Sunday, February 21, 2016

Piqued by Pastels

Since I have been receiving a number of inquiries about pastel pencils and pastel in pans I thought of dedicating this blog to that topic. I'm assuming the sudden interest is also because of the popularity of portrait and fashion coloring books like "Mystery Women" by Och Umlas, "Moon Blossoms" by Katrina Pallon, "Look" by Suwa. Perhaps like me many of you began to look for easy ways to render flesh tones on human images that would make their skin appear flawless and almost life-like.

The materials out there for this particular demand of coloring are pastels - powdered pigment bound together in different ways. They vary in form but are essentially the same in substance. The ones that can be used both as wet and dry medium are chalk pastel, soft pastel, pencil pastel, and pastel in pans.

For flawless skin coloring in particular my personal bias is for PanPastel. Two months ago I walked into National Bookstore bent on paying for three pans when, lo and behold, I was told that the price dropped just the night before and all of a sudden my budget (and a couple more hundreds) could afford me five pans instead! Whooopeee! (I believe the distributor already settled on the lower price point since up to now the new stocks I've seen remain marked with the lower price.)

The dust is gorgeous because, for one, it easily clings to paper unlike powdered Mungyo soft pastel or Mungyo chalk pastel. I only need to spend half the time moving the dust around before the color is absorbed by the paper's surface. Another reason I like PanPastel is because for skin coloring you'd want to visually achieve perfect smoothness which fine dust coloring gives. You eliminate pencil strokes from your work. If you take extra time to choose your application tools like eye shadow brushes, foam tips, spotter painting brushes (got mine from Craft Carrot) this powdered pastel is very easy and fun to apply and gives maximum satisfaction (for me at least). Also I find that I can also afford to make mistakes since the dust is erasable. Very good erasers I've used for this are kneaded rubber ones and the fancier but  effective Derwent electric eraser.

The biggest limiting factor in choosing PanPastel is the hefty price. With one pan you can already buy a set of other coloring materials with varying colors. But there's a way around that. I found myself suggesting to colorist friends to split among them a pan and put them in those tiny containers one finds in BEABI stores. Since the PanPastel dust is a very efficient medium you really only need a small amount each time to spread around and blend. Believe me a little will go a long way.

For me another good pastel product to use, again for skin coloring in particular, is pastel pencils. The one I'm using is Stabilo's CarbOthello. The set of 60's has a good range of browns that you can use to tone. But don't overdo the browns so you don't end up with a darker complexion that what you want to achieve. Again, these are pencils so if you want to eliminate lines you'd have to go ultra light with your strokes. Good thing going for you is that the dust is a joy to spread. Limit your blending to the edges though otherwise you'll find yourself reapplying endlessly because you keep rubbing dust off ever time your tools touch the medium.

Someone asked me how Derwent Pastel Pencils compare with Stabilo's CarbOthello. My colorist friend, Anwy, made me try them side by side and immediately I could tell that CarbOthello's colors are more striking, and smoother to apply. It appears that the pigments of CarbOthello are more fine.

What's the advantage of that? Like many colorists today the choice of medium is essential in enjoying our craft. Stress-free coloring nga e. So generally I understand why many shy away from the less vibrant, or grainy brands that makes it harder for us to achieve satisfaction.

I have to mention too that CarbOthello pencils have good- to high- lightfastness rating, not bad at all especially if you're particular about the selling quality of your end product.

So for those in a quandary as to which pastel products to pick in the market, the ones I've mentioned are safe choices since the results are immediate, and long lasting in terms of use and display.

Oh wait, here's the fixative I use by the way. Thanks Mark Dean Lim for suggesting this to me. When applying stay outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. I have yet to try in a coloring book so I can't say anything about that, but if you will protect the rest of the book by putting a big board or paper beneath the page you're spraying on. And finally, since it has binding agents it's best you don't touch your work while the material is still wet. Wait for about an hour for everything to adhere together and for the solvent to dry.

***First colored image from Mysterious Library by Bakeunji

***Second colored image from Mystery Women by Och Umlas

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Waif in the Mysterious Library

Today I had a 'eureka moment with my ink pencils and markers. I used this newly discovered (by me, atleast) technique on the hair of this image, notice that it has hints of the vibrancy of ink but blended relatively lightly. I'll be sharing how to apply that in my classes in the future so watch out for that. 

As for this waif from The Mysterious Library by Parkeunji (finding that name is another eureka moment I'll talk about later) I think I'm going to be finishing this tonight, which is a couple more hours from now. Am now working on the background which I think is not too hard, a matter of flicking and blending blues, but may take quite awhile. 
 For her skin I used PanPastel (burnt sienna and iron oxide) and touched up the tiny details with paint brushes instead of foam tips. The spotter 20/0 brush really came in handy for lightly spreading the dust of the pastel. And you know what else came in handy? My glass table top! A few dust fell off from the pastel cakes and I found myself mixing on it. Eventually I would dab the brush on the glass surface before applying the tip on the page, that way I'm careful not to put too much and avoid ending up with a gross mistake. (Incidentally this glass top also came in handy when I traced an image to transfer to another paper)

Finally here's what I learned about ordering Korean books - I can't understand them! But then a friend told me about phone apps that you can download, take a photo with, and will do translation for you. How about that! 

Here's the copyright page I translated. It still doesn't directly say that Bakeunji is the artist but I have a good feeling it is. Hyeonamsa is the publisher, it appears, see for yourself. 

Anyhow, can't wait to use this app in translating pages from Daria Song's latest coloing book The Present. The back page has instructions on certain techniques in coloring which I'd love to learn. Wouldn't you? 

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Two weeks ago I received this rolled up package from the UK and got super pumped up to color again (when did I not ever?!? haha!). This time it's over an entire 40" x 27" colour-in Wildergorn poster by Jamie Courtier, former Creative Director of Jim Henson's Creature Shop. It's one of six huge line art posters seen in 

This one I ordered is the first one, Potter's Road.
I came upon Wildergorn while researching online about Tolkien's coloring books which are fantasy illustrations of the spectacular film series based on the Lord of the Rings books. Wildergorn may look Tolkienesque but it has absolutely nothing to do with LOTR. The posters are appealing because of their storylike character and it's humongous size, nothing like I've ever colored before. 

Here's the entire text from the site's Home page: 

"There's more to a Wildergorn Colour In Poster than meets the eye. By gently contemplating and hand colouring each intricate detail, you’ll find yourself being gradually drawn into the hypnotic and fascinating world of Wildergorn; the more discerning and careful you are with your colours, the more extraordinary will be the result. They’ve been coloured by actors waiting in the green-rooms of West-End theatres, by aid-workers in war zones (during quieter moments), by patients convalescing in hospital and they have united friends and families around the kitchen tables of the world.  These giant 40” x 27” Wildergorn Colour-in Posters are designed by Jamie Courtier (former Creative Director of Jim Henson's Creature Shop) to stretch your imagination and colouring skills to the limit!"

After placing my order (PhP 2,070 including shipping fee) the site sent us an email message letting me know that shipping may take quite awhile, and at the same time expressed genuine surprise and excitement since apparently this is the first time someone from the Philippines ordered from them. 

I realize now that this is a huge undertaking, literally, so I'm thinking of making this into a collab project. I might be asking around for three other colorists who would be interested to finish this with me. We'd be deciding on the medium, color scheme and other pertinent aspects of the project before starting it and hopefully end up with a cohesive work that can be displayed in a future exhibit (hey, I'm allowed to dream, aren't I 😄). The poster will be staying with one colorist for a period until he or she is done and is able to pass it on to the next, and so on. 

I'm still letting the idea ferment in my mind until I'm 100% sure it can work. What do you think? 

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