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The Secret to Blending Crayola Markers

In a recent post celebrating The Princess Bride movie’s 35th anniversary I shared my completion of a double-page spread from the official The Princess Bride adult coloring book and teased a special secret that allowed me to blend Crayola markers as if they were Copics.

We’re not talking some special “Premium” art supply here – these were regular old water-based Crayola Super Tips markers, and as you can see in the finished page not only was I able to blend two shades each of red and green to get a subtle watercolor effect in the roses, but I was also able to get a beautiful gradient using 5 shades through the sunset and again in the hill.

Even preschoolers know that if you try to layer non-alcohol markers on regular paper you end up with streaks or smears and not a blended gradient, just like you see in example B below. While the paper in this book is decently thick it’s still just regular light cardstock – heavy enough to hold up to water applications but definitely not special blending paper.

Same 5 markers, same paper.

So if the trick isn’t the markers, and it isn’t the paper, what is it?

It’s what goes in between!

That’s right – this painter’s supply is an excellent addition to a coloring crafter too. Unlike the opaque white variety that is generally used to prime wood or canvas for painting, clear gesso is completely transparent and can be used on regular paper or within coloring books to protect the page from water damage and bleed-through. I don’t claim that using gesso in a coloring book is my unique, original idea. However it is the unexpected benefit of what this will allow you to do that I haven’t seen shared anywhere before.

Any brand will work, with the main distinction being that you use clear and not white. Liquitex is a great brand, I used Mont Marte as it’s what I happened to have, and Amazon has the U.S. Art Supply brand for a good price.

The idea came to mind when I picked the As You Wish/silhouette roses spread as my WIP. Not having used clear gesso before, I felt it would be smart to test it out before tackling my coloring page. I wanted to make sure that not only would I be able to see the printed lines clearly, but that they wouldn’t smear or bleed. I was also curious if the gesso would discolor the paper.

In order to properly test things out I marked off a square in a corner of one of the tester pages at the back of the coloring book and painted it with clear gesso and allowed it to dry fully.

While there is clearly an addition of texture to the page I was very happy to see that there was no discoloration or ink smearing. I then got to work testing an assortment of media to see how they worked with the gessoed page.

At the time I’d been debating painting the background black, so I tried that at the top of the page, followed below with black and colored Sharpies. I did a little colored pencil (the pink and yellow stripes) and a little with my brush tip/fineliner markers (the ones I used for the Eagle pointilism image), but spent most of my effort playing around with the Crayola Super Tips I intended to use on the actual coloring page. In order to compare the difference between the protected and untreated paper I deliberately overlapped my testing samples across the border of the gessoed section.

A quick look at the back of the page showed it was working! None of the media bled through the treated side of the paper!

This is also where I first realized that the Crayola markers were blending. To be sure I tested across both sides of the paper and, indeed, on the gessoed side the orange and red were forming a gradient whereas on the plain paper side they were overlapping with blocky, chunky edges.

Now that I knew it would work I was able to start on the actual pages. A little goes a long way with gesso and it didn’t take much to evenly coat both pages with a thin layer. I like protecting the underneath pages with a bit of wax paper and the lid from a takeout container makes a great palette.

This is a closeup of the dried, treated page. As you can see there’s no discoloration to speak of and no ink smears. There is a faint bit of grainy texture which would make this an equally excellent tip for use with colored pencils though you’d need to be conscious of your brush strokes and try to keep everything even and not streaky.

The coloring part itself is no different than were you to be using colored pencils or alcohol markers. You can blend the shades by overlapping them and blending out with the lighter color. In this example I colored horizontal sections of the 5 colors chosen for my sunset and then blended them by using the lightest yellow overlapping onto the yellow/orange, and then that marker overlapping onto the orange, which then overlapped onto the red, and then finally overlapped into the darkest red section.

Much like alcohol markers you have a long working time as applying new color will allow you to mix and move the colors below.

Just keep in mind that since the gesso stops the water-based markers from absorbing immediately into the page they will be transferrable until they dry completely. So be careful to avoid smudging or smearing the wet marker with your fingers or the side of your hand.

I found this to be a wonderful, fun process and absolutely adore how the final image turned out. I enjoy finding new ways to use existing supplies and love that this one product opens the door to so many coloring possibilities!

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Mythomorphia’s Chinese Dragon in Pointilism

In celebration of today being “Circle Day“, I’m posting the process of coloring the Chinese Dragon page in Kirby Rosanes’ Mythomorphia coloring book.

Can you tell why I’m posting this today? Look closely – every single drop of color in this image is created with a tiny circle. That’s right- over the course of the entire month of November 2018 I painstakingly tapped markers to the page to color in the whole picture with teensy little dots.

(The glare from my mini clip light makes for a bad photo but was a fantastic way to help see all the millions of dots without going cross-eyed!)

Of course a project of this scale requires fineliners and so I pulled out my pack of Soucolor markers. Not only do they come in 100 colors but while one side has a fantastic brush tip, the other has a 0.4mm fineliner tip, making these markers great for coloring books and perfect for this attempt. (Note: I own these same markers by two different brands. The Soucolor ones only seem to be currently available in sets of 34 but they are completely identical to this 100-count set by Feela that I also use regularly.)

The best way to start a project like this is simply to just begin, so I found a small, contained shape in this lantern and began to tap individual dots of red and yellow, I worked tighter groupings of dots anywhere I wanted to create shading, like in the vertical ridges on the lantern above.

I then found the other lanterns in the image and dotted them with the same two colors, creating patterns and stripes for more interest.

Next I used a brown marker to fill in both areas of cherry blossom branches and two shades of pink for the cherry blossom flowers and blowing petals. I completed the jade charm in the center of the above image and then used the original red and yellow to begin the firecrackers at the bottom.

It’s very peaceful to tap out little dots and then step back and have a complete shaded area of color and to then watch the whole image come together in the same way.

After finishing the fireworks I wanted a change of color so hopped over to some lotus flowers, then a koi, and then a decorative fan.

More fans followed. I’d noted what colors I’d used where so it was easy to have the fan’s cherry blossoms match those of the larger image. I then completed the little temple area in the upper right and the sword just below.

The pewter-look goblet was next, followed by the porcelain china.

Sometimes, when pages are as busy as this, it can be difficult to tell what’s what. For example, I found myself needing to decipher if some curls were clouds or waves. To help visually distinguish individual sections I decided to begin filling in the background. I used two shades of pink and darkened the edges around each icon so that it would have a nice contract against the planned colors for the dragon, clouds and waves.

As background areas were completed and it was easier to pick out clouds vs waves I used different shades of blues and grays to fill in each section.

I moved around the page in this manner, working first the pinks, then blues and grays. If I wasn’t sure yet what a random swirl was then I would fill in the areas around it until it became clear.

I kept going, making more itsy bitsy dots, until the entire background was complete leaving only the central, most important image of the page: the dragon.

For the dragon’s belly I selected two colors that give a golden effect when worked together – a coppery-orange for the darker areas and a ocher-y yellow for the lighter. Each segment was worked with the orange first (as you can see in the upper left) and then finished with the yellow.

I took a video of the process for a closer look:

After completing the belly I used the same golden colors for the dragon’s face and whiskers.

Then I moved on to the dragon’s scales.

I wanted to give him an oil-slick look with purple reflecting to green, so used those shades in tighter and looser groupings to indicate shadow and reflection.

Here’s another video showing a close up with more detail on how the scales were done (above).

Eventually all the scales were done and the dragon was SO CLOSE to being complete! All that remained were the frilly bits along his body, tail and face.

To keep things cohesive on such a busy page I used the same yellow, orange, purples and green and filled in the sections more densely to have deeper, richer sections of color.

And with that, the coloring is complete!

This project was SO much fun to do even though it took SO long to complete. There was something incredibly satisfying about working on each small bit at a time, tapping dot after dot, and then backing up to see how the image all came together.

Kirby’s designs are great for a project like this because there are dozens of self-contained little sections and he includes just enough shading detail to give you a guide to follow.

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Paint Nite Cake and Cookies

A few years ago I made a dessert for my friend Debbie’s surprise Hallowe’en-themed party. I was given the option to make cookies or a cake, so I chose both! This Paint Nite-inspired cake and cookie set is easy to make and looks way harder than it is!

You can start with a store-bought cake, or bake one yourself and prepare it for decorating with a layer of fondant to look like a tablecloth. I used white so the rest would stand out but you could use any color.

To make the easels you will need narrow rectangular cookies. You can bake your own or go the faster route and buy them! I used Cadbury Fingers but any log or stick-shaped cookie will do. You will need candy melts as the “glue” to hold the easel together so just be sure to match the candy melt color to your chosen cookies. Note- you don’t want to use regular chocolate for this as it will soften at room temperature and your easels will fall apart.

First make an A shape with a cookie going horizontally across two others for the easel’s ledge, and then after the candy melts set up use a 4th cookie as the vertical support leg. It’s easy to work this assembly-line style, being sure to leave enough time for the chocolate to set hard. I found that I only had to hold them in place for about a minute before they were able to stand on their own.

Of course any Paint Nite needs something to paint on! You can bake cookies yourself or use any rectangular cookie that has at least one flat side, like Biscoff, butter biscuits or shortbreads.

To make edible “paint” mix icing sugar with small amounts of water until you get a loose icing consistency. Paint Nite projects often have a gradient background with a silhouette design on top, so I used that style for my mini paintings. I chose Fall colors with pumpkin orange and white for a sunset and as this was a Hallowe’en party I added a black cat on a fence silhouette and full moon. This also worked well with the Paint Nite habit of using few colors in beginner paintings.

I painted the cookies much as you would at an actual Paint Nite – first painting the gradient background, then once dry adding the top layer.

The fun part was making each one just slightly different, while still being the same image – exactly how the results at a true Paint Nite would be. Everyone follows the same process and comes out with mostly the same image yet they’re all slightly unique to the individual artists.

I also used a few extra cookies to write a message for the birthday girl on her big day.

Of course, every Paint Nite requires supplies, so we need to add the solo cups-as-water cups, Styrofoam plate “palettes” and big orange brushes.

I made all the accessories out of scraps of fondant. For the solo cups simply layer a thin strip of white on top of the red before cutting out a strip to roll into a cup shape. The brushes are narrow rolls of fondant with the brush end dipped into the icing “paint”. The plates are small discs of white fondant smeared with dollops of leftover paint from painting the cookies. To make the “dirty” paint water I swirled a bit of each paint icing into clear piping gel.

Staging the table was super fun! Unlike a real Paint Nite where I try to be as neat as possible, here I got to be messy! I “glued” the fondant accessories in place with a small dab of water and then added drips and splatters of the paint to really sell the “end of the night of crafting” look.

I was so thrilled with how the final cake came out! It was one of the most fun cakes to make and allows for a ton of personalization. All the components can be homemade or store-bought which means this design can work with all budgets, and you can tailor the paintings to match any theme.

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The Princess Bride Coloring Book – As You Wish / Westley and Buttercup Silhouette Roses Spread FO

Today marks The Princess Bride movie’s 35th anniversary!* I wanted to do something special for this final post of The Princess Bride Month so I started and completed a brand new set of pages in The Princess Bride coloring book. Nothing is more iconic than Westley’s famous “as you wish” line, so when I turned the page after my current WIP in the book and saw this double-page spread I knew it would be perfect to close out this month’s theme.

I instantly knew I wanted to put a sunset behind Buttercup and Westley and color their silhouettes in solid black. I wasn’t sure, however, if I wanted to mirror the sunset on the hills and have the lightest shades in the center, or if it would look better with the lightest greens to the front and the darker ones in the back.

I decided to pull a trick from my knitter’s handbook and swatch them! I took a clear image of the page and brought it into the Procreate app on my iPad so I could have a digital version to work with. Using the Apple pencil I roughly blocked in the black silhouettes and a quick sunset. I knew I wanted the bushes on the horizon to be dark as they would be backlit, so scribbled those in too. Then I copied the image so I’d have two to work from, and colored in the hills on each, reversing the color order. I quickly preferred the version on the left, so saved it as my reference sketch.

I’d also had the idea of possibly filling in the entire background of the roses page, so decided to test that too. I’m so glad I did as it would have been a TON of work and I really didn’t like the results. I’d also debated outlining the roses in gold and playing with the digital version allowed me to see that I DID like that, all without touching the original coloring page.

With the colors chosen now was the fun part- coloring the page! The entire double-page spread was colored with 12 Crayola Super Tip markers, 1 black Sharpie and 1 Pen-Touch gold metallic fine point paint pen by Sakura.

I chose 5 colors that would make a good sunset gradient and filled in the sunset first, blending the colors together.

Yes. I BLENDED the Crayola markers together! There will be a post coming up soon sharing the technique on how I did it, so stay tuned!

Once the sunset was in place I colored the horizon bushes. The same tip that allows the water-based markers to blend also allowed me to work multiple layers of marker to scribble leafy impressions into the bushes. I also used the same color on the foreground bushes just behind the couple.

Then, using 5 greens for the hills, I drafted out where each color would meet and then blended them in the same manner as the sky.

The final step for the page’s focal point was to color in Westley and Buttercup, and the remaining bit of foreground. Adding the black really made the other colors POP and I could not be happier with how the page was turning out.

For the roses I started by using the same darkest red as for the sunset, to help tie them together. Every rose was completed in the same manner: first a quick outline over the outer edges of each petal and then filled in the rest with a paler pink marker. The end result, using the aforementioned technique, gives a result similar to that you’d get with alcohol markers, with the red and pink blending together to make a soft gradient.

For the leaves I chose the lightest and darkest of the greens from the hills and worked in a similar way as for the roses- first a quick hit of dark green along the spine and lower edge and then blended it out with a light green to fill in the rest of the leaf.

It was repetitive, but easy, and soon enough all the roses and leaves on both pages were complete.

This was the spread at that point. I quite liked it but it felt a bit unfinished. My initial idea was to color the entire background of the left page in black, but as the lettering is created by the voids between the roses the words would have become black as well and I didn’t really want that.

Thanks to my digital sketch I knew I liked the idea of a gold outline around each rose. It wasn’t quite filigree but gave me similar “gold-edged china teacup” vibes. I have a few sizes of Pen-Touch markers and the fine (1.0mm) point was perfect for this step.

The gold outline was the exact finishing touch it needed. When viewed directly (as the upper right of the page) the outline almost looks like a bolder black, throwing the wording into higher contrast. When viewed from an angle (as in the lower left) the metallic gold really shines and gives the romantic, antique feel I was going for.

To further tie the two pages together I added a gold outline to the circle using the same marker, and then both pages were complete.

I’ve reviewed the quality of this book before but wanted to add one more time what a joy it’s been to work on. This movie has been a family classic since my childhood, with us spending many nights watching it by the fire, and all of us able to recite it nearly by heart. I’ve loved it enough to own the movie

on VHS!

…the book…

Check out that blurb on the back!

…and even the POP figures.

My siblings’ kids even have the baby counting book!

Can you count 6 fingers on the Count’s right hand?

I hadn’t known the coloring book existed so it was a real treat to receive from my brother for Hanukkah a few years ago. Not only does it hit my nostalgic feels but the paper quality is great, the images are a great mix of stills and graphic prints, and it holds up very well to a variety of media and can support mixed media. A very high recommend!

And finally, as the final bonus Princess Bride fact: When the weather was particularly cold, André the Giant would place his giant hand over Robin Wright’s head, covering it entirely and keeping her warm. (Source)

*According to most online sources

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The Princess Bride Coloring Book – Copyright Page

Another The Princess Bride Coloring Book longstanding work in progress has been completed! Originally blogged about here, this third Princess Bride Month post is actually the second coloring page in the book itself – the Copyright Info page.

As mentioned in the original post, my plan for the page was start at the sun in the center and work downwards.  I used a few shades of yellow for the sun then started with the oranges, using the darkest color from each section as the palest in the next.  So if the first section used colors A and B as ABABAB then the next section was BCBCBC, then CDCDCD, and so on.  I’d planned the gradation deliberately timed so the blues would hit by the waves, then the teals/greens in the water.

This was all worked using the Derwent Inktense water-soluble ink pencils. You can activate the pencils as you complete each section but I love seeing the contrast between the dry and wetted inks so I’d waited until the entire page was colored before beginning to activate them. I use the Derwent water brushes for the larger areas and keep a blender marker in my water kit specifically for small areas that are easier with a marker point. You can use any alcohol marker brand’s colorless blender though I prefer to keep one in my kit solely for use with water-soluble pencils (and not also use it with markers). The one in my kit is Prismacolor colorless blender and I really like that it has both a bullet nib for fine details as well as a chisel tip in case I should need it.

Here is the full image after all the Inktense was activated.

It’s…okay but I wasn’t wowed by it. Rather than leave it be, I decided to put my gel pens to work. I have so many gel pens and they can start to dry out over time, so it was a fun challenge to put them to good use and match all the Inktense colors to my gel pen swatches.

I used the glitter gel pens from the Gelly Roll 6-pc Stardust collection, the larger (13) Stardust set from the Gelly Roll large pack, and the glitter selection from the Shuttle Art assorted gel pen set. Having a large variety helped me to find matching colors for all the Inktense, which was really great.

You can see the sparkly difference in the sun (above) and the waves (below).

Here’s the whole page complete. I only added accent glitter to the shrieking eels, and I didn’t put any on the ship.

Otherwise the entire page is COVERED in glitter and my inner magpie absolutely adores it!

Bonus: Every post this month will have a fun fact about the movie. This month’s little-know detail: Did you know there was almost a very different Fezzik? When the movie was originally planned to be made in the 1970s, a then-unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger was interested in playing the role. However by the time the movie was actually made he was too expensive to hire! (Source)

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The Princess Bride Coloring Book – Ownership Page

Today’s Princess Bride Month post is the ownership page from The Princess Bride Coloring Book. It has the same carved wood and buttercups as the title page, and features an open book where you can write your name.

I’d written about this page previously and detailed how I tried to match my name to the font style of the text on the facing page. I wasn’t very happy with it until I outlined the book’s letters as well, so the two would visually match.

In the end there wasn’t very much left to do on this page to consider it complete. I added a bit of shading with Polychromos colored pencils and then augmented the heart shape of the florals with a soft blue heart background. I wish I’d done it more diffused but it doesn’t bother me enough to change it at this point.

In random other news – yesterday was this blog’s 18th birthday!

Bonus: Every post this month will have a fun fact about the movie. This month’s little-know detail: Did you know the movie is even a hit with the mafia? Per director Rob Reiner: Yeah, I walked outside the restaurant, and John Gotti was there with six wiseguys. There was a guy beside the limo who looked like Luca Brasi. He looked at me, and said: ‘You killed my father … Prepare to die!’ I almost went right then! [Laughter.] He said, ‘I love dat movie, da Princess Bride!’ (Source)

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The Princess Bride Coloring Book – Title Page

All last month I posted completed coloring pages from my 2019-19-WIP-to-FO Challenge. When I looked through the assortment of pages I’d originally posted to see what was finished, I noticed the cover of The Princess Bride coloring book.

Specifically it was the gold banner in the top corner that caught my eye. 30th anniversary hmmm? I was pretty sure I’d received the book about 4-5 years prior so did a little digging and, sure enough it was 5 years ago, meaning that THIS year will be the 35th anniversary since The Princess Bride movie was released!

The official release date seems to vary, with the majority of sites listing it as September 25th 1987, a few listing October 9th 1987, and one saying October 1st. I’m going to go with the majority on this one and officially designate this September as The Princess Bride month! I’ve got a few long-term WIPs that have finally been finished and will be shared over the month, along with a brand new double-page spread that I completed last month specifically for the 35th anniversary and will have a tutorial to go along with it.

The first of these pages (literally, as it is the first in the book!) is the copy of the title page itself.

Back in 2017 I posted progress pics along with my method for how I’d colored each section. I’d used Derwent Inktense soluble ink pencils for the base layer and then gone over it with Polychromos colored pencils to boost some shadows and add highlights.

I was pretty happy with where I’d left off but decided the page needed a background to properly look complete. I selected 4 shades of green and lightly filled in the page with small sections of each color, being sure to overlap them slightly. I then went in with the Prismacolor Colorless Blender (one of my FAVORITE tools) and blended it out. In the image on the right you can see the left half has been blended but the upper right bit has not.

The background came out exactly as I’d hoped – soft, muted and almost velvety! I’m really pleased with it, and find it gave the page the finished look I was after.

With that, at long last, my very first page from The Princess Bride coloring book was complete. All posts referencing this book can be found via the Coloring page up top, or directly here.

Bonus: Every post this month will have a fun fact about the movie. This month’s little-know detail: The R.O.U.S.s were played by grown men in rat suits! One of them got into a fight with his wife and burned down their kennel, so the film crew bailed him out of jail so he could film the Fire Swamp scene. (Source)

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Grimm Fairy Tales’ Alice in Wonderland FO

Next up in the run of finished coloring pages I tackled for my 19-WIP-to-FO Challenge is from the Grimm Fairy Tales coloring book.

I’d started this page back in 2017(!!) using the cover of the coloring book itself as a reference.

I’d found this 24-pack of Staedtler Colored Pencils at my local dollar store and was curious about how they would compare to more expensive pencils. Would I be able to get good results without paying very much?

As always I swatched the colors first for my swatch book. They’re very soft and muted, and the swatches remind me a lot of the Marco Raffiné colored pencils I reviewed here.

The pencils have hard cores that hold a point well but the color payoff is not very vivid. Even with a lot of pressure they remain desaturated and soft-looking.

Using light layers I was able to build up some color depth but it wasn’t easy.

What I’d said in my previous challenge post about this page:

As the caption states, I wanted to finish this page primarily so I wouldn’t have to use the pencils any longer.

Once the image was complete I found it lacking without a background but didn’t have any inspiration for what to put. In the end I did soft swirls with pink, purple and blue to fill in the white space.

Start date: November 2 2017

Completion date: January 6 2022

Summary: can you get good results with cheap pencils? IMHO, sure. I enjoy using my other pencils more, but if you’re looking for soft colors, hard leads that will hold a point and have a decent assortment of colors, you could do a lot worse than these inexpensive pencils. I wouldn’t recommend them for professional artists but they’d be fine for kids, school or coloring books with small sections that need good points.

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Kerby Rosanes Imagimorphia Eagle Page FO

The third coloring-book-related 19-WIP-to-FO-2019 Challenge update is the “eagle” page from Kerby Rosanes’ Imagimorphia. What I’d said at the time:

At the time I’d done the rainbows and an assortment of small areas with Stabilo 88 and Staedtler Triplus fineliners, then worked the clouds with Neocolor II water-soluble crayons.

I still don’t know why I lost interest. Likely it was because so many fun coloring books had come out around the same time and my attention span was fickle 😉

When I resumed working on it I filled in the remaining areas with the same fineliners as well as my set of Feela double-ended markers that have a brush tip on one end and a fineliner on the other.

I added Inktense water-soluble ink pencils at the end for the background, but clearly had not yet figured out how to apply them without leaving streaks, sigh.

I can’t say I’m super thrilled with the final image, though I am quite happy it’s done.

If I were to start it all over again I’d pick a cohesive color palette with the Color Catalog first. Ignoring the larger picture and working everything as individual motifs gives a rather chaotic look in the end that I don’t think I pulled off well.

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Doodle Fusion Marco Raffiné Test Page & Review

The next 2019 WIP to FO Challenge update (posted a whole 3 years later…sigh) is this page from Doodle Fusion. I love this silly book so much and have completed a bunch of pages from it (unposted), as well as prepped some in my color wash attempts. As they’re all filled with an assortment of wacky monsters it’s hard to come up with a unique name to identify some of the pages so since this one was deliberately done solely with the Marco Raffiné oil-based colored pencils, it’s become known as my test page of such.

I started this Doodle Fusion page on September 8 2019 with the intent of completing an entire page with the Marco Raffinés to really get a feel of how they work and blend.

I really like these pencils! They’re inexpensive (especially compared to the Polychromos or Premiers), and though the different pencils can’t truly be compared as oil-based vs wax-based will give different results and be preferred for different projects by different artists, they have their own unique charm and have been a joy to use. They’re less vibrant than some other brands but are no less pigmented, so while you won’t get neon brights (making them not a good choice for a fun 80s page) they’re great for softer, almost whimsical looks. They’re also slightly water-soluble, as per my tests here.

The first three images below show the lazy progress made over the rest of that month. I’d worked on the page slowly, picking out individual creatures and sections at random depending on my mood at the time.

Posting my WIP-to-FO challenge publicly spurred me to continue working on it, and the fourth picture above was done in January of 2019. I did a bit more work that month and then my attention waned again…

…until October 2020 when I finally picked it back up, determined to finish it once and for all.

I added a fading border to the outer edges in order to test the pencils’ (and my own) shading and fading capabilities. Once that was complete I finished the remaining creatures and doodles.

Overall I think these pencils work wonderfully in this book. It’s a plain-paper coloring book which can make using wet media difficult (although the pictures are one-sided so bleeding won’t be an issue if you protect the subsequent pages with a sheet of cardstock or something. There isn’t a lot of tooth to the page which isn’t the best for colored pencils generally, but these have enough “stick” to really take to the page well. After 2 years the page looks identical to the image above with no bloom (as can happen with wax-based pencils) and no apparent fading.

The only flaw I can see with the Marco Raffinés is the color payout. A number of sections above (ie: the red ball cap, the red 6-legged monster near the middle, the purple creature at the bottom center, the crayon bodies) were colored with maximum pressure to get the darkest, fullest coverage possible. As you can see there are solid, even sections of color but no real “brightness”. To me, all of the colors have a softness to them, even at full strength making them feel almost desaturated. You can see the difference more clearly in my swatches below.

Every time I get new colored pencils I swatch them, labelling the swatches with the color name or number. The oil-based Marco Raffiné pencils (above) are lovely and soft, and very similar in tone to the Faber-Castell Polychromos (below), which are also oil-based.

The Polys have more colors but the feeling of the individual shades is still softer, almost velvety, whereas the wax-based Primsacolor Premier pencils (below) are brighter and more vivid. (Click on any of the swatch images for a better view).

If you’re looking for deep, bright colors then you might be dissatisfied with these…but for anyone else they make a great, inexpensive option to have in your coloring toolkit.

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