Today’s post is a fun one! I love coloring, so here’s my colored pages!
I recently found this hobby in July 2017, when unfortunately I went through a rough patch. My little sister gave me Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford, and that started me on my way. Luckily, through the fun of coloring and the friendships I found in the community, I’m happy and back to drawing! Coloring Heals!
When I felt better, I drew my own coloring book – you can check that out if you want! Title is Bluebell Woods.
Colored Pages with Other Illustrators
So without further ado, here’s the pages, in chronological order, of what I’ve colored from other people’s books. I hope you enjoy my little gallery! I’ll keep updating this as I go, so check back often to see new work!
Are you a coloring book illustrator? Want me to color your work? Get in touch!
I started coloring July 16th, 2017 with this page I chose from Johanna Basford’s Lost Ocean. When I looked at the beautiful coloring book, I wasn’t sure how I felt about drawing in a bound book (I’m accustomed to spiral bindings on my sketchbooks) – so I carefully removed the page with an exacto blade and a metal ruler, with cardboard below to protect the pages underneath. I then proceeded to layer very slowly each colored pencil layer starting with the background. This is an exercise in patience. Three days later, on July 19th, 2017, I completed my first ever coloring book page.
The next page was fast, and I completed it on July 21st. At this point, I was hooked! Now, for this page, I wanted to give it a nighttime effect. However, it’s been a long time since I used pencils (I’m a painter normally), so I decided to use marker in the background to speed up the process. Then I used colored pencil all over the page, including black pencil over the marker, to make it darker. I didn’t end up liking this page as much when I finished – as it was a long time since I created glowing effects in pencil… but I learned a lot and kept going.
I had noticed around instagram that others would take their photo with a nametag – to prevent art theft, mostly. I followed suit at this point with my own ones, done quickly on kraft paper. This is how I keep them, and are the ones I use the most. I store them nearby the chest I take the photos on, for easy access.
It was also at this point that I consciously decided to choose the chest in front of the window as my most logical photography spot. To keep each page consistent, I would try to be sure to take progression photos at that chest going forward. Here’s a quick run down of how to take photos of coloring book pages.
I got a 20×20 blank canvas to use to block the light and diffuse the sun during times of day when the chest was getting direct light. You will see over time my photography improves, but these choices were the building blocks of that – and cheap enough to replicate. Just choose a neutral background and bright, natural, diffuse daylight during a sunny day.
If you don’t have a large window, try outdoors on a sunny day but find a bit of good shade. Learn how to color correct your images in instagram by googling for things like color temperature and toggling with the warmth setting in instagram to correct yellow or blue tints in photos.
For this page, I had a clear idea that the compass would be a four seasons compass – a magical device to transport you to a different time of the year. It was a silly fantasy, but I went with it. I again wasn’t super satisfied with the end result, but was getting used to my pencils and having fun. I guessed that my first page was beginner’s luck and pressed on to the next page – sure glad I did! Still, I think I did okay – and learned a lot – with this compass. Hope you enjoy the process! This one was completed on July 31st, 2017.
Here’s where I started to feel comfortable with pencils, where I stretched my legs and dove into portraiture. Portraits are my favorite, so I really enjoyed this page, and I think it shows. This was also the first time I participated in a color along, and met the beautiful and talented Sarah Colors. We became fast friends! This was also the first book I picked out and chose myself, and I really love it. This one took me a bit longer, and I finished it on August 19th. I was pretty busy and life gets in the way!
You can see a flip-through of this book on my YouTube channel here.
Right away, I wanted to try another page from Emelie. So here we have an experiment: how many layers of pencil can I layer over fairly thick acrylic? The answer for me was 3-4 depending on the paint. I finished this one on August 23rd, 2017. I really enjoyed the color scheme, but probably could have worked a lot longer. For me though, the experiment was satisfied enough to call it done.
This coloring page was started while I was on vacation in California – and suited my mood very much! I learned patience on this page, but made many, many mistakes due to the close quarters and constant jostling in coach class on the airplane. Woo. Not very comofortable to color on the plane – but it made the time go fast! This one was started on August 19th, and is still incomplete today.
This is still a WIP because I know I need to fix a lot of issues. I still like it and plan to finish someday.
Jowie Lim Freebie Page – Head in the Clouds
One of the greatest things about coloring for me is that I get to experiment and try out new styles of illustration. With this freebie page, I felt free to experiment with a moonlit scene, which I had never done before. I really enjoyed coloring this, and completed quickly, in only two days. I finished it on August 30th, 2017. It’s colored pencil and sparkles! It’s much prettier in person.
For this page, there was a lot of controversy. And it’s here I want to sit down and discuss a few things. But first, the work – then let’s talk. Here we go!
So there’s a bit of controversy with this coloring book page, like I said – because up until now, I’ve just been using traditional media. In this one, I chose to also encorporate digital paint. So let me backtrack first and explain my entire process.
This one started as a pencil sketch on a sketch paper. Then I decided that the butterfly should be rotated to give it a sense of flight, so I rotated it in Photoshop and re-printed it. 😀 Then I sketched on the new print in mechanical pencil, and then inked the sketch with Micron Pigma pens. I colored in the butterfly first with a marker base, then Prismacolor to cover it completely in wax. Then I used watercolor for the background mostly, and was able to paint right over the butterfly without getting the watercolor permanently on there due to the wax resist (I just blotted the excess color with a paper towel before it dried). So fun! Then I used acrylic and marker for some details. As a finishing touch, I added some glowy lights and some foreground highlights in Photoshop with a wacom tablet. I really enjoyed it as an experiment!
Then. came the drama.
First it was the trolling on Johanna’s featured post of my work.
Then he DMed me and made death threats.
I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but this person thought that digital was cheating, too easy, that you aren’t allowed to do it when you color. And I never remember anyone, anywhere, not even in the rules posted on Johanna’s page, anyone saying that digital was banned from the coloring community. In fact, I see digital all the time. Here I was doodling with my wacom tablet, same as I do a marker or a pencil (except, okay yes, I can undo – and what’s wrong with that? It’s a great tool!).. never knowing that someone out there had it out for me and my scandalous digi drawing.
So, long story short, there are some of those in the coloring community who would threaten physical harm to a digital artist. I think if I hadn’t been featured, it would have gone different. But I’m pleased that Johanna left the post up, and I ended up blocking the poor guy. But the point is, is digital a cheat? Is it easier? Is it worse than traditional? Leave me your comments (moderated for spam, can take 24-48 hours to appear) below.
… Does it even matter? I’m not making a profit from this page, nor did I even win the contest. So what’s the deal? Why rob me of the joy of creating with every media at my fingertips, just for your purity crusade. Coloring is a fun time for me, that’s all. I wanted to show my versatility as a mixed media artist here. I thought I was being super creative.
In any case, no matter the answers to those questions, I have vowed from now on to keep my coloring of other illustrator’s pages strictly traditional, in the hopes to never attract deadly trolls again. We’ll see what other cutting edge controversy I can cook up next.. apparently I do things all wrong!
Even through all that, I really enjoyed this page and my experiment, and wouldn’t have changed it if I did it all again. I completed this page on September 10th.
This put a chip on my shoulder to get better at pencils and show that I can do things in pencil that I can do digitally… complex backgrounds, lighting effects… I was working my way up to this. At the same time as all this drama, I hit my first major milestone.
This hit me pretty quickly, but I managed to stay up late a few nights and finish my very first thank you milestone page. I planned to do something like it – and chose Lost Ocean as my first one because that was my first book. I covered this page in sparkles and faux pearls.
After such an ordeal, I quickly did this next one, while pondering if coloring was really for me after all. I mean, it was for stress relief right? I considered quitting even as I had the pencils in my hand. But I figured I shouldn’t let one bad experience turn me away, and I pushed through it. I turned to one of my favorite books, Sagor och Sägner. I felt safe there to do whatever I liked – so I worked in bright pink, which is rare for me. I created a sweet, irresistibly sparkly fairy. I finished her on September 12th. The sparkles and bright color cheered me up, and I was back. Coloring won over the hater.
I experimented with a limited palette here, and while I didn’t like the result too much, I did learn about alot about using red and green to make skin tone, and how to use weird, alternate colors to express a mood… I’m pushing it with the hair though! I participated in a color along with this page, and used only the colors photographed as a very limited palette. Completed on September 13th.
Here I wanted to try the same exact palette as the latest coloring (above) – but I got creative with the palette and tried a new approach. I felt this one was much more successful, and really like the result. It’s much nicer than the photos! Completed on September 22.
At this point, I had been coloring for 3 months, and was starting to feel comfortable with pencil. I was dedicated to coloring every day now – even if just for a little a day. This was also the point when I really started drawing many of my own designs.
Here’s a work in progress! Unfortunately, I filmed most of this and then ran out of free time during that week, got sidetracked and somehow, this one fell to the side. It’s a shame, ’cause I like it. I plan to pick it back up soon! It seems Abby, my toughest critic, likes this page quite a lot! I wonder why!
Here I am participating in my own color along, and enjoying the work of Emelie. I attempted to do something that didn’t work out, and covered it with the glowy look of a white gel pen instead. Completed on September 27, 2017.
I was shocked to get this next milestone so quickly, this was completed in a very quick hurry on September 30, 2017.
This one took me a long time. I did a YouTube video of this page available here. Completed on October 16th 2017 with Team Turtle, @coloringmaja and @mkhossack on Instagram. Go Check them out! This is one of my favorite coloring book pages to date, and is a hint of what’s to come. I plan on even more of this type of hide-and-seek background, with complex lighting and color palettes. I want to get much better!
Completed on October 18, 2017 in an all-nighter session. The milestones are getting quicker now, and I think the next one will be at 2,000 and then 3,000 to save me some time for my own work and so I can do quality work on the milestone pages I do.
This one was completed on November 1st, 2017, one day late for @coloringmaja’s coloralong, #mythoctober. Of course, she was kind and added me in anyway. Thanks Maja! I really enjoyed pushing my limits with this one – as I typically don’t enjoy horror scenes. This was watery and fishy enough to bridge the gap for me. And while I used very little blue – I did add some violet blue in the shadows of the gold elements…
Here’s a work in progress! It’s from the book Fanciful Mandalas, Flowers and Patterns by The Art of Vikki. You can see a flip through of this book on my YouTube channel. I like doing this page because it’s relaxing and easy – there’s no spots really tight or difficult to get to.
Supplies, Books and Other Resources
Here’s the medium stuff I use!
Counterclockwise, starting with the paints:
1. Yarka watercolor set of 24, and my favorite assorted synthetic brushes.
2. Color wheel, bought in 2001 along with most of what you see here
3. Sketching mechanical pencil and retractable erasers, plus pencil extenders for the prismas .
4. Large gesso brush, one of my favorite brushes for big areas.
5. Some favorite acrylic paints I use occasionally on coloring pages
6. A set of 24 Prismacolors that were added to from singles open stock to make a set of 36 pencils
7. A broken teacup for shavings
8. Sparkles, glitter, markers and gel pens… for the extra touch of bling.
If you see something you want more info on, just ask in the comments below! (Comments are moderated for spam, and can take a bit to appear). I would consider everything here medium range in price and quality, all are a good value and I enjoy working with this stuff!
Here’s the way I record videos for youtube and instagram!
It’s a bendy tripod mounted on a bendy clip desk lamp, clipped to a wooden brush holder filled with counterweight objects to balance the weight of the phone when mounted. Cheap setup created with tools I already had laying around my studio!
About Laura Rafferty
I’m a painter, then a colorist. I started coloring to relax and de-stress, and now enjoy it as a meditative mindfulness experiment session. I choose styles and illustrators that challenge and interest me, and attempt to color things in ways I’ve never done before. This allows me to really push myself and learn as an artist – in a safe environment without consequence. I can’t take it too seriously, it’s coloring!
Why coloring? Because it’s collaborative, because it’s a great learning and healing tool, and because we all could use a bit of color in our lives. Coloring inspired me to create my own coloring pages, and eventually a coloring book.