Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Many of us colorers stumble across a class where the objective is this amazing image that looks like a work of art. It takes you all of 3 minutes to decide to sign up for the class because you want to create this beautiful work of art yourself. While working your way through the class you start to see others in the class posting their project online and you start to get self-conscious because your coloring doesn't measure up or even worse you realize that your coloring looks just like everyone else's. Of course it looks like everyone else's because you were all taught to color it the same way. At some point during your coloring exploration you will start to want to veer off on your own path to allow your artistic voice to sing. I encourage you - be different.
Even if you do not believe you are an artist, but you enjoy coloring from time to time, you can still do things that will turn your coloring into a WOW factor. Let me share with you some of my experiences where I found it was ok to be different and go off the guided path and try different things to make my coloring different. Things such as changing colors from the class instruction, adding a background, and changing the medium used in the class, these are all things that helped me to stand on my own two feet as an independent colorer.
Change the colors called for in a project
I remember the first few classes I took online with Vanilla Arts. It was at a time that I did not have a large stash of supplies so I would grab the materials list from the class and run to the store to get every single item before starting the project. The problem with this is that I couldn't get to the store as quickly as I wanted to get started on my project or the store would be out of the colors I needed. So, one day while waiting for my shipment to come in from Amazon I wanted to get started so I decided to jump in with other colors. At first, I expected it to be a practice run because I was using the wrong colors. I was surprised how much I learned by picking out my own colors. It is not as easy as you would assume there needs to be a lot of planning and swatching to make a great composition, but if I had not ventured out on my own I would not have learned about each of these things.
Add a background to the project
Adding a background adds your own creativity. When you scroll around on Pinterest you see lots of people coloring the same images. Some people may change the color of the house or change the color of a shirt. The ones that always hit me with, "WOW, looks at that" is when someone adds their own background that makes the image look interesting. Even if it is just a splash of color here and there or maybe adding some elements like a table or a window that makes the image feel like it is a part of a scene. That is when I learned that the images we purchased to color are just the starting point. We can take them to any level we want. It is not necessary to do it exactly as instructed, you can be as wild as you want or as detailed as you want. Remember, the image is just a beginning.
Change the medium called for in a project
I have also found that doing something as simple as using a different medium than what the teacher lists has also stretched me creatively. I have taken several classes designed for Copic markers and I would challenge myself to do the same thing in colored pencil. During the class I learned the techniques that made the unique beauty of the image the first time around. During the second time of coloring the image I would try it in colored pencil to see if I could replicate the technique or create the smooth blend without Copic markers. Of course, that meant I had to figure out my own colors, but it allowed me to try the image again in a different way. To me it is always exciting to see how it will turn out. I have learned the most by trying different mediums mainly because I had to think my way through the project. It is so easy to become robotic in a class, because the teacher tells you step-by-step what to do, there is no thinking involved. At the end of the class the project looks great because you followed direction. When you challenge yourself to step outside the tutorial and make some artistic decisions on your own it is amazing to realize the things you have learned in all of the classes are still in your head and you can confidently create something beautiful that doesn't look like what everyone else made. That right there is being an artist - without training wheels.
There are many of us that feel like we are not talented like the people who can pick up a pencil and draw an amazing landscape or paint a portrait. I know for a fact practicing is simply trying out different things and exploring what you can do with your marker, colored pencil, or paint brush. If you want to make your coloring look amazing it is just taking the first step to try something different on your own. Yes, it feels scary just like the day your dad took the training wheels off your bike and told you to get on and just go.
You can do this - in your next project when your instructor tells you to use a blue, but you really think that pink would look better - do it. Try it out. See what happens. What is the worst thing that could happen? You would have to color it again? If you love coloring is it really the worst thing in the world to color something again? I am just saying, if you want your coloring to be different than the crowd then you are going to have to step off the path and go have some fun.
Here's what we're practicing
now in the Corner . . .
Summer is the perfect time for us to start observing shadows. They are all around us and soon they will hopefully be included in your coloring projects too!
If you want to learn more about adding shadows to your images why don't you come hang out with us in the Practice Corner for the month of July as we guide you though practicing this technique.
If you are reading this after July, don’t despair, you can still explore and practice creating shadows for more realism in your coloring by purchasing the "Shadows" Technique Practice Pack here.
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