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What happens next? Add Color!

Posted by Trish Stuart on

You are ready for the next step... adding color to your artwork.  You have prepared the crayon base, then added shadows.

Let me caution you.  I know I said this before... ink is very concentrated so a little goes a long way.  If you use too much it can quickly get very muddy.  It's best to lightly layer sheer colors.  You can always add more, but it can be difficult to take it out, especially once it has dried.  

If you are using Fabrico pens, there is a fixative added to the ink so once it is dried it is permanent.  Even if you are using another brand, I would just expect it to be permanent once it has dried.  If you are planning on washing your project, though, wash a test piece to see what will happen.  Lots of different brands of mediums are out there so you don't want to find out too late that something you are using is not working out.

Before you start adding color think about where your highlights will be.  That means wherever the light is going to reflect off your art, or any spot that is closest to you.  For instance, an apple is rounded, so the part of the apple that is closest to you would be a little lighter.  The edges of the apple would be a little darker, and if there is a light on, it might just be reflecting on the center, top part of the apple (the part closest to you)... of course if your light source is coming from one side, it might be on that side.

So take a look at your artwork and think about where your lightest areas are.  You want to avoid putting color in those areas right now.

I still use the Fantastix or paint brush with a drop or two of water to help me spread the color.  It is like magic seeing how dimension sort of just happens when you add your colors.  

Feel free to blend colors as you apply them. Press your work with an iron frequently to set the color.  That way if you need to quickly rinse your work to remove ink from the project you don't wash something out that you just love.

There are a couple methods I use.  

  • First, you can blend one color from intense to pale using water or rubbing alcohol.  
  • You can blend one color to another.  For instance if I were to blend pink to orange...I would apply pink and blend it toward the orange until it is sheer.  Then I would apply orange and blend it toward the pink until it meets, letting it become lighter and more sheer as it approaches the other color.  
  • If you are blending colors across the color wheel from each other (complimentary, such as green and red or orange and blue) it is important to not mix the two colors together with a heavy hand.  They will tend to look gray if you do.

Finally, you can go into the areas where you decided you would see highlights and add a touch of white.  I use Tsukineko white all purpose ink.  You must shake the bottle vigorously so that the mixing bead lifts up all of the pigment into the solution.  White has a lot of pigment added to it and it is heavy, tending to settle to the bottom of the jar.  If you don't mix it well you will not get the results you are trying for.  Also, this bears repeating, a little goes a long way. I have found it is best if I put a little bit of white on my bullet tip Fantastix applicator and let it soak in and even dry out a little so that when I use it I am not using a sloppy, wet glob on my artwork that I have to try to wipe off.  

Start out with a small image, like an apple or a leaf or flower.  Once you understand the concepts let your fingers fly.  I finish by outlining using a fine point permanent ink pen such as a black pigma pen .05 or a fine point sharpie pen.  Above, I added some ultrafine glitter for depth and sparkle. You can also stitch around your image with black thread or during the quilting process to help define the artwork.  It can appear to be a very sophisticated applique.  


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