Coloring Tips & Tricks for Markers, Watercolors and Color Pencils

Hello and Welcome to my Coloring Tips & Tricks page!

Coloring is a wonderful way to relax and destress from the hectic pace of life, and it's also a wonderful way to re-connect to your Creative Instincts. On this page I will share some of the tips and tricks I've learned as an artist and coloring enthusiast so you can learn from my mistakes and have more creative enjoyment with coloring - lets get started!

Choice of coloring supplies is an individual preference - some people enjoy using markers for the intensity of color they provide while others enjoy color pencils for the softness of color, yet color pencils can also be bright and intense depending upon the brand of pencils you buy.

While I do enjoy the brilliant intensity of color from markers, I do NOT enjoy how they can bleed through the page, which can ruin the coloring design on the other side, if that is how a coloring book has been designed. Some coloring books ARE designed with the coloring design on just one side of the paper, which is fantastic, and therefore, great for use with markers.

Individual coloring pages are great for this reason - you can print it on card stock which can cut down the bleed-through of markers, and you don't worry about any bleed-through ruining a coloring page in your coloring book!

Due to that color bleeding problem with markers, THE NUMBER ONE TIP about markers I frequently recommend is to use a paper towel or wax paper behind your coloring page to prevent any bleed-through from happening onto the next coloring page. You might want to test your markers on a corner of a page to see how much bleed-through there is.

My NEXT BIG TIP is to store your markers LYING FLAT rather than upright - the ink can begin to drop to the bottom of the pen, giving the illusion that your marker has dried out! Your markers (and pens) will last much longer this way.

My FINAL TIP is to use heavy card stock paper when using individual coloring printables. The heaviest weight of card stock is 90lb. Marker inks might still bleed through this weight, but it generally won't bleed onto anything you might have underneath it. Instead, it will leave a interesting shadow of color of the design you are might even want to use the bleed-through backside for a creative project!

How I love watercolor paints! You can begin with a light wash, which always looks so soft, and add layers to create intensity of color (they are a lot like color pencils that way!). They come in shimmery pearlescent and glittery metallic finishes, which can add sparkle to your paintings! I have a bit of a collection of watercolor paint sets, which also includes some vintage paint sets, but like all supplies, watercolor brands are not made equal.

Many low priced paint sets are made with a powder base and I find that the powder often leaves a residue once the paint has dried. This can be a problem if you like to use gel pens to write over paint, because the powder can get into the ball tip and ruin your pen. This has happened to me more often than I care to say!

I prefer to use SEMI-MOIST paint pans. They are easier to use than tube paints and easy to carry around if you do painting on the go. Many pan paint sets come in the fun sparkly finishes I mentioned above, and there are good basic sets that are quite affordable.

Here are some things to know about watercolor paints to enhance your coloring enjoyment:
  • You only need a small amount of water to activate the color and to rinse out the color in your brush. I often use a small ramekin for my water container while painting, and I change out the water with some frequency to keep the colors from getting muddy. It's also a good way to conserve water for anyone in a drought region (like myself!)
  • When using pearlescent or metallic paints, begin with a light wash, and add more color in layers - I find that some of these paints can get sticky if you load up too much color at once
  • Again, only a small amount of water is needed to get color onto your page, so don't use too much water on your paper. Any paper other than watercolor, is not really formulated to take water, which is how the buckling and warping of paper happens. Adding color layer by layer can keep the warping to a minimum; also, adding a light wash of water to the back of your painting can help balance out warped paper. I liken it to algebra - what you do one side, you need to do on the other to insure a balance on both sides!

Color pencils are easy and accessible to use for coloring, though each brand of pencil can act differently. Some of the less expensive brands of color pencils use dye instead of pigment, making the color 'fugitive', which means the color will fade in time if exposed to sunlight for too long. However, since we are talking about coloring books and coloring page printables, this is not a big concern.

HOWEVER...if you plan to hang your coloring ins  a space that received a lot of direct sunlight, then I recommend using artist grade coloring pencils so your coloring efforts won't fade over time!

Artist grade color pencils do contain pigment, so the colors will be rich and intense and they blend with ease, so you can play with blending color together to make wonderful variations and shading in your coloring page! Of course that means that you will pay a premium for artist grade color pencils, but having used artist grade color pencils for much of my life, I can attest to the fact that they are worth it!
Here are my tips for using color pencils:
  • Begin your coloring with a light touch so you can add more intensity with each layer of color you add. Coloring in this manner is a great way to get variation of color if you have a limited color palette of pencils to work with.
  • Color at an angle, rather than coloring with the tip - it can help with putting down more color on the page than coloring using just the tip
  • Color in small strokes and in circular patterns. This helps avoid the illusion of 'streaking' by repeating color in the coloring area
  • A sharp tip is best used for coloring small details in a coloring page design - you can start with the small details, then move into larger areas when you've worn down the sharp tip of your pencil in those detail areas
  • Make sure your coloring surface is SMOOTH - I've encountered strange lines coming up in my coloring only to realize I left a post-it note on the clipboard I sometimes use for coloring! I tell you, even the tiniest crumb will show up as a blip in your coloring, but just lightly go over the area to smooth it out, or embrace the imperfection! It IS just coloring for play and relaxation after all!
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I hope my tips & tricks have been helpful in getting you started on your own coloring journey!

I have some original design coloring pages available in my Etsy shop you might enjoy, just check out my shop HERE to see what's currently available.

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