Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Artist’s Notebook: Check Your Color Values! (Take a Deep Breath)

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from VanillaArts.com offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | VanillaArts.com | #realistic #howtocolor #copic


Tell me if this sounds right…

You’ve colored for months or maybe years, and you’re pretty darned good at it. There isn't a tutorial around that you can't totally rock.

And yet when you go off on your own, picking original color palettes and choosing your own markers or pencils… well… your coloring is still good but, uhm… there’s something missing.

Your personal projects don’t have the same oh-la-la you see in professional projects. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but something is just… off?

So you chalk that up to talent. “I love Crafty Candie’s Coloring tutorials! She is so talented and she always creates the prettiest color palettes!”

Psssttt… It’s not talent.

Crafty Candie does something you don't. Today, I’ll show you how!


Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from VanillaArts.com offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | VanillaArts.com | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

Hello, my name is Amy Shulke and I’m the illustrator and art instructor over at VanillaArts.com. Today, let's learn a quick and easy way to improve your color values and contrast.

Because that mystery thing your coloring is missing?

It’s contrast.

By the way, I’ve been hanging out here at the Power Poppy Blog for a while now. If you want to go back and read my previous Artist’s Notebook articles on color, here’s a quick link to a bunch of them.

But today, we’re not worried about color; we’re focusing on values and contrast!




Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from VanillaArts.com offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | VanillaArts.com | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

What is Contrast?


First off, don’t get scared. Artsy people name drop “value” and “contrast” a lot. Fear not, there will be no deep weeds here.

Because we don’t have to go deep to fix the problem!

Value simply means how light or dark a color is. 

If you look at your Copic grays, you’ll see the value written on the cap. C4 has a value 4 and it’s darker than a C2 or a C0. Actually, all Copics tell you the value, it’s always the last number on the cap.

In colored pencil, gray values are usually listed as a percentage, a Roman numeral, or maybe “light, medium, and dark”. Unfortunately, they’re not as good about telling you the values of purples, blues, or greens. Darn!

Contrast is even easier than value. Contrast is the difference between your lightest lights and darkest darks. 

High contrast might mean a project done with C8 and C2 or a really dark red and a pale pink. There’s a big difference between the lights and the darks.

Low contrast would be the same project done all in pale pastels. If everything is baby soft, there’s not a lot of difference between the lights and the darks.

And what does all this have to do with why your blah-looking independent coloring?

Most of the time, you’re missing contrast!




Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from VanillaArts.com offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | VanillaArts.com | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

Contrast makes art sing!


Ever notice how amazing Marcella’s stamps look on the website?

I don’t mean the colored samples (which are nice too). Nope, I’m talking about her sketches and line drawings. I don’t even need to see the stamp colored. They’re gorgeous in just black and white!

Ah ha!

In black and white? That’s contrast!

If you’ve ever colored a Power Poppy stamp and thought, “well, I certainly didn’t do that one justice…” lack of contrast is usually why.

If you color something in pale blue, pale green, pale pink… zzzzzzz.

And if you color it in flamin’ red, electric blue, and acid green… yikes!

No contrast? You lose that special indescribable spark of beauty. 




Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from VanillaArts.com offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | VanillaArts.com | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

Beauty does not come from color


Have you ever had your breath taken away by an Ansel Adams landscape?

Why are his photographs so amazing? Because really, look closer at his color. He’s using 42 shades of mud.

I know, I know. As colorers we run around worrying about which colors to buy, which colors to blend, which colors to use. Color, color, color.

But the human brain doesn’t really love color all that much. Ansel Adams proves this. The human brain loves contrast. Lights and darks and all the weird little values in between. 

Value variety is what we interpret as beautiful.




Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from VanillaArts.com offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | VanillaArts.com | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

Give your projects the Ansel Adams treatment


Every project should have contrast.

Beginners and nervous colorers usually try to keep things safe. You don’t buy the scary dark Copics unless you have to. Most of the time you stick with the same values because they’re safe.

But if you look down at your desk and every Copic ends in almost the same number then you’ve got a problem.

No contrast!

I colored Power Poppy's "Take a Deep Breath" with a wide variety of values. The background is deep, dark color. The leaves are mid tones. The petals are a blend of middle values to white. That's a full value scale in one project!

So I planned my contrast level before I even started. Is there anything you can do mid project?

Yes!

Once the coloring is underway, if you sense that your project is just missing something, pull out your smart phone and take a photograph.

Then open the photo editor and apply a Black & White filter to your project.

If every flower petal looks like a weird gray blob and if you can't tell where one blob stops and the next blob starts? If all the leaves match the same blobby gray of petals too? You’ve got a problem.

No contrast!

And psssttt… printing your stamp in black doesn’t count! Black lines aren’t enough to add contrast to your project.

Your coloring should look just as amazing in Ansel Adams mode as it does in full color!




So here’s my Artist’s Notebook challenge of the month...

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from VanillaArts.com offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | VanillaArts.com | #realistic #howtocolor #copic


Test some of your favorite projects.

Find artwork that you really admire on your favorite blogger’s website and take a screen shot. Flip it to Black & White with a photo filter. Study the kind of contrast the artist is using. 

  • How dark are their darks? 
  • How pale are their lights? 
  • How much middle value are they utilizing?

Looking at the art you love in grayscale is an excellent way to identify your own unique color taste. Some of us love things on the dark side, some of us like it paler. But all of us have an ideal contrast level that we most prefer.

Find what you like.

Then do the same Ansel Adams treatment to the best project you’ve ever colored AND the worst project you’ve ever colored.

Notice any similarities between your best project and your favorite artist?

And then ask yourself, how could you improve your worst project?



Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from VanillaArts.com offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | VanillaArts.com | #realistic #howtocolor #copic




So here’s my Artist’s Notebook challenge for you this month...

Want to color Power Poppy’s “Take a Deep Breath” with me? 


My Blue Reflection class is part of the Vanilla Livestream series for intermediate to advanced Copic colorers. This lesson covers how to identify the point of view for every stamp you color and then how to create a realistic horizon or background to match the perspective.

Blue Reflection uses Power Poppy's beautiful "Take a Deep Breath" digital stamp set.

You can find out more about Vanilla Livestream classes here.

And I’ll see you next month for another glance into my Artist’s Notebook!


Previous Artist's Notebook articles:

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