Colouring techniques for beginners to try
Practice makes perfect with your coloured pencils
Colouring is a simple, easy and relaxing activity. When you’re the colouring book artist, you get to decide how much time you want to spend in achieving the completed look you are after.
If you’ve just received, or enjoying your colouring book (hopefully Birds, Sea Life & Animal Portraits) and want to raise the bar in terms of technique, here we share some of the simplest and easiest actions that will bring realism and detail to your picture.
Have a close look
Taking some time to study the design of your picture before you lay out any colour is a smart move. There is nothing more frustrating than getting halfway through a picture before you realise that you’ve made a mistake. You might have coloured the leaves in autumn shades when there are symbols of spring throughout the drawing.
Take a close look at the design and make a plan before you get started so that you can be confident about the mood you want to convey.
Do some forward planning
Another thing you can do to get prepared is set up a swatch sheet, where you test out the colours you are considering using. If you’re trying to determine which shade of colour is best for scales on a fish or an elephant’s trunk, do a small sample of each of your options. Look at how the colours turn out on paper, and see what level of depth you can achieve with each pigment.
You can assess how specific colours work together by placing little sections of each next to each other on the page. Don’t forget to write down the shade number or pencils colour next to your swatch so that you can remember which worked best.
Some colouring enthusiasts make colour charts in a notebook so that they can always cross check a colour before they commit. Below is a handy guide (6 mins) about creating your own colour chart.
Go easy to begin with
The secret to creating depth and dimension in your design is to build up colour gradually. The first colours you put on your picture should be applied lightly. Make sure you don’t start pressing too hard, to early. As the colours are applied, you can gradually increase the pressure you are using. Too much heavy colour applied early on makes adding additional shades, blends or highlights very difficult.
Try your hand at shading
One effective but simple technique you can try is shading. Shading works best when you hold your pencil further back towards the end than you would normally do for writing. By sliding your fingers up your pencil, you will get greater control over your colouring to create smoother shading effects. Blend one shade into another by altering the pressure with which you apply each colour. Try and ensure there is not a harsh transition from one colour to the next.
Sarah Renae Clark offers a live example of how to draw shadows with colored pencils with her “Easy Shading Techniques for Adult Coloring Books”.
Practice creating shadows
It sounds tricky, but you can bring real depth and accuracy to your pictures with a bit of practice. Adding shadow creates a 3D effect in your picture. This video by Jenna Turin shows you very clearly and very simply how to use complementary colours as highlights to give the illusion of dimension and form. As Jenna says, avoid using black for shadows, and instead use colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel.
Try your hand and blending
A decent blending of colours can be achieved with your pencils, by simply using them to create layers of colour and adding layers of each shade until you are happy with how they are working together. Begin with the lightest colour and add the darker layers on top. You can swap back and forth with your selected colours and work on the areas where multiple colours meet. If you want to smooth out the colours, a tissue or piece of paper towel can give you a nice, even finish.
The below video by the team at Unmask Art demonstrate 7 ways to blend colored pencils in an easy step by step tutorial for beginners.
Using solvent for blending
Adding a solvent to your coloured picture breaks down the pigment in the coloured pencils, which enables them to flow together almost like paint. Using solvents on your picture to blend shades together will bring an incredible degree of realism to your artwork and give you greater color saturation. The most commonly used products can be found around the house, including nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol or turpentine, and you will also need a paintbrush or cotton bud.
Before you open the solvent, make sure you have quite a bit of colour applied to your paper. You will need an area where you have pressed quite firmly with your pencil, and have enough layers built up. If there is an oily mark or bleed around where you are using the solvent, it’s a sure sign you have used too much. This helpful video talks you through the technique.
Use less colours
It sounds counterintuitive, but one sure way to bring your pictures to life is to use less colours! A great deal of variation can be achieved using fewer colours with different pressures and by blending colours together using shading, rather than trying to get a huge variety of colours into a single picture. This technique trains you to work more effectively with the colours that you have, and will help you get better at using dark and light variations.
Use black and white effectively
You can blend either black or white into your colours, to lighten or darken them. But you can also use the existing black lines of your picture, and the white spaces within it, to create some impressive effects. Most coloured pencils can be applied to a pressure that they cover the black lines of the drawing. By covering up the lines, you can make the outline and shapes look more realistic. And leaving some spaces, like a light reflection in an eye, can be incredibly effective. You don’t need to fill every single space with colour.
We hope these techniques provide more challenges and enjoyment from colouring.
For more articles around colouring and colouring books, visit our Colouring Corner blog page.
Time to de-stress, relax & colour
Our book includes 50 intricate and therapeutic designs that feature detailed patterns of animal portraits, bird life and sea life. Printed on high quality extra-thick paper, uncoated, high white with a smooth finish, and is 100% recycled. Our books is suited to any aged adult, and the perfect gift idea!
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