I've been asked many times how I color images, so I thought I would put together a visual guide, along with some thoughts I have on coloring stamped images. The techniques I use most often are watercoloring, and Prismacolor pencil with Gamsol (a technique sometimes referred to as "magic pencil"). This post is specific to Prismacolor pencil with Gamsol. (Click here to read my tips on watercoloring, posted earlier this month.)
Prismacolor pencils and Gamsol (a brand of odorless mineral spirits) is one of my favorite ways to color stamped images. One of my favorite papers for this technique is Pearlized Shimmery White cardstock. When I'm not using Pearlized Shimmery White cardstock, I use Stampin' Up's Whisper White or Very Vanilla cardstock. But I also find it fun to experiment on other types of paper as well. Paper with a bit more "tooth" than Whisper White and Very Vanilla colors a bit differently than smoother papers. While it's possible to use other brands of colored pencil for this technique, Prismacolor artist colored pencils are soft but heavily pigmented, so I've found they work the best for blending.
To blend my colors, I use inexpensive paper stumps, or tortillions. I buy all of my pencils and paper stumps at dickblick.com. Gamsol (or other brands of odorless mineral spirits) can be found at local or online artist supply stores. It typically comes in either a tin can with a pour spout, or in a glass jar, and is primarily used by oil painters. I've found that the best container to use for this technique is a small double-walled plastic jar, similar to a nail polish remover jar. I cut a regular yellow sponge to fit inside the jar, and pour the Gamsol onto the sponge until it is just saturated, but not floating or beneath the surface of the Gamsol.
I stamp my images on my paper with Black Stazon ink. Stazon is an acid free, archival, fast drying solvent-based waterproof ink and can be ordered through Stampin' Up, found in local craft stores, and lots of online stores. (You might also have good success with various other inks as well, such as Memento, Palette, etc.) Then I start adding color to the places color would be the darkest - usually the edges.
I dip my paper stump onto the Gamsol sponge and begin blending the colors in a small circluar motion towards the center of the image, pulling bits of color as I go. You can leave as little, or as much highlight area on an image as you'd like. By simply not adding as much color to the edges, or not pulling as much color towards the center of your image, you'll be able to have a bigger highlight area. (See my two pears card for another example of a highlight area.)
It's always better to start with LESS color and add more as you need it, than to start with too much color. But, another great thing about working with colored pencil is that you will be able to erase a bit of color, creating a highlight spot if you lay down too much color. You'll never be able to erase the color completely, but you can pull off just enough of the pigment to create a lighter colored area. I use white Hi-Polymer Erasers by Pentel for this process (which can be found at local and online craft or office supply stores).
As you color your image, you'll be able to see where you'd like to add darker shades of color in places you want to emphasize color, or create shadows. Always start with your lightest colors and work with your darker colors sparingly once your lighter colors are in place. Gamsol tends to really make colors pop, so it is quite easy to add too much color to an image by using too dark of a color too quickly while you work. But don't be afraid to use color! How you use color gives images life.
I hope you find these tips helpful! I'd love to know if this has helped you, and would love even more to see some of your work while you try out some of these ideas.
The flower stamp used in this project is by Whipper Snapper Designs, designed by me!