PEP tangles - my Zentangle Inspired Art blog

Thursday, 11 August 2011

MCC Colouring 101 Wk 2 - Rounded Shading & Shape, Pencils & Paper

 from my sketchbook

Prior to my first Colouring 101 classes this May I cannot remember ever having tried exercises such as shading spheres & cylinders, doughnuts & spirals. When attempting to colour a snail last summer I struggled to understand quite how to make the shell look real. Since then I have shied away from using that stamp - though snails are amongst my favourite images. After hours of colouring in May I made a start on the spheres & cylinders looking real but the doughnut & spiral defeated me as I could not grasp the shading relationships. I'm hugely encouraged this time round for I see progress since then & have tangible evidence of practice being the key to improvement.

hollow (left) & solid (right) cylinders 

doughnut & spiral (ammonite)

Rather than copying Glenda's examples exactly I wanted to try applying the same principles of colour theory & shading/shape by using different colours &/or images. Although this entails a certain amount of  bin filling it is extremely thrilling to make discoveries & the only way I can lose is not to dare to try.

I'm unsure about the highlight but it was magical being able to 
 achieve the gradations of colour simply by layering pencil colours

My first encounters with pencils last year gave rise to many questions & through the class I've discovered  that others also struggle when it comes to choosing brands & papers. I thought it worth adapting some of Glenda's homework exercises in order to explore my own resources & to keep a record of my thoughts & conclusions. At the end of the day it will be a matter of personal preference & access to materials that will determine choice.

Cardstock for Polychromos
Using the same colours of Polychromos pencils I stamped & coloured the fish onto 3 different cardstocks: Southfield 200 MIC Bright White 160gsm; W H Smith White Card 220gsm; Winsor & Newton Lana Cartridge Paper 130gsm.

There is very little discernible difference in appearance but the real variations became apparent when applying colour to the surfaces. I was initially trying to improve upon the Southfield (smooth & bright white) with regard to the ease of laying down & blending layers of colour but found the other two surfaces even more difficult to use. I thought that the W H Smith would be an improvement as, although it is greyer in colour, it has more tooth. I found this surface too springy with the pencil almost making indentations in the surface unless I was extremely light-handed. Creamy in appearance & with a little tooth the Cartridge Paper seemed somewhat resistant to the application of colour & it was hard work laying down a smooth blend

Left: 25 layers of colour, Right: 7 layers of colour using Sansodor to blend along right edge

Discarding the Cartridge Paper I decided to try the heavier Craftwork Cards Digital Ultra Smooth Premium 250gsm Cardstock really giving each strip of card a hammering with 25 layers of Polychromos colour & then brushing my finger over the coloured surface. The Southfield was fine, just starting to catch a little as the layers were piled on. The W H Smith caught more & was a bit patchy as the layers increased, finally it smudged under my finger. The surface of the Craftwork Cards cardstock although smooth began to disintegrate before I had finished applying the 25 layers. 

The more usual application of 7 layers was tolerated by all 3 cardstocks with the Craftwork Cards being the smoothest but blending patchily with Sansodor & allowing migration of colour along the edge. The Southfield wasn't as smooth when layering but gave by far the smoothest blend with Sansodor & did not allow any migration at the edge. The W H Smith was also somewhat patchy in blending both by layering & with Sansodor, plus it allowed colour migration along the edge.

Wax-Based or Oil-Based
When Glenda demonstrated how to use a Blender Pencil during the first course I wondered if it mattered that I was using the oil-based Lyra Splender with the wax-based Derwent Coloursoft pencils. Since I had some Lyra Pencils I tested it out & found that it didn't. I have just discovered a technical book (The Ultimate Guide to Colored Pencil  by Gary Greene) which confirms my findings. 

Having discovered that the wax content of the Coloursoft pencils accounts for the debris & smudging when colouring I decided to compare my tin of 36 wax-based Derwent Coloursoft Pencils with my tin of 36 oil-based Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils (I came across these tins in a Sale when I first started crafting & impulsively bought them!!!!). I find the selection of 36 colours doesn't intimidate me but provides an adequate variety with which to work. For the above blending of colours I selected similar colours from each set & used the Derwent wax-based Blender for the Coloursoft & the Lyra oil-based Splender for the Polychromos.

Derwent Coloursoft
  • English wax-based available in 72 colours
  • give off debris when colouring & thus require frequent sharpening for finely detailed work
  • debris allows smudging & less defined edges
  • other wax-based brands - US Prismacolor Premier, Swiss Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 

Faber-Castell Polychromos
  • German oil-based available in 120 colours
  • very little debris (if any) retaining a sharp point for finely detailed work
  • allows clearly defined edges with minimal smudging
  • other oil-based brands - German Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor, Swiss Caran d'Ache Pablo

Images Fish - Elusive Images (now Chocolate Baroque) UDLSP0330 Something Fishy; Circles & Cylinders - digitally provided by & copyright Glenda Waterworth.
Ink Memories Black.
Colouring Unless otherwise specified - Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.
Cardstock Unless otherwise specified - Southfield 200 MIC Bright White Card 160gsm.

I would very much value any comments/suggestions regarding other brands of pencils & cardstock/paper.


Aquarius said...

You have been busy - very comprehensive experiments.

Debgem said...

Paula - thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and for showing us your colouring. I think it's absolutely fabulous. I missed the start of this course and with Jonathan being home wasn't really up for it. But I do hope that Glenda runs the course again - I could do with some lessons. I think your doughnut colouring is fabulous!!

FYI - I have a full set of Prismacolor pencils. While I don't use them often, I do like the texture and effect that I can achieve with them. I just need some lessons to making the colouring better :)

xxxtglxxx said...

Wow Paula - this is remarkable progress - absolutely stunning results! :)

I never knew it was such an intensive course or even that detailed a process. Me, I just blink, imagine where the light source is and then work backwords from that and hope for the best! :D lol.

I hope to see your snail masterpieces in the future, you have this concept nailed I think.

take care,



saturated canary said...

I use prismacolor pencils and really love them. I also love your shading on the shapes! It really is spectacular! My favorite is the hollow cylinder. It's perfect. Your posts are full of helpful info-- I just thoroughly enjoy reading them.

And on a side note-- (via your comment)I love how you met your hubby in a bookstore you were working in. That's such a romantic thought:). Reminds me of the beginning of the movie Dan in Real Life. I love that movie:):) It's so sweet:)

Well, have a lovely day hun...

hugs!, Krista

Lorraine said...

wow paula i love this post especially how perfectly rounded everything looks your shading is so perfect xx

Sandra said...

Wow Paula, these are great. Such detail.
I've just signed up for the Stamping course with Glenda - that's what happens when you sign up for emails!!
Hoping to be out your way next week - hope the weather is a bit brighter!

Elaine said...

Fabulous and very informative Paula. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your little reviews and watching your colouring techniques grow.
Your shading is perfect, you are bringing the images to life (even the inanimate images!)

I've been trying out the Neenah cardstock for my pencil colouring with polychromos and sansodor. I also played (briefly) with Copics again, but there's just no love between us!

Thanks for sharing Paula.
Love Elaine xxx

Glenda said...

It's one of the most rewarding experiences a teacher can have, seeing a student take flight like this. You have really embraced the course and taken on the challenge of pushing yourself even further.

I can see vast improvements and that's all down to your own dedication and hard work - I'm proud of you!


GinaA said...

Hi Paula,
You really have been practicing, your ammonite is stunning. You are an inspiration, must try some practice myself.
Hope you are all well.

Claire said...

Hi Paula, wow your shading on all of these samples is fantastic and your paper/pencil research is really interesting. I'm getting more and more tempted by the polychromos lol.
I've been using some Neenah card and like you would prefer something with more tooth but so far i've had the best results with the Neenah card. I've been really busy at work so haven't had time for lots of experimentation but hope to catch up a little tomorrow
Claire xx

weewiccababe said...

Hi Paula,
thankyou so much for your comment today :)
I love reading these posts, I'm learning loads and I'm particularly interested in all the pencil info - I would love to find colouring pencils that I like working with, I don't like prismas, and it's very educational reading your findings.
I also like the term bin filling :)

Annie said...

wow you have been busy Paula - building and artistic work hand in hand is not easy! thanks so much for sticking with me and I hope you will visit again when I get a chance to blog.
hugs, annie x

Jilly said...

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