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Use sandpaper to improve the tooth of coloring book pages

Today, September 14th, is National Coloring Day. Of course coloring isn’t limited to coloring books, but over the last few years they’ve definitely become more prevalent! Whether they’re your preferred place to apply color or something you only do with kids, you’ve likely noticed that the paper quality can vary greatly. From thick cardstock to what’s basically printer paper, the type of paper will affect everything from what media you can use in the book to if you can actually color both sides of the same page.

On average, most adult coloring books use a slightly thicker-weight white paper that can handle all dry media as well as water-based markers, with some bleed-through if you press too hard or go over the same spot repeatedly. Crayons and colored pencils will lay down pretty evenly as the paper has little-to-no tooth, but if you’re the kind of artist who prefers to work with a more textured paper, here’s a tip that can help transform the books you already own – sandpaper!

I’ll demonstrate this in my copy Archie’s Coloring Book (and there’s a video demonstration at the end of the post).

This is a great book that is jam-packed with tons of images of Archie and the gang, showcasing everyone from the core trio to side characters (Dilton, Moose, Cheryl, Sabrina, Josie and the Pussycats, Miss Grundy, Mr. Weatherbee), to the ‘Lil Archie gang. Even Jughead’s dog Hotdog appears in all his shaggy glory!

I first thought about this back in 2017 after watching one of SuperRaeDizzle’s videos on dollar store art supplies. If you don’t follow her you really should – she’s a fantastic artist who does a lot of art supply reviews and draws/paints with incredible realism. In the linked video she uses a sanding block to rough up a sheet of inexpensive Bristol board to give it a better drawing surface.

I thought it was really cool but didn’t think it applied to me – until I started wondering if the same technique would work in what I was using a lot of at the time – coloring books. In theory it seemed like it should work but with the paper so much thinner than Bristol board I didn’t know if it would work. Would it tear the paper? Would it destroy the printed outlines? Would the ink bleed?

I had to try it for myself. To make the results as clear as possible I chose a page that allowed me to clearly divide the page into two halves.

I left the Veronica side of the page untouched and sandpaper I had on-hand to lightly rough up the Betty side of the page.

Here you can see the before (left) and after (right). There’s no obvious distress to the page though if you look closely at the black line of Betty’s shirt near the guitar you can see faint striae where the ink was removed.

To hold the book open while I worked I used my pants hanger hack. Still highly recommend!

I then set about coloring the page with Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils. I was careful to color in both girls the same way, using the same colors and applying the same amount of pressure.

Right away you can see a difference! Coloring on the Veronica side was exactly like coloring with colored pencils on computer printer paper (though I think this paper is slightly thicker). It’s super smooth and flat without any tooth or texture at all, and the colored pencil glided over the page really easily. On the Betty side I could feel the roughened-up surface of the page and it gave the colored pencil something to grab to, making coloring a very different experience.

It’s difficult to put the feeling into words but coloring the Veronica side felt like I had to concentrate more, because my natural tendency was to use more pressure to get more color payoff, whereas on the Betty side the same amount of barely-there pressure gave a richer color payoff.

Coloring on the super-smooth side made me very conscious of trying to not color too hard because it took more work to lay color down. On the flip side, coloring on the textured side of the page made color application a breeze, to the point where I had to concentrate on not applying too much and losing any highlights.

Both sides are colored the exact same way, using different colors for shading. I didn’t want to do anything too fancy because this was only a test; it was more about seeing if the sandpaper would ruin the book or any attempts to color vs me trying to get a professional-looking result.

I’d sanded the guitar evenly down the middle and thought there would be a more obvious difference between the two sides but I’d say it’s pretty subtle. Again- the sanded side has more depth and more color payoff while using the exact same pressure as the unsanded side.

I was also curious if sanding the paper would affect marker application, so decided to fill in the music notes with a mix of sparkle and metallic gel pens, in black and charcoal. I was really happy to see that there didn’t seem to be any effect on how the gel ink applied, and that both sides had the same amount of glitter and shine in the light.

Finally I wanted to see if there would be any issues coloring on larger open areas, so I picked two colors and experimented with blending them to each other. In my first layer of color (2nd image from the left) you can see that both sides are streaky but the funny thing is it’s for different reasons!

Veronica’s side is streaky because I struggle with laying down barely any color…though I probably didn’t have a proper point on my pencil, which didn’t help. Whereas Betty’s side is streaky because that’s the grain from the direction I’d sanded. You can see it better in the image below (though I sort of like the streaky look on her jeans because it makes them look more like real denim LOL)

The last test that I did was to compare the difference that burnishing would make on either side. I went over both sides of the guitar with my beloved Prismacolor Premiere colorless blender and really tried to smooth any grain down and move the color to fill any remaining white areas. I have the page open in front of me as I type this and while my fingertip can tell the difference between the two sides it is SLIGHT, and definitely not as much of a contrast as the rest of the page halves.

(And truthfully I’m not completely convinced that I’d feel a texture difference there at all if I hadn’t sanded too hard in that spot, as you can see by the diagonal lines of indentation on the lower right of the guitar)

Here’s the completed page. If I didn’t know that one side had been sanded I would think that I’d colored harder on the right side, and possibly used a different color for Betty’s jeans and background, as I do feel that there’s a visible difference in this closeup.

I don’t find the difference is as obvious in this image, though I’m not sure if it’s because the black background is causing a distraction.

After trying this once I’m a convert! I have a large collection of coloring books and I think this technique opens up a world of possibilities for getting different effects and results with colored pencils, crayons, and pastels. The opportunities expand even further if you experiment with different grits of sandpaper!

Imagine coloring a fantasy scene and sanding a grassy area with one grade of sandpaper, bricks of a castle with another, and the bark of a tree with a third… you could get a whole range of textural effects within the image all before even laying down any color!

Other notes: in the video below you’ll see a little bit of ink smearing. That was due to pressing too hard with the sandpaper, so it’s avoidable but something to watch out for. I was happy to see that there was no consequence to the back of the sanded page, nor any texture transfer on the facing page.

Here’s a graphic for those of you who like to pin my posts, and as promised above, here below is a video showing this technique in action.

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Crafty Compilation – w/e 01/21/17

Here’s what happened during the week:


Knitting

  • Comfy Socks

After finishing the Sierra Socks last week I immediately cast on for a new pair.  It wasn’t so much that I needed new knitting as I needed new knitting to be ready ‘on hold’ in my purse in case I ever needed it in the future.  Except for very few exceptions, I knit all my socks toe-up, with a short-row heel and toe, from a pattern I’ve long-since memorized.  I’ll refer to past project notes to know how many stitches to work up to depending on if it’s a sock for Yannick or for myself, but otherwise the rest of it is pretty much pick-up-and-go.  I knit without looking so the only parts of the sock that require my attention are the toe and heel.  For that reason, I like to knit the toe before I stash it away in my project bag, so it’s ready at the ‘just knit’ part.

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(I’m still loving the personalized travel knitting bag Maaike made for me!)

This sock is going to be an experiment.  I’m using Regia Softy Color yarn that I got at a guild stash exchange a year or so ago, and I’m going to be knitting a heel-less sock.  I get cold at night so I sleep with socks on, usually fuzzy ones from the dollar store.  But then I get hot so I kick them off… and then my toes get cold again so I put them back on.  A happy middle ground has been to push my socks off down to the pads of my feet, so my heels are exposed to the cool sheets but my toes are still kept warm.  Therefore I’m going to see if a heel-less sock gives me the same effect.  If it does, it’ll be a fun way to work through my fun-fur stash.

Coloring

  • Creative Coloring Throughout the Year page-a-day calendar

Some mornings after getting the kids off for school I got a chance to do some coloring.  I don’t have any need to get the calendar pages ‘right’ in any way, so it was fun to pull out a bunch of coloring supplies and just apply color to the pages.  I’m usually a lot more strict on myself when it comes to color placement… or adding highlights or shadow… whereas with these pages I’m not giving myself any restrictions to match any preconceived notions of what the resulting pages ‘should’ look like.

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I showed the first page in my last Crafty Compilation, and these are the next few I’ve completed using a mix of Inktense, gel pens, colored pencils and Stabilo 88 and Staedtler fineliners, plus some occasional applications of Wink of Stella or Spectrum Noir glitter brushes.

While I was at it I finished swatching my latest batch of gel pens – a 60-count set by Top Quality that I got on Amazon.  There were a few duplicate colors to ones I already had, but also a lot of new shades.  For the price I’m quite happy with the set.

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I did want to differentiate between these colors and my Lolliz and other ones, so I used a Sharpie to mark an “L” on the caps of the Lolliz ones and “TQ” on the Top Quality ones (the other brands showed their brand names on the caps or pens).  Then I followed that up with a layer of a clear nail polish topcoat to help prevent the writing from rubbing off too quickly as I used the pens.

Other Stuff

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I grew up playing Rummikub (we called it ‘Rummy-Q’), and I have fond memories of being my kids’ ages and playing with my Bubbie, so on Saturday afternoon after the kids had finished homework and  had lunch I taught them how to play.  We did one open game where I gave them a few pointers but then played two full games with our tiles hidden, and they’d picked it up perfectly!  In fact- Jakob won the open round as well as one of the closed ones!  It was awesome to see them playing the game that had given me so many good memories with my grandparents, and to spend technology-free time with my kids.

 

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Crafty Compilation – w/e 01/07/17

2017.  Wow.  I can’t believe I started this blog roughly 13 years ago, nor that some of you have been around since the very beginning.  Whether you’re one of my original few hundred subscribers or one of the couple thousand who discovered my site when looking for my most popular Halloween DIY, hi there, happy holidays, and happy New Year!  I’ve got a lot planned for this little blog over the upcoming year, so if you’re an old friend- thanks for sticking around… and if you’re new- I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay a while.

Some of you may note that I’ve slowly made changes to the type of content that I post.  I’ve never been a mono-crafty person, and the blog will always adapt to whatever creative pursuits I’m into at the time, whether they’re knitting or crochet, cosplay or cakes.  Coloring books are going to have more of a showing on the blog, as will as a variety of crafts beyond the yarn-based ones.  For the last two years I’ve taken step-by-step photos of all the projects that I’ve made with the intent to focus more on sharing helpful DIYs, tutorials and tips going forwards, instead of merely showing off whatever I’ve made.  I’m going to have more reviews coming up, both sponsored and non, and while there might be affiliate links popping up at the end of some posts, I can promise you that my reviews will always be strictly my honest, unbiased thoughts.

Another feature I’m going to add is a weekly roundup, to both keep track of and hold accountable to the projects I’ve got ongoing.  Not everything needs to wait for a finished reveal, and sometimes quick projects or small pastimes get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day.  To that end – this is my first Crafty Compilation.  I plan to post these on Sundays and to cover the previous week’s goings-on, but this first one is being posted on Thursday because life LOL.  Amazing how, even when one is off work in post-op recovery, when it comes to crafting, there still isn’t enough time!  This first CC will cover some stuff worked on over the holidays, as well as last week.


Knitting

  • Gift knitting

Over the holidays I knit a special baby hat.  One of Yannick’s closest friends had a baby girl just before the holidays, and when he showed me the gifts he planned to bring for the friend and his other young daughter, I told him I knew just the thing to make for the new arrival.  The little girl’s dad has similar geeky tastes as we do, and I thought this pattern would be perfect.

I’ve knit it once before, back in 2013, as part of a Hallowe’en costume for a baby girl aptly named Leia. This was a pic of Jakob trying it on for me at the time:

jakob-in-leia-hat

and this is a pic of the little sweetheart in her full costume.  Cutest Leia I’ve ever seen!leia-in-princess-leia-hat

The pattern is very well written and it’s a pretty quick knit, even with all the icord.  The hat and the ear puffs each took a night’s worth of knitting to work up, then the assembly took barely an episode of Elementary.

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Forgive the bad pics, it’s hard to take hat pics without an appropriately-sized head! 🙂 I’m really pleased with how the hat came out, even though I’d knit it before and expected it to look the same.  One thing I love about this pattern vs others out there is how it incorporates ‘bangs’ and the center part (not clearly visible in these photos but seen better in the one of Leia wearing it above).

  • Drops v-neck sweater

I also completely frogged a sweater I’d been working on.  Back in September I’d started a garter-stitch oversized sweater with a lovely gray yarn from my stash.  I’d thought it would be perfect ‘no-look’ movie or tv knitting but after measuring a sweater I own that had the fit I wanted, I realized that what I was making wouldn’t have the proper shape.  Plus I’d been having a nagging feeling that the garter stitch was eating up too much of my limited yarn.  So I frogged it one evening last week and began this pattern instead.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough yarn, and if not I’ll work the neckband and/or cuffs in something contrasting.

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So far I’m at about 32cm of the 34cm I need to be at before splitting for the low v-neck.

Coloring

  • Doodle Fusion ‘Christmas Tree’

A few weeks ago I’d taken a page from Dede Willingham and done color washes across a bunch of my coloring book pages.  From what I’ve seen she primarily uses acrylic paints, but I mixed it up a bit, using not only paint, but also my Neocolors (seen previously here, in imagimorphia) and my Inktense (last seen here, also in imagimorphia).  This particular page, from Zifflin’s Doodle Fusion, seems to deliberately invoke a Christmas tree, so that’s how I decided to approach it.  I colored over the whole image with the Inktense in shades of green.  The first pic is immediately after wetting the pencils, and the second is the next day, after the page had dried.

doodle fusion christmas tree 00.jpg

My plan is to color the characters in colored pencil over the Inktense, keeping them muted and dark, but to color all the eyes and anything round-ish in bright gel pens, so they’d (hopefully) look like bright ornaments on the tree.  If you squinted at it.  Maybe.

doodle-fusion-christmas-tree-01

This was after my first pass with the gel pens.  I think I got all the areas I’d wanted, but I’m sure as I work on the figures I’ll find more.  I’m looking forwards to coloring the characters now in dark tones to really make the gel pen pop.

PS- this book is crazy, and I love it.  I’ll be showing a lot more of it in future posts.

I finally finished a page I started coloring back in November in the Disney Villains coloring book Yannick had bought for me, but as this post is getting long I’ll save them for another.  That’s another excellent coloring book that I’ve been working in quite a bit.

UPDATE: those pages are posted here.  🙂

Other Crafts

  • While the boys were off school for Christmas break I tried to keep them occupied with more than just Minecraft, Little Big Planet, or their new Skylanders Imaginators. Every few days we had ‘technology-free’ time during which we’d color, or do pencil puzzle books, and during one of those afternoons I taught them how to make their own stuffies.  However I took a TON of photos and so I’ll share the step-by-steps of their work in another post

Alright, that’s it for this round-up!

 
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inevitability is inevitable

And once again, what seems to happen cyclically around here has happened again.  Every time I get into a rush on secret projects that I cannot blog about, the blog itself falls into a standstill.  I get so focused on the major things… a sculptural piece I’m mailing out soon, baby gifts, the props for my upcoming show… and I forget that I can also share the small things that are just as important and fulfilling, if not as fun or tutorial-able.

Here, then, are some of those moments, from the last 6 weeks.

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Over March break the boys went to spend the week with my inlaws.  They learned how to play UNO and have been so hooked that even after being away from consoles for a week, this ^ was their first night back home.  Ignoring the systems, ignoring the tv, spending a quiet night after dinner rushing to get ‘just one more game in!’.  🙂time garden 01

I’ve been doing some coloring, mentioned a bit here and there on Instagram.  I’ve got big posts semi-worked up talking about markers and pencils and storage, but while all that’s been getting ready, I’ve been enjoying some quiet time of my own while the kids play or while watching tv and tackling some pages from one of my new favorite coloring books: The Time Garden by Daria Song.  The wallpaper background on these two (and the subsequent 2 pages set in the same room) took about a week to complete, tucking into it here and there when my attention wasn’t needed elsewhere.  I used my Staedler Triplus Fineliners in Mauve and Gray in alternating rows, and the dots in between the flowers were colored in Silver Gray.  The dots within the flowers were colored with a metallic silver pen from the dollar store, and then I filled in the background itself with an old blue Bristol colored pencil I’ve probably had since I was 10.boys asleep

We went out for a nice family dinner for my father-in-law’s birthday, and it proved to be a long, late night for the boys.  We were driving home from the restaurant at about 9:30 at night when I peeked into the back seat and saw them, sound asleep, and cuddling.

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Back to more coloring.  After the long spread of wallpaper I decided to tackle something equally as detailed, but with smaller sections that could feel completed as I worked on them.  I jumped ahead to the Ghiradelli/Pier 39 spreads in the book.  Wherever I’ve found repeating elements I’m working on them at the same time vs having to make notes on what colors I’ve used where, so I did the large sign on the above spread and then jumped immediately into the matching cable-car page that followed.  The crab sign is colored to match the real one, using various Triplus or Stabilo 88 fineliners and then a light shading of colored pencil, and then after coloring the sign and its supports I suggested the myriad lights with a metallic gold gel pen.patterns

The Yarn Harlot‘s Strung Along retreat happened this past weekend and I donated some patterns for their goodie bags.  Hopefully they liked them!  Photo 2016-04-09, 4 58 26 PM

Saturday had another cute moment for the kids, when I passed by the open door to the den and noticed them watching tv like this.  Go figure… they’re so close that even with a whole floor and mini futon and couch and easy chair, they still prefer to snuggle together no matter what they’re doing.  I can’t imagine they’ll be this close when they’re teenagers, but it sure makes me smile for now.sam wants food

Sunday night I was working on the props for my show, making lists of everything I still needed to take care of, and a plan of action, and casually nibbling on a piece of kernatzel (pepperoni stick).  Turns out my cat is addicted to them.  ADDICTED.  What looks like a cute little moment above WAS TAKEN OVER 2 HOURS.  Each one of those photos is 30 minutes apart AND HE NEVER LEFT MY SIDE THE ENTIRE TIME.  Sitting.  Staring.  Drooling.

Finally, a bit more coloring, this time from the cable car page.  I don’t have the materials yet for one set of props, and the others were glued and clamped and drying in the garage, so I made a fresh cup of coffee and put on a YouTube channel I like and settled down to color the ice cream adorning the cable car.ice cream worse

I got this far when Yannick came home, and I showed him my progress, especially proud of the shading on the center cones (all done with the two sets of aforementioned fineliners and colored pencils).  “The cones look great,” he said.  “The pop too.  But what’s the turd on the end?”

Hmph.ice cream betterWho says you can’t polish a turd?  (Actually, you can, and not just by recoloring an ice cream pop).  The markers and pencils play really nicely together and I was able to adjust the highlights so it looks more like a slightly melty Magnum bar.  I also finished up the chocolate and strawberry swirls in the center, as well as the neon sign.

Any more coloring will have to be put on hold, as tonight I buy the final items needed to finish the props, and then my next few nights will be spent making same.  I can’t complain, though- it’s for a really great cause.

Shut Up and Dance 2016

If you want to see some incredible dancers, some amazing singers, a hugely talented band… yummy food… oh- and me… then get your tickets now and come enjoy the show!

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