Thursday, 25 May 2017

Step-by-Step - Black Background Experiment

When you're colouring in a book with drawings on both sides of the page, you have to be careful about the types of pens you use. Alcohol-based pens will bleed and shadow through the page so water-based pens are the way to go. 
Creating a black background, even with water-based pens, can result in some shadowing on the following page so it's good to pick up any tips out there on how to manage this successfully, without shadowing.
I came across this method recently and decided to give it a whirl on my copy of Secret Garden. I intend to colour this entire book in monochrome and inking (maybe the occasional touch of colour!)

The finished title page

Step 1 - 

Firstly I needed to work around the outer edges of the design with a fine water-based black pen. I use a Staedtler Pigment liner, the brilliant 0.05 tip one. This is an arduous process, armed with a magnifying glass in one hand, but it's worthwhile doing to keep the outlines crisp and accurate.

Step 2 - 

This involves laying down a base coat of black watercolour pencil. I used Derwent Inktense pencil but any watercolour pencil should work. You can see below that I have inked around the design on the right hand side of the design.

Steps 1 and 2

Step 3 - 

The background base coat of pencil is now complete and the inking around the edges, done.

Step 3

Step 4 -

Now a layer of a water-based black pen is added over the pencil. The water in the pens activates the pigment or ink in the pencil to smooth things out. I had hoped that just this one coat of brush pen would be enough to give me a mostly streak free look. 
On the left hand side I used a Tombow black brush pen. On the right hand side I used an Artline Stix black brush pen.  In the sample I did, the Artline Stix pen won easily. However, to be honest, there wasn't much difference although I think the Tombow pen performed slightly better.  In both instances there were still plenty of patchy streaks, such as you get with water-based pens over a larger area.

Step 4

Step 5 - 

So I put over another coat with the Tombow brush pen and this time, I was happy with the result. There was zero shadowing or bleeding through to the reverse page.

Step 5

Now the design was ready for further inking.

I think you could try this method with any coloured background as long as you could find a reasonable match between your watercolour pencil colour and brush pen colour.

Products I used:

Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.05

Available at - Amazon US;  Amazon UK;   Mighty Ape NZ

Pack of 6 Pigment Liners of different sizes - really useful

Available at - Amazon US;   Amazon UK;   Mighty Ape NZ

Tombow Brush Pen black - 

Available at - Amazon US;   Amazon UK

Artline Stix Brush Pens - the best red ever! 16 pack

Check out the rest of the Step-by-Step series - here.

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Recent Reviews and Posts 

The Ultimate Winnie-the-Pooh Colouring Book - here.

Picture Book Box - They All Saw a Cat - here.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Picture Book Box - They All Saw a Cat

Here is a new series, on picture books that I come across. They won't be just new books. In fact a couple may even predate me! I'll pass a colourer's eye over them too.

Here is an outstanding new picture book. Why is it outstanding? When I read it as an adult it hits me as saying something different with direct, basic language and illustrations that blow me away!

Title:  They All Saw a Cat
Author/artist: Brendan Wenzel

Here is a trailer video produced by Chronicle Books, the publisher -

"The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears and paws…" So runs a refrain through this book, one that I sing to our little 4 month old. In between the refrain we see how different creatures view the cat.
The art work is stunning and really makes you think about perception. While little miss 4 month old loves the bright and varied colours, a school age child would find lots to experience in this book too. Why do different creatures see the cat in that way?
Do check out the Amazon links below as they give you more images from the book. Here are a couple of skewed ones that I particularly like - the combo cat with bits of every creature's view. There is a great surprise at the end too!
This is a Caldecott Honor book.

The mouse saw the cat!
The combo cat

You can find out more …

Check the Amazon links below for a look inside the book.

They All Saw a Cat

Available at - Book Depository;

Other books in the Picture Book Box are - here.

Do join me on Facebook here.

Recent Reviews and Posts 

The Ultimate Winnie-the-Pooh Colouring Book - here.

Step-by-Step - from Enchanted Forest - here.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Ultimate Winnie-the-Pooh Colouring book

I adore Ernest Shepard's illustrations for the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories and Milne poetry books. Disney just doesn't cut it! 
For a while I've been considering buying a copy of the story book just to colour the wonderful drawings. So, I was eagerly anticipating the release of this new colouring book. 

Title:  Winnie-the-Pooh, a Colouring Book
Artists: E.H. Shepard

Here is my video flip through -

At a glance…..

Size - 225 x 288, 96 pages
Single-sided images - no
Images into the spine - some
Paper - white and quite good
Perforated - no
Water based pens - yes but test first.

You can find out more …

Winnie-the-Pooh Colouring Book

Available at - Book Depository;

If you're interested in Ernest Shepard, there was a book published in 2015, about his World War I experiences, that your local library may stock - Shepard's War by James Campbell.

Tell me more …

This is a romp through the Pooh books as well as some of the A.A. Milne poems. There are so many favourites here that I know I'll be singing bits of verse and probably rereading some of the stories. You'll certainly be smiling.
The images are enlarged from those in the original books. They are delightful line drawings that will suit some soft colours and maybe watercolour-like washes. 
Throughut the book are quotes in fonts that can be coloured.
This book has a similar look to the Macmillan Alice but you'll be relieved to know that this book contains only two double spread wallpapers!
There is a mix of double-page spreads and single page images with text on the facing page. The final image is the wonderful map of 100 Aker Wood.
Absolutely charming.

* This copy was purchased by me.

My Amazon Wishlist is - here.

Do join me on Facebook here.

Recent Reviews and Posts 

Step-by-Step - from Enchanted Forest - here.

The Encyclopedia of Coloured Pencil Techniques - here.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Step-by-Step - from Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

 This time in Step-by-Step Lizzie is sharing with us her colouring of this popular double page spread from Enchanted Forest.
This series follows just normal colourers like me, to show you the process of their colouring decisions. The comments by Lizzie are literally as the colouring took shape.
When I began colouring I remember at times feeling a bit overwhelmed by the uncoloured page in front of me. Then I realised that I didn't have to make any decision other than the first element of the drawing I was going to colour. Almost magically, a colouring seems to gather momentum and a life of its own as each detail is coloured.

So, it's over to Lizzie.

First up, here is her finished colouring of this spread -

Finished colouring

Step 1 -

"I'm going to attempt to do this one as a Step-by-Step colouring as I haven't seen one done in ages and I enjoy doing them. My challenge is this double-page spread from Enchanted Forest.

Uncoloured image

I've drawn out a plan on a piece of paper so we'll see what happens -

A plan
Step 2 -

It's the end of day 1 and I've not got a great deal done. Hopefully tomorrow I can finish the tree trunks and make a start on some leaves. So far I've used my Ergosofts, brown Polychromos, Micador colour rush brown and an FC Classic brown. I have such a mix of pencils!

Step 2 - trunks

Step 3 - 

Day 2 of my Step-by-Step colouring and I've finished the tree trunks, done a few of the vines and made a start on the leaves of the first tree. My pinks and purples are paired up, ready. Hopefully I'll get a lot more done tomorrow.

Step 3 - starting leaves

Step 4 -

The start of Day 3 as I didn't get to colour yesterday and my next two trees are finished. I realised in my plan that I'd missed a tree so I've used one of my favourite colour combinations, teal and hot pink. Next is the blue and purple tree.

Step 4 - trees
Step 5 - 

Almost finished the purple and blue tree. Hoping to crack on with this tomorrow.

Step 5 - more trees

Step 6 - 

Another day of little colouring but I got all the trees finished and started on the plants at the bottom, along with the woodpecker. I did the last tree with Polychromos and Ergosoft.

Step 6 - plants 

Step 7 - 

I'm starting to work on all the foliage. My aim is to do it all mostly green with the odd pop of colour, as there is so much colour on the trees.

Step 7 - foliage
Step 8 - 

I finally got some colouring time today. Now working on the leaves at the top, adding in a pop of pink to the green.

Step 8 - leaves with a pink pop

Step 9 - 

I have no clue what day I am on now! The right page is finished. Now for the left side and then a background.

Step 9 - starting the background

Step 10 - 

Finished. I think that my plan for this actually worked. As I did such a mix of colours in the tree leaves, I decided to do everything else mostly green, with little pops of colour.

Step 10 - Finished!

Lizzie sums up - "I felt this one went really well and that my picks for colours worked well together. I'm glad I planned this one out, otherwise I think it might have ended up a mess. As I did so much colour for the leaves in the trees (using the theory that it's an enchanted forest so all colours go) I didn't want to have loads of colours in the foliage."

Thanks Lizzie. I really enjoyed watching this colouring take shape. Your choice of background colours really makes the tree leaves glow.

Here is Lizzie's book - 

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

Available at - Book Depository;
Amazon US;  Amazon UK

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Recent Reviews and Posts -

9 Must See New Colouring Books for May - here.

The Encyclopedia of Colouring Pencil Techniques - here.

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Encyclopedia of Coloured Pencil Techniques

It's been my pleasure to be able to review three very different technique books. 
Creative Colouring Techniques is a good book for beginner colorers, using different materials and includes several colouring pages. 
Recently I looked at A New Guide to Coloring which would suit a colourer with a bit more experience. 
Now here is a book, devoted to various types of coloured pencils, that is not aimed at only colorers, but at artists in general.

Title:  Encyclopedia of Coloured Pencil Techniques
Artists: Judy Martin

Here is my video flip through -

At a glance…..

Size - 222 x 222, 176 pages
Single-sided images - no
Images into the spine - not applicable

Who will love it - those who want to improve their colouring technique.

Here are my reviews, with links, of other technique books -

A New Guide to Coloring book - here.

Creative Colouring Techniques by Felicity French - here.

You can find out more …

Encyclopedia of Coloured Pencil Techniques

Available at - Book Depository;

Tell me more …


There's plenty in this book for me to learn. I particularly the themed sections with masses of artists' work to inspire me. It may be the ultimate technique book for you to own. The book covers hard, soft, pastel pencils, graphite pencils and watercolour pencils.


After a brief foreword the book has a explanatory list of different materials you may need for using pencils. Following on is a comprehensive, well illustrated section on the many different techniques. Ranging from handling pencils through to frottage and sgraffito, there were several I didn't know about. 
Following these 74 pages on technique is a fantastic section on Themes. Those covered are landscapes, objects, nature, people & portraits and there are plenty of examples and an artist demonstration for each subject area.
The text is quite wordy and technical. However take a look at the quick flip through video to get the feel for this colourful book.

Do join me on Facebook here.

Recent Reviews and Posts 

9 Must See New Colouring Books for May - here.

Picture Book Box - Grandpa Green - here.

Step-by-Step - Colouring Grass - here.