Tombow Dual Brush Pens – seamless blending tutorial

Today I am excited to tell you that I am being featured on the Creative Scrapbooker magazine blog, sharing my Fall coloring card design. I love fall. This is the time when the leaves take center stage and display gorgeous colors. The maple leaves are the most spectacular at this time as they turn from green to red and every color in between. I created this maple leaf mosaic to capture these beautiful colors using Tombow brush pens.

I have always wanted to try coloring with markers because of their vibrant colors. However, I also like the soft look of blending and multiple layers of colors to create complex color effects. Not all markers are blendable. Tombow dual brush pens have some nice quality that make them excellent choice for coloring. Their colors are brilliant with 96 colors to choose from and they are water-based and blendable. It is also self-cleaning after blending. Tombow brush pens are very popular for brush lettering. However, I find that there are a few differences between blending for lettering versus coloring. Lettering is about strokes, coloring is about covering an area. The stroke motion and how hard you press on the pen are different. In this blog, I am going to share my experience coloring my own illustration of the maple leaves mosaic using Tombow brush pens with you.

What you need

  1. minimum of 2 Tombow Dual Brush Pens – I call one the blender color and the other one the main color. Tombow makes a blender pen (#N00) which means no color. In theory any color can be a blender pen depending on the effect you desire. So basically you start with main color and gradually end up with the blender color. See the “Tips” section below on the choice of colors.
  2. blending surface – Tombow has a blending palette but I find that using any plastic surface works too e.g. sandwich bag, credit card. I use one of those clear stamping block (you can see that in my video) that scrapbookers use as I like that it is clear and sturdy. It wipes off nicely and reusable forever.

How to blend

Here’s a youTube video and it is my first video ever, hope you find it useful.

Here’s the instruction:

  1. Rub the main color on to the plastic surface, don’t need a lot, you can always add more – in the video, I used 3 main colors (red, orange and green). I used a very pale yellow (#090) as the blender color. Using a non-transparent color as blender does alter your main colors a bit but as long as you understand the effect and you like it, it is fine. Test on a scrap piece of paper first if you are not sure.
  2. Use your blender color pen to pick up a bit of the dark color, how much you pick up depends on how much of the dark color you want to see before it fades away into the light color. If the area is small, all you need is a quick touch. I would rather not picking up enough than too much because you can always go back to add another layer with more color.
  3. Start coloring using small circular motions and overlapping a bit to ensure total coverage of the area. You will see that it starts with your main color and gradually fade to your blender color.

Tips for seamless blending

  1. Extreme light hand – The tip of my pen barely touch the paper although once I get enough practice, I am more comfortable with holding my pen more parallel to the paper and hence the brush covers a bigger area faster. You can add layers just like color pencils, no need to press hard and run the risk of bleeding through or pilling the paper. Your pen will also last longer and the brush tip stays nice and pointy.
  2. Move in small circular motions unless your desire effect is gradual fading lines – I fine that circular motions give me a more uniform result and I normally do not like to see lines.
  3. Move fast and do not stop blending until you have covered the intended area entirely especially if your blender pen is not colourless – the idea is to move in circles and overlap them a bit as you go before it dries. Once it dries, it is hard to cover the hard lines.
  4. Move on, don’t look back – Do not try to go back mid-way when it’s wet even if it’s not exactly what you want – redoing the area while it’s still wet might result in pilling of the paper and bleed through. You can always go back as many times as you want after it dries to darken or change to a different color.
  5. Test, test, test – Practice on the same paper that you are going to use this on, like the back page of your coloring book or a scrap piece of whatever paper you are using. Different paper reacted differently depending on how fast it dries and whether it bleeds through. One time I use it on paper that absorb the color too fast and it’s almost like the color has no chance to blend and it “dies”. For this maple leaves mosaic, I am just using regular card stock paper that you get from craft stores and it works well.
  6. Color choices – always use the lighter color of your palette as the blender pen. If you use a darker color as the blender pen, it will take over and chances are you can’t see your light color anymore or your lighter color becomes muddy. e.g. if you are blending from black to red, use red as the blender pen. If you want the black to be black black rather than reddish black, you can run through the area using a colourless blender pen with black after your first pass  with the red blender. Again, test first to avoid disappointment.
  7. Don’t worry if it appears that the brush of the blender pen is stained. These pens are self-cleaning, i.e., it’s original color will come back after all the dark color is used up. If you pick up too much or you want to make sure the previous main color is used up before you use another main color, just brush a few times on a clean area of your plastic palette to clean it.

Free illustration for download

You can click on the image below for the free download. I recommend printing on card stock paper if you are using the blending technique discussed here. Let’s get started and have fun coloring.

Autumn leaves illustration - click to download

Sharing your work

Feel free to share your coloring of the Autumn leaves mosaic with me here or with Creative Scrapbooker magazine on their Facebook Page.

Happy coloring!


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