Yes, I published a coloring book, Edible Paradise: A Coloring Book of Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables (Universe). But what do I actually know about coloring? To fully embrace the experience from black and white to color, I took on the looming task of coloring in 3 copies of my book (And they’re almost finished. To be continued soon…) I not only noted that the many ladybugs on each page begin to move around by the time I started the third copy, I also compiled 6 tips for effective and beautiful coloring.
- Pick an engaging topic. Coloring books are like relationships. A good part of it just needs to click. Since you’ll be spending an exorbitant amount of time getting to know your coloring book, pick an engaging topic that ignites your need to color. Whether that’s Ryan Gosling, 4-letter words or seasonal fruits and veg, hold out for the right one.
- Know the paper and medium. There’s nothing worse than opening the first page of a coloring book with “first-day-of-school” anticipation, only to find out that the markers you are using bleed through several pages at once. Try out your desired medium on the last page of the book. The paper will cue you in if it will hold up to whatever you want to color with.
- Think about light. For a realistic final product, pick a direction from the where the imagined light source is coming from. This will act as a global guide for the where the highlights and shadows will be placed. This is especially important when coloring in my book Edible Paradise. Don’t be afraid to leave white on the page, a very important thing I learned using watercolors. It gives the page volume and lightness.
- Edit! This is a lot like cooking. Sure there is the execution and technique that transforms brut ingredients into a meal. But it’s the drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, the pinch of sea salt and the touch of lemon zest that takes a dish from dinner to degustation. The same goes for coloring, a lot comes out of the final touches. Once I think I’m done with a page, I revisit it a few hours or days later. If it looks flat, I’ll add more shadows and contrast. If it is way overdone, I’ll consider using more white space in my next pages.
- Use color as highlights. Take a look at the example above. Yes, a strawberry is identifiable just when in red, but when it has a slight touch of orange in the mix, it sings. Don’t be afraid to mix colors.
- Have fun! Sure I just compiled some “rules” for coloring, but there shouldn’t be any. Coloring is all about experience. Sure, something may not work out mid-book, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have to scrap the whole thing. Don’t think about the subject so literally. Pick a totally crazy color scheme and go nuts. Or color in everything using opposite colors on the color wheel. It’s all up to you!