Tricia Deed is a freelance writer of arts and crafts. She enjoys bringing an array of different projects to your attention.
Adult Coloring Books: Have You Tried Them?
My groups of friends jumped on the bandwagon of purchasing coloring books for adults. Now we all spend minutes—or even hours—coloring every day.
How We Got Started
The first book we purchased had 39 pictures of mandalas. A small box of basic coloring pencils started our adventure. We worked with the primary colors of red, orange, blue, green, violet, black, white, and a few other tints in the set. The initial starting stage began with the techniques of our elementary school years. The instructions included the color wheel, which we started paying attention to after getting bored with the basic colors.
The simple act of coloring is the beginning of gaining tinting knowledge with personal experiences of school day memories and trial and error. As you follow suggestions for cool and warm colors, you'll begin to understand how different colors contrast or complement each other. The emotional benefits of tranquility and immediate rewards encourage learning. Want to get started? Check out these tips below.
1. Color Combinations
The mandala drawings, which are circles filled with geometric patterns, change their appearance with selected colors. There may be three of you coloring, and each of you will have a different kaleidoscopic view because of the color choices made by each individual.
As we tired of working with the basic colors, we started to mix our tints in order to have more variety and intensity.
- Red and blue produce purple.
- Read and yellow produce orange.
- Blue and yellow produce green.
- Blue and green is a favorite blue-green combination.
- Yellow and green produce brown.
My tip is to make a personal color chart. An easy method of learning how colors change is to draw a series of squares in a row. Fill each square with a different color. Take yellow and cover each of those colors. Magically, this produces a visual aid of hue variations relating to tone or value. Do this with all the basic colors and keep it handy for reference.
What Is Tone or Value?
It refers to the lightness or darkness of a color, like dark blue versus light blue.
We learned how to mix the basic tints to produce other colors; however, we did purchase a larger box of colored pencils for more variety. The exercise of making a chart is not wasted. We learned that purchasing a big box of coloring pencils does not guarantee desired tints. There are many times when tints need to be mixed to get the exact hue we require.
After mandalas, we moved on to objects, animals, people, and landscapes. These drawings are available as realistic, fantasy, and abstract.
2. Brush and Pencil Strokes
Our second interest was coloring landscapes. The lessons learned from doing the mandalas crossed over into reality.
Nature has a colorful palette. Prairies, flowers, gardens, fields of assorted foliage, trees, mountains, waterfalls, bodies of water, countrysides, suburban communities, city landscapes, and more offer challenges and experimentation with doing your best to duplicate nature’s splendor.
- Leaves are different shades of green in the spring and summer. Autumn changes with a burst of yellows, oranges, and reds. Winter is a challenge to give the bark of the trees their winter shadows. As you become more aware and see the visual array of colors, a new world opens.
- Landscapes are living art and the colored pencil, like a paintbrush, needs to breathe life into a flat sheet of paper. The pencil needs to be manipulated into various positions to create a variety of strokes and color applications.
Follow These Steps to See the Difference
- Draw a flower on a sheet of paper.
- Color one flower in the direction of how the petal is growing. On the second sketch, color across the grain.
- On the third sketch, make circular movements at the edges of the petal.
- Note how each flower sample appears. The direction of the lines does make a difference.
Landscaping teaches light and contrast. Where is the sun shining? Is there a cloud cover? Shading and outlining become necessary to add texture to a flower, a leaf, and even a blade of grass. Some artists draw lines or lightly shade in specific areas in their drawings. These guides help novices to better understand the importance of shading to add depth or fullness to an object.
As you learn how to create depth and contour for landscaping, these same skills will be valuable in portrait coloring.
3. Portrait Coloring
Portrait coloring, which is what I enjoy, will use all the color tinting knowledge, pencil stroking, and light and contrast techniques.
If you like the work of a particular artist, purchase their book. There are drawings, sketches, and photographed copies of women, men, and children. Realistic, fantasy, and abstract styles offer a variety of technique practices. It’s not all work! It is a lot of fun and helps pass the time when traveling or waiting for an appointment visit.
Tip: I download free online samples offered by a variety of artists. This has helped me to improve my drawings, coloring, and painting. It is always helpful to learn from others.
4. Portrait Foundation Tints
The color of the human skin is composed of various colors. The skin may have a base of pink, peach, brown, red, green, orange, or blue. The skin hue will vary with the individual's nationality and indoor or outdoor lifestyle.
- Use light strokes and fill the portrait drawing with one of these mentioned colors. The pencil may be moved vertically, horizontally, cross-wise, or in a circular pattern to achieve a smooth and blended application. Cover all of the exposed skin areas.
- Add a second layer using white, tan, light, or medium shades of brown, gray, or black. Again, apply very lightly. Make a judgment call with each layer as to when it is to your liking. The pencil may be moved vertically, horizontally, cross-wise, or in a circular pattern to achieve a smooth and blended application.
My Portrait-Coloring Techniques
- Analyze the character and personality in the portrait: Will this person have blonde, brunette, gray, or black hair?
- Analyze the background features, if any: This determines the color of the person's hair and wardrobe.
- Start coloring the background first: Similar to painting, start with the background and color forward.
- Skin color: Will you use peach, pink, tan, light brown, blue, ruddy, yellow, red, or black?
- Color the wardrobe.
- Add finishing touches.
- Wait and day or two, return, and make any other corrections.
5. Hair, Eyes, and Lip Colors
Hair is never one color; there are several colors in human hair. The individual's complexion and the color of the eyebrows and eyelashes help determine hair coloring. The overall colorizing of the hair and skin will determine the colors of the wardrobe.
An easy method to determine hair and wardrobe color is to refer to spring, summer, autumn, and winter colors. There is much information on seasons of the year and fashion color coordination. Look at hair colorizing kits and see the many combinations of hues to select from.
Just as the skin has a variety of pigments, hair coloring is achieved in the same manner.
- Add a base of blue or green followed by dark brown or black. This produces cool tones to the hair strands.
- A base of red or reddish-orange covered with brown or black produces a warm tone.
- Make a sample on a sheet of paper with different colors before applying it to your masterpiece.
- Highlights are made with white, yellow, red, and orange.
The tint on the lips, the hair coloring, and the wardrobe will determine the final application of tint for the lip gloss.
Bring more life to the portrait by coloring the eyelashes and eyebrows. The color of the eyes will be a personal choice, but it should match the personality in the portrait. Outline the eyes with black or brown. Adding a thin layer of blue or green eyeshadow around the eyes and the eyelids will make the eyes appear dramatic or more life-like.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do you color blonde hair?
Answer: There are several choices for creating the color of blonde hair with colored pencils The first decision is to determine which shade of blonde will complement the complexion of the face. Some people like to color the face first, I am one of those. Others like to color the hair first then follow with the facial complexion.
Will the personality on paper be a platinum, yellow dirty, dyed, strawberry, or forty other choices? In other words there are many shades between light to dark that quality as blonde.
One of my favorites is to use a light or golden yellow, cover with peach, and highlight with light brown. The yellow base tends to add light to the hair strands, peach makes a pretty natural looking light-haired blonde suited to a delicate face with blue eyes. The light brown is used to slightly darken hair roots behind the ears and the neck and to shade thicker or wider strands of hair.
Because there are over 40 colors available for blondes, start with the lightest color first, then layer chosen colors until the desired color is accomplished.
I recommend drawing circles on a sheet of paper, add eyes, nose, ears, and hair. This drawing does not need to be perfect. The drawing is to help you practice pencil strokes, pressure, shading, and color experimentation. Write down color combinations that you like. .
These are colors which you may wish to experiment with. Shades of yellow, reds, oranges, browns, greys, peach, tans, and white. The colors in the complexion are also colors that are in the hair strands.
Nature does not use one color. Study your hair strands. You may notice that each strand is a little different in color. But in mass, you are labeled as being brunette, black, red, blonde, grey, and white. The color of hair compliments skin coloring. This is the reason why I like to color the face first. Practice blending and fading with dyed blondes. Color the strands at the hairline black, then follow with lighter shades of brown to allow fading into the blonde color choice. Experimenting with these color techniques will help you with blending as you incorporate other colors into blonde hair.
Ray from Philippines on July 14, 2018:
I color some of my sister's coloring books during my free time and it is very relaxing. It brings me back to my childhood days. Even though there are already available mobile applications for coloring, I still prefer doing it on a paper. This is a great article, Tricia.