TREES, winter palette
Nature Series: How to color a stylized, folk-art inspired forest
Coloring a seasonal forest illustration:
Greetings Copic readers! In our previous blog, we talked about how you can make a marker palette based on the four seasons of the year by choosing from the wide selection of Copic Sketch 6 piece sets. In today’s blog, we’ll be applying those lessons by showing you how to color a forest illustration using a winter-themed palette.
What you’ll need to follow along with this blog is the above 8.5 x 11 inch line art printed on BOTH a standard sheet of printer paper (for note-taking) AND a sheet of cardstock paper, as well as the Copic Sketch 6 piece Sea & Sky and Sketching Grays sets (or whatever blue, blue-green, and gray markers you have). And with that, let’s grab our materials and get started! 🥳
The first thing we’ll do before coloring in the line art is swatch out the marker colors (if you haven’t already). We recommend swatching out your colors first so you know what the colors will look like before applying them to your drawing, and to check if any of your markers are dried out. If you do have dry markers, now would be the perfect time to refill them with the corresponding Copic Ink color!
*to shop for Copic Ink, please buy from one of our authorized retailers, find a store near your location using our store locator.
Now that our winter palette has been swatched, grab the printed line art on the standard sheet of printer paper and start penciling in the Copic color codes in each plant shape. I call this creating a value plan, since this step is a quick and easy way to figure out how you’ll color the composition, while also making sure that you don’t have a lot of the same colors across multiple shapes. Plus, this planning can all be done without using any of your valuable marker ink!
Notice too how the numbers in the front/foreground end with 0, 1, 3, or 4, and they increase as you move further back into the forest. This is because objects in the foreground are closer to you, and thus lighter than those further out in the distance. By making notes on this value map, it will be easier for you to determine which colors in your palette should go where! This leads us to our next step, which is…
…adding your first layer of color to the large plant shapes of forest by following the notes on your value plan. Starting with just the large shapes is a personal preference, as sometimes the notes I take on a value plan end up changing slightly as I color the drawing. Now that a good amount of the composition has seen its first layer of color though, I can fill in the tree trunks accordingly and make any adjustments I see fit.
*Coloring tip: In the scan above, I colored each shape by using the Copic Sketch Super Brush nib, coloring either in small circular motions or up-and-down, depending on the shape of the object/plant. I like to color in the direction of which the shape is going; for example, in the circular tree, I colored quickly in a circular, scribble motion. The same technique was applied to the bushes along the left and right sides of the foreground. However, for the shapes that showed a linear direction, like the light gray dome-shaped tree in the front and the blue evergreen tree in the back, I colored in long lines, moving my marker nib up and down across each shape until it was completely filled in. Give both of these coloring techniques a try and find what’s most comfortable for you!
The next step after coloring the large forest elements is to fill in the tree trunks by following along with your value plan. If there’s something you want to change from your original notes, now’s the time to make them! By working step-by-step, filling in one area at a time, the once daunting task of figuring out how to color becomes much less stressful! *Note: since these tree trunks are all vertical, I colored all of them in an up-and-down direction.
The next step after filling in the tree trunks is to color the elements in the sky! Since I want this forest to be colored during the day, I chose to color the circle in the sky with Y13 (which is a color outside of the two sets I’m using to color this forest). I used the lightest blue-green color in the Sea & Sky set to color the sky, BG10, and used N2, BG72, BG13, and B24 to color in the clouds, with the lightest colors being applied to the clouds that are closer to the sun.
*Tips on coloring the sky/a large blank space: The first time you apply a marker to the page, there will be some streaks left behind (especially in larger areas). So, by coloring in small quick scribbles with the Super Brush nib, the sky will appear more organically colored with puffs of blue appearing darker in areas that accidentally overlap. This is a much better alternative than coloring in the up-and-down motion, where you may risk the sky coming off like a striped wallpaper. Yikes!
We’re getting so close to wrapping this illustration up! The next step after coloring the sky is to go over everything in the forest with another layer of the same color. By doing this, you soften the marker streaks that are visible from the first application of color. Plus, it darkens and enriches the composition, making it look more complete!
The final step after you’ve added a second layer of color (and after you’ve waited for it to dry) is to use the flicking technique with the Super Brush nib to add depth to areas where there would be a shadow. For example, where one part of the forest overlaps with another, like the bushes on either side of the foreground, where extra flicks of BG13 or BG78 were added where the BG10 and BG72 bushes overlap with each other. Just by adding these extra flicks of color to each tree, bush, cloud, or the sun, the composition really pops out and creates a stunning amount of contrast!
Want to give this lesson a-go? Print the template here on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper and put your skills to the test! Once you’ve created your own version, share it with us on social media using the hashtag #CopicWithUs, or tag us @CopicOfficialUS on any social media platform!
And that's a wrap on today’s blog! 😊Stay tuned for our next one, where we’ll be continuing this series by showing you how to color the forest using a FALL color palette! Until next time!
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