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You Asked For it…A Coloring Tutorial

It’s so nice to get complimented on your work. Especially when you put so much time and love into what you’re doing. But to then get asked to teach something….That’s a whole ‘nuther animal. When you are asked to teach, it’s because people are so impressed by something you do, they want to learn to do it themselves. I am thankful that this has happened to me. I have been asked on numerous occasions to teach folks how to color. Using both pencils and markers. Well, today I will be doing a tutorial on working with watercolor markers. There’s going to be a lot of photos, and a lot of explanations, so grab yourself a cup of something delish and settle in. I hope you learn and enjoy!

We will be coloring in Betty as Morticia Addams from Simply Betty Stamps. Honestly, this is not the easiest image to color. She’s stunning, but a little tricky. I wouldn’t have picked her for fear of intimidating people. But my dear friend Suzi said she wanted me to use her…so I complied! Hopefully, I have made it simple enough that no one gets confused. And when I do my pencil tutorial, I will use an easier image.


So here is our lovely lady waiting to be brought to life. But before we get into coloring her, let’s talk for a sec about color. When I color, no matter if I’m using pencils or markers, I (almost) always work with 3 shades (at least) of whatever color I’m using. If I’m doing brown hair, I’ll grab 3 or 4 shades of brown that work together, a light, a medium, and a dark.


These are my EK Success Watercolor markers. You can see 3 shades of brown, green and black/grey. Watercolor markers are fabulous because they blend so beautifully. Even if the shades you are working with aren’t exactly harmonious, by blending them together properly, you can make them work perfectly. Believe me. I should know…I’ve only got about 40 colors in my arsenal!


These are 3 of the 4 Copics I own (again I’ll say…any Copic Fairies that would like to make a donation to the Alison Fund can send some right over! ;) ) I use these shades for skin. The Brick White may be an odd choice for most, but since I prefer to color my images with vampire-like flesh usually, this color works out really well. Copics (I’m told) are a bit different from my watercolor markers. I have heard you are to start with the darker shade first. I’m gonna break my first rule though, and only work with 2 shades for her skin…I don’t really want it to have depth, I want her nice and pasty. So I began with the E000.


Please remember you can click on any of my photos to view them bigger. You can see that I colored in the areas that would have shadows. Her ear, neck, bottom of her arms, etc. Then I went in and colored everything in with the E40.


I always start with the skin first because it’s easy, since I usually do the same thing with all of my images. Then I go for the eyes and hair. Eyes next since again, I usually do the same thing.  9 times out of 10 my images have green eyes. Why? ‘Cause I always wanted ‘em for myself!


Here you can see I did the lime-y green first, then went over the bottom half of her eye with the olive green. I used a pale blue on the white of her eye to make it appear even whiter. You can do this with grey too…but I usually prefer to use blue.


Ok. Eye number 2 down and I also did the stem and leaves of her rose.


Ok…on to her hair. Now, stay with me. I started off with a very pale gray. And I colored in the areas that would bump up…be closer to the light, if you will. Clicking on this pic is a good idea. It’s really tough to see the gray with it so small. Just remember, where the light would hit the hair the most, is where this pale color would go. And you can overdo this one. It will help with blending later.


Next I’m going in with a purple-ish gray. This is where a video would come in handy…Don’t rub your marker when applying color here. I want you to flick it. See the difference above her head? The flicking gives teeny lines that will help to make hair, look more like hair. And, will aid you in fooling the viewer’s eye with your blending. It will look more seamless. So when taking your medium color, I want you to color above and below the pale color you first applied. Remember to do those teeny flicks. And do them whichever way is comfortable for you. Towards you or away from you. Turn your image as you work on it too. It will help you so much.


I’ve done all of the medium gray on one side. See how it already looks shiny? Now we’ll add the black.


Again, you are going to go above and below the last color you applied. Remember to pay close attention to the depth of the hair. The pieces close to her neck and below the top layer will be darker than the top layer. Black hair can be tricky…which is why I chose to show you how to do it. If you use too little black, it will look gray. You want it to look shiny. Not old. See the difference from this pic to the one above it? Also, I went back with my pale gray and blended in the colors a bit. See how the flicked lines are a little bit washier looking now? It’s so important to go back and blend your colors.


Medium color applied to the other side of her hair. More with the flicking motion.


And the black on top of that. Now, she looks good…but those shades need to be blended a bit more. So back in with the pale gray.


That’s more like it. And I did her lips too. See? Shiny. Not gray.


I always keep a scrap piece of paper so that I can test my marker colors out. See if I like the combination of colors, if they blend well, etc. These 4 colors are what I am using for her dress.


I went in with a peachy pink shade first. Again, feel free to go a little heavy on this first, pale color. It will help your second color blend better. You can always add more of the medium shade of you need to. I used this color, again, as the highlighter. Where the light would catch her dress the most. The tops of her arms, the high folds of her dress, etc.


A closer shot to see the details better.


Next, I’m going in with my true red. No blending here yet. You can see how messy it looks and why it’s so important to blend well. Here, those colors don’t even look like they go together. But wait for it! They will!


More with the red. All over except for the darkest parts of her dress…like inside her sleeves.


A close up. Pretty messy looking, right? Now blend!


Ahhh, that’s looking better already! Always use that pale shade to blend the medium one. Then the medium for blending the dark, etc.


Here you can see that I went in with a deeper red. I filled in a lot of the white that was still there, and I deepened the colors on the darker portions of the folds in her dress. Remember, this is all playing with light and shadows.


More shading, now with the deepest red that I have. Look at the depth that was created from adding that 4th color. Blend, blend, blend. Flick, flick, flick.


Ain’t she purdy??? Her dress looks shimmer because of the way those 4 colors were used.


Last, I colored her rose in using 3 yellows. You should be a pro by now, so I didn’t show you how I did it.


Close up number 1.


Close up number 2.

I hope I didn’t confuse you! I hope that you understand the technique! Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

Today, being the 1st of September (yikes!), it’s also time for a new Desert Islands Crafters Challenge. Since this is already an extremely long post, I will let you see the whole itinerary on the DICC Blog. Just know that I used numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10. In addition, I also use the latest Deconstructed Sketch. Simply Betty Stamps is sponsoring this week! Here is the finished card.

What do you think? Now since I used a frame around Morticia, I am also going to be entering this in the latest Macabre Monday which is “I Was Framed.”

Whew! Thank you so much for sticking with me until the end of this extremely long post. I really hope you learned a thing or two about coloring. And I do hope you’ll visit again when I do my pencil tutorial (not sure when that’ll be yet). Have an inspiring day!!!


DonnaMundinger said…
FABULOUS tut for your amazing coloring! Really gorgeous work, hon! Great frame, too. I LOVE this card! Thanks for joining the Minions again this week and for sharing your super technique. xxD
Ok so craft room is getting revamped this weekend... You bring the markers, I'll provide everything else and we will color the hell out of everything!!! Wonderful tut!
Jen Shults said…
Great tutorial hon! I LOVE your finished card... your coloring on that dress is just amazing an dthe card looks so fantastic. LOVE the bat!!
Awesome Tutorial... I just got this stamp, so let's see if I can do it! It is on my list of things to do for September!!! You are the best! Thank You for sharing your talents with me!!! Have a wonderful weekend!!!
Thank you so much Alison :) What a great tutorial! I'm gonna print this off! it is now my bible.

Fiona. x

p.s I NEED more pens!!!!
ldfdesign said…
thank you!!!! wonderful tut! thank you for sharing!
Laura B said…
Awesome tutorial! I now know what I was doing wrong with the hair, so thank you!! And your card is gorgeous!:) *hugs*
Jenn Borjeson said…
You. Are. Amazing. :) AWESOME tutorial and absolutely gorgeous results. I'm not a bit surprised that you're asked to teach, I wish I could come hang out with you and watch you do it! xo
Carol W. said…
Fantastic Tutorial - Beautifully done! I always enjoy and in a little awe for your coloring! TFS
Creepy Glowbugg said…
I always love a good coloring tutorial.
Great coloring on your Morticia.
Thanks for joing us this week at HDH.
Scrappychick said…
Gorgeous card and fabulous tutorial ali! Your coloring rocks my world Maleficent! I mean Simi
Kathi said…
Wow. Fabulous tutorial. Ilove how you colored her! Best of all, I picked up some tips from you!
ike said…
TOTALLY AWESOME colouring and FAB Tut. Thank you
Ike xxx
ike said…
Oh, I forgot to ask .... Are you just blending with the markers or is there any water involved ???
Andrea C said…
Fantastic colouring tutorial and fantastic card. Thanks for playing along with macabre monday this week x
i. love. you. This is fab, of course, and THANK YOU for the tutorial. I'm going to be playing with your tips digitally and see if I can re-create your fabulous look! Thanks for playing along with us at HDH again too!

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