TREES, coloring plans
Nature Series: How to color a stylized, folk-art inspired forest
Today’s Feature: Planning color palettes for a FOREST illustration!
Hello readers! We have an exciting blog for you all today! We’ll be showing you how to make seasonal color palettes with your Copic markers and how to make a value study for a folk-art inspired forest illustration! What you’ll need to follow along with this blog is a few sheets of cardstock or thicker marker paper, a pencil, pen, ruler and any gray Copic markers that you have. And with that, let’s grab our materials and get started! 🥳
The first thing you’ll want to do in creating a seasonal color palette is to establish what colors best symbolize that particular season. For the winter, typical colors are blues and grays. For the spring, pastels and greens. For the summer, bright and cheerful blues, reds, greens, and yellows. And for the fall, browns, yellows, oranges, and reds.
In the seasonal color swatch palette above, I made choosing colors a LOT easier on myself by selecting colors based on Copic Sketch 6 piece sets (I actually refer to Copic sets a lot when I’m stumped on what kind of palette to choose from)! So, for the winter, I choose the Sea and Sky and Sketching Grays sets. For the spring, the Pale Pastels and Floral Favorites 2 sets. For summer, the Perfect Primaries and Secondary Tones. And for fall, the Portrait Tones and Earth Essentials. There may be a few colors missing here and there for each of the seasons, so I’ll refer to my collection of miscellaneous individual markers for those small areas (like a Y13 yellow sun for the winter outside of the blues and grays).
Now that we have all 4 seasonal color palettes established, the next thing we want to do is make a value plan based on how light and how dark our colors are. The above image is a visual map with numbers noted inside each plant on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being white (or very pale) and 10 being black (or very dark gray). *You can print this black and white template in our line art gallery here.
Notice how the numbers in the front/foreground are 0, 1, 2, or 3, and they increase as you move further back in the forest. This is because objects in the foreground are closer to you, and thus brighter than those further off in the distance. By making this value map, it will be easier for you to determine which colors should go where! This leads us to our next step, which is…
…creating a value study! A value study is an excellent way to test out your value plan and correct any errors you may have. Using the Sketch 12 piece Warm Grays set (seen below), I was able to easily add in the grays to the appropriate number using my scale of 0 to 10. Now that all of the trees are filled in, I can double check that each value sits on its own and that there are no duplicates of the same value right next to each other (i.e., W2 is not directly bordering another tree with W2, etc.). If the same value is added to two trees or shrubs right next to each other, it can make the composition look muddy, so we want to avoid that as much as possible to achieve optimum contrast!
The Copic Sketch 12 piece Warm Grays set; a great tool to have for quick value studies!
The final step in filling in this value study is to color the tree trunks and the sky (if you want it to be a tone other than white/a light color). With pale colored trees, I chose colors slightly darker for the trunk. With mid-tone colors, I chose either pale or darker tones; and with dark trees, I choose colors lighter than the tree. This way, there is enough contrast between the value of the tree or shrub and the value of its trunk! This value study is all about how you can achieve the most contrast within your foreground, middle, and background.
Before we end this blog, we also want to show you an alternative to the warm gray value study with this cool gray version (using the Sketch 12 piece Cool Gray set), where the sky was colored with C10, the darkest cool gray color. Just by making the sky dark, it brings a different feeling to the drawing, making it a night-time scene rather than a day-time one with a pale sky. By showing this alternative version, I hope it illustrates to you all the importance of value studies before you begin coloring with your vibrant seasonal palettes of many different colors!
Want to color your own value study at home? Print the template here on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of cardstock or marker paper and practice! Use Copic warm, cool, neutral, or toner grays to color in the forest. Then, once you feel comfortable with your value study, you’ll be ahead of the game for our next blog, where we’ll be showing you how to color in this forest using the winter color palette we showed at the beginning of the blog. Until next time!
That's a wrap on today’s blog! Please share your creations with us on social media using the hashtag #CopicWithUs, or tag us @CopicOfficialUS on any social media platforms. 😊
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