Garden Dirt: Copic Marker Swatches for Power Poppy Stamps, Pumpkins

It's pumpkin spice season!

Pumpkins and Pears is one of my all-time favorite stamps from Power Poppy.

Today, I've got an unusual underpaint recipe for coloring an heirloom ghost-pumpkin variety with both Copic Markers and Prismacolor colored pencils. 

Hello, my name is Amy Shulke and I’m the illustrator and art instructor at Welcome to another edition of my blending combination series here at Power Poppy-- The Garden Dirt

Why dirt? Because underpainting is a method that relies on layering clean bright colors over the top of contrasting or complementary colors. We're making the dirty colors necessary for realistic looking depth and dimension.

I’ve got a whole series of artistic coloring articles here at the Power Poppy blog; here’s a quick link to a bunch of my previous articles.

Let's color a speckled pumpkin

Today I’m showing you a close-up of one lumpy, bumpy pumpkin. Yes, I was the strange kid who always picked out the misshapen, un-perfect pumpkins with weird tinges of green at the top or funky warts on the side. It drove my mother nuts! 

Marcella's Pumpkins & Pears stamp has three pumpkins to color but you can see that just this one fellow makes a really nice composition for a harvest card. It also wouldn't be hard to add a Jack o' Lantern face to it!

You can find other Power Poppy pumpkin stamps here. This recipe would work on any of them!

The secret to my dimensional pumpkin is the gray marker... and then a green pencil

Where’s the gray? Where's the green?

The gray marker is UNDER the red, orange, and yellow pencils in the deepest valleys between each lobe of the pumpkin. You can kinda see a bit of the gray peeking out up top near the stem but that same gray Copic marker runs all the way down each valley.

The gray desaturates the bright colored pencils, toning them down and making them shady.

Its dirty color and this dingy, slightly unappealing color is what our brains interpret as shade. If this pumpkin were bright orange, bright red, and bright yellow, it would look terribly flat.

Real shade is really dirty.

Then to amplify some of the deep crevices, I came back with a Kelp Green pencil. You can see a little bit of the green up by the stem too but where the green really kicks into overdrive is in the valleys at the very bottom of the pumpkin as well as behind the pears.

Green over red over orange over yellow over gray?

Yep. It sounds like madness but it looks amazing!

Underpainting and desaturated color takes a bit of getting used to. The technique feels weird at first and the color looks even weirder… let’s call realistic shade an acquired taste. 

But once you get used to the color of real shade, you start to see it everywhere, all around you! Your entire life, you’ve been surrounded by murky colors, you just never noticed them.

Don't be afraid to add a little dirt to your next project. It's fantastic!

Want to color Power Poppy’s “Pumpkins and Pears” with me? 

Silvered Pumpkins is part of the my Marker Painting Workshops series of online classes for intermediate to advanced Copic colorers. 

This class is available now with no wait. Work at your own pace, color it as many times as you want, no expiration.

Silvered Pumpkins uses Power Poppy’s beautiful Pumpkins and Pears digital stamp set.

We use a combination of Copic Markers, and Prismacolor Soft Core colored pencils, with accents and splatters of Finetec Metallic Watercolors for an antique mercury glass feel.

You can find out more about the Silvered Pumpkin online class here.

And I’ll see you back here next month for another fun color swatch!


  1. WOW! Gorgeous coloring on these lovely pumpkins!!

  2. Always great to read an artical from you, although I have no Copics I always learn from you. Thank you so much Amy, stay safe and have a wonderful day.


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