Color Layering with the Creative Cats

I called “The Creative Cats” by Majorie Sarnat my coloring comfort food. I have a nice little collection of coloring books but somehow “The Creative Cats” is the one with the most completed pages and judging from the number of pins I get from Pinterest of my coloring art, the cats pages are definitely among the most popular. Obviously the main characters of the coloring pages are the cats but the theme of each page is different. I think what draws me to them is that they are not real, the patterns on them are fun to color and the backgrounds are very creative too, hence the name of the book I guess. It leaves a lot of room for the imagination of colors. I used colored pencil layering technique to color this page and would like to explain how I did it.

This page is done using Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils. There are a lot of blogs, youTube videos on colored pencils blending techniques so I am not going to repeat them here. I just want to share with you my style of blending colors.

Complex color are more interesting

I love to layer my colors to come up with a new color effect. Complex color results when blending of 2 or more colors in an area. Look at the cupboard behind the cats, it was a blend of blues and browns. Isn’t it a lot more rich wood color than just brown? The cat color on the right was a mix of burgundy red and orange. The cat on the left was a mix of blue and lavender.

close up of background to show complex color with blues and browns

Another reason to layer colors is that you simply don’t have the desired color in your box of colored pencils. Not everyone has a full set of over a hundred colored pencils, right? Most of us know simple color mixing theory, red and blue makes purple, blue and yellow makes green and so on. However, you shouldn’t be restricted to those, just experiment and create new colors. If it’s not green enough, add some green; if you want it more yellowish, add yellow. One of my favourite tricks is to run a final layer of pale yellow over the colored area, I think it brightens the result and also helps to blend everything together. I might never be able to reproduce the exact same color in the future but that’s just part of the fun. Surprise yourself with what you end up creating and it’s uniquely yours.

Color Layering and dimensions

I layer my colors by using very light hand and circular motion to cover an area with each color until I am satisfied with the result. I start with the lightest color and gradually build up the intensity by increasing the weight and tone of the color to add dimensions. The example below shows how I build the colors layer by layer to make the petals of the daisy appear to curl. Note that the darker the base and tip of the petals, the more curled the petals appear.

Color layering for daisies

A good practice

Do you create a color chart of your pencils? The idea is that the color you see on the lead or whatever the manufacturer put on the outside of the pencil might not really be the true color. Hence, creating a coloring chart will make sure the color you pick is exactly what you want. I think doing up a color chart is a great practice in controlling the weight of your hand in addition to being a good color reference guide after you are done. Here’s what I do:

  1. Create a grid either with a spreadsheet app or pen and ruler.
  2. Enter the color code of the pencil on one box and then color the box next to it as shown below, varying the weight from heavy hand to medium to light and aim to make the transition seamless.

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I am confident that when you are done, you will have a much better control of blending with colored pencils.

Coloring White?

Is white a color? I just think that nothing is really pure white to the eye. Light reflection plays a role. I wanted the plates on the shelf to be white to avoid competing with the colorful cats. I did this by using light blue to highlight the shadow areas.

Example of coloring white

Give it a try!

I hope I have inspired you with some ideas on colored pencil layering and blending to try for your next coloring project.

If you don’t have the Creative Cats book yet, I encourage you to give it a try. Get into an imaginary world where cats enjoy high tea, do gardening, play the guitar, travel around the world or dress up in colorful fancy outfits.

Please visit my gallery to see my other Creative Cats and maybe tell me which one you like the best!

Happy Coloring!

One comment on “Color Layering with the Creative Cats

  1. These cats are so pretty Betty! I would love to see a dog coloring book some day too 🙂

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