“New Guide to Coloring” – Blending


A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to DesignOriginals’ “New Guide to Coloring”, a new book on coloring techniques. Instead of just writing a review, I decided to give you a short insight on three selected chapters. I have grown to love it, because it makes coloring so much more fun! Enjoy the next lesson on blending:


Blending is a great technique to give your picture a professional look. It can actually mean two things: mixing two colors together to create a new one OR creating a smooth transition from one color into another. I will focus on the latter with a few illustrations that I did with colored pencils.

1.The first of three steps is to apply the light color.

2.When using the dark color, start coloring from the middle of the area towards edge and intensify the pressure towards the edge.

step-by-step-example3.To finish off the blend, go back to using the light color and apply it to all over the area to smooth out the transition of the two colors. The smoothing out might take a while and you can also go back using the darker color of necessary.

In my personal example, I started with the dark color, added the second color varying its intensity. I feel, when you start with the dark color, it already starts blending when coloring over it with the lighter color. However, that depends on the colors and the pencils you use. You can blend the colors step by step, switching more often between the two colors you are using.



Sorry for the bad quality of the last pic! I just finished it and loved it so much that I wanted to share it with you, but I did not have the time to scan it…

The last lesson I will introduce to you will focus on patterning, so stay tuned!

All coloring motifs are by DesignOriginals.


New Guide to Coloring – Media



New Guide to Coloring

“New Guide to Coloring for Crafts, Adult Coloring Books, and Other Coloristas!” by the editors of Do Magazine, Design Originals an imprint by Fox Chapel Publishing, ISBN 978-1497200876, $11.19 or 14,95€

This book will teach you everything you need to know about coloring such as layering, shading, blending, patterning, and other techniques. Coloring has become more complex and more fun, but it has also developed into a new therapy method for stressed-release.

The “New Guide to Coloring” makes it easy for you to learn the different techniques with helpful practice areas and many illustrations for demonstration. There are a number of pages with patterns for you to color and try out.

Over the next months, I will introduce you to three lessons from the book that will definitely make you want to buy a coloring book and get crackin’! The first lesson will sum up the most important rules for the use of the most frequently used media.

It’s all in the pen(s)

tip sizes

tip sizes

There is an incredible variety of pens to color with. However, you need to consider certain factors before you start coloring a picture. How do I want the result of my picture to look like? Am I working with more than one media? And so on…

The number one general rule is to color with the pens you feel most comfortable with. Once you are ready to try more, you can experiment with other media.


#1 Adjust the tip-size to the size of the area you are coloring. A small area requires a small tip to stay in the lines, larger areas are filled much faster with a large tip.

#2 Keep a safe distance to the lines to give the ink space to bleed out. Otherwise it will look like you had trouble staying inside the lines.

#3 Too many layers of a water-based marker can damage your paper, so the less layering, the better.

Colored Pencils

#1 Take good care of your pencils. If they fall too often or they are handled roughly when transported, they can break easily while coloring or sharpening.

#2 Kneaded erasers are best to use for colored pencils. Usually, the colors are hard to erase in general, so do not apply the colors with too much pressure if you are not 100% certain about your choice of color.

#3 With wax-based pencils, fixate your result with hairspray to avoid wax bloom (Wax bloom is a white shade that develops over time from the wax that holds together the colored pigments of the pencils; if this happens, you can use a cotton wool to wipe it off).

Watercolor Pencils

#1 Do not use too much water or

a) you will ruin the paper and

b) the color will fade and won’t have the intended effect you wished for.

#2 Practice the appliance of the water before you actually use it on a picture.

Gel Pens

#1 Let the ink dry long enough or the color will smudge.

#2 Test the colors before you apply them. Some colors might not be visible on the color you are using it on, therefore you have to plan the combination of your colors beforehand. Try them on an extra sheet of paper.

A little hint: white goes with almost everything, white patterns on a colored picture look!


pens pens pens

There are many more options of media for you to pick from, but there are a few you might not think of…Try eye shadow, for example, coffee or tea (they will also give your picture a great smell!), or nail polish!

Have fun figuring out new combinations of media! I think I am gonna get my nail polish and try that one… I am just too curious!

If you want to learn more, check out  “New Guide to Coloring”  for more detail and further lessons or check out the next lesson on pen.paper.polkadots coming soon.

“How to Color” – the Color Circle


Hi there coloring-friend!

This is the first part of my series on “How to color”. The section will introduce you to different techniques that will make your drawings unique and your coloring experience more fun. The new trend for adult coloring books has shown that it is not just a great way to occupy children with. Grown-ups can just as easily escape in the world of colors. It has a meditative effect because you focus on your picture and staying in the lines that takes over your thoughts of every-day chores.

FYI, copy the picture you want to color in so you can reuse it or give it to someone for a present. This way you will keep your coloring book clean to copy it as often as you like. If you are more advanced and you want the book to be your own works of art, then go ahead – but, here is a little challenge for you: copy one picture three times and color it using different colors (and optionally different materials). Do not use a color more than once in all of the three pictures. The result will make a great trilogy!

If you are a first-timer and want to get coloring, just sit down with your favorite pencils and don’t let any rules stop you. But, if you want to give your picture a special design, you can learn techniques such as layering, shading, and mixing colors for more variety.


colored samples

To challenge the mere aspect of coloring, you have to think in advance about the colors you want to use. When the picture you chose has many small elements, I would suggest using not more than three colors. Even though the areas are meant to be colored, you can leave a few of them white to take out the excitement of too much color, especially with highly contrasting ones (see sample, third butterfly). Also, don’t be afraid to use achromatic colors such as black or grey. By adding just one color to the mix it will stand out even more. It doesn’t always have to be all-color to make a picture interesting, as the second butterfly in my example illustrates. Black, white, and grey pictures can look very elegant, too. The first butterfly of the example shows that white can be expendable when you are using lighter shades in a group of colors that harmonize greatly to create contrast. For all of the examples I used only three pencils, but by varying the pressure of the pen on paper I was able to create more shades of each color.

To get you in the mood for learning more about coloring and the use of colors let me introduce you to the color circle!

The Color Circle


colors and emotions

Every person has a different perception of colors. While some might think of red as aggressive and negative, others (like me) perceive it as warm and comforting. The Design Originals “Color Animals Coloring Book” features a color pallet called “A Spectrum of Emotion”, which shows that certain colors express certain feelings. Take a look at the picture and see if you think the same about the combinations. Feeling should also decide about the colors you want to use for your pictures, but there is a kind of doctrine for artists on the harmonies of colors. The color circle is a great help to find matching colors and find out how to mix colors to create new ones. Here are the basics of color theory:


The facts:

  • Primary colors: red, yellow and blue (they cannot be mixed from other colors on the circle)
  • Secondary colors are mixed from the primary colors: orange (red + yellow), green (yellow + blue), and violet (blue + red)


    color circle (front)

  • Warm colors range from red-violet to yellow
  • Cold colors from violet to yellow-green
  • Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color circle, they are highly contrasting when used together and they can be mixed to create different shades.

There are million different shades of colors, but the primary colors are the basis to all of them. Black and white can be used to create different shades of one color, but they also create depth, a 3D-effect. As mentioned in the facts above, complementary colors can be used to create shades as well, this way the color will remain brighter. Black and white make colors fade, therefore you have to decide yourself which effect you want in the result of your picture.


color circle (back)

The triad marks three colors with the largest distance possible on the color circle. The primary colors, for example, are separated by three colors in-between, which means they have a high contrast to each other. The smaller a distance between two colors the better they harmonize.

If you want to use the color circle online you can find many different options that you can print out or use on your computer, for example the simple version by Johannes Itten. There is also a great version you can get online or at craft-stores that have resolvable layers to show you the results of mixes and relations between the colors. You do not have to use the circle, but it can help create great combinations to reach the best contrasts in your pictures.

Until the next “How to Color” article, get a sheet of white paper and try to play with the intensity of your colors by varying the pressure of the pen on paper and see what happens. Get comfortable using the color circle if you have trouble knowing which colors match.