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Create This Book January Challenge

We did it! Coming in just under the wire, here are mine and Henri’s completed Create This Book pages for January.

As I mentioned in my intro post, every month in 2020 my 11-year-old son Henri and I will be completing a challenge from Moriah Elizabeth‘s Create This Book (vol 1). For January we choose the “create an empty setting” page seen here:

Henri used colored pencils for his page, creating a beach scene. He made it a double-page spread, with a multi-colored sunset over the water.

I love the little details I can pick up of how he went about planning his page, like how he clearly sketched out his ideas in pencil before outlining in fineliner…

…or how he blended the sun’s reflection into the water.

For my page, I went with a bit of a more literally definition of a setting – an actual stage set LOL.

First I sketched it out in pencil. Whenever I’m working in a coloring book with regular paper I always use a sheet of cardstock underneath the page. This prevents any impressions from affecting the following pages and ghosting through when I try to color them. This time I used a remnant of bristol board that has seen many, many coloring pages… though most obviously the one where I colored an entire background with black Sharpie.

After that I put on a podcast (HDTGM FTW), pulled out my Polychromos and colored until I was happy(ish) with the image. I did a few base layers of brown and green into the black back wall to prep before going over it with a black pencil, and roughed in the colors for the wooden stage, then later did the same for the red curtains and seats.

I say “happy-ish” because I’m not 100% thrilled with how the lights came out. I’d planned to color the background solid black and then erase the light paths but when I tried it looked just… I don’t know. Meh. I wound up coloring over most of it and leaving only the spotlight on the stage floor.

And there’s my final image. I decided against making it a two-page spread like Henri because I didn’t feel like coloring nearly two solid pages of red. In the end I’m mostly happy with it, though I see a lot of flaws that make me cringe. That said- my goal with this monthly challenge was NOT to create perfect, ideal art. It was simply to CREATE.

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A New Year = A New Challenge!

Last January I set up a challenge on this blog- to celebrate 2019 I would convert 19 long-languishing WIPs (works in progress) into FOs (finished objects).

This year I’ve set a new challenge for myself, one with a bit of a lighter workload since I’ve got so many other things on my plate.

We’re big Moriah Elizabeth fans in this house (the sprinkle song is our jam!) and while I’ve managed to distract Henri from wanting his very own Pickle plushie, I did cave and buy him Create This Book for Hanukkah.  

I ordered volume 1, and when it arrived I realized I’d accidentally put 2 copies in my cart.  We took a quick household vote and instead of returning it, we decided to keep the second copy for me and Jakob to use.  Thus starts the first monthly segment of our Create This Book v1 adventures.

It’s the 2020 Create This Book Monthly Page Create-a-long!

There’s also a volume 2 but we’ll be starting with the first book and working our way forwards.

Henri picked this page to start with in his book, so to catch up I’ll be making that my January page as well. My goal is to do (at least) one page each month. 12 pages doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ve got a TON of stuff going on this year and don’t want to over-commit.

I have six days to come up with an idea, draw/color the page and then post it to the blog. The idea hasn’t come yet but the supplies have been decided- I’ll be coloring the page with my adored Faber-Castel Polychromos. I can’t help but hear Mike Myers in my head when I use them because they color so smoothly that it’s just like butter.

By the way – if you’re always in search of new, better pencil/pen cases like me, I can happily recommend the Thornton case pictured above. I own a lot of colored pencil sets with 100+ colors and quickly outgrew the 32, 48, 56 and 72-pc sets I’d invested in years ago. Last winter I did my research and bought a few larger cases in different styles then spent a cozy snowed-in winter weekend reorganizing all my pencils. (Yes, it’s the little things that make me happy LOL). Now I have enough room to store the full 120pc pencil set plus additional tools like a fineliner, stick eraser, my favorite blender pencil, and a white marker*.

Note- in Canada at least, the listing for the empty case itself seems to be sold out. The exact case full of 150 of their own-branded colored pencils, however, is available here.

*Money-saving tip: There are a LOT of white markers out there for adding highlights to your drawings and coloring. Sakura Gelly roll white pens are great, Sharpie paint markers can be fantastic, and many other brands have good ones too. But my favorite white “pen” is 100% the Liquid Paper or Wite-Out corrector pens. They give the most opaque, solid coverage because that’s literally what they’re designed for, and can very often be found in the stationary aisle of your local dollar store. (I get mine at Dollarama).

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Coloring with BIC Mark-It Markers

The more coloring I did, the more I wanted to do.  I began looking for better supplies and looking up better techniques.  It is impossible to be interested in ‘coloring’ and not somehow, somewhere come across Copic markers.  For the uninitiated, Copics are alcohol markers, one of, if not THE premium brand, and are vastly loved by artists everywhere.

They’re also expensive as hell.

When I’d first heard of them, a few years ago, I immediately discounted them.  I had no use for new art supplies that weren’t integral to my passions at the time, and that kind of investment just didn’t seem worth it.  Lately, though… something was drawing me to them.  Maybe I’d outgrown Crayolas, finally, or maybe it was the appeal of being able to blend and achieve digital-art-style results with something I could control by hand.  I started finding reasons to justify them- I’d do more drawing, and finally open an Etsy shop… and they’re refillable, so over time the cost works itself out… and I’m an adult, and could treat myself to professional, adult supplies…

I was in.  Hanukkah was coming up and the ONLY thing I put on my wish list was a gift certificate to Curry’s Art in Ontario, the place I’d found with the best prices for Canadians.  The markers I wanted, Copic Sketch markers, are available locally at $8 CAD each.  The cheapest US price I could find online is $5.35 but any free shipping deals were US only, and there would still be a cost conversion, and the exchange rate these days is insane, so I ruled that out.  Curry’s has them for $6.50 each, and free shipping within Canada if you spend $75.  Perfect!  (Note: I found out about Curry’s by watching Baylee Jae’s videos on YouTube, thanks Baylee!)

Knowing I had some time to wait until we had our family gift exchange and I (hopefully) got what I’d asked for, I looked further, exploring more tips and techniques.  Along the way I found a number of videos and blog posts mentioning BIC Mark-Its as inexpensive alcohol marker alternatives, stating they could also be blended, had better colors than Sharpies, and worked with Copic or other brands’ blending markers.

All my Sharpies were old and dried anyways, so I ordered myself 2 sets of BICs, the 36-pack fine (Can link, US link) and the 36-pack of ultra fine (Can link, US link).

When they arrived I sat down with the boys one Saturday morning and we did some coloring together.  They’d been watching me color lately and a few times I’d given them a ‘treat’ and let them use ‘Mommy’s good markers’.  They love my colored fineliners and both were in awe of the stained glass coloring pages, so I let them pick their favorite pages to color for themselves.  When I was ready to test the BICs I printed off some characters from one of our new favorite shows, Bravest Warriors, and we all colored together, with me allowing the kids to use the BICs as long as they were responsible with them.

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Jakob went for speed, coloring the characters carefully, but quickly, and getting distracted here and there by the tv that was on in the background.

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Henri did the opposite.  He took his time, trying to color-match as carefully as he could to the original characters.  He was SO thorough, in fact, that he drew in his favorite missing character – JellyKid (complete with toast!) and even added Pixel to Wallow’s glove!
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I didn’t have anything in mind when I colored mine except to enjoy the markers, the lovely colors, and the flow of the ink.  I didn’t attempt any blending or ‘Copic-like’ techniques, just colored and chatted with my boys.

Okay well maybe I did a teensy bit of shading… if you look carefully at Plum there’s some blue shading under her hairline and skirt.  But that’s it.

I loved the BICs and I am thrilled that they’re part of my stash- uh I mean my perfectly adult and mature collection of art supplies.  But my FAVORITE part of coloring with them was discovered after I was done.

The BICs, just like Copics and other alcohol markers, bleed through most papers.  Alcohol markers are designed to saturate the paper to get even blending and streak-less coloring.  With water-based markers like Crayolas, coloring hard over one section will leave blotchy, uneven patches of bled color.  With these, however…
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The bleed-through is so lovely!  It looks like a watercolor illustration!  I’m fascinated by how pretty the backside of this coloring looks and can think of so many ideas for deliberate reverse drawings, coloring one side while intending the back to be the later ‘front’.Photo 2015-12-19, 12 29 58 PM

Not that, but I was completely charmed by my discovery on the paper I was using to absorb the bleed-through.  It looks like pointilism!  Probably not really good for anything, technique-wise, but I like how it looks regardless.  🙂