Coloring of memories

My son bought me a special coloring book from his recent Hong Kong visit. It has no English title so I can only show you a picture of the cover. All the illustrations are done by Hong Kong artists and portray the unique Hong Kong history and culture. This is where I was born and spent my childhood. Flipping through this book truly brings back sweet memories that has been tucked deep in my heart.

A coloring book by Hong Kong artists
A coloring book by Hong Kong artists

The “Dukling” by Lau TszYing is one of my favorite illustrations in this book. The Dukling, nicknamed “The Holy Duck” was born in 1955 and was a fishing boat and a fisherman’s home. It was turned into a sightseeing boat in late 70s. It had witnessed 60 years of changes and growth in Hong Kong. This illustration shows the boat sailing in the Victoria Harbour with all the modern architectures in the background. Here’s the real life picture of the Dukling.

A photo of the Dukling from
A photo of the Dukling from

This is not a history blog so I am not going on and on about the history of Hong Kong. I want to share with you my thoughts on how I approach this coloring work.

My coloring of the Dukling

Original illustration of the Dukling by Lau Tsz Ying


Here’s the original illustration. The waves were artistically drawn, all I did was use various shades of blue, green and purple colored pencils. The Dukling boat itself is pretty straight forward. It is a wooden boat with red sails. However, I wanted to show how this picture invoked my deepest inner feeling and memories about my birth city. Memories are like bubbles in your heart. It might not always surface but once in a while it floats to the top and shines. I took out my high school geometry set and drew a circle around the picture (see WIP picture below) with the drawing compass. It represents that bubble in my memory. I colored the background black as memories are dimmed, sitting there until they are awaken and bring to the surface.

WIP picture of the Dukling

I mixed some brown and black watercolor and gave the buildings a monotone wash. This way I kept the focus to be the Dukling boat. Some highlights on the buildings were added with black colored pencils afterwards.

Finally I used white gel pen (Uni-ball Signo UM153 White) to put some white dots around the waves.

A blending technique for large area

I knew I wanted a black background. One option is to make it a pure solid black with acrylic paint or a paint pen like Posca. In this case I prefer it to be a softer effect. Memories are kind of hazy, blurry. A blend from dark to light is the mood I want to portray. Using black colored pencil, I gently tried to blend from dark to light but the result was pretty ugly especially close to the spine of the book. None of the pencil blender tools I have work well with large areas. I happened to be using a piece of kitchen paper towel under my hand to prevent smearing. I folded it up and rubbed it on my black background. Within seconds my ugly background was transformed. I should have taken a picture of the before and after look but I was too distraught at the time. Here’s a demo just using a piece of white paper to illustrate the difference.

Before and after paper towel blending
Before and after paper towel blending

Happy Coloring

I am happy I get to color this very special illustration. Also thrilled to find that paper towel works great in blending large areas. Try it, seriously saves a lot of time.

Did you come across any coloring or art work that brings back special memories for you?



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