Mini Tutorial: What To Do With Those Blah Pages.

I had a problem.

A while ago I coloured a picture in Dagdrommar featuring the Sea Goddess.  I went all out with experimentation and used watercolour paints.  While I loved the results the techniques weren’t so kind to the pictures on the other side of those pages.  While one of them featured a complex patterned image, that I felt confident would colour over and hide the little bleed throughs and page wrinkling, the other picture was that very bland empty outline of a beetle.  (Note the one above that I have photographed as a before picture is from an uncoloured book and therefore doesn’t show the bleed throughs and wrinkling on my problem piece.  Dagdrommar is such a lovely book that it bothered me to have this messed up page.  I didn’t think my usual careful pencil blending style would cut it and I didn’t know what to do about it.

Then on impulse one morning I decided (crazily after a long night shift and before sleep) that I would just ‘do something’ and figure it out as I went along.  A dangerous technique for me but I was sorta’ ‘drunk’ with tiredness and felt I couldn’t stuff it up any more than it already was. So I chose four pencil colours that I like and don’t often use but I thought would look nice together and started to scribble with them.  I had no idea where this was heading, but it felt cathartic to place down random blobs of bright colour with a bit of minimal blending around the edges to hold it all together.  It took an hour or so of random scribbling to finish the background and by then I was well past my bed time so I left the piece as is to contemplate my next step after a sleep.

I could have gone several ways here: my first impulse was to doodle patterns in the beetle to match the rest of the book.  But then I decided to colour the whole figure black and doodle using a white gel pen just for something different. I began by colouring the beetle first with a black Faber Castel Classic pencil with a nice medium thickness layer, and then I went over the top with my black Faber Castell Pitt Pens.  I left the picture for a good couple of hours to allow the ink to set completely… note it takes much longer for the pens to dry when they are laid over the top of pencil.  After that I picked up my white Signo Uniball gel pen and set to work with the doodle.

The picture still felt incomplete.  So once again, on impulse, I took my thin Faber Castell Pitt Pen and doodled a frame all around the outside.


Now I’m happy.  My blah problem page has been restored.  I rather like how it turned out and I may very well use this for the other outline pages in this book.  If you would like to use this technique for your blah pages as well then feel welcome to do so.  Pick four pencil colours that you love and work well together.  I recommend that two of them are different shades of the same colour to give the picture better continuity.  I also recommend the black Pitt Pen for the doodles as it gives a nice variety of line widths, dries well AND most importantly, you can use it over the oily pencils without clogging up the nib.

Let me know if you try out this technique.  Now back to my regular colouring. 🙂


All of the media I used. Two different sized Faber Castell Pitt Pens (don’t mind the shiny tape on the smaller one… the lid keeps falling off for some reason), A black Faber Castell Classic pencil, a white Uniball Signo gel pen and four Faber Castell Polychromos pencils.


  1. Sandra Harris

    Wish my blah pages were as good as this Peta!

  2. Lo

    Blah page huh? This would be one of my top end models.:)) I must admit there is one thing I seem to be ok at. If I start something on a bad day like a few days ago while apparently I got the flu then topped it with a virus so my brain went into wonksville I still needed to colour and of course IMO the colouring was terrible but never say die so I played and played even though my brain really was out of sync only to have my husband come home and say wow that’s fabulous. I just scratched my head but I must admit every time I screw up then try to fix it is when I get the most compliments from people seeing my colouring. Go figure. If only I could colour well without messing things up :)))

  3. Ginny

    That’s quite impressive, Peta. I think I’m going to give your technique a whirl.

  4. Rebecca Tooley

    You “rather like” how it came out? It is more than that. It is beautiful. Creative, you are thinking outside the box and it is working! Maybe your experiments don’t always work as nicely as this one did. But you try! Good for you! It is encouraging to see your results. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    1. Saffie

      Hi Peta!
      I’m a relatively new follower. I just started coloring about 4 months ago. I happened to have The Magical City and followed your first 4 part tutorial. I still look at the dome and can’t believe how your choice of color makes the dome look like gold! It amazes me. Well, I can’t say how much I appreciate your videos and instructions. I am now using your posted completed pages in Magical City as references to complete some of the other pages. I’m smitten with Inktense. I am probably too heavy handed as sometimes a minuet amount of color does bleed through to the back page. Frustrates me especially when the back picture is smaller. I have one small picture which I attempted to ad lib (The Shard.) It was close to a disaster. I won’t embarrass myself but I know where I went wrong. It’s half done because I ran out of ideas as to which colors to use. I’m gonna leave it alone until I get an inspiration. So….thanks for opening my mind to an alternative. I think you’re awesome!

      1. Royce Day

        “Doodled a frame” she says… *boggles at the incredible line work*

      2. Eve

        Ah I am so glad I am not the only person who has had “The Shard” traumas! It was the only page that I did not find very inspiring at all, so I decided to fill up a lot of all the boring space, colouring in Shard-like letters, “The Shard” as part of the building, it saves explaining to people who are looking through my book what the heck it is at least.?

  5. BigT

    That’s really great! I have pages in several books that could be seriously improved with this background technique. And it just happens that the butterfly pages in Daydreams are next on my coloring to do list. Can’t wait to try this out.

  6. Helene

    Thanks for the ideas. You have a formidable creativity. Thanks to partage.

  7. Susan D.

    What a great idea! I don’t care for the plain outline pages and you have certainly shown us an inspirational solution. But, what about those of us who are not accomplished doodlers?

    I love how your page turned out!

  8. Kathy Tiney

    You are a talented genius, Peta! This is beautiful! I often get discouraged when I am working on an art page and it doesn’t seem quite right…or I just plain mess up. But I love your determination and creativity! Thank you for your inspiration and your tips/tutorial!

  9. AnnWoo

    Fantastic work!

  10. Angela

    What a great idea. It’s stunning.,I shall be stealing this idea.

  11. sharon

    I love your wonderful creativity…:-)

  12. Kristy Tyra

    Great idea! I like the way it looks.

  13. Angelle McDougall

    Amazing, Peta. I love the final result.

  14. Phyllis Stuart

    Oh I love it! It turned out beautifully! If I could have just a fourth of your talent I would be happy!

  15. Eve

    That blah! entirely sums up where my head is at after a 12 hour night shift, I will find myself having a little doodle at something or other., just for the purpose of winding down, then before you know it I am obsessing over colours and like you said Peta, in the danger zone. I once wrecked A paint by numbers, yes I know., eww paint by whaaat? It was a rather large and far too ambitious project, it was a grey scale Marilyn Monroe and a replica of the shot where she is holding her hands behind her back, wearing a gold lame’ dress. So already I had set myself up to fail. Well in my sleep deprived state, Inspite of the numbers being printed on the canvas which odv correspond to all the little numbered pots of greys, white and black acrylic paints I managed to balls Marilyn’s lips up( a work of art in their own right!), the poor girl looked more like Mick Jagger and I was gutted! I go straight up to bed these days! In the end I ended up getting another kit the same and It hangs in my sitting room. A labour of love I would say though. 🙂

  16. Chris S.

    That looks fantastic! Amazing what you can do with a page. You are talented.

  17. Valerie

    That is absolutely, positively amazing! I’m still trying to just get the hang of blending 2 colors following your tutorials, let alone ever being able to “doodle” as you do(odle). 🙂 As to my thus far inadequate blending abilities, I blame the pencils I’m using, lol.

  18. Valerie

    I forgot to ask, could you please do a tutorial on coloring in grayscale with recommended medium(s)? That would be very much appreciated by myself as well as others just starting out. Thanks so much for all you do!

  19. Mickee Shorr

    I am new to coloring am now addicted. I have worked myself up to prismacolor premier, an would like to purchase the pens and pencils you used in this beetle picture. Please tell me where to obtain them. I live in Shrewsbury, Mass 01545, if that will help. Also how do I get to your tutorials?

  20. Julianna

    Beautiful! What a creative solution to a problem. Your tutorials are amazing. I really love following what you are doing with Magical City and Inktense. Hope to see you do more. Because of you I have bought both.

  21. Sally Szymanski

    I was wondering how you are doing with the new sharpener you were expecting and mentioned a while ago. I need to find an electric sharpener for my sister who has Rheumatoid Arthritis. We need something that can handle colored pencils, wax and oil-based, watercolor and Pastel pencils. Any info or recommendAtions would be really appreciated!

    Thanks for all of your excellent teaching and for sharing so much with us!

    1. Chaypeta (Post author)

      Hi Sally, sorry for the long wait for a reply. I use a Staedtler hand cranked grinder style sharpener for almost every time I need to sharpen my pencils. If I’m away from home or if my pencils are getting to short to stick in the grinder sharpener I use a small metal double hole Staedtler sharpener.


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