It’s been a while since I posted (sometimes life takes us in crazy directions … and I have a daughter very close to graduation and getting ready for college so that’s thrown things into a very expensive, busy-tizzy time for this mom) but after making the Floral Coyote available on Etsy and my website as a downloadable coloring page, I colored a version on black card stock just to spend some time with my pencils. I haven’t colored much lately and really need to get back to it for my sanity and for some personal inspiration. And honestly, sometimes there’s no better way to chill out and regroup.
The slides below show my progress coloring this piece. I used a mix of Prismacolors to lay down my base layers of color (lots of very light-pressure layers) and then Irojitens toward the end for some burnishing and blending in areas, and for a few details. The Irojiten pencils are fairly hard and sharpen to a really nice point so you can get into small areas, and I like them for adding extra designs to a coloring (like the simple leafy vines toward the end).
In the slides, you can see the slow build-up of layers. I haven’t fully burnished this coloring yet so you will notice a lot of black speckles in the photos. Burnishing will remove them, but for now, I am happy with the coloring and it looks less speckled in person. My camera really picked up the texture of the paper!
I also used a few opaque Sakura gel pens for the embellished dots toward the end.
Here is a still shot of the finale piece, plus a picture of the coloring I did on white for the Etsy and website downloadable, printable coloring page listings. The coloring on white was done with Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils, Polychromos pencils, and the Caran d’Ache Buff Titanium pencil. I added extra leaves to that one as well, and used Sakura gel pens and a fine tip Molotow Liquid Chrome Marker for the embellished dots. The card stock warped a bit with the Inktense because I used a bigger waterbrubrush that spit out more water than I usually use. I was impatient … lesson learned (maybe).
That’s all for now, but I’ll be back soon with a few exciting announcements on my blog, as well as in our Facebook group and Instagram. In the meantime, I hope you find time to do a little something creative each and every day!
Due to a flood of requests since the fourth run of books sold out, I opened up preorders for the Artist Edition of the Big Book of Color Charts. These books are printed in small batches just a few times a year. This is an exact reprint of the previous Artist Edition book and they sell out pretty quickly. To learn more about this book and see the full list of color charts, click here.
Have you ever noticed how different your actual pencil colors look on paper compared to what’s been printed on the tin or on the pre-printed color chart that came with your set? Sometimes it’s a big surprise, other times a disappointment. This is why I use my personal copy of the charts book every time I pull out my pencils to color. Swatching and using color charts isn’t for everyone (it can be tedious no doubt), but I find having exact color representations of my pencils and other media helps me get the results I want while coloring.
The Artist Edition of this book comes with 5 tabbed sections, but I added removable tabs on the right side of the book for specific pencils I use a lot. You can pick these up at just about any office supply store.
Since I had already filled out many of the pages from the very first edition of this book (which is not spiral-bound and on thinner paper), I removed them from the book and keep them as extra charts in some of my pencils cases as a quick reference. This less expensive version of the charts book is here on Amazon.
Finally, even if you don’t love swatching, or if you don’t plan on collecting all of the brands in the book, there is lots to color! Almost every page has a little something to splash some color on, and there are full coloring pages scattered throughout as well. I love the little designs when I don’t have a lot of time to tackle a new full size coloring page, but really want to play around with my pencils. The designs in this book are great for experimenting, too. All of the art in this book was drawn by me … no artificial intelligence (AI) generated art or cheesy clip art. A heartfelt thank you to all who support my work – I appreciate you!
That’s all for now. Hope you are finding time for creativity – it’s good for the heart and soul.
My newest design⏤so new it’s not in the Colouring Heaven SeaLife collection⏤can be found here on my website, and also on Etsy. I really enjoyed drawing this Dolphin Trio and then spent a few days taking it for a test drive. My colors are a bit on the soft and muted side and there are a few things I might have done differently, but I had fun adding some extra details and giving my Caran d’Ache Luminance, Derwent Lightfast, and Irojiten pencils a workout.
If you are a part of the RubyCharmColors community on Facebook, we are taking the month of January to post photos (and maybe some videos) of how everyone is filling in their Big Book of Color Charts. Stay tuned because I’ll be doing a blog post about the benefits of color swatching and will be featuring color charts and pages from our community!
That’s all for now⏤cheers to a new year ahead, my friends!
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!
What could be better than combining your love of coloring with your love of books and reading? And aside from using these DIY bookmarks in your own books, they make wonderful handmade gifts, too. They are a lot of fun to color and assemble, and I’ll show you the basic steps I took to make my very first one which turned out like this:
I highly recommend printing your bookmark page on heavier paper. I use 65# white card stock by Recollections which can be purchased at any Michael’s craft store, but I also like a few other brands as well. Card stock is nice to color on and you can use some watercolors too (with just a little buckling depending on the amount used), plus the card stock just feels sturdier⏤like a bookmark should feel.
Don’t forget to check your printer settings to be sure the entire image fits on your page. You want to be sure you can see the guide lines (and the little scissors around the edges). After you print out your bookmark, get busy coloring! I prefer to color the entire bookmark first, before making any cuts, but you can do whatever you are comfortable with. If you decide to color before cutting, you can easily test your colors in the margins since the excess paper will be trimmed away. You might recognize the color chart on the left⏤it is one of the Holbein pages from the Big Book of Color Charts. I used mostly Holbein pencils for my fish bookmark.
In the photo below, you can see how the bookmarks are laid out. For each sheet, you have the option of making 2 two-sided bookmarks (when two of your colorings are back-to-back and folded), or, you can cut along the fold line instead and make four individual bookmarks (with black backs).
If you choose to make four bookmarks but still want a sturdier feel, you can always tape or glue scrapbook paper or some other type of heavier paper to the back side using double-sided tape (or glue if you prefer).
Each bookmark sheet has simple instructions and I included cut and fold lines for guidance.
Once I had the fish side of the bookmark colored, I colored the other side (the octopus). The fold line runs down the center between the two:
I also did a little blending and burnishing with the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright which should also help protect the bookmark. And of course I had to add some gel pen embellishments. I can’t help myself.
Once the octopus was colored, I cut along the right (outside) edge of the bookmark.
Then I cut along the left side (toward the center of the paper). Make sure you don’t accidentally cut along the fold line unless that is your intention.
Next, trim off the bottom and top pieces:
Once the edges are trimmed, I used a ruler and a fairly dull x-acto knife to gently run a straight line down the fold line. Make sure you do not cut all the way through the paper⏤all you need really to do is make a dent in the fibers of the paper itself so it is easier to make a clean bend and fold. You could use a proper paper folder tool like this one from Michaels, but any fairly blunt, hard edge will do.
Next comes the paper folding. I wrapped my hand over the card to get it to bend at the fold, then laid it down and carefully pressed my thumb down all along the folded edge to give it a good crease.
Once your bookmark has a good fold, it’s time to get out the double-sided tape. You could try glue but that can be messy and tape works great.
I covered the back of one side of the bookmark with double-stick tape and didn’t worry about going over the edges since that can always be trimmed. The important thing it to get a good seal along the outside edges.
Press the insides of your bookmark together and apply firm pressure all over the bookmark to get that tape to really stick. I tried not to rub back and forth too hard because I didn’t want to smudge my pencil and gel pen work …
I then grabbed a hole punch and added a piece of yarn so my bookmark has a tail. The yarn is about 8″ long so I folded it in half, pulled the folded end through the hole in the paper so I had about an inch or so long loop, then fished the two “tails” of yarn back through the loop I created and pulled it snug. Easy!
Since I want my bookmark to last a while, I decided to cover it with some sort of protection. First, I tried Mod Podge on the octopus side of the bookmark (after removing the yarn tail) and I ended up smudging the turquoise gel pen I used for the tentacles. Not terrible, but not great. It did not smudge the metallic pens I used thankfully. I used “Furniture Matte” Mod Podge (which is pretty thick) so I am wondering if maybe the regular Mod Podge would have been better? I also could have thinned it with a little water, but didn’t.
The next thing I tried (on the fancy fish side) was Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish. It did not smudge any of my colors at all, but since I didn’t use the turquoise gel pen on this side of the bookmark, I can’t be certain that wouldn’t have smudged, too. I also got a lot of paintbrush lines using both mediums but I don’t mind the texture too much. You could try a sponge or roller sponge for different texture, or slightly thin your medium with a little water for a smoother surface.
If you do plan to use a final fixative, be sure the test it out on a scrap of paper using the same pencils, gel pens, etc. you used on your bookmark to be sure it doesn’t get ruined. The safest best is probably a good spray fixative (using several coats on each side) but I just used what I had on hand. Lamination is another option worth trying if you have a laminator or don’t mind running to your local office supply store to have them do it for you.
Below is side two of Paula’s fishy bookmark (so beautiful!) and she told me she had no issues scoring and folding the watercolor paper she used. Wouldn’t this make a lovely handmade gift for someone who reads a lot?
These colored bookmarks can make wonderful handmade gifts. Pop one in an envelope and send it to a friend or family member to let them know you are thinking about them and spread the joy of coloring and reading!
As always, happy coloring and crafting, my friends!
UPDATE! Check out my friend Lora King’s fully colored sheet of bookmarks – so inspiring!! Lora is also on my coloring team and an admin in our Facebook coloring community. If you love coloring the Ruby Charm Colors designs, this wonderful community has a lot to offer in terms of inspiration, coloring techniques, art supplies … just plain fun. If you join, be sure to answer the simple questions so we know you are not some rotten bot. 😉
One of my coloring team members, Lora King, had an itch to color something really detailed, and since I had spent a little time working on a card-sized piece from the Mini Box collection, I thought it might be fun to redraw one of my original rabbit designs from 2017 with lots more detail. Below is my (unfinished) coloring of the original 2017 design using a mix of watercolor pencils and colored pencils. I did this when I first started playing around with coloring.
The rabbit design I included in the Mini Box collection had been resized to fit a 5.5 x 7.5″ card, so a portion of the artwork was cut off. I did this intentionally so the line art details would not be too reduced and too hard to color in this smaller physical format. Here is my colored version of the card (which is now in a sleeve in my planner) next to the original which was printed on 8.5 x 11″ card stock:
This smaller piece was a lot of fun to color and I used mostly Derwent Drawing and Lightfast pencils, plus Caran d’Ache Luminance and Irojiten pencils for all the details that I added in. And then I used a Luminance Titanium Buff pencil to blend all the patterns I created. For the sky background, I used Karen Spencer’s fab mica paints with a touch of watercolor pencil, and the colors were inspired by Paula Stone Leach’s coloring of my Kanga + Roo design.
After I finished this mini piece, I shared it with my coloring team, and that’s when Lora mentioned I should create a version with all of my little extra patterns already drawn in so she could color all the details. So I did (it took forever) and then sent her and the team the new line art PDF. A little time passed (a day or two?) and here is what Lora shared with me:
To say I was giddy when I saw her colored version is putting it mildly⏤how gorgeous! Lora’s colors are clear and bright, and I love that she incorporated what we call her signature turquoise and reds. Lora told me she used a mix of Holbein, Derwent Lightfast, and Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils along with Posca for the dots Cretacolor pastels, and also Caran d’Ache pastels for the background.
It is a challenging design to tackle, but one that will let you really become absorbed in color and pattern⏤and right now, in the time of the Rona and everything else that’s happening⏤is a very good thing. You can find this Fancy Rabbit design on Etsy!
Happy coloring and stay safe and healthy, my friends!
It’s been a long wait, but the Ruby Charm Colors Creative Companion: 2021 Organizer and Coloring Art Journal is now available on Amazon! Do you need one?
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a planner that has just a little structure and a whole lot of open space to organize what’s important to you—the way you find most useful and can grow organically with you throughout the year. This planner is a cross between a monthly organizer, a bullet journal, and an art journal and is divided into three general sections: calendars, a compendium for making lists, and a creative planner. There is also an index so you can record a title and page number whenever you create your own lists, notes, to-do pages, etc. somewhere in the book. And there’s plenty of art to color if you need to scratch a creative itch. You may also notice that this year’s Creative Companion is a little more compact which makes it easier to stash or toss in a bag.
Calendars The 2021 yearly calendar and a quick 2022 “look ahead” is followed by monthly calendars (see sample below) with ample room to plan ahead, jot down important dates, track your goals and accomplishments, and do some journaling. Like many, I use the calendar on my phone and iPad to set reminders and such, but when it comes to creative planning and personal notes, I still prefer paper so I can circle dates, color code tasks, and scribble ideas.
Compendium This section of the book is dedicated to making lists like art supply resources and wish lists, books, techniques, favorite websites, podcasts, and even a place to list your favorite hashtags if you are a social media junkie. There are plenty of blank pages to make custom lists—favorite Instagram accounts, gift-giving ideas, movies to watch, novels to read, email addresses, new flowers to plant in the garden—you get the idea.
Creative Planner The last part of the book is loosely divided into 8 different 10-page areas (each with its own artwork and a mix of graphed, lined and blank pages) though you can divide these areas up however you like. I use this part of my book to plan my own projects and have found that my planners from 2019 and 2020 are packed with important notes I still go back to today.
The first Creative Companion came out in 2019, and like the 2020 version, was 7.5″ wide by 9.25″ high. The new 2021 Companion is slightly more narrow at just over 6″ across but still 9.25″ high, so it is a little more portable. Below is the “author proof” copy of the book I received in the mail to make sure everything looked okay⏤hence the “Not for Resale” bar across the cover. The pic on the left is a little deceiving⏤the books are the same height.
My own copies of the Creative Companions the past two years have really helped me stay more organized. In the past, I would jot down notes on random scraps of paper in my studio, but I would usually lose them. When I needed to know, for example, what the ISBN number is for my Oceanimaginary book, or how many illustrations are in it, I would have to jump through a few hoops online to find out because of course I could not find that random scrap of paper. Now I have all of that info in the Compendium and Creative Planner sections of my Companion (and I don’t have to be online to find it).
I also have a section of numbers and stats for my little business, a list of new illustration ideas, a list of ideas for new products, pages of technical notes for turning my drawings into PDFs and books, notes and color swatches for paintings (like the Rebel Moth) and notes about how to use certain tools in Procreate, Illustrator and InDesign. I also have some odds and ends that come in really handy like a list of clothing sizes for my family, what I planted in my vegetable garden, and plenty of journal entries.
If you like to knit or embroider, you could include notes about projects you plan to tackle and even tape snippets of yarn, thread or patterns to your pages. If you are a painter, you could sketch out a new idea and include a few swatches or lists of colors you want to incorporate. If you are a gardener, you could map out your beds on a graph and make a list of the plants or seeds you need to find. And of course, if you love to color, you can list your favorite books, keep track of the colorings your are most proud of, or make a wish list of the pencils you are dying to get your hands on. No matter your creative inclinations, you should be able to fill this book up with the things that are important to you.
Finally, if you need a little inspiration, there are plenty of designs to color in this book. Just grab a few pencils and tinker when your are bored, feeling anxious, stuck on a long phone call, or while waiting for an appointment. I find that coloring small pieces of art helps me relax, focus, and even inspire new ideas. The Companion is not meant for coloring masterpieces, but more for playing with color and sparking creativity. All of the designs for coloring in this book are brand new to the Ruby Charm Colors collection and were created specifically for this book.
No one has to see what’s in your journal, so take chances, experiment, and get some of your ideas down on paper. You are welcome to copy the designs from the book onto heavier cards stock or watercolor paper if you like, and I will also have most all of these designs available on Etsy as downloadable, printable PDFs. Here are just a few of the brand new designs included in the 2021 Creative Companion:
Looking for a few more tips?
The new, slimmer format of the Creative Companion fits more easily in a variety of ring binder covers if you are industrious and want to take it apart by cutting off the spine. You certainly can use the book as is (and many people do!) but I like having the ability to add pages and move things around, so for me, popping all of my pages into a ring-binder makes the most sense. This way, it can grow and change over the course of the year as my needs change. Below is a photo of the Franklin Planner I use (Classic size) with my 2020 Companion stuffed inside. It is a little too wide for the Franklin so I can’t use the strap to secure the binder when it is closed. I am anxious to pop the new one in once 2020 is laid to rest⏤so much so I splurged on a Franklin Classic hole punch this morning! It’s the little things, I know.
Just for fun
Below are a few designs I played around with in my 2020 Companion. After coloring the seahorse, I wanted to see how the Finnabair clear gesso would work as a protective layer. It buckled the paper a bit and picked up some of my pencil pigments so I probably won’t do that again. Maybe as a base layer to provide tooth on smoother paper, but not as an over coat.
I printed this cat on scrapbook paper (back when I was putting together designs for a Singles for Print pack of PDFs for Etsy) and decided to trim the page to size, punch holes in it and add it to my planner for inspiration.
Here is my heron on the art supply wishlist page. I have most of the Irojitens and Luminance now, and finally all of the Polychromos. A few Holbeins and Lightfast. Someday I will complete those sets (I usually buy just a couple of pencils at a time through Blick, CultPens, or Jackson’s) and I really want to play around with the Mitsubishi Uni pencils though honestly, I am very happy with what I have and don’t need more pencils. It really is an addiction, isn’t it?
The Noctuid Treasureattica Moths (originally designed for my Insectimaginary coloring book) was colored with Lyra pencils, a few Irojitens and a black marker. I had just received the Lyra’s in the mail and was anxious to try them. I never finished this coloring, but that’s fine.
Close-up of a seahorse. As some of you know, I am obsessed with embellishing my colorings with gels pens after burnishing with a Caran d’Ache Blender Bright. This was done on one of those days I had too much work to do and just needed a mental break. I shut off my phone and computer and listened to music so I could refresh and refocus. And all of these colorings (aside from the cat) are on what’s known in the coloring community as the dreaded “Create Space” paper. While it may not be my first choice for artwork that needs to last (like pieces I plan to reproduce, hang in a gallery or sell) I have to admit I do love coloring on this paper and can get beautiful results.
That’s all for now, my friends! As always, stay creative, happy journaling, and enjoy each moment!