Hi SWEET friends! Tiffany here, and today I’m going to show you how I color stamped images with Tombow Dual Brush Markers. I have to tell you, I’m not an artist or an expert colorist. This post isn’t going to teach you the theories of color or light sources or anything like that. This is for planner girls and cardmakers (or maybe girls who are one and want to try to become the other) who aren’t quite sure where to start. I want you to know, you can do this.
I’ve had lots of requests to do a video or blog post about this, so here it is!
I have a 96 pack of Tombow Dual Brush Markers. You can find them on sale sometimes, but you probably don’t need an entire pack either. If you want to do some shading, you ‘ll need to buy two or three shades of the same color (light, medium and dark) so you can blend them together.
I use VersaFine Onyx Black ink, and I make sure to let it dry completely.
I’m coloring on 80lb Neenah Solar White cardstock in these photos, but if you watch the linked video, I give examples on some planner pages too!
The Pros and Cons
I like using these markers a lot. You can often find them for about $1.25 per marker in the big set. I also like that if I use them judiciously, I can color without bleedthrough, even in planners. I like that I can do some building of color (making the color darker by adding another layer) and blending. I really like the brush tip.
They aren’t Copics though. They don’t build OR blend quite as nicely as Copics do, and they aren’t available in as many shades. They don’t react with a colorless blender the same way Copics do either.
Let’s Color a “Character”
This little guy is the T-Rex from T-Rex Hugs. I start with the main area of his body. I choose three markers in the same color family and I usually do a little test on a piece of scratch paper to make sure they go together well.
I like to start by filling the area with the lightest color, usually coloring in small circular motions. This helps the darker shades blend together best for me.
Next, I go in with the darkest color and make shadows in places where shadows would probably be. I’m not great at figuring out a light source or making this step fancy. I basically put a little bit of dark color on the underside of things. It’s super technical, don’t mess it up! (I’m kidding – just play around until it looks right to you) At this stage, our dino is looking kind of weird. Don’t worry, it evens out in the next two steps!
This is where your middle color comes in. They key to blending is overlap, so put your marker tip just inside the area colored with the darkest shade, and color out into the light area. I want to leave a decent amount of the light color by itself, though, for the final step.
Lastly, I use the lightest color again, and just like I did with the middle shade, I start by overlapping the middle color and then color out from there. Adding a layer of light over the existing light coloring does make it darker, so I try to leave a little bit of the first layer by itself on the “highest” points.
Here he is with the green all done:
I use the same ideas to add some yellow to his spikes and belly. You don’t have to be more detailed than you want to be. His spikes for example, are all one color. Ta da!
Let’s Color “Concave” Things
These are my favorite images to color! Things like cups and this little Sweet Stamp guy that have an even, round surface. It’s so easy and I love the way it looks in the end.
With this look, I want the colors to stay separate rather than blending them together, so I’m going to start with the darkest marker. I start on the outside edge and just sort of flick my marker toward the center, leaving the middle white. The flicking motion is hard to explain in type (which is why I made a video too) but basically you want a feathered appearance. Like so:
Color over the entire area with your lightest shade next. That’s all there is to it, and I think it really gives a three dimensional kind of look.
I finish him up by using a combination of the dark and medium colors and a similar technique to color the handle.
His little round head gets some dimension by laying down a layer of light color (because we’re blending), then using the darkest marker along the bottom right edge and the medium around the rest of the circle Going over the whole circle with the lightest color blends it together.
Let’s Color Ombre Letters
You can actually use this technique for any image, but I LOVE using it with outline letters. This word is from the Coffee Town set. You can choose three shades in the same color, or three similar colors. For today I’m using red, orange, and yellow. Start at one end with the darkest shade and color up to an imaginary line. Today I’m starting at the bottom and coloring up about 1/3 of the way.
Then take your second color – I’m using orange. Like before, you want to overlap the color that’s already there, then bring the color up another 1/3.
Last, I use the yellow, overlapping the edge of the orange, and then filling in the remainder of the letters.
I use this same idea for coloring in all sorts of boxes that I use in my planner, but I like to make the ombre diagonal instead of top to bottom. I demonstrate this in the video below.
Let’s Color in Planners
If you want to color directly into your planner, there are a few things to keep in mind. Copics will absolutely, definitely bleed through every time. Badly. Color on a separate piece of paper, cut it out, then adhere it in.
These Tombow markers will bleed if you really saturate the paper with ink, but if you’re careful you can avoid that. Just be thoughtful about how many layers of ink you’re putting down. Practice will help you figure this out. In the video below, I demonstrate on several planners to give you an idea. Generally, Happy Planners and Plum Paper Planners did well and I bet Inkwell Press would too. Erin Condren and Carpe Diem inserts could hold some ink without bleed through but you would need to be more careful. If you have lighter weight paper, again, just color on sticker paper and cut it out!
Let’s Color Together
Here’s a video with these same techniques, colors and stamps so you can get a better visual of the process if you find that helpful.
#1 JUST TRY IT!
Remember, if you’re not coloring directly in your planner, it’s no big deal to ruin a piece of paper. Play around, see what you like. Practice!
#2 DON’T START IN YOUR PLANNER
Speaking of that, practicing in your planner is probably not a great idea. Use a separate piece of paper. If you love something you color, you can always cut it out and glue it in.
#3 STAMP A BUNCH AT ONCE
Stamp a whole page. Stamp each image a few times. Then sit down and just play around until you get a feel for what you like. Guess what? I’m not your boss! The marker police are not going to hunt you down, either. Part of what is amazing about stamps and creating things in general, is the ability to customize it and make it your own. That’s what makes it fun!
What If This Still Seems Hard?
If this seems too complicated or you aren’t ready to try shading, you don’t have to! A lot of stickers I’ve purchased are just flat color and that’s easy to duplicate. Use one green marker and one yellow marker for the T-Rex, for example.
That’s cute and it can add a wonderful pop of color to your planner! It also takes less ink and therefore causes less shadowing/bleeding and it takes less time. The important thing is for you to do what works for you.
You can also use colored pencils. Our own Meredith Ensell does incredible things with colored pencils and you should watch her YouTube for tips!
The other thing is that you don’t have to color in your stamps! I do weeks where I just stamp in black, and they’re cute and functional.
Are you coloring your stamped images? What are you using? What’s working and what’s not? I’ll be watching comments here, on Instagram and on YouTube so feel free to ask anything!
As always, if you use Sweet Stamp Shop stamps and post to Instagram, tag us @sweetstampshop and use #sweetstampshop so we can see what you make! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for even more inspiration. See you there!