Blending Markers: Coloring and Shading Techniques from Baylee Jae

Laying Flat Color With Markers

Blending markers can help make your illustration look more realistic. Here are a few tips on how to use your markers like a pro.

Circular Motions

Instead of doing random scribbles, start in one corner of the square and slowly work your way out, using small, circular motions. Make sure the edge where the color meets the white of the paper stays wet. You need to work slow enough that the paper absorbs a lot of ink, yet fast enough that the ink edge doesn’t dry.

Small Sections

Color in one section at a time, even if two sections are going to be the same color. For example, if your character has several locks of hair, color in just one lock at a time. It’s easier to get flat color if you’re coloring in a smaller area. Sometimes large areas aren’t avoidable, so just do your best.

Layers

Coloring over the same area more than once helps the color look more flat. It’s often difficult to get a flat layer on your first pass, especially in larger areas. I actually don’t worry if the ink looks patchy until I’m on my final layer of color. 

Flat color is achieved when the paper is saturated with ink. You can tell if your paper is saturated by flipping it over and looking at the back. If the ink shows through to the other side, then it’s saturated. You don’t need to full saturate the paper, but it helps. Thin papers are easier to saturate than thicker ones, but thicker papers can handle more layering and blending.

Blending Markers: The Feather Blending Technique

Feather blending is useful when coloring large areas or when coloring in a long object like this character’s cape.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Black fine-line pen
  • Cardstock
  • Copic markers: R35, R46, R89, V17
  • Eraser
  • HB pencil

Marker blending | how to color with markers | feather blending technique

For this technique, flick your marker upward to create a tapered line. This makes the line darkest and thickest at the bottom, gradually getting lighter and thinner toward the top.

Blending markers | how to color with markers

Step 1: Shade With the Darkest Colors

After sketching and inking your drawing, color in the bottom of the cape with Copic R89. Use upward flicking motions. At the base of the collar, flick upward onto the collar and downward onto the cape.

Blending markers | how to color with markers

Step 2: Add the Midtones

Use R46 with more flicking motions to add in the midtones. The base of your stroke should overlap with the color you added in the first step and should extend out into the white part of the paper. Make sure to leave some white space for the lightest color.

Blending markers | how to color with markers

Step 3: Add the Lightest Color

Fill in all remaining white spaces with your lightest color, R35, using the feather blending technique. Add a purple color V17, to the deepest shadows. Go back and forth between colors until you get a smooth blend.

Get More Art Instruction!

You can find this tutorial about blending markers and much more in Baylee Jae‘s book, Draw and Color the Baylee Jae Way. It’s available now!

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