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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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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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Avoiding Chores with Coloring!

Did you know that today, April 7, is National No Housework Day? As a crafter, I’m ALWAYS looking for reasons to get more time in with my hobbies, so avoiding housework to spend that time doing things I love sounds like a FANTASTIC idea.

I can’t pretend this is the only day I’ve ever put off housework in favor of a project or seven though… Most recently I took advantage of a lazy weekend afternoon to do some coloring and try out a new background technique in a coloring book page. If you’d like to celebrate the holiday today by doing the same, read on for more info!

After going through my coloring book stash to see what fit my mood, I went with the super rad Like, Totally 80’s coloring book and picked a new page instead of working on one of the pages I’ve already prepped.

I wanted the quick satisfaction of using markers and this page had just the right mix of small details and elements. This book is single-sided which is great as you don’t have to worry about ruining an image on the back of the page.

To make things even more mindless, I gave myself a limited color palette. I found an 80s-inspired palette of these 6 colors:

…which I then matched in my Crayola Super Tips.

It was mindless, for sure, but I forgot that coloring is rarely quick! So I had no choice but to spend even more evenings avoiding housework.

Once all the small sections were complete all that remained was the background. It was too much to fill in with the markers so I reached for my Prismas instead.

First I filled in the entire background with a light gray (not shown). Then, using 3 colors that matched 3 of the marker colors, I went over the background again, doing large, irregular sections of color.

Next I went over the whole thing with a layer of black. My goal was to have the different shades give the black some dimension while subtly tying in the bright 80s tones.

The final step was to go over the entire background one last time, this time with my Derwent Burnisher. You can see the massive difference this makes in the image above – the background below the blue squiggle has been burnished, while the area above has not. There was no additional color applied; I merely flattened the layers of color using the burnishing pencil.

I really like how it turned out! It’s a silly, chaotic coloring book page but it was fun and I really enjoy the subtle depth the black background has by having the other colors underneath.

Looking back now I prefer the original background but at the time I’d felt it wasn’t bright enough to really SCREAM “80s”. I decided to outline everything (and also add random dots around the edge of the page for some reason…?) with a white Posca paint marker. These markers are great with colored pencils as they go over it beautifully without skipping, and once dry you can tint the paint with your markers or pencils.

To beat back the white glare I did just that. Using the same 6 Super Tips I went over the white paint to give every item an outline “glow”.

In the end I’m not mad at the final page (above), but I do prefer it pre-paint. That said, it was a lovely excuse to get out of housework for a bit and do something (relatively) mindless.

I hope you get to use today as an excuse to put down the vacuum or laundry and do something fun that makes you happy!

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Retro DIY 3D Doritos Bag

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and everyone knows the best parts of any Super Bowl are the snacks and the commercials, right? (No? Just me?)

It’s been 24 years (!!!) since Ali Landry famously tossed 3D Doritos into a laundromat dryer in an ad during Super Bowl XXXII, and 1 year since she showed she’s still got the same moves for snacking. I had to recreate this vintage snack a few years ago as a prop for a skit that took place in the 90s, and today I’m going to show you how you can make your own. Whether it’s for a play, a costume accessory, or simply nostalgic feels, it’s a quick and easy DIY that doesn’t require many supplies to make.

Note: 3D Doritos were relaunched in 2021 and got Matthew McConaughey’s “FlatMatthew” ad during Super Bowl LV, but they redesigned the bag so we’re going to focus on the original.

Besides access to a printer, you’ll need a few other supplies:

  • paper
    • I used full-page sticker paper, but you can use regular printer paper as well. If using sticker paper make sure it’s white and matte.
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • clear packing tape
  • scissors
  • glue stick (if you used printer paper)
  • 1 bag of regular Doritos

Start with your bag of Doritos. Empty the bag (into a bowl… or your mouth… no judgements here) and then carefully wash the inside and outside with soapy water. You want to make sure there is no food left inside that could mold over time, as well as remove any greasy or oily fingerprints from the outside that could interfere with your glue/tape.

3D Doritos have a red background so I used a bag of regular nacho flavor Doritos as my base so the back of the bag would match the altered front. Allow your bag to dry thoroughly before attaching your image.

Find a source image online and print it to scale with your bag. There are a number of great image resources out there, so you can use your favorite. Just be sure to choose a the highest image quality you can find, for the best results when printing.

If your printer quality is lackluster, like mine, you can retouch your printout with markers or colored pencils. I needed my prop to be highly visible from stage to an audience of 200-300 people, so I chose to deepen some of the sections for higher contrast.

In the image on the left, you can see the difference in the retouched red (to the left of my marker) vs unretouched (the right side, which I’d already outlined with the marker). In the middle image you can see the yellow marker inside the D, and in the last image you can see the contrast between the first half of each word vs the paler second half.

Once you’re happy with your retouching, cover the entire image with clear packing tape.

Try to be as smooth as possible but if you get a few wrinkles (like I did) it isn’t the end of the world as we will be crumpling the bag later. The wrinkles won’t show from the audience so don’t stress over them.

Here you can see the vivid difference between the retouched, taped good copy and my first print that was slightly too small.

The final image is bolder and more vibrant, with higher contrast. It also more closely resembles the shiny foil of an actual bag of chips vs a printed piece of paper.

Trim your image to the size of your bag. If using sticker paper, peel off your backing and apply your sticker. If using regular paper, cover the back with stick glue then set it in place.

Use more packing tape to seal all 4 edges so your new chip bag front is fully secure.

Continue around the back, and fully cover the back, bottom seam, and open edges with packing tape as well. Foil bags tear easily and the packing tape will keep your prop from falling apart when handled.

We needed an open bag that an actor could pretend to eat from, but you could just as easily stuff the bag lightly with crumped paper and tape the bag shut, to recreate a brand-new, unopened bag of chips.

The final step after taping is to crumple the bag like crazy. For real! Squish it, scrunch it, really work creases into that tape! Real bags will fold and crease easily and stiff, straight surfaces will spoil the illusion so don’t be afraid to crumple it up into a little ball and squeeze well.

Dig in!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.