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.


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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