One look at this lovely moth and my head is full of tropical colors. I want to create a whimsical background with it’s lush leaves and tropical flowers. The moth has to stand out but should be light and airy especially the wings. That’s all I know when I started this piece. The rest just evolved. How about you, do you design your work in your head before you start? Do you start with the background? or the foreground? I do have my “now what” moments throughout the project and that’s what makes coloring so much fun. Here I am sharing with you some of my thought process, introduce you to an amazing artist if you don’t know her already, and a Youtube video to show you how I did various parts of this piece.
This amazing illustration of a luna moth is from the Ruby Charm Colors Collection #1 by Susan Carlson (@rubycharmcolors). Her work depicts insects, birds, animals in a whimsical style, full of imaginations and enough details for the coloring artists to add their interpretations. You can find her coloring books and individual pdf downloads from her Etsy shop.
Here’s another two of her illustrations that I have completed. I am sure you will agree that her illustrations are very unique and absolutely gorgeous.
I primarily used Derwent Inktense for this work simply because I haven’t done an Inktense piece for a while. I have a blog about these lovely ink base pencils, here’s the link. I added colored pencils highlights throughout to add depth and dimensions. I also used gel pens and Sakura gelly rolls for some sparkles.
The clouds were done with Prisma colored pencils as I feel I have more control in creating light fluffy clouds with regular pencils. I started with very light blue to outline the clouds and gradually intensify with darker blues. When coloring clouds, you need to think backwards. The darker colors are outside of the cloud shape and at the base of the cloud. Avoid having very defined lines, keep the edges soft. Add a few extra dark spots to highlight the shape but don’t over do it.
“What now” moments
Through out this piece, I have quite a few “what now” moments, ie I am stumped. I started with the green background, that was the first idea that came to my mind so that was relatively easy. After that it was like what to do next, how do I keep the moth the main character and not drowned in this lush green? What to do with the circular shape around the moth? Should it be dark or light? I wanted some kind of sky look, but should it be day? or night? May be the whole inner circle can be yellow and be the moon. See? there are just so many possibilities. My way of dealing with my “now what” moment is to take a photo of the WIP and walk away. I look at the photo whenever/wherever I can and try to visualize the what-ifs. A photo also highlights where you need to adjust what you have already done e.g. too light? too green, not enough red etc. Somehow when you look at a photo, you are more critical. You are looking from outside in as if it is someone else’s work. Stepping back and think makes coloring so much fun although it might affect your sleep. Another trick I use when I can’t decide between two or more color choices is to make color chips of the choices and place it on your WIP like the example below. I couldn’t decide whether the outer circle to be black or bronze. Black wins. Those who vote for bronze please comment below, I am interested to know what others think of my choice.
Learn the technique
Now here’s a bit of my ranting. Many artists graciously share their work and do tutorials on social media, with the goal of inspiring others. For me, I like to share techniques so we all grow our skills together. I love it when my work or tutorial gives a light bulb moment and inspire people to apply the technique to their own work. I read and respond to every comments in the hope that this is not a one way street. Exchanging ideas are the best way to learn. However, I am really disturbed when I see some people duplicating others work and claim it as their own without even the courtesy to credit the original artist. The fact that artists put up a Youtube video or post their work on Instagram doesn’t mean they want you to copy it and claim it as your own creation. I’d like to think you learn a technique and then you can use it forever. The happiest comment I ever received was one that the person said she can pick out my work from a lineup. So I strive and hope that I continue to develop my own style even if I have learned some how-to’s from someone else.
Hope you enjoy my tutorial. Remember to check my gallery for new color arts.