A Word With Mrs Vast

How I Use Coloured Pencils.
harkovast at 4:30PM, Aug. 6, 2009
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How I Use Coloured Pencils

Because people have asked how Harkovast is coloured, here is some advice that may be useful if you would like to colour the Harko-way!!!

1) Never leave white paper showing underneath. Some artists shade lightly with pencil and it looks fab. (IE: Briggs; Snowman). But I like the look of full colour saturation. Use white pencils liberally, not only to colour white over white paper, but also to blend other colours. I use about two white pencils a week.
2) To make a smooth finish use a lot of weight on the pencil so it is very dark and saturated. If your shoulder and hand aren’t sore by the end of posting day, then you aren’t pressing hard enough. Use blending stumps to get rid of any white paper flecks that are still showing after all attempts of saturated colouring.
3) Blending Stumps: recycled paper formed in sharpish sticks used to blend colours. You can buy them online. I use eBay. These are excellent for making shading on light colours too. To clean and sharpen the blending stump, sand off the tip with a nail file. That way you aren’t rubbing colours onto work you don’t want there.
4) Use cheap paper. Believe it or not, we use standard (and sometimes sub-standard) grade computer printing paper for all our art. Professional artists would probably use textured art paper, which may actually absorb colours better, but our budget dictates cheap paper. It is possible to ‘overwork’ paper—even art paper—to a point that no more pencil can be coloured on it, and if the pressing is too hard, or you have to erase some, then the paper can be scarily thin. Luckily Photoshop can fix it.
5) Photoshop! You would be surprised at the amount of times the babies have got hold of the art! Sometimes the pages are fully ripped and dripped upon. Photoshop is fantastic for the lazy sod who won’t put the art out of harm’s way! One can readily say ‘oh well’ about the grease spot, as colour can be copied and pasted from another section of work.
6) Photoshop from scanning. When you scan your original artwork you may find that your work appears to be very faded. This may apply more for people who colour with pencils. I find it really annoying that original artwork doesn’t translate as well on computer. On Photoshop, one can darken the exposure and bring the artwork back to its near-desired shade. I find it a bit of a trade-off, as sometimes I feel the saturation changes on Photoshop can bring out the pencil strokes and exaggerate white flecks on the paper. To me it’s like listening to speakers too loudly where the song is good, but the sound is a bit distorted. Nothing is as good as the original and that is where computer artists have the clear advantage. A better scanner might be a factor, too.
7) Light table! We are sick to death of putting our paper against the television set and waiting for a light scene so we can copy our work from one page to another. This had to be done when Cate got hold of the pencils and decided to colour an original sketch for us. We let her keep her own work and tried again with another page. Get a light table so you can trace work if you need to!
8) Don’t drop your pencils! If a pencil is dropped, the lead can break internally in multiple places leading to frustration and waste.



A brief explanation of the pictures and the process from the beginning:
Picture One:

• I find it more efficient to try to colour the scenes/characters on a page using the same colour at the same time, like an assembly line. That way I get the colours consistent of the same character and I don’t lose track of the pencil in the meantime.
• As you can see, the Junlock’s hair is lightly shaded with the main colour whilst his chest has now been coloured in white as will the rest to blend the colours.
• You can see that Dan has drawn over his sketches with a pen so there is no difficulty in making out the drawings. This is especially important as just plain pencil drawings would be smudged and faded as they are worked over time. Being part of a team, I also have to consult with my husband in the beginning to make sure I know exactly what it is he is trying to convey in his drawings. There can be loads of fine lines and action going on and it can be confusing. Add to that energy weapons, which are transparent.

Picture Two:

• Here you can see I have completed the Junlock’s coats with white pencil and have blended them with a stump. I will redraw the black outline around the characters, obviously making the hair more textured.
• Light colours like Chen-Chen’s top get the shading first, then the cream colour afterwards. Then the two are blended with a blending stump. Sometimes I will use a white pencil to blend on light colours as long as it doesn’t make them seem too light or washed out. Some colours like metallic anything can only get their shading done afterwards as a final step because metallic pencils cover completely. (You should see the stack of metallic silver pencils we have for armour and blades.)

Picture Three:

• While this is not complete, you can see it’s the homestretch. Chen-Chen’s trousers are actually coloured in metallic jade, and those require shading after colouring.
• Chen-Chen’s blue features are coloured over her celadon green skin. A blending stump will be used in the final process to blend the blue in with the green.
• Notice the Junlock’s outstretched hand in the upper left panel. I have coloured with a very sharp white pencil around his hand to bring it out in the foreground. Once this is done, then the black outlines have to be drawn carefully over again with a very sharp point for the final look.

Picture Four (Sliding Mountain Style):

• White pencil and blending stumps have been used again to give the affect of blur, or movement.
• White has been added to the blood to make it more reflective.
• White added all around (very fine pencil tip) on eyeballs, features such as knuckles, fabric folds, claws, launched teeth, etc.
• Love it or hate it, solid colours have been added to the action sequences. These are added to frames with high action and actual violent contact, not as a short cut to get the page moving as I sometimes accuse Vast. (I like to do backgrounds!)

Obviously I will think of other methods I use over time and share them when I can. Bye for now!
Mrs. Vast

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Wordweaver_three at 6:17AM, Aug. 7, 2009
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Yeah, the scanner is pretty literal in it's translation. It must be murder on pencils. I'd love to see some of the originals. Maybe you guys should think of auctioning some of them off, or maybe holding a contest for original art work? Unless you guys saving those for your comic-con table to sell at 250$ a pop?
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 2:32PM, Aug. 8, 2009
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yes Wordweaver_three, a good idea about originals but I think 250 a pop is a bit optimistic. In twenty years we will have this chat again. I don't think originals are precious but I think Vast feels differently. I think if you can draw it once, you can draw it again. The originals would be fun to flog but because of the changes we sometimes make on the computer (background, fixing mistakes, etc.) a fair few of them are embarrassing! A few times we have finished the work and forgot Ki's wings. Tails go missing. Boob reductions…sorry! Not to mention the time we didn't put clothes on Chen-Chen. Hey, now that sounds like a money-making idea after all!!!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
confusedsoul at 4:24PM, Aug. 10, 2009
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I'm probably teaching you to suck Harko-eggs, but have you tried using the vibrance option in photoshop? It raises the intensity of colour more subtly than contrast, so it works for traditional mediums pretty well (i.e the pencil strokes don't become more apparant).
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 12:52AM, Aug. 11, 2009
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confused soul—
yes, I am totally going to have Mr. Vast attempt that feature. (Vibrance option) You'd be surprised to realise how much I have already told him to suck my harko-eggs because since we have been working on this comic our marriage is brinking on demise. It used to be ‘yes dear’ ‘no dear’ Now it's ‘have you coloured, dear?’ He's loveable but needs definately more egg in his face! Thanks for the advice. I'll have him try it!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Pineapple at 5:45AM, Aug. 18, 2009
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How do you get the texture (like on the fur)? No matter how hard I press on the pencils, it all kind of blends together in the end.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 2:46PM, Aug. 19, 2009
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Pineapple—- I hide my head in shame! I forgot one crucial final step! The very last thing you should do with fur, after blending, pressing hard, more blending, is to sharpen your pencil as sharp as you possibly can (this can be white or black mainly) and draw individually fine hairs on the surface. Not many need to be done, but just enough to hint of an outer layer of fur. The pencil should be sharp enough that the lines are eyelash thin. If you overwork the paper, however, and press too hard and blend too much, the paper can lose all of its texture and gain an unhealthy sheen of which it may be impossible to draw anything else over. You may have to practice over time to see where your limits are. Hope this helps!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Pineapple at 4:55AM, Aug. 22, 2009
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I'm a gona give this a go. If it's any good, I'll show it too you to see what you think.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Pineapple at 9:57PM, Sept. 1, 2009
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I know its not great, but I did put a lot of time into it. I tried uing the white pencil and I've also tried to add shadows (this worked better in some placed then others). i've still mostly working with block colours at the moment. I'd like to try some more blending.

http://i299.photobucket.com/albums/mm304/Pine_apple_photos/Kirbycolour.jpg
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 7:23AM, Sept. 26, 2009
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pineapple…many apologies for not checking the forum. Here it is the 26 or something and I have finally looked again, after being reminded by Hark!!! It's easier for him to check his forum as he is always here keeping Harkovast on track. Bless him.

I have just tried to respond to your comment but it didn't go through for some reason so I have to rewrite this again. Apologies beforehand if this gets posted twice somehow!

I really like your style of colouring. I think it is really good that you can shade so evenly and not have too much of an issue of inconsistent shading. Perhaps you have a more steady hand??? I can see by your work that I need to work on not pressing so hard with the pencil and letting the paper work with the pencil. What pencils are you using???

Your shading on your hedges looks really good and makes them stand out really well. They seem life like.

I was painting a mural with leaves at my friend's house the other day and her partner kept coming up behind me and said ‘where is your light source?’ While I wanted to paint his face green for being such a pest, he had a point. Because some people actually look for that and therefore the shadows should all appear at similar angles. We all need to work at it! Then you have to consider if there is unnatural light involved (reflections/lamps, etc.) It is very hard to get it right!

If it is not too late with your art you posted, could you think about what is in the windows of the houses? I am not talking about home furnishings, but perhaps curtains, or a shaded inside wall. It would certainly give the houses more dimension.

Thanks for considering my advice and good luck with your drawing. I think you do a very good job.
Julie

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM

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