• Kathy

Do You Feel Lucky - Adding Realistic Depth to Your Coloring Projects

Updated: Oct 9

March is a month associated with the words like, four-leaf clover, pots of gold, leprechauns, green and luck. I could go on and on. But I will stop here on “luck”. When you color an image have you ever finished and thought, “wow, this turned out amazing”! You feel like you can color anything now, so you select another image, start to color, but for some reason it’s not so easy. So I ask, was that last amazing project outcome based on “luck” or “skill”? For me, the answer used to be luck. But now that I’ve learned to practice, I can answer with confidence that it’s skill.

If you have been coloring for any period of time and you feel that your coloring isn’t getting any better, the process is still harder than you think it should be, then it’s your lucky day! The Practice Corner is here to help. We will get you focused on techniques that will give you greater insight about what you are doing and improve your coloring. So what's stopping you, let's practice together? It simple, just follow me to the Practice Corner.


If you are already hanging out in the Corner, then you know it is just a couple of days until we turn the page on the calendar and switch the focus of our coloring practice. The month of March is all about Pushing and Pulling. Whether you are a seasoned colorer or a beginner, mastering the ability to Push and Pull will enhance your coloring outcomes.


I realize that you might be reading this post and wondering, what the heck is “Pushing and Pulling” and how does that relate to coloring? Pushing and pulling is a coloring technique that was introduced to us by Amy Shulke, illustrator and instructor at Vanilla Arts Co. She figured out a way to teach Copic marker and colored pencil students how to create realism in their coloring without having to worry about light sources. You know, things such as where the light is coming from and how is it hitting the image.


If you are like me, taken a class or two where the instructor pulls out the chalk and heads to the blackboard … draws a big sun in the sky, adds a picnic basket sitting on a blanket on the ground. Then with the chalk, draws a bunch of lines to indicate where the light is hitting the basket and its contents, then declares “ok, now you know where to put the highlight, shade and shadow when you color your image”. Hmmmm, maybe that made sense to the instructor? But me, I was perplexed and doomed to fail at this because in reality, I was stuck in a room with no sun coming through the window, it was raining! I just didn’t understand how to apply this logic that was going to result in my being able to color some amazing piece.


I am happy to say I no longer need to try to figure out the lighting charts and all the technical details regarding light when I color. You see, I know how to push items in my images back or to pull them forward. Done right, my finished coloring projects have depth and dimension. Both of which bring my images to life and will do the same for yours!

Sounds simple enough, right? So why would you want to practice this for a month? Well, because it takes repetition before you employ coloring techniques automatically when you color.


If you have taken a workshop from Vanilla Arts, you undoubtedly heard Amy tell you to push or pull something. But I know that even if you heard the instruction your eyes were watching what is happening in the video. And it is natural that you color based on what you are seeing, not necessarily what you were hearing. You don’t fully absorb what you are doing when you are physically coloring in conjunction with a tutorial. As a result, the next time you color, you are most likely to never even think the words Push and Pull, let alone apply the technique.


That's why we practice here in the Corner. But don't think of our coloring practice in terms of boot camp like drills. There is no sergeant with a whistle yelling commands. Nope, we practice and chat with each other about what is happening on our paper. There is nothing like talking to someone doing what you’re doing and finding out they figured out a new way to do something; and by sharing you find out it works for you too. Oh, we celebrate those for sure. By sharing our practice with other members in the Corner we also learn to really see and evaluate what is happening. Learning to see and evaluate is another key to improving your own coloring.


So here’s how we will work our way through March here in the Practice Corner:

Week 1 - Technical Drill Practice

  • Frankie starts the week out with a video to focus our attention on Pushing and Pulling.

  • Kathy sets you on your way with technical drills to start your Pushing and Pulling

  • You post your completed drill sheet(s) in the Practice Corner Forum for feedback. We understand that your completed drill sheet would not make for the most impressive coloring on display in Facebook or Instagram. But in the Forum, it’s a whole other story! Seeing the depth and dimension starting to appear will make us all giddy and wanting to color more.

Week 2 - From Technical Drill Practice to Real Life Coloring

  • Frankie starts the week with a new video and pops in later with one of her 2-Minute Tip series videos

  • Kathy has created a digital stamp and provides photo references so that you can apply your Pushing and Pulling techniques in a real life coloring.

  • If it’s the second Thursday of the month, it’s time for Break-Time Chat, a live on-line gathering of members of the Practice Corner. This is an opportunity for the entire group to connect in real time, putting names to faces and be introduced to a special topic before we get into the sharing of our current month’s Pushing and Pulling experiences (good or bad). By the end of the chat, we are convinced that we will have solved all the problems of the coloring world.

Week 3

  • Frankie starts the week with new video and will be back later in the week with another video from her 2-Minute Tip Series

  • You continue to work on your technical drills and coloring more of your week-2 practice image.

  • Kathy delivers a challenge image that you can add to your practice. The challenge image is designed for you to discover how to color an image all on your own. You pick the colors to use and decide how to color the image, incorporating your new Pushing and Pulling techniques. You post your project in the forum for feedback and/or direction if needed.

Week 4 - Time to Look Back

  • Frankie releases the last motivational video at the start of the week and follows up with the last 2-Minute Tip by weeks end.

  • It’s time for you to reflect on the months’ practice. It’s essential to think about the what/why/when/how we Pushed and Pulled. Even more important than just thinking back on the month is to record your observations. As we’ve said before, we have learned that if we lose focus in our coloring it will show in our projects. Sometimes we don’t even know what the issue is, but when we look back on our journal summaries we can be reminded of what it is we need to get back to.

  • Get ready for April, where the Practice Corner will be working on creating Deep Dark Colors (darker than what is available from a Copic marker).


If you want to color better . . . it's easier and a lot more fun with the help of a community working towards that same goal. We are here to help make it happen. So, are you feeling lucky?


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