Forest, SUMMER Palette
Nature Series: How to color a stylized, folk-art inspired forest
Coloring a seasonal forest illustration:
Howdy Copic readers! In our previous blog, we showed you how to color a forest illustration by using a spring-themed palette, choosing colors from two different Copic Sketch 6 piece sets (12 colors total). In today’s blog, we’ll be wrapping up that lesson by showing you how to color the final season in this series: summer! Let’s get started by gathering our materials, listed below.
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 Perfect Primaries and Secondary Tones sets (or whatever blue, red, yellow, green, purple, and orange markers you have). And with that, let’s begin! 🥳
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).
Now that your summer 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 Copic marker ink!
Notice too how many of the numbers in the front/foreground are lighter colors, like yellows and oranges, while darker colors like violet and green are in the background. This is because objects in the foreground are closer to you, and thus lighter than those further away (assuming the sun is not setting, because if the sun was setting/in front of you, the order of coloring would be flipped with dark in the foreground and light in the background/trees closest to the setting sun). By making notes, and possibly erasing some to make corrections, this value plan is a great way to work out where colors should go! Which leads us to our next step…
…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 cloud-shaped 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 yellow dome-shaped tree in the front and the pink and purple 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 differences on your own paper!
The next step after coloring these bushes and trees is to fill in the tree trunks. If there was something you forgot to color earlier, or if you want to make changes 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 early in the day, I chose to color the sun with Y19, and the sky with a typical light blue, B00 (both of these colors are already in the Perfect Primaries set in our palette).
Also, since the color of the sky is already 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 boldly colored forest below!
*Tip: Notice the direction of which I colored B00 in the sky. I colored it up and down, following the direction of the composition. Since this is only the first layer of B00, 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!
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 blue cloud-shaped one on the right. Extra flicks of R43, V04, V09, Y19, G02, and G09 were added to account for the shadow from the cloud-shaped tree. Just by adding these extra flicks of color (the third layer of ink), the composition REALLY pops out and creates a bold amount of contrast!
Now that you’ve seen how to color a forest using a summer-time palette, AND the other 3 seasons of the year, 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 and layering). Once you’ve colored your own version(s), 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!
That's a wrap on today’s blog! 😊Stay tuned for our next one, where we’ll be showing you ONE MORE VERSION of how to color a forest the traditional way with greens and browns in a night-time sky using the Copic Ciao 24 piece set. This one’s a classic, you can’t miss it!
*Note from the author: Thank you all for visiting our website and reading our blogs! We have many more lessons, tips, and tricks to share with you all on how to use your Copic markers and other Copic products. Please feel free to visit this page bi-monthly as we release new lessons for y’all. Until then!
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