Forest, SPRING 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 showed you how to color a forest illustration by using a fall-themed palette, choosing colors from two different Copic Sketch 6 piece sets (12 colors total). In today’s blog, we’ll be continuing that lesson by showing you how to color the forest illustration using a spring-themed palette! So, let’s begin!
The materials you’ll need to follow along with this blog includes 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 Pale Pastels and Floral Favorites 2 sets (or whatever blue-green, violet, pink, and orange markers you have). And with that, let’s grab our materials and get started! 🥳
The first thing we’ll do before coloring in the forest is swatch out our marker colors (if you haven’t already). We recommend swatching out your colors first using the Super Brush nib, since this is the nib you’ll most likely be more familiar with and use throughout the coloring process. Swatching your colors may seem like a mundane and meaningless task, but it helps you know what the colors will look like on the paper type you’ll be coloring on before applying them to the illustration, especially since marker colors may look darker on a thinner sheet of paper versus a thicker sheet (or a pure white sheet vs. an off-white one).
One last thing swatching is good for: to see 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.
Now that your spring palette has been swatched, grab the printed line art on the standard sheet of printer paper and start adding in the Copic color codes in each plant. I like to call this creating a value plan, since this 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, all this planning can be done without using any of your valuable marker ink!
Notice too how many of the numbers in the front/foreground end with 0, 1, or 2, and they increase as you move further back into the forest. This is due to the fact that objects in the foreground are closer to you, and thus lighter than those further away. By making notes (and possibly erasing some to make rearrangements) on this value plan, it’ll be easier for you to determine which colors should go where! This leads us to our next step, which is…
…adding your first layer of color to the large plants! Starting with just these large shapes is a personal preference, as sometimes the notes I take on a value plan end up changing slightly throughout the coloring process. However, now that a good amount of the composition has seen its first layer of color, I can fill in the tree trunks accordingly and make any adjustments.
*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 blue-green, dome-shaped tree in the front and the pink 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 see if you can spot the difference on your own page!
The next step after coloring the bushes and trees is to fill in the trunks. If there was something you missed (like coloring in the dark red apples in the cloud-shaped tree) or want to change from your original value plan, now’s the time to assess and adjust! By working step-by-step, filling in one area at a time (and having a limited color palette), 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.
Now that we’ve colored in the tree trunks, the next step is to color the sky! Since I want this forest to be set during the day, I chose to color the sun with YR21. And, instead of using a typical light blue to color the sky, I choose BV0000 instead, which gives this spring-time scene a cute, bubble-gum look!
Also, since the sky is already so pale, I chose not to color the clouds. Learning from how I colored the fall-themed palette (link to that blog here), if the sky is already pale, leaving the clouds white looks natural. However, if the sky is a mid-tone or dark color, having the clouds bright white creates an unnatural amount of contrast and draws your eyes up to the sky, rather than the intricately colored forest below!
*Note: Notice the direction of which I colored BV0000 in the sky. I colored it up and down, following the direction of the composition. Since this is only the first layer of BV0000, I can apply the second layer going left to right, creating an even application of the color in two layers. However, if you don’t like this cross-layered look, you can fill in the sky with small circular scribbles and repeat that technique with another layer once the first has dried.
Now that everything has been colored in one time, the next step is to go over everything with another layer. 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!
*Tip: You can also cover up any mistakes you might have made in the first layer with the second one. For example, in the small bush on the lower right side, I decided to make it darker than it had been in the previous 3 coloring steps in order for the bushes in front of it to stand out more. This value adjustment was something I hadn’t noticed earlier, so it’s important to stand back and assess your progress in each stage of coloring!
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 foreground overlaps with a plant behind it, like the large trees on either side of the pink cloud-shaped one. Extra flicks of YR21, B63, B66, BG11, and BG15 were added to account for the shadow from the cloud-shaped tree. Just by adding these extra flicks of color (the third layer of marker ink), the composition really POPS out and creates a stunning amount of contrast!
Now that you’ve seen how to color a forest using a spring-time palette, want to give this lesson a shot yourself?! Print the above template here on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of regular printer paper and a thicker cardstock paper (one that’s suitable for alcohol-based markers). Once you’ve colored your own version, share it with us on social media using the hashtag #CopicWithUs, or tag us @CopicOfficialUS on any social media platform! We can’t wait to see what you create!
Annnd that's a wrap on today’s blog! 😊Stay tuned for our next one, where we’ll be wrapping up this series of seasonal palettes by showing you how to color the forest using a SUMMER color palette! We’ll see you then!
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