance Raw Ochre and Raw Sienna to use on the fish …
And a mix of pencils to start giving the fish on the left a little more depth and definition. Notice how the circle on the top sea lion has dried out? Those weird dark blobs are gone now though the paint is a little streaky. I’ll smooth that out shortly.
I then started working on the first sea lion again with a few different turquoise blues (Polychromos and Prisma) …
… and used my Luminance Buff Titanium and white to start blending, then Irojiten Indigo and King Fisher to start sharpening and defining some of the lines.
Lots of layers to blend my colors together ….
… and once I got the first sea lion where I wanted it, I used Sakura gel pens to add some dots:
For the background, I used Turquoise and Green Oxide Neocolor II pastels by Caran d’Ache as my watercolor layer over the white stripes I drew with the Blender Bright pencil. Once handy thing about using wax resist on backgrounds is that it sections them off nicely to separate your colors if you want.
Important: instead of drawing with the Neocolor pastels directly on the paper, I used my water brush to get the blunt or flat end of the pastel wet and picked up color there to apply to the paper. Drawing with watercolor pastels or pencils over the lines and shapes you want to resist water can mess them up a bit, so it’s best to get your pigments wet first and apply them with a brush. You can even shave off a little of the pastel and mix it with water in a small cup, yogurt lid, or watercolor pan if you have one. A little shaving of the pastel goes a long way.
More of the green background stripes:
And an overall shot of where I am so far:
I used Crimson Aubergine, Crimson Alzarin and Yellow Ochre Luminance to start building color on the swirls coming off the fish fins, and burnished a bit with a Verithin Tuscan Red pencil (nice and sharp). Next, I grabbed the Cactus Green Irojiten pencil to lightly scribble in little circular shapes over the dried brighter green watercolor areas to give it some texture:
Since I move back and forth between different areas of the coloring quite a bit, I try to keep the pencils I am using grouped together in a few rectangular tins I picked up at Michaels. They keep my pencils from rolling off my desk and help keep me organized. In the pic below, I was working on the green areas around the moon shape with Luminance Olive Yellow and blending with Buff Titanium, then a little Irojiten Turquoise for burnishing and Midnight to add a little definition around the cheek area. (A little too much waxy reflection going on this this photo, my apologies).
More refining with Irojiten Midnight around the circle on the bottom sea lion and a little Mulberry around the circle on the top sea lion …
A little more Tuscan Red to define the fish …
And after finishing up the rest of the fish faces and fins with a mix of pencils (lots of blanding and burnishing), I used Irojiten Hummingbird, Jay Blue, Verdigris and Sage green pencils to smooth out some of the splotchy areas of the blue/green background. I worked very lightly in these areas so that the texture and translucence of the watercolor still had plenty of presence. I added a few more embellishments and dots with the Sakura gel pens, then used a dark turquoise Sakura Moonlight gel pen to draw tiny circles around the entire large circle.
Knowing me, I might go back to it again to add a little something more, but for now it is done.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful! If there is another tutorial you would like to see, please let me know in the comments below, and subscribe to the blog if you would like. I won’t spam you with needless junk, promise—just notifications when I post something new to the blog every few weeks.
Happy coloring, and keep your eyes open for the release of the Ruby Charm Colors Adult Coloring Art Journal Volume 2!
If there were a space for a subtitle, it would read: The Making of a Book – How I Nearly Lost my Marbles
The past few months, I have been diligently working on producing a two-volume collection of the art I created especially for coloring over the past year or so, and I can finally hold the fruits of my labor in my hands—the very first proof copy of Volume 1.
It is equally exciting and terrifying.
Exciting to feel the velvety, matte black cover and finally be able to flip through a professionally bound version of my book instead of the messy draft I cobbled together in a 3-ring binder. Terrified because my work is headed out into the world, and what if I missed a stupid typo, or what if there is a quality problem with Print-on-Demand I can’t control? What if people hate the paper? So many what-if’s, yet an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment holds me steady and keeps me moving forward. I finally did what I set out to do, and I can now offer my art on Amazon to a wider audience as a less-expensive version of the locally-printed, hand-made books I currently sell on Etsy.
Mapping out the draft of the book took a lot of time and loads of paper and printer ink. My poor old Epson was put to the test this summer and it’s tired. And I used an awful lot of tape. In addition to each of the 22 plates (full illustrations), I recreated isolated parts of the plates to build the art journal pages. I could have used simple boxes or circles colorists could use as swatches to test out their colors, but thought it would be even more useful if people could experiment with the actual parts of each illustration before working on the plates if they wanted. In the video below, you can see how I built mock-ups of the pages. The ring-binder and tape method worked pretty well because it allowed me to move things around as needed.
Once the draft was in good shape and I knew the final page count would be at about 140, I used Adobe InDesign to build the file I would need to submit the book to the publisher. I had to keep Illustrator and Photoshop open on my computer (and keep my iPad with all my illustrations on it handy) since I was adding in so many smaller designs to my pages and they all needed a little fussing and nudging. I work on a small MacBook Air I’ve had for ages and it’s plugged into a second monitor, but it’s not very big either. I think this is partly why I felt I needed a physical copy to work with so I could see whole pages at their actual size.
The cover design went through a few different iterations and I finally settled on a black cover with a circle of colorful art in the center. I also spent a ton of time searching for the perfect title font and found it through Emily Spadoni. And then once I committed to and paid for it, decided to go back into the interior of the book and change all my headings to that playful font, too. Seemingly little changes can sometimes take hours of work.
Once the interior and cover were done, I submitted my files to CreateSpace and held my breath. The digital proof came back with errors. So many errors. A bunch of my graphics had somehow converted to a lower ppi between Photoshop and Illustrator before making it into InDesign, and the margins and bleeds were mucked up in spots. I had to redo a bunch of graphics and fiddle with the margins and bleeds which was tricky for some of the graphics since they overlapped and purposely fell off the pages in areas. And I intentionally rotated some of the images so that caused even more chaos during the review process. It was a lot of excruciating nit-picking to get it all right. When the proverbial light turned green after a few more rounds of submissions (days and days of back-and-forth), I ordered physical proofs with expedited shipping. Whoo-hoo!
As soon as I got the proofs in the mail, I sent copies to my trusty coloring team so they could take their own book for a test drive and help me with a little feedback. Their comments were incredibly useful and reassuring, and I’ll be forever grateful to them. Paula, Lora, and Lucia—you are a dream team—thank you!
Since July, I have put in an average of 8 to 10 hours a day planning the layout, writing text for the introduction and “coloring tips” pages, creating smaller versions of my illustrations to build the art journal pages, and designing the cover. It’s been a long process and I’ve learned so much along the way. Not only about how to create a book, but about what makes me tick and how dedication and hard work can turn into something tangible—something to be proud of seeing through from inception to reality, start to finish.
Notes and binders during the planning stages of the Ruby Charm Colors Adult Coloring Art Journal (with Starbucks – coffee was a critical part of the work process)
This book is a little different from other coloring books. A lot of thought went into the concept and layout. I didn’t want the book to be a simple collection of drawings to color, I wanted it to be an art journal—a place where colorists could play and experiment and exercise their creative muscles. I am fairly new to coloring (I really only started when I began creating line art specifically for coloring last year) and admittedly have very few coloring books.
What I noticed about my coloring habits, though, is that I always needed a few scraps of paper nearby to test my colors. I would jot down notes about which pencils I was using, and had lots of scribbles and color swatches. A lot of times, those swatches and notes would get lost, so if I went back to finish a piece days or weeks later, I’d have to try to retrace where I started and what I used. I knew that others had the same issue and this is where the idea of a coloring art journal came into play.
My marked up proof of the Ruby Charm Colors book showing the art journal page on the left and the full plate for coloring on the right.
I want colorists to have a place to keep their ideas together—all those little notes and blended color swatches. A go-to journal that can store ideas and coloring discoveries that can be applied not only to my art in this book, but to other pieces of art in other books as well. Each art journal (or worksheet) page is a little different from the others and directly relates to the illustration from the full plate. And colorists can fill these pages out however they see fit. There are no rules for how something is colored, what is tracked or what is scribbled—it’s all up to the colorist.
Since I knew going into this project using CreateSpace meant the book’s paper would not be ideal for everyone (some love it, some hate it) I decided to back each plate with a black page to help obscure color bleed-through. It’s not an issue with colored pencils at all, but some markers (especially Copics and Sharpies) can make a huge mess. I had my daughter try her Copics in the book, and though the effect of the bleed looked pretty cool through the black back, it’s probably not ideal.
So fair warning: I do not recommend heavy markers for this book at all. Watercolors can be used sparingly. It’s thin paper, and there is not much independent coloring book artists can do about it until CreateSpace hears our pleas for thicker paper, perforated pages and spiral-binding (which in my opinion would be ideal).
Here is a sample of Caran d’Ache Muesum and Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils using a Kurtake waterbrush (easy on the water). The paper warped a little, but not terrible. And while it was damp, a little of the black from the page behind it showed through. But once it completely dried, it was fine. Coloring over it with regular colored pencils helped flatten it back out. I wouldn’t recommend washing an entire page with water, but in small doses, it seems to be fine. This is partly why I encourage colorists to copy plates from the book onto their favorite type of paper or card stock if they would like. It also saves them a clean version to copy again if needed.
Each plate has a dark background on the reverse side and includes the name of the plate and room for you to add your name if you like to give your art away, or if you like to cut it out of the book and store it in a binder.
I also tried coloring a fiddlehead fern design on the back of one plate and yes, coloring on black works pretty well and is a lot of fun. Don’t be surprised to see a Black Magic Art Journal before too long.
I couldn’t resist coloring on the black page
The final book proof should arrive in the mail any day and I am anxious to go through it one last time before bringing it to life on Amazon. In the meantime, I am working my way through Volume 2 (same format but with 24 full illustration plates to complete the collection, and new, more advanced advanced coloring tips) as well as ideas for a Journal, a “Just the Plates” companion (with all 46 plates), and a Black Magic volume. Will I make it for the holidays? Only time will tell!
Below is a quick flip-through of my first proof if you want to take a peek. It shows the color charts at the end of the book, the plates and art journal pages, the tips pages and the front matter. I may have skipped a few pages—I am not the best flipper. 😉
Give my blog a follow for updates, and I promise I won’t fill your inbox up with spam. You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook @RubyCharmColors and, pssst! My coloring team is hosting a Color-Along from September 7 to October 7 if you want to get your hands on an excerpt from the book to color … Autumn Cat! Join the RubyCharmColors FB group, look for the Color-Along event, download the file, and happy coloring!
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