Conquer your coloring fears

Coloring is one of my many hobbies which include reading, gaming, and cooking. But you know my favorite part about coloring? It's not expensive to get started and anyone can join in. You don't need a high-end computer or expensive tools. Adult coloring has been a huge trend for the past few years but as everyone around here knows, I stumbled into it completely by accident.

My journey began over three years ago and I've discovered a lot of things along the way. There was a time when I was afraid of making mistakes, using up my art supplies or even spoiling a brand-new book with my less-than-excellent coloring skills. I've conquered some of my fears since then and am working on others. But I'm sure that many colorists share at least some of the same fears.

So here are a few tips on conquering your coloring fears!

Fear of making mistakes

This is a biggie. I'm pretty sure every colorist has had the same fear at one point or the other. How did I get over it? To be honest, I can't really say that I'm completely over this one. But I have realized a few things about making mistakes that helped. 

One is that it's the best way to learn. No one is a perfect colorist and if you don't make mistakes, it means you're not learning anything or trying something new. Quite often, what I thought was a mistake turned out to be the best thing on the page.

The second thing is that it's so easy to cover up most mistakes. Colored a bit outside the lines? Take an eraser to it. Or cover it up with a darker color, paint the background black or draw over the mistake with a white pen. There are endless ways to cover any 'mistake' you might make. 

Finally, the best part about mistakes? No one really notices it! Seriously, few people would even know you've made a mistake if you don't point it out to them. To see what I mean, take a picture of your page. Look at it through your phone and 9 times out of 10, you can't even find the mistake. So really, who else is going to?! Can you spot my 'mistake' in the flowers page?

Fear of using up your supplies

I have several sets of pens, pencils, and markers for coloring. Some of them are expensive and others not so much. I used to worry about using up my expensive pencils. So I would avoid sharpening them or only use them in my 'special' books. Then I realized that I was only cheating myself of the experience of coloring with them. I love using my Prismacolor and Polychromos pencils, so I should be using them more often. Not less!

After a few months, I also found that my pencils don't wear down as much as I thought. It's now been three years since I've been coloring and have not had to replace even a single pencil or pen! So what's the point of saving them? At this rate, I probably won't have to buy anything else for the rest of my life.

Another thing to remember is that most of these supplies come open stock. That means you can buy individual pencils or pens. You don't have to buy the entire set again. So if you find yourself hesitating over using your expensive art supplies, don't. Enjoy the coloring experience with the best pencils and pens you have.

Fear of ruining a nice book

We've all been there. I used to be afraid of coloring in some of my more expensive books or ones that had really lovely artwork. The first tip I have to conquer this fear is to keep one book as your experiment or scribble copy. It can be any book - big/small, expensive/cheap it doesn't matter. Try out your new mediums in this book. Learning a new technique on YouTube? Try it out here first. Once you're confident of your skills, you can go on to color the actual page. My experiment book is Lost Ocean, my first ever coloring book.

In spite of having an experiment book, I still had about 14 books where I hadn't colored a single page. So this year, I decided to set a goal. I would color at least one page out of every book I own (I've kept aside certain books that are duplicates or artist editions). By the end of 2019, I should not have a single uncolored book! I've already started pages in 3 of those books, so I'm confident of reaching my goal.

Fear of small details or open spaces

There are quite a few coloring books – especially those by Johanna Basford and Kerby Rosanes - that have really intricate details. It's intimidating to get started on these pages. Where to start? What colors to use? A few things that helped me: 

  • Don't look at the entire page. Just focus on a single section – say one shelf or one tree etc. Color that one thing before moving on to the next. Pretty soon, you'll have completed the entire page.
  • If the page has really small details, choose your medium carefully. Don't go for pencils because you need to keep sharpening them to have a sharp point. I usually prefer fine liners, gel pens, or even markers.
And then you have the opposite problem. What to do with all the wide open spaces in the background? It'll take ages to color them with pencils and who has the time for that? This one has an easy solution. Try soft pastels, watercolor or acrylic paints instead. You can quickly cover large areas with minimum fuss and equipment.

The flamingo page actually had a really bad background coz I messed up with my watercolors. So I simply went over the whole page with black acrylic paint.It took all of 10 minutes to do and covered up my mistake wonderfully!

Creating a masterpiece

While I wouldn't exactly call this one a fear, it's still something that holds you back as a colorist. All of us want to create beautiful pages like the ones we see on YouTube or Instagram. I followed tutorials, read blog posts, and did everything I could to recreate those pages in my books. 

But somewhere along the way, I realized my mistake. For one thing, even the best artists don't make perfect pages all the time. You only see their best work on social media. Whereas our books have all of our mistakes, not so great pages, 'I colored that while I was bored' pages etc. So don't compare your pages with anyone else's. Now, the only thing I really care about is that my latest picture should look better than the previous one.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there's really not much point in copying the pages you see online. I mean someone else has already done it. Instead put your on spin on things. I take inspiration from other colorists regarding materials, color combinations, palettes etc. But I try to make them my own when I color. I have tried several techniques from various Youtubers which just didn't work for me. But I still follow their videos for inspiration. 

Now I have my own style and preferred mediums. My pages are unique and my very own! That's the important bit.