How? Because Chris doesn't just tell you where to lay a certain colour on the page. He explains in great detail how colour theory works for different subject matter, and even uses his experience in cadaver dissection (yes, that's cutting up bodies in the name of science) to help you understand the nuances in skin tones and why certain unexpected colours make the image look more realistic to life than a typical 'skin tone' palette would.
A themed colouring class is released every month and it is done completely online at your own pace. A link is emailed to subscribers to access the class, and each class takes the form of several PDF files and multiple video tutorials. The PDF's include:
- The printable page you will need to colour along with Chris
- A step-by-step written & pictoral guide on colouring the image
- A colour conversion chart which shows you alternate colours for different brands (Spectrum Noir, Promarkers, etc.)
- A digital print of Chris' finished work for your reference
- A printable colouring pack full of original line drawings in similar subject matter
- Practice pages featuring small sections of the illustration for you to test out your palette/technique
- Reference photos of the original artwork
So, how did I get on with the November class...?
This month's theme is 'Mastering Mucha' which is basically learning how to colour in the Art Nouveau style. It begins with colouring the skin and I was really worried at this point, as when I applied the blender and it looked like some sort of skin disease! Don't let this put you off though- it all comes good in the end! You just have to concentrate on the bigger picture and wait until it's all done before you judge it.
The photo on the right was taken just after I finished the skin tones. As I am using Spectrum Noir I had to keep referring back to the conversion chart, and found that in some instances the SN colours were LOTS darker/brighter than the Copics that Chris was using. He does state that Copics have a much wider colour range than SN so you can't always match a colour exactly, but a few of the colour alternatives could've been better matched in my opinion. It may be that I am a little more familiar with the SN system as I use it exhaustively whereas Chris colours only in Copic. I also noticed that Copics are in general much more translucent than SN which appear quite solid, so the colour difference could be the due to how the different inks saturate on the page.
The photo on the left is just after I completed the dress and started working on the background. Again, the colours I was using were much deeper and opaque than the Copics in the tutorial, but at this point I realised that it was never going to look exactly the same as Chris's because we just weren't using the same colours and medium! I think you have to let go of trying to make it completely identical to the tutorial and embrace your personal style and 'look'. The tutorials are there to teach and guide you rather than push you to create a carbon copy. There is plenty I could've done better but what I like about Art Nouveau is that it's a very painterly style which allows for imperfections and blurred lines.
This photo shows the finished background and fruit. I found the grapes the hardest thing to colour and still don't think they look awfully realistic, but as Chris says this style of colouring gives the impression of the subject matter rather than being completely accurate or perfect. It's difficult to accept when you're used to trying to make everything look faultless and pristine, so it does take a little faith and going with the flow! Chris constantly reminds you that it's okay to go over the lines, miss a spot or colour the wrong thing - it's all part of the process and we all make mistakes in everything we colour or draw.