Translucent Effect

I recently colored one of Hanna Karlzon’s bugs in Daydreams with translucent effect on the wings. This effect can be applied to anything that you want to have a see-through look, not just bugs. I got a number of requests to share how I did it. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a video but I took some progress pictures, so hopefully it helps.

What makes translucency

If something is translucent, that means you can see what’s underneath but the objects are not clearly visible. The more details you see, the more translucent it is. In my coloring of the bug, it’s quite detailed to the point that you can see the small patterns of the body underneath the wings. In this case, the patterns are quite simple to duplicate. I mainly joined the curves, drew the patterns and completed the missing body parts. For drawings that are more complex, perhaps it’s impossible to draw all the details, but at least strive for the bigger shapes to give the illusion that you can see what’s underneath.

What to use for drawing

Coloring book illustrations are typically drawn in black solid lines. Wings are not glass, hence we should only see a blurry suggestion of whatever is under. We don’t want crystal clear hard lines. I used a pencil to very lightly outline (see pic below) but pencil marks do not look polished.

How to color translucent wings

I finished with a light grey fineliner/marker, then erased the pencil marks if any. I just happened to have a light grey Stabilo 68 pen, any light grey marker will do.

How to color translucent wings

The secret

Now I am just trying to create suspense, maybe everyone uses this trick already! Before I color anything inside the wings, I put on a layer of white with white pencil on the entire wing. The best white pencil I find is the Caran D’Ache Luminance white. Anything Caran D’Ache is expensive but you can buy singles and it is so worth it. By the way their Buff Titanium is probably another single that you should invest in. It’s great for blending. By coloring with white as a base for the wings (just the wings – don’t do it anywhere else), you create an automatic lightening effect from colors outside of the wings. This allows you to use the exact same colors but achieve a muted effect. Hence you color the whole body inside or outside the wings the same way. I still used a bit less weight on the wing part to make sure it looked lighter.

How to color translucent wings


Depending on your background color, some of that color should be on the whole wings too but much lighter. In mine, my background is yellow which is easy to overlay. I also colored darker yellows along the original lines. If your background is dark then use a much lighter shade and use very light weight. e.g. light grey tone with a black background.

How to color translucent wings

Happy Coloring

Now you know everything I know about coloring translucent effects. You can apply this to butterflies wings, fairies, see-through gowns etc. Let me know how it goes! Have fun coloring.






9 comments on “Translucent Effect

  1. Wow…. awestruck. Your work is totally amazing.

  2. Fantastic! Thank you!

  3. Christine Cross from Kit and Clowder

    July 12, 2018 at 5:53 pm Reply

    wow Beautifully done

  4. Wow i always wondered how everyone accomplished this effect! Thank you so very much for the secret!!

  5. You do incredible work Betty

  6. Kathy Carney-Kosta

    October 22, 2018 at 4:52 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful work. You are very generous with your knowledge.

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