coloring, crayons, Dimension, Fabrico pens, Fiber art, inks, painting, painting on fabric, Shadows, Tsukineko -

Adding dimension (shadows) to your coloring...

Most people are intimidated by coloring but it is a wonderful way to center yourself, play with colors when no one is watching, and focus on something other than the daily things that ping on your brain.  With the popularity of adult coloring books we all get to have permission to play again.

Remember when you were young and it didn't matter what color the leaves were or the sky was?  You just colored what you wanted with your favorite colors. There is something really freeing about letting yourself go.  Don't worry.  No one is going to see it unless you want to share it!  So let yourself fly!

Now that you know how to prepare your fabric (see the first blog) you can get started.  This episode is assuming that you are using a water based ink product but you can use any medium you are familiar with and love.  I find using the crayon base lets me have more success for blending when I am working with textile inks.  

The trick is to add my shadows first.  I use pale lavender or pale blue.  The only time I use a darker value of the same color is when I am using yellow, since adding lavender will turn it gray and adding blue will turn the yellow green.  Fabric inks are transparent so it is like layering sheets of colored glass on top of each other.  

I work in small areas, about 1" to 2" square.  A little goes a long way!  Ink is very concentrated.  I know if you have ever spilled ink on your clothes you know what I am talking about.  

Using a Fantastix bullet tip applicator or a stiff bristled watercolor shader brush (either should be moistened with water) lets me quickly spread the color so it is a sheer, light "shadow".

Here are a couple tips:  

1) Don't make any lines solid.  Think of shadows as flickering flames.  One side can be defined but the other side should blend out to no color at all, and do it in a ragged fashion.  

2) Do leave some small gaps so that your eye "dances" between areas you want to appear farther away or closer to you.

3) The areas you should apply shadows to you would be portions that you want to appear further away.  For instance,

  • the sides of a cylinder are further from you than the center of the cylinder.  
  • The center vein of a leaf is usually a little further away than the edges.  
  • If a flower petal is ruffled, the bottom of the ruffle is further away.
  • An item that is tucked behind something (e.g. a leaf behind another leaf) would be slightly darker where it tucks under.

I find if I apply shadow to every spot that I mentioned above it looks horrible.  You can practice it and you will see what I am talking about.

There are a couple of other things that change depending on what you are painting.  For instance portraits vs. landscapes vs. still lifes.  But this should get you started.  

Next blog I will talk to you about adding color and highlights.

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