Friday, 20 June 2014

Adding colour to sketchbook portraits

I'm having lots of fun with my ink pen portraits in my sketchbooks. They're quick to do, and therefore perfect for a bit of creativity when you're really to tired to do anything else than flop on the sofa after work.

I'm trying out different ways to add some colour to the portraits. Gouache hasn't really been a favourite medium of mine, I've tried it out before, but then always went back to watercolours. But last night I thought I'd give it a try again, and I must say I'm very pleased with the result. They're more vibrant than watercolours and a good match to the bold lines of the ink brush pen.

The only drawback with the gouache is still the same as with watercolours when it comes to Moleskine sketchbooks. But as long as you don't want to create an accomplished work of watercolour/gouache art but just want to a bit of colour to your sketch, it works well enough.

The Liquitex acrylic markers on the other hand work very well on the Moleskine paper, but have some limitations when it comes to blending and transparency. But they're great for adding bold colour.

I bought some Tombow dual brush pens earlier this week, as I thought they'd be useful for adding a touch of colour quickly when you're out and about. They had some other pens, Shinhan or something there too, with a great selection of colours, but their smell was just overpowering. I'm not usually over sensual to the various smells of my art materials, but those definitely were too much. The Tombows are water based (maybe the others are alcohol based?), and don't smell at all. They're not as smooth and blending as I would have liked, you can see the individual strokes, but apart from that, they work well enough, also in a Moleskine.

I usually take photos of my work to post on my blog, but this time I tried to scan them instead. I've tried scanning before, and I was never happy with the results, and I wasn't this time either. But due to some technical problems (mainly due to Yahoo Mail being even more annoying than they have been for the past few weeks, i.e. simply refusing to let me access my account at all today), I had to use the scans for this post. The scanner never seems to get the colours right, and is having particular problems with the Moleskine paper (all images but the first are Moleskine). It doesn't seem to recognise the creamy colour of the paper but instead scans it as white, and as a result, all the other colours turn out wrong too (and in some areas didn't even catch the colour at all). I've tried to adjust them as well as possible in Photoshop, but they're still far from accurate.

What do you use for taking pictures of your work for your blog? I know that there are a lot of people who do use scanners, and if you do, I'd be more than happy to get some tips on how to successfully scan my images, as I seem to be doing something wrong.

And last but not least 


  1. Love how you have coloured your sketches, and thanks for the explanations and tips about the different colours. Valerie

  2. This is a wonderful variety of style and products...thanks for sharing the process!!

    Hugs Giggles

  3. I love to add color to my sketches, it kind of lifts them to another level. My most beloved colors are Twinkling H2O's, I'll guess they're something between guache and regular watercolors. Your sketches are good and moody. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I really love your ink pen portraits, and the way you coloured them in. Great work! I only take pictures of my bigger paintings, all the rest I do with my scanner, and the colours usually come out right. Except when it's neon colours, it never takes those in the correct way. Maybe it's a setting on your scanner. Try out different settings, maybe it's something very simple that you need to change ...

  5. What a great selection of faces and I'm glad you have gouache another try. As for photographing your work versus scanning it-I always scanned anything small enough to fit in the scanner but recently I've had the same problem as you mentioned where the colours are coming out really wrong.I don't know if the seeing have changed but I've ended up just taking photos on my phone and emailing them to myself to get them on my pc. It's annoying as scanning used to give a sharper picture.

  6. Wonderful sketches! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the different mediums you used...must get some of the Liquitex markers to try. I use my point and shoot camera to take photos of my work as I like taking shots from different angles. :)

  7. The colour is amazing and gives the drawings an entirely different feel! Gorgeous and vibrant!
    I know nothing about scanners unfortunately... Good luck with that!

  8. Lovely works of art. I used the camera today but normally find my art, which is usually flat, does fine with the scanner.

  9. Since I use lines a lot, I like the crisp images I get from using the scanner. The colors are usually close enough. Taking a photo works better especially when you have light colors like pink and yellow. But neither really captures the work completely, which is why I like seeing art in person. I think these sketches are lovely. The bold lines and colors bring out so much personality. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Whoaaaa it doesn't matter what medium you use your talent shows through. Wonderful pieces.

  11. Those are really great looking sketches. Awesome work. Love your line work.

  12. I love your work... those portraits are amazing no matter what you use... impressed you hang in there with the moleskins... they do drive me a bit nuts but I keep trying... I bought some palomino pencils the other day having heard that they work really well in them, but they are just the same as other pencils...a bit blacker and the sharpener is very cool but for the price not that special if you know what I mean... as for my blog... I use a mix of scanned and photographed images... it took me ages to set my scanner to how I like it and it is slowly dying... I am dreading having to do another set up on a new one...
    T xx
    PS you do know your work looks amazing even if you don't like the scans too much right? Because it does...xx

  13. First, I have to say all the faces are fantastic! I love the bold contrast! I have not used gouache in decades.... I think is time I get some again, you tempted me hahah
    I am not a marker person but I guess they are easier to take when going places with a journal, marks or not. Although sometimes marks are fine, right?
    About the scanner, I do scan all, unless it is too big, then I take a photo and edit/crop/balance as needed in a photo editor program. Mine is only scanner so it has a different menu than the printer/scanner combo (but sadly I have to say is acting up of late)
    Check if your scanner has a menu to balance the image right there, otherwise use an editor. I like best the archaic basic MicroSoft photo edit, because it is really basic and works fine.... but there are others I like like PhotoScape, lots of people like Gimp.
    And about yahoo, have you tried a different browser? I have noticed that sometimes that is the problem, not the site but a browser fight between them.

  14. Love your expressive faces and thanks for the tips on what you used to add color. I always take photos because I like the angle options it offers so I cannot offer any scanning help. Good luck.