Primary school coloring is all about the ability to fill in shapes with color. A 2D shape on paper remains 2D when it is filled evenly with color. More advanced coloring is about making 2D shapes appear to be 3D.
Colored pencil is an ideal way to do this. Remember to slow down and use no pressure as you manipulate color into 3D shapes. The sample shown here contains simple abstract shapes, and can be found here.
Start by filling a shape very lightly with the desired color with soft strokes. The lightest part of the shape is closest to the viewer, and the darkest are farther away. Gradually darken the receding edges of the shape using the same or related colors.
Starting dark and working light just doesn’t seem to work as well.
Smooth Strokes Without Direction
Practically invisible strokes are those that seem to have no beginning or end. They overlap in swirling directions giving the illusion of smoothness. This can be accomplished by remembering to slow down and go dark gradually, and at the same time varying the direction of the strokes so they blend together smoothly. Inconsistency is a real plus for achieving smoothness, strange as it seems.
Stokes that all go in only one direction are also an effective way to fill a shape. The beginning and end of each stroke can be a bit tricky. The goal is to see the strokes without seeing ragged ends, very much like having a good haircut.
No downward pressure when using colored pencils is the key to successful coloring. When the pencil point just barely touches paper, it leaves a light trace of color and wax. What it doesn’t leave is ridges in the paper caused by the point of the pencil that are difficult to color evenly.
Starting light and gradually going dark makes a more evenly colored shape. This is true when using just one color or when layering colors.
The merest whisper of color is also essential in shading and transitioning from one color to another.
It’s so easy and may not look like much at the beginning, but it is the foundation of good coloring. Remember to Slow Down & Enjoy Coloring!
Coloring is about relaxation and fun, not about speed. Beautiful results come from spending the time to shape a color, usually with the merest whisper of touch. Definitely not difficult or tricky, it takes some knowledge and practice that goes beyond the elementary filling of a shape with color. This is the first step in learning what colored pencil can and cannot do. And it must be said that remarkable things can be done with colored pencils.
Here are examples of filling a shape with a single color. Print practice page. Practice filling in a shape with just one pencil, any color. The first example below is quickly filled in without much attention paid to the edges and the corners. Note the strokes all go in the same direction except at the ends.
The next example is more completely filled, and the strokes go in many different directions for a smoother effect. The edges and corners are more carefully filled and the white of the paper still shows through.
The third example is more completely filled without any of the paper showing through. What shows through is a lighter layer of the same color. Colored pencils will not completely and evenly fill in a shape. To avoid white showing through, it works best to first fill with a light layer of color, then go darker. Going dark immediately creates ridges in the paper from the pressure of the pencil which are hard to color evenly.
Here is where you’ll learn that the paper will only take a certain amount of color. Colored pencils will always give a hand colored look. There are blenders pencils and pens available that will smooth out the color somewhat. Practice with other colors and you will find that some colors will be easier to smooth than others. Expensive pencils will perform differently than inexpensive ones. They both have their advantages.