How My First Coloring Project Turned into My Lifetime Passion

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

I remember the first time I decided to color something for a crafty project. I watched a YouTube video where the person talked about how alcohol markers made coloring so much easier. I didn't really know what she meant but it looked like a lot of fun. I started looking around for images to color and what markers I should use. Who knew that taking that first step on this creative path would change my world completely? As a girl who loves almost everything crafty, I usually would get sucked into the new craft phenomena and buy every tool that goes along with it. As soon as the excitement wore off, I was off to try the new crafty project. All my crafty buddies know exactly what I am talking about here, but I want to share with you today how my first coloring project ignited my passion for drawing and what key things I have done to keep myself just as excited today as I was on the first project I created.

In the photo here you will see my very first coloring project (on the right side). It was a cute big-eyed girl from the Saturated Canary line art collection. I was drawn to this image and decided to just dive in and try it. I remember how shocked I was on how easy the Copic ink covered the area and how relaxing the process was. When I was done with the image I was thrilled with the result. I loved the process of blending three colors together to make it look like there was shade on her face. Even though I went outside the lines a little bit I was really happy and thought I need to do this again. I bought a few more images to color and went to town coloring something every day. This opened a whole new world to me, as I paid attention to more videos and looked for as much information that I could absorb about this coloring thing. I came across online classes from Vanilla Arts. Taking these classes took the spark I got from coloring and lit the fire for my artistic passion.

I learned how to use skills "real" artists use to improve my coloring. At that time, I thought wow I am getting the secrets that artist know - which kept my excitement going on each project. Learning how to make things look further away or closer by simply coloring was incredible to me. I didn't know it was a skill to make an image look realistic. I really thought people were born with natural ability from birth. Just like there are genius kids who can solve mathematical equations in their head, I assumed there were naturally talented people who could magically put marks on paper that looked like masterpieces. When I realized I could learn how to make my coloring look better I soaked up every class I could get myself into. Where I went wrong is that I also assumed that just taking a class one time and learning the techniques was enough to make my coloring instantly better. This is where a new door opened on this artistic journey for me. After I colored that first image, about six months later, I decided to take all of the knowledge I had learned from all of my classes and try coloring this same image again just to see how much I improved. It was better but still not where I wanted to be. I saw there were things I wanted to get better at, like improving the realism of her hair and the folds in her dress.

This is where my passion for practicing started to kick in. I decided at that moment that I would work on one thing each week to get better so in the next six months I could see even more improvement. So, what I did was find a bunch of coloring images with big hair or interesting hair and I printed them all out and stacked them on my coloring table. Each day after work I came home and colored one of them--really taking my time with the hair and practicing how to make the hair have shape. Then I spent a week coloring eyes, then I spent a week working on mouths, and so on. When I pulled out this first image a year later and colored it again I found that I had grown very quickly. I tell you I was very surprised putting my first image next to the one I did a year later I was super proud that my coloring had grown so much.

Each year I run this exercise once or twice again seeing how much I have changed. This year I have started drawing my own images and thought I would challenge myself to recreate my first image by drawing it in the style I am currently doing. I drew this picture you see here based on my original coloring image. I cannot tell you how much fun it was to create this image. Now looking at these two projects side by side I would have never guessed that 5 short years I would be drawing my own images. I have to say how amazed I am with what practicing really does for you. I would have never believed that spending about 30 minutes each day coloring focused on one thing would have taken me so far. Now that I have done it, I want everyone to know you can do this too. I don't have any special talent or magical gifts; this was simply practicing that made my passion and my confidence grow. If you don't believe me - try it out for yourself. Take 30 minutes each day this week to do the thing you love doing - coloring and see how your first project will improve when you do it again 6 months from now.

Practice your skill and grow your talent.

What's happening in the Corner . . .

Do you struggle to get dimension in your coloring? Is it flat no matter what you seem to do? Do you start with a base layer of color image before you color an image? Join us in the Practice Corner for the month of August as we guide you though practicing how to create depth and dimension in your images.

If you are reading this after August, don’t despair, you can still explore and practice this technique by purchasing the "Coloring for Depth & Dimension" Technique Practice Pack here.

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