Grayscale Coloring Tutorial: Basic How To

One of the questions I hear most often is how to color grayscale, so I took photos and notes of my latest colored page as I worked on it to try show you what I did.  Grayscale Coloring Tutorial: How To Color Grayscale

Materials

For this grayscale tutorial I will be using a copy of Arentine H. Arendsen’s Dutch Flowers: A Vintage Grayscale Adult Coloring Book https://amzn.to/2OVCPUU and a set of 72 Schpirerr Farben Coloring Pencils.  https://amzn.to/2RmjLS4
I colored directly in the grayscale coloring book.  I slipped a couple of pages behind the page I was working on to keep from having indentations in the page beneath, so that I could color it without issues later.
I would recommend pencils or markers for coloring grayscale, but not gel pens (I’d say gel pens if you’re really good at shading with gel pens.. there is a person who is coloring this book with glitter pens and doing a gorgeous job) but to start out I’d suggest you try pencils or markers that are somewhat transparent so the darks can show through.  I prefer to color grayscale with pencils, but some colorists add base layers in markers and then add more color with pencils.  There is no one way to do this, use whatever media you are most comfortable with, this post illustrates what I did for this page.

Materials - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

Grayscale Coloring Overview

Some people are intimidated by coloring grayscale .  Grayscale coloring pages are pictures with the shading already figured out for you.  Try not to overthink coloring grayscale.  You can  try coloring it with just flat colors and be done (letting the darks show through), or add more pressure in the dark areas if you want more pronounced shading. Some think it’s supposed to be hard, be but it’s actually easier than coloring line art because the thinking about shading has already been done for you.

Getting Started

There are several ways to color grayscale.  What I do is I pick an area and a color (light, medium, dark), color the darker areas first, then add a layer of medium color (either the same color with less pressure, or a lighter shade) over the medium gray areas, then add a very light or no color over the light areas.  I work lightly and don’t press too hard so I can keep layering and build up color slowly.

Light Medium Dark Pencils - Grayscale Coloring TutorialHere are my three colors, I will be using Light Yellow (40), Bumblebee (50), and Vanilla Flower (80)

I start by adding a layer of Vanilla Flower to the darker areas of the flower I am coloring. Color Darks First - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

Here is what it looks like after I colored the darksDarks Colored - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

Then I used the Bumblebee pencil and added a light layer over the dark, and also extended beyond the darks and colored some of the medium shades of gray.Medium color next - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

Next I’ll go over the darks and mediums with the light color (Light Yellow) and extend beyond the colored areas to add more color to the flowers.  I left a little white in the lightest areas.Adding light colors - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

Because the three shades I used were very similar, the flower looks a little flat.  To add depth and interest, I pick a couple of colors that are nearby in the color wheel.  I picked a brighter color, this orange pencil (180) because it’s a dark color, I went over the darker areas.  They really pop after having it added.  Add a pop of color - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

The orange is bright, so I tone it down a little with a more neutral shade to continue to add depth.   I used this Maple (110) pencil to help blend the orange into the flower and add a golden hue.  I sometimes err on the side of going too light with the pencils I start with because it’s always easier to add more dark colors to a coloring page than it is to remove them.Adding depth - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

Next I will start working on the other flower on the page.  I wanted to make this one pink, so I pick my dark, medium, and light colors.  I used Magenta (250), Carnation (260), and Pink Lemonade (270)

Light Medium Dark - - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

I start by using the Magenta pencil and coloring in the darker areas of the flower, working gently with a light layer. Color in the darks - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

Then I added the second color (Carnation), again going over the darker area first, and beyond it to cover the medium gray.  Adding medium color - Grayscale Colroing Tutorial

Next I added a soft layer of the next color, Pink Lemonade over the darks and mediums and beyond.  I worked to add a very light layer and colored with less and less pressure to fade the color to white in the lightest areas of the flower.  Add lights - Grayscale Colroing Tutorial

For my next part of this page, I started work on the stems and buds.  for these type of flowers, the flower stems are a different, warmer color than the leaves.  so I add a warm color as a base color, I picked this Yellow (60) pencil and went over the darker areas.  This layer will help add warmth to the subsequent layers.Add a warm color - Grayscale Colroing Tutorial

Then I started adding some greens, I chose this warmer, Olive Green (580).  Add the medium color - Grayscale Colroing Tutorial
I did soft layers and added a little more and a little more each time, another warm green, cypress tree (590). A little more color - Grayscale Coloring How To

To liven up the colors, I picked a pretty Lime Green (570) and added it as my light color over all of the stems, adding less pressure to the lightest areas of the image.  Add the light color - Grayscale coloring how to

I moved on to the rest of the stems and leaves next.  I picked this Olive Green (580) as my dark and added a soft layer to all the darker areas of the leaves and stems.  Adding dark to the leaves - Grayscale Coloring How To

Here is a closer view of the picture above showing how I colored the darks on the stems and leaves.  Close Up - How to Color Grayscale

Next I added my medium color over the darks, and beyond to the medium grays and very lightly over the lights.  I used Apple Green (560) Adding medium to the leaves - Grayscale Coloring How To

The leaves were looking good, but the color looked flat.  So I added a layer of Lime (570) green to all the leaves and stems to add depth and more interest.  It perked up the leaves considerably!  Add some interest and perk up the colors with a light color

Next I added a little more contrast to the darks and depths to the color of the leaves and stems by adding some Cypress Tree (590) to the darks, adding more pressure to the darkest areas, and a little less to the other darks.Adding some darks for contrast - Grayscale Coloring How To

The main page is colored.  I went back and added a little color to the yellow flower, and added this color also to the warm parts of the stems and buds to add emphasis to the warmth of those parts of the picture.  I used some Light Yellow (40) to go over the yellow flower again and add more depth to the colors.  I added more pressure to the darker areas, trying to define the shape of the flower petals.Adding some warmth - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

Then I went over the flower again to add a little more definition to the lighter areas of the petals and make sure they were distinct.  I used a light, warm color, Wheat (020) for this, and also added a layer to the warm areas of the stems and buds.  These light layers add a nice depth to the colors add realism, and keep them from looking flat/canned.Lightest lights - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

I then colored the background.  Although this was a flat background, I used a gradation of four different colors from top to bottom to add interest: Blue Lagoon (470) on top fourth of the background, adding less pressure at the bottom of the layer, then slowly blended the second quarter of the background into a swath of Cerulean (460) across the background, next I used Summer Sky (450),  and segued into Cobalt Blue (440) at the bottom.  To add more interest I added a little bit of Deep Blue (420) to the very bottom. The finished page - - Grayscale Coloring Tutorial

The background is a large flat area and shows more texture.  One thing that could be done to soften the texture is to add some alcohol to blend the colors.  You can find more information on how to blend colored pencils in my post about colored pencil blending.

So there you have it, a breakdown of what I did to color this page.  This was my first time using Schpirerr Farben pencils  and they worked well for grayscale, I was able to make multiple light layers and they did not feel gummy or sticky.  They work well for blending and layering.  I will test them on line art next to see how they perform.

This grayscale book is not as detailed as others I have published, like Arthur Rackham’s Fairies and Nymphs.  That book has images with small details, and I had to make sure my pencils were sharp when coloring pages from that book.

You can try this page with different media, but what I’d recommend is that you pick something that is fairly transparent so the shadows show underneath.  The beauty of this type of coloring is that the lights and darks are already figured out for you.  Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!  Grayscale Coloring How To - A Basic Tutorial

Arentine H. Arendsen’s Dutch Flowers

Arentine H. Arendsen's Dutch Flowers Coloring BookMy newest grayscale book is published!  Arentine H. Arendsen’s Dutch Flowers is volume 4 of my Vintage Grayscale coloring book series.  This book has 39 beautiful vintage images from Dutch illustrator Arentine Arendsen.  These images have been carefully restored then made into special grayscale images made specifically for coloring.  Learn more about how I make my grayscale books.

The book is filled with delicate, detailed botanical illustrations for your coloring pleasure.
-39 exquisite, detailed vintage black and white grayscale images made just for grayscale adult coloring
-Printed in full size 8.5×11 single sided to avoid issues with bleed through on back of pages.
-The finished pages should be beautiful and would make a lovely display in groups of four or six framed in a study or foyer.
-There are some thumbnails below showing some of the images in the book.  These images should be simpler than my first two grayscale books.

Arentine H.  Arendsen’s Dutch Flowers is available on all Amazon locations including:
Amazon US https://amzn.to/2OVCPUU
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arentine-Arendsens-Dutch-Flowers-Grayscale/dp/1731532423/
Amazon France https://www.amazon.fr/Arentine-Arendsens-Dutch-Flowers-Grayscale/dp/1731532423/
Amazon Germany https://www.amazon.de/Arentine-Arendsens-Dutch-Flowers-Grayscale/dp/1731532423/
Also available worldwide with free shipping via Book Depository https://www.bookdepository.com/Arentine-H-Arendsens-Dutch-Flowers-Ligia-Ortega/9781731532428

Arentine H. Arendsen's Dutch Flowers Coloring Book

Electronic Subscriptions Via Patreon and Gumroad

I have been listening to feedback and have been working on increasing access to electronic downloads.  I have finished setting up Subscriptions and also Patreon to make some of my pages more easily available via electronic downloads (Patreon is a subscription service where you sign up to receive different rewards from artists.) All coloring pages are never before published, they won’t be available for sale until later when they are published in a book. Everyone who joins my Patreon at any tier level by August 14 will receive 3 additional bonus coloring pages. https://www.patreon.com/ColoringPress
If the tiers don’t work for you, or Patreon is not your thing, I have added subscriptions to several of the genres I offer in my electronic downloads shop, so you can pick and choose your favorites to print on your choice of paper. https://gumroad.com/ColoringGifts
I hope this helps make electronic downloads more available and a better value for everyone! I’d love to hear any feedback you have!
Here is some additional information:

Colorist Showcase: Paula Bowerman

One of the most enjoyable parts of being a coloring book author is seeing colorists put so much talent into coloring the pages I publish.  It truly adds meaning to the work I do and I wanted to share some of this wonderful work I see, so I will be featuring colorists on this blog on a regular basis in my Colorist Showcase series.  Today’s featured colorist is Paula Bowerman.  She is a prolific colorist who is talented in choosing bright, cheerful palettes to really make her colored pages stand out in the crowd.  Her colored pages are so bright and cheery.  I was happy when she agreed to share about her coloring with us.

Coloring Gifts: Gifts of EncouragementHow did you get into coloring?
I have always coloured before it became acceptable for adults to colour . I would just colour from children’s books ! I just got more into it when Art Therapy magazine came out and yes I’m still collecting it ! We are at issue 1110 now !

What are your main reasons for coloring?
Main reasons for colouring are enjoyment ! I just love colouring !

Bevalet's Hummingbirds and Flowers Adult Coloring bookWhat are some of your favorite genres/types of coloring books/pages to color?
My favourite genres to colour are animals! I like fantasy and mythical too!

Do you have any favorite supplies/tools?
I really like using my Stabilo 68 pens and other markers . I have lots of different pencils but prefer pens so much easier to colour with in my opinion!

Are there any coloring techniques that you have recently learned or that you’re particularly excited about?
I tend to stick to 3 colours in most of my pictures , I find it very difficult to put loads of different colours on my pages !

Coloring Gifts: Gifts of Thanks Adult Coloring BookDo you have any particular colors/palettes you like to use when you color?
Blue tends to be a colour I use a lot of and red !

Are there any supplies or techniques you would like to try someday?
I would love to try copic markers one day but I’ll need to win the lottery for that lol.

Do you prefer to color in coloring books or print out your pages? If so, do you have any particular paper you prefer?
Much prefer colouring in my books than on loose sheets. I never take any pages out of my books either !

Coloring Gifts: Gifts of EncouragementDo you have any tips or advice to anyone who just discovered Adult Coloring?
To people just discovering colouring don’t stress over it , just get a pen and start colouring , it’s supposed to be fun and relaxing ! Enjoy ! Join some Facebook colouring groups , you’ll meet some lovely people on there who give out good advice !

Thank you so much again Paula, I appreciate learning more about you and your coloring.  Stay tuned for more featured colorists in future blog entries!

Coloring Gifts: Gifts of Thanks Adult Coloring Book

 

Simple Mandalas and Pocket Mandalas

Pocket Mandalas: A Travel Size Mini Adult Coloring BookSimple Kaleidoscopes and Pocket Kaleidoscopes now have their respective volume 2 books:
Simple Mandalas: Easy to Color Designs
https://amzn.to/2I0nLTk
Pocket Mandalas: A Travel Size Mini Adult Coloring Book
https://amzn.to/2wiq2rK

These books have 50 hand drawn mandalas that are simple, with bold lines and larger spaces, but they are anything but boring!   They are perfect for days when you don’t feel like facing an intricate coloring page or want room to do some shading and blending.  The travel size book is perfect for taking with you any place you have to wait.  The travel size book is top bound so both left handed and right handed colorists can easily reach the page, and they are printed single sided to allow for the use of markers (slip a couple pieces of paper or a piece of cardstock behind the page you are working on to avoid bleed through to other pages.

Simple Mandalas is also available worldwide with free shipping form Book Depository https://www.bookdepository.com/Simple-Mandalas-Ligia-Ortega/9781718757462
Here are thumbnails showing all pages in the book

Simple Mandalas Coloring Book Thumbnails

Simple Mandalas Adult Coloring Book ThumbnailsSimple Mandalas - Easy to Color Deisgns Adult Coloring Book

Black Widow Coloring Pencils

I have been hearing about Black Widow pencils for a while, but being who I am I was skeptical about them, not sure they’d live up to the hype.  I recently received a set as a gift and am no longer skeptical.  Loved the vibrant colors in these highly pigmented pencils, how they layered beautifully, and how easy they were to blend.  They are soft, but not too soft.

I had to test drive these pencils when I received them, so I colored this page from my book Coloring Gifts: Gifts of Friendship.  I went a little crazy with the colors but I wanted to test as many pencils as I could.  This page is done with colors from the original Black Widow set.  I fell in love with the pencils and am now the happy owner of all three sets, I have photos of sample pages of all of them below, scroll to see them all.

Black Widow pencils are available in three sets of 24 pencils (the original Black Widows, a Scorpion set and a Cobra set), each set has different colors for a total of 72 colors as of today.   They are available on Amazon
Black widow pencils https://amzn.to/2Gr8TfY
Scorpion pencils https://amzn.to/2GqO2ti
Cobra pencils https://amzn.to/2GKrWW3Black Widow Coloring Pencils

The above page is from Coloring Gifts: Gifts of Friendship, and it’s colored with the original Black Widows https://amzn.to/2Gr8TfY

Black Widow Colored Pencils
This page above from Coloring Gifts: Gifts of Friendship was colored with the second, Scorpion set  https://amzn.to/2GqO2ti

This page above is from Simple Mandalas, and I colored it with pencils from the third, Cobra set.   https://amzn.to/2GKrWW3

Bevalet’s Hummingbirds and Flowers

Bevalet's Hummingbirds and Flowers Book Front CoverMy newest grayscale book is now available for purchase!  Bevalet’s Hummingbirds and Flowers is volume 3 of my Vintage Grayscale coloring book series.  This book has 37 beautiful vintage images from vintage French illustrator Bevalet.  These images have been carefully restored then made into special grayscale images made specifically for coloring.  Learn more about how I make my grayscale books.

The book is filled with delicate, detailed hummingbirds and botanicals for your coloring pleasure.
-37 exquisite, detailed vintage black and white grayscale images made just for grayscale adult coloring
-Printed in full size 8.5×11 single sided to avoid issues with bleed through on back of pages.
-The finished pages should be beautiful and would make a lovely display in groups of four or six framed in a study or foyer.
-There are some thumbnails below showing some of the pages in the book.  These images should be a little simpler than my first two grayscale books.

Bevalet’s Hummingbirds and Flowers is available on all Amazon locations including:
Amazon US http://amzn.to/2A7HeRe
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bevalets-Hummingbirds-Flowers-Grayscale-Coloring/dp/1979972214
Amazon France  https://www.amazon.fr/Bevalets-Hummingbirds-Flowers-Grayscale-Coloring/dp/1979972214
Also available worldwide with free shipping via Book Depository https://www.bookdepository.com/Bevalets-Hummingbirds-and-Flowers-Ligia-Ortega/9781979972215

Bevalet Hummingbirds and Flowers Book Sample Thumbnails