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!
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.
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.
Hi all, interested in joining a fun club that will offer you new coloring book artists to discover each week? And receive a free, exclusive, Ruby Charm Colors design for coloring in addition to 15% discount off all digital art in the RubyCharmColors Etsy shop?
Make your way over to the Colouring Heaven Discovery Club and sign up soon! You must be registered by noon (London time) on Thursday, October 8th, in time to receive your email featuring my exclusive design created especially for Colouring Heaven, and the 15% discount code, plus a fun interview and a few coloring tips and colored examples.
Your email from the Discovery Club will be delivered on October 10th, and don’t forget – the only way to get this particular design (still top secret) is by joining the club!
Join the Colouring Heaven Discovery Club and let us introduce you to a different artist each week! Receive an exclusive design, artist interview and discount code direct to your inbox every Friday at 6pm!
Hi all, and happy Thursday! I thought I would share some thoughts I had while responding to a friend through Etsy about colored pencils recently. Because who doesn’t like a few tips when it comes to working with colored pencils? Keep in mind that I am not an expert by any stretch, but these are a few tools and techniques that work well for me. And to illustrate my thoughts, I colored my Rocky Raccoon design (available on Etsy).
My friend is one of those lucky owners of the Holbein colored pencils. I have a few and it’s so tempting to order the complete set, however I desperately need new eye glasses so the Holbeins will have to wait. She reached out to me because she wanted to learn more about the Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils. In short, I love them! They are highly pigmented and opaque, and lay down on most types of paper very nicely.
Working on more toothy paper can make ‘white speckles’ appear in your coloring. Basically, it’s simply your pencil skipping over the little divots in the paper while sticking to the more raised bumps with textured paper. You can feel a paper’s texture with your fingers, and if you look at it with a magnifying lens, you can see all the little peaks and valleys of the paper’s fibers. You’ll see more of them in highly textured watercolor paper, and less in more smooth papers like certain Bristols and card stocks. A Prismacolor colorless blender pencil can help further blend your colors and get rid of those white spots that appear on more textured papers, and I also do a lot of burnishing with the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright stick (but more on that shortly).
I have found that the Luminance pencils, combined with the Derwent Lightfast and the Derwent Drawing pencils, is a perfect combo. They work so nicely together, and the color range is gorgeous. They are all fairly earthy colors (which I tend to gravitate toward) and some brighter colors, too. These pencils are what I would call soft and highly responsive, though you can get a nice point on them for tighter areas and details. I typically use them for my base layers, then use the Tombow Irojiten pencils (which are quite hard and can be sharpened to a really sharp point) to add little details, extra color, and even burnish.
The few Holbeins I do have (thanks to another friend who sent me a lovely set of 12 pastels) work well with my Polychromos pencils (another perfect combo in my humble opinion) and I use the Irojitens with them for fine details and burnishing, too.
It’s taken me awhile to refine my approach to coloring and mixing pencils brands, but I think I have it down pretty well now for my tastes and coloring habits. Basically, I either use my Luminance, Lightfast and Drawing pencils together, or I use my Polychromos and Holbeins together. Do I prefer one grouping over the other? Difficult to say. I think the group I choose depends on my mood, though when working on black paper, I do prefer the Luminance, Lightfast and Drawing grouping because they are a bit softer and color over black paper more readily. And of course I still mix in other pencil brands as well including my tried and true Prismacolors and Pablos.
I know I have mentioned this before in other posts, but I find that smooth card stock sometimes needs a layer of watercolor pencils to give me a little extra tooth. I pick a few colors that will work well for my base layer, use a water brush to blend, let it dry thoroughly, then work with my colored pencils on top of the dried watercolor pencils. My favorites are the Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer and the Caran d’Ache Museums, though I love working with the Caran d’Ache Neocolor IIs, too. Lots of steps for coloring a design, I know, but I truly enjoy the process and am always pushing myself for better results.
Buying a set of the the Luminance pencils or the Derwent Lightfast pencils can be a bit daunting (for the old wallet) so if you think you would like to try any of these, order a few of your favorite (or most used) colors from Blick or Cult Pens first to see if you really like them before investing in the whole set. There are also a few places that carry single Holbein pencils, but buyer beware. I had emailed Holbein back in May with a few questions about their colors, color names, and where to find individual pencils and they responded with the following:
"The Holbein Colored Pencils are not available in North America yet as they currently present serious health concerns. A few of the colors can cause severe Chronic and Acute issues. They have been sold illegally by off shore retailers with no regard for Health labeling. The US and Canada have very strict regulations and these have been blatantly disregarded. We have advised those who write to return the pencils to the retailer who sold the pencils to them ....
The good news ... We will be launching the North American edition of the pencils by the end of the year. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the launch. You will be able to find them at all large US retailers in the months to come. For the record, your pastel set does not contain any of the invasive colors ... Rest easy!
So there you have it – Holbeins are coming to America! Not sure how they will compare to the pencils made in Japan, or if they will be available as singles, but I am very excited to find out and am saving my nickles.
As with any pencil brand, it takes time to get used to how it behaves on paper. Some pencils will feel natural and easy to use right away, while others require more time to adjust–and this is different for everyone. If you get new pencils and are not sure if you like them right away, play with them a while! It took me months to get a real feel for the Polychromos pencils after using only Prismacolors for years, and I had a similar experience with the Luminance. It took time, trial and error to really understand how to use them.
My three must haves? The Caran d’Ache Blender Bright stick, the Prismacolor Colorless Blender pencil, and the Caran d’Ache Buff Titanium pencil.
I use the Buff Titanium to blend and soften my colors, the Prismacolor Blender to simply blend, and the Blender Bright to do a final burnish of my work. All three pencils work differently and will give you different results, though they can be hard to distinguish at first.
To illustrate my thoughts on these blenders, here is a sneak peek at a raccoon I recently drew and colored. This little guy will be in the 2021 Creative Companion (and is now on Etsy as a downloadable PDF for coloring), but I used all three types of blenders to achieve the results I wanted.
First, I started with Luminance, Drawing and Lightfast pencils for my layers, then Irojiten pencils to draw in the additional background details (the little cloud shapes in the top half, the scribbles on the tree bark, and the green vines for the bottom half).
Once I had all my colors down, I used the Prismacolor Blender pencil to fine-tune areas that needed blending. This pencil “squishes” or rubs the pigments together on the paper without creating a sheen. In fact, it’s sort of like using super-super-fine sandpaper and retains a matte appearance. Don’t overdo it, though–blend with this pencil too forcefully and you can lose some of the pigment on your paper or rip a hole in it.
For the sun and the clouds, I used the Buff Titanium pencil (which is not technically a blender but I like to use it as such) because it has a faint yellowish cast (almost antique) and it really softens my colors.
For everything else, I used the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright which is a grayish, solid stick of high quality wax. It can be sharpened with any old pencil sharpener or blade so you have a fine point, or you can turn it sideways and use one of the flat sides to burnish large areas since there is no casing around the stick. One of the big reasons I love the Blender Bright is because in addition to intensifying my colors, it also creates a bit of a sheen and protects my art from UV light and water. It’s not necessary for a lot of colorings done just for fun, but since I sell some of my original colored pencil artworks, I want to be sure those pieces won’t fade.
Burnishing with the Blender Bright brings up the saturation level of the colors and essentially ‘locks them in’ under a smooth layer of wax. This is ideal for me because I use a lot of gel pens for embellishments. Because of that nice, impermeable burnished surface, the gel pens stay on top of the art and don’t soak into the paper so I get cleaner, sharper dots, lines and squiggles. This also means it takes a little longer for the gel to dry (because it essentially floats on the surface), but if you have a heat gun, just run it over your work on low for a minute and that usually does the trick. Just don’t let the heat get too close to your work or you can burn it. And that can be heart-breaking.
Don’t burnish anything until you have all your colors down–once burnished, it’s nearly impossible to add any more pencil layers because burnishing literally smashes all the tooth of your paper–compresses it down to a slick, flat surface. That’s why the colors look more saturated. Once burnished, the only thing I can add is gel pens, acrylic paint and Pitt pen (or other fine, opaque pens).
If you are anxious to burnish certain areas of your coloring (I get ahead of myself all to often), be especially careful when burnishing colors next to empty spaces that you plan to color (or add more color to). Especially with the Blender Bright because it lays down a layer of wax that is nearly impossible to color over. In theory, you could use a workable fixative spray over the burnished areas to add more pencil layers, but I have not tried that myself. I rarely use sprays since my studio is very small and am not too keen on asphyxiating myself.
When you have a little time, grab some scrap paper and give these techniques a try to get a feel for how they will work for you. I messed up a lot at first, but once I realized the steps (basic pencil base layers first, blending, finer details, burnishing, then gels if you like) I started to have so much fun and started to see much better results in my coloring. Burnishing is not for everyone (it is especially hard on your hands) but it can be very helpful to use a blender.
Hope this helps a bit, and as always, happy coloring! I am off to watch my daughter play some volleyball!