Ah! A journal prompt that struck a chord! Week 14’s Journal52 prompt was Sweet Treats, and I immediately had an idea for the way I wanted to go with it.
Rather than focusing on the sweet things themselves, I wanted to explore the patterns, Zentangle®-style, that you might find in Sweet Treats.
I’ve written up a bit about my process and why I chose the mediums I did. The mediums in question are a J. Herbin brush pen, and Derwent Metallic Water-soluble colored pencils in a Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook.
To start with, I called up photos of ‘Sweets’ on the internet, and looked for the some patterns. I decided to base my format on a box of chocolates, but I took some of my patterns from cookies and pies. I didn’t use Zentangle patterns, per se, but most of the patterns I came up with can be found as Zentangle patterns.
For my line work, I use a J. Herbin Brush pen. My reasons for that choice:
1) Waterproof black ink
2) The variety of line I can get with a brush tip pen
3) The feel of using a brush tip pen
4) The ink in these pens will go over colored pencil
5) I wanted to remind everyone that I’m giving away 4 of these pens this week. Giveaway ends this Sunday, 4/12 at 11:59 PDT. There is also a full review of the pen.
I thought about leaving the page black & white, but decided I wanted color. But I wanted soft color, that wouldn’t compete with the linework. I decided to go with Derwent Metallic Water-soluble colored pencils.
You can see just by looking at the lead in these pencils that the color tones are muted. As with any metallic colors, you may run into difficulties with value. In other words, because of the way they reflect light, they will all seem to have the same degree of brightness, giving little sense of contrast even between a dark blue and a light yellow.
When you add water to what you’ve drawn, the colors deepen, darken and blend. There still isn’t much contrast between the colors themselves, but there is contrast between the dry colored pencil, and the color that has water added. You can see the difference in the photo below. The wet areas are darker, have more even coverage, and reflect the light differently. I only used one color, but got a sense of contrast.
Even the wet colors are still soft and muted though, making the line work the main focus.
One other thing to keep in mind when using ANY colored pencil over pen or paint is that they are waxy and will leave a ‘haze’ over what you are coloring. You see the difference in the photo below? Some of the black lines seem lighter than others. All the lines are from the same pen. But some were colored over and some were not.
You have some options for dealing with this haze.
1) Avoid the lines while coloring with the pencils. But this can result in unwanted white spots, where you try to avoid touching the lines.
2) Re-ink over the colored pencil to darken the lines. But this can be a waste of expensive ink.
3) Color with the pencils first, then add the inked in lines. This is easy enough for area of large fill, but you don’t always know where color will go until you have the lines.
4) Draw the lines lightly with one of the colored pencils, color everything and then ink. However, not all pens will draw over colored pencil, and wax build up can even ruin your pen.
5) Just leave the haze and don’t worry about it.
Have I frightened you, lol? It sounds more complicated than it is, but you should take some care when combining pen and colored pencil, so that you don’t ruin your pens.
Because of possible wax build-up, I seldom use method 4. I often use a combination of the other methods. There is an advantage to having the haze in some areas. The lines look lighter, which provides some contrast and makes objects seem more distant, thus increasing a sense of depth.
Usually, with colored pencils, I draw my outlines but wait to fill in the larger areas.
I add the colored pencil avoiding some lines, but covering others where I might want a sense of depth. I add water if I’m going to do so, and let everything dry. If my lines are really fine, I just color over them because it’s too complicated to try and avoid them. Life is compromise, after all!
Depending on the pen I’m using I may darken some areas that were colored over. I try to keep this to a minimum, even with my J. Herbin pen, in order to keep the wax from building up and clogging the tip.