Colouring Tips

So I thought I would do a more in depth blog post about colouring with photos and videos included to help you try it yourself - I already wrote about my first colouring experience with Prismacolour pencils here, you can read this too if you want. The most important thing about colouring is that you ENJOY the process so you don't HAVE to do any of this really, these are just some helpful tips for anyone who wants to improve their skills or perhaps has been wondering how to achieve this sort of shading. This post is probably best read on a desktop.

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You want to first select your colours and tones - this comes down to personal preference but I prefer to select just a few tones. If you want to go crazy and include lots of different colours then definitely go for it! I would advise trying some combinations on some scrap paper as you go along just to test out ideas. I find it easier to choose my colours before I start a drawing e.g. blue and green, then I take out all the colouring pencils in those tones. Where possible I create a colour palette that includes a minimum of one light, medium and dark shade of each colour - this is only if I intend on shading, you might not want to do this. You also might not have a large selection of colours so I have included below a method using just one colour and a method using two colours - all you really need is a white pencil to blend and you can create some lovely effects. 

The key thing to remember with colouring is blending and this can be best achieved by using circular motions and varying the pressure you apply.  I have only included a few different ways to shade and blend but there are endless combinations and methods - these will give you a good place to start and then as you go along you will find techniques that work for you. I have included videos because I find it so hard to use words to explain how to do some of this!

One Colour Shading

You can use just one colour to create shading by just varying the pressure you apply to the pencil - below is a video I have created that shows you how to do this. If you are working from one edge to another, whichever direction you go in you just need to start by applying a lot of pressure and slowly reduce it as you work your way to the other edge. Then simply build it up working in circular motions until you have created a nice gradient. 

You can leave it there or you can blend it all in by using a white pencil - this is also demonstrated in the video below. The white pencil does slightly lighten the shade of the colour so if you want you can always go back in and add more colour to get it back to the original tone (see an example of this further down in the "Shading - Two Colours (Blue)" video). 

Two Colour Shading 

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Again I will do my best to explain how to do this but it really is a lot easier to watch the videos I have created - they show the steps as you go along. For the first example I have done a light green (True Green PC 910) to dark green (Parrot Green PC1006) ombre effect, I have created one video that just shows the 5 steps and one below that shows the whole effect created in real time. You can then try this same technique out on any colours you want - I recommend going for colours in the same tones but feel free to experiment and see what happens.

So here are the 5 steps to create this look:

  1. Apply lighter shade as base layer - don't press too hard at this stage
  2. Re-apply same shade to inner edge - add more colour and blend out into the centre with circular motions, applying less pressure as you work your way in
  3. Apply darker shade to outer edge - Press down hardest along the edge to get the full depth of this colour 
  4. Blend darker shade into lighter shade - Apply less pressure as you work your way towards the middle using circular motions to blend 
  5. Use lighter shade over the whole section to blend - Use the first lighter shade over the whole section to fully blend both colours

Now watch this real time video to see how it comes together, once you get the hang of it the steps will merge together and you will find your own way of doing things.

This is another example of how you can use two colours to add more depth. In this example I also used white to blend the first layer - most of the time I use white on nearly every section because I feel like it gives a really well blended base to work with. The steps for this are pretty similar:

  1. Apply base layer - can be any colour, here I have used the darker shade
  2. Use white to blend - you can also use a colurless blender 
  3. Re-apply base layer colour to the outer edges - the colour lightens when you apply white so this brings back some of the vibrancy of the colour
  4. Apply lighter shade to inner edge and blend with outer edge - this will give you a light to dark ombre and blend the colours perfectly

I could probably include countless videos of different combinations, shading with three, four and more colours but I think this is a good start. With these basic techniques you can apply the same concept in lots of ways - so have fun experimenting! And remember if you find this all too complicated or stressful then don't worry about it, just apply the colours in a way that feels natural to you, the end goal is not to create a perfect piece but to enjoy the process :) 

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The Wall

This blog post is a little delayed but I wanted to share with you the story of how The Wall was created. You may already know the story of how I stumbled across my full pagers accidentally - I wrote a blog post about it here - they have now become an important part of my artistic journey.  The Wall is ultimately  just one of my full pagers on steroids! 

So first to how the idea came about. Having just finished a new full pager I was thinking to myself how can I create something that really challenges me and I had been inspired by one of my favourite artists Tarajosu who creates these incredible wall murals all over the world. We both have similar styles of artwork so I could visualise how it might turn out and it gave me the confidence to actually go for it. 

My initial plan was to create a piece of art in the centre of the wall rather than a full pager and in fact I didn't intend on it being symmetrical either. But on the 2 hour drive up to my house in the midlands I somehow convinced myself the only option was to go BIG or go home - I love symmetry and I love my full pagers so it was a no brainer really. And so I embarked on this crazy journey....

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The first big hurdle was to figure out how to create symmetry on such a large scale. Usually I draw pencil gridlines on the page, I use a protractor to draw straight lines spanning out from the centre of the page to the edges and then a compass to draw circular concentric lines. So I needed to find a way to do this on a larger scale - first I cut out a large 40cm cardboard circle and made my own large protractor, then I made 20 centremetre pencil marks along all sides of the wall and found the centre of the wall. I placed my homemade protractor in the centre of the wall, from here I marked out every 5 degrees and then drew a line from the centre through this mark. 

Then came the real creativity, I tied a piece of string to a pencil and made a loop on the other side to create my own large compass! I placed my finger in the loop in the centre of the wall (and used my husband when it got to the largest circles) kept the string taut and then draw the circle - I am pretty sure that explanation made no sense so you can read this article which includes photos. I just needed to adjust the length of the string to get varying concentric circles. To finish I made straight line grids by joining the 20cm marks along the edges with the corresponding 20cm mark on the parallel wall. These lines were FAR from perfect and there were massive differences between the two sides but it gave me a guide to work with so I could keep it as symmetrical as possible. 

I didn't plan the concept or shapes out before I started, above you can see how the drawing started out, pretty much the way all my full pagers usually start. I used the Pentel permenant marker N850 for the lines and a Sharpie Magnum for filling any large black areas. As I was going along I started to get a feel for where the drawing was going and where I wanted to take it. I sort of had this idea of something that was growing and coming out of the wall with weird winding tentacle like shapes and little portals into another world. 

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After building up the centre and deciding on the sort of pattern work I wanted to use my task was to lay down the main bulk of linework. By planning out the linework first and adding bits to the edges I could create depth and layers - a full pager doesn't have the same effect if you work the whole way from the centre to the outer edges. I had anticipated that the struggle would be filling a whole wall with patterns but actually the tricky part was practically working on such a large piece and keeping it symmetrical. To maintain the symmetry in any drawing I work on it bit by bit on both sides so on such a large scale it involved going up and down the step ladder a LOT of times.

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The detailing and shading is where the real hard work began, if you think shading on paper is hard then try it on a wall. Admittedly at points when my arm was hurting and it was 2am I did feel like skipping the shading part just so I could speed the process up but I knew it just wouldn't be the same without it - and I'm glad I persevered because it's the shading that really brings this drawing to life. I used normal black sharpies for the shading - they were best when they were a little worn down. Thank god for my trusty podcasts who kept me company during those late nights when my arm was about to fall off! In the photo above when I had filled in the whole of the bottom half of the wall I finally felt that my vision was being realised. 

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As is always the case its the final push that is the hardest part, I always seem to get this massive resistance near the end but it's the most satisfying hurdle to overcome. By this point I had accepted it simply would not be perfectly symmetrical, I had 'messed' up so many times but I guess the beauty with this sort of thing is that seeing it as a whole you don't really notice those imperfections (note to self: must not be such a perfectionist!). Being only 5 ft 2 meant that even on the step ladder I had to stretch up to reach the upper corners and top edge, making the whole process generally tougher - I had to do less thinking and more drawing! 

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And here it is, the final drawing! Reflecting on it now I feel very proud of myself for finishing such a huge piece, I learnt it's a good idea to just say yes and then think later about the how bit. Don't overthink whether you can achieve something, just decide you are going to do it and then figure out the rest, I pormise it will be amazing. It may sound obvious but the best part of illustrating is that you are in complete control of what you create, in this drawing alone I sneaked in lots of little playful bits and I even let my nephews add to it! I mean it's my wall so why not right?! 

And now I get to have this crazy wall as the backdrop to my study as a reminder of what I can achieve. 

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I created these videos so you can see the details up close and get a better idea of the process involved. I personally love to see behind the scenes and how something comes together so hopefully you will enjoy it too. 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year my friends! After eating mountains of food and binge watching way too much TV its time to get back into the swing of things. I hope you enjoyed the last year of desktop wallpapers - it was my way of giving you a little something back. 

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This year I thought I would change things up so I would love to hear from YOU about what you want to see more of - just leave a comment below or email me back. Perhaps you would like more blog posts about behind the scenes or tutorials on how to draw? Maybe more of the one hour doodle videos? Or something entirely new? 

With regards to New Years resolutions, well quite frankly I either don't set them at all or I 'fail' miserably at achieving them, is that just me?! This year my cousin mentioned that she does actually meet many of her resolutions by making them SMART. That means making them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. So here are my resolutions:

  1. To be more mindful of my time by using my new Trigg Life Mapper diary on a daily basis
  2. To work on at least one piece of artwork that takes me abroad so I can bring together my love of drawing and travelling
  3. To be more spontaneous in life - I have made a jar full of activities and I will pick one at random to do each week 
  4. To be less spontaneous in work - I sometimes get WAY too excited about a new idea without properly planning for it so I will allow at least two weeks to plan new ideas no matter how wonderful I think they are (using my new diary)
  5. To paint more often - My first love was painting and somehow with the busyness of life it got sidelined so I will make sure I find time to do a little painting once a week even if it's just for an hour 

Those are my specific five but just generally I would like to be kinder to myself and those around me, go on more adventures and leave behind the negative energy. I always try to be creative where possible but it's always so nice to share that with others - last year I volunteered at my local Day Centre to assist with art sessions and this year I will do something similar. 

I hope one of your resolutions includes something creative because I am positive it will make a big impact on your life in ways you didn't expect. Maybe you could make your own birthday cards this year? Honestly it is so easy, it can be just words or maybe a little drawing, many of mine are just stick man illustrations but it's personal and makes people laugh :) Whatever you do remember to make your resolutions SMART. Here is to a happy and healthy 2018!

Desktop Wallpaper Download - December 2017

Ahhhhh it's December!! No doubt the best month of the whole year, even though it suddenly gets VERY cold here in the UK everyone perks up, gets into the festive spirit (minus my husband who is very bah humbug) and enjoys a few too many drinks. Andddd apparently we had our first drop of snow yesterday WOOO! As you know, I love patterns and mandalas so I decided to create my very own abstract snowflake for this month's desktop download.

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It was great fun looking through actual snowflake formations and another reminder of how symmetry is so often found in nature - they are literally natural mandalas! I let the snowflake organically form as I went along to see what interesting formation would evolve and it reminded me of that snowflake making activity you would do as a child. Definitely have to make some of those to hang from the ceiling on Christmas day! 

So get into the festive spirit with this snowflake desktop wallpaper - it's not overly Christmassy just in case you aren't a Christmas-head! All you need to do is click on the link and save the wallpaper that fits your screen: 

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So that you don't miss out on the next month's wallpaper, make sure you subscribe to the mailing list. 

Thank you for reading and I hope you get to have the most WONDERFUL December whether you celebrate Christmas or not!