Updated: Oct 9
Hi there creative people!
Are you looking at your latest project and thinking that you didn't achieve exactly what you saw in your head when you started? Are you feeling like you need to kick your creative skills up just a notch? Great, then I have three tips for you that will help turn up the dial on your coloring.
Tip: Identify what you are missing
Okay, so you finished your latest project and you feel like you are missing something. The reason you started the project is because you saw the finished image in your head and got excited about starting it. Then somehow in the end what you see on your paper is not close to what you see in your head.
Although, this can be a let down, there is a lesson to be learned even if you don't have a teacher there with you to point it out. So how in the world are you going to figure this out? The answer is honest reflection. What I mean is that you will need to be honest with yourself as you ask yourself and answer these questions:
- What do I like about this project?
- What looks off about this project (you don't have to know why you just want to know what)?
- With what I know now, what I can do differently next time?
Asking these questions will help you hone in on what you need to improve upon. Now don't get me wrong, this is NOT intended to send you down a spiraling path of self degradation--this is intended to help to see your work realistically. Note, the first question you ask is what do you like about your project and you should revel in what is really awesome about the work you do. On the flip side of that, you also should always be a student, learning to improve your craft. The greatest thing about art, to me, is that it is subjective, everyone has a different view of how to express art. There is no one single way to create it, which means we all can explore several ways to express art in our own voice. This is really why it is important to keep wanting to grow our art skills and looking for ways to do so.
Tip: Study good references
If you want to color with realism, you need to have good references to color or draw from. When I looked at my art projects it became obvious to me that I needed to spend time figuring out how to create more realism in my work. If I wanted to color a flower I would simply grab a few colors and just start coloring away. I would finish and think "eh it's alright".
A few days later, I came across a beautiful photo of a flower that was the same colors as I had chosen for the project I had just finished and like a shoe to the head, it hit me. I finally saw what my flower was missing. There were so many details in the petals that I didn't come close to illustrating.
I also saw more colors than the simple three color blend I initially chose. I stared at that photo for what seemed like an hour. I zoomed in on the stem and learned that there are little fuzzy hairs that I never noticed before. I also learned that the stem right under the flower had red spots on it. All of these details I was now seeing made me realize I could have illustrated all of that in my project and it would make my flower look much more interesting. So guess what I do now before any project? Exactly, I study several photos before starting and make notes of little details I want to incorporate in my project to make the project look interesting and realistic.
Tip: Practice new techniques
I watched a lot of YouTube videos when I started coloring . These videos are what encouraged me to buy Copic Markers and try them for myself. The content I found on YouTube made everything look so easy. Especially, the speed videos where you see the person color an image from start to finish. Here is the thing about getting sucked into the speed video trap, they make you believe it is so simple that you can do it too--from your first try! The reality behind a speed video is the video is sped up so you don't have to sit there for the two (or more) hours it took the artist to actually color it. Also, you don't see all the time they took to decide what colors, paper, and most of all what techniques they would use to create it.
There are techniques you need to learn before you can create that perfect blend, or create the texture with a stippling technique, or even adding details with color pencil. These are the things you do not see in those videos so when you try to recreate what you saw in their speed video you get upset because your flower looks nothing like theirs.
Look for classes where you can learn the correct way to do coloring techniques. One thing I have learned is that when you start coloring, what you do becomes a habit. If you are doing a technique wrong it still becomes a habit. In this case a bad habit. Trust me, it is really hard to break free of a bad coloring habit.
One thing I wish someone would have told me before I started on this artistic journey was to take classes from the very beginning. I started taking classes with Vanilla Arts back in 2015, but I wish I would have started sooner. When I listened to Amy talk about blending nicely by creating a flick stroke that tapered at the end, I knew right then I had been doing this coloring thing all wrong. Boy, I had some coloring bad habits that needed to be broken. It is pretty embarrassing to say but I pretty much colored side-to-side and really heavy handed. My thought was it was the fastest way to cover an area and then I would put another color on top. Do you see the disaster brewing here? I see it now, but that is only because I learned the correct technique to achieve a beautiful blend that I was looking for. And now I have several techniques under my belt and the confidence to start any project without fear.
Those are my three tips to get you on the path of progress in your coloring skills. Even taking just one of the tips to heart will help you on your next project. I challenge you to try to do just one thing different before starting your next project. I know from my own experience that this will work for you.
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keep practicing and finding new joys through your coloring.