Please pardon any errors and poor writing skills in this update. The weather here is diaboloically hot for no sane reason what so ever… it’s still only spring. There is a beastly hot wind blowing and the air pressure has caused a rotten pain to settle just behind my left eyebrow. A change is on the way and it can’t come soon enough. On the other hand THUNDER STORMS!!! (Love them… hope we get a good one.)
I love Johanna Basford’s work. Her beautiful, precise line work begs to be coloured and there are many many wonderful examples online of people who have done just that. So it was with a lot of eagerness and some trepidation that I undertook the massive task of colouring in the first two page forest spread in her Enchanted Forest colouring book. I thought you may be interested in seeing just how I colour a large piece like this so I took some photos at various stages.
For this piece I’m using my Faber Castell Polychromos pencils. If you haven’t guessed by now these are my favourite coloured pencils. I love their softness, but not too soft, and their ability to keep a nice pointy end for detailed work. And they blend… man do they blend! 🙂 The first big problem, after choosing the weapons, is deciding on a colour scheme. Some pictures I approach by formulating a 50 to 70% plan of what colours are going to go where and I find that often these pictures are the ones I’m most happy with. Not so with this one. I knew I wanted to create a ‘pre dawn’ look to the picture as it is at the start of the journey through the enchanted forest. So the sky had to be a rich blue with an aura of pink, orange and yellow rising from the horizon. Secondly I decided that I wasn’t going to stick to standard green leaves and brown trunks for the trees. I wanted to go wild and experiment with colour. With those two thoughts in mind I was just going to wing it. I started in the top left hand of the left page. This is so I don’t smudge my work with my hand as I often do because I’m clumsy like that. First I coloured the pink leaves and brown tree trunk with peach coloured lichen. Then I began to tackle the sky with a bright, rich blue. It’s quite difficult and time consuming trying to keep the sky colour evenly distributed and fading evenly down the page. I’m trying not to relay on blending materials and I didn’t use any in this entire picture.
The first big tree was next. I planned the leaf colours for all the trees by using a scrap piece of paper to experiment on. I drew little leaf shapes and filled them in with various colours until I found a combination I liked. I gave this tree an Autumn look.
The leaves on the tree are finished. Time to fill in the sky around them. I like to fill in the back ground as I move through the picture as this breaks up an otherwise daunting and tedious task into smaller, manageable bites. I found it quite challenging to shade the blue evenly and fade it out as I came down through the foliage. But I like a challenge. See my penciled in note to myself on the bottom right hand side of the picture. I write notes to myself as I flick through my books to record any inspirations I get regarding colouring them in the future.
Jumping ahead now. The third tree did end up with green foliage as I felt green was now needed in the picture. For the large tree I choose four colours… tan, a light and a dark warm gray and a purpley-pink colour. This is an enchanted forest so I wanted the trees to have a surreal, magical look. Because the light is coming from behind the trees I first started to colour them by colouring a band of cream on either side of the trunks. This is what is giving the picture its ‘glowy’ look. It’s a simple trick and very effective. The dawn glow was created by first colouring a band of cream, then a yellowing orange, a pink and finally a rich burgundy colour around the base of the grass. Each colour had a fair amount of overlap to create a soft, gradiented look. Again I did the sky last as I completed each section.
Then I started to get a bit bolder with my colour choices. A spearmint green trunk with red leaves. I love this combination and it will be appearing again in this book.
One side complete I started on the other side. I won’t include stage pictures of that as, by now, you get the general idea. Here is how it turned out. (This picture is a little dull as it’s over cast as well as horribly hot and windy this morning. In real life it’s very bright.)
And here is each page so you can see all the details. Enjoy. 🙂 If you’ve colouring this picture too I’d love to see it. Please leave me a link in the comments section.