Monday, March 21, 2016

Coloring Books - Experimenting

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now, I hope it's not just a fad and will be around for a good long time. I'm even considering tossing my name in the hat of creating coloring books.

But for now, I'm just playing with what's out there. Of course I can't leave well enough alone, I must push the boundaries of what can be done. Most coloring books are not meant to be archival, meaning the paper isn't the best, in order to keep the price low enough for people to want to buy, the publishers are using the only slightly better paper for the adult coloring books vs the children's books. If you are just coloring with inexpensive colored pencils or even crayons, that works out OK, but if you want to use wet media, markers or watercolor (pencils or paint), then the average adult coloring book paper leaves a lot to be desired.

As a result, many colorist will scan the pages and print them out on better paper, from cardstock to higher end art papers such as Bristol board and watercolor paper. If you have a laser printer, you are pretty much set to go from there, but many of us use ink jet printers, and unless you have a printer that will use a higher end ink that doesn't smear once dry, you will have a problem the moment you add anything wet to the page, the ink will most likely smear. Of course using dry media is fine on ink jet printouts, but if you are going to use watercolor or something else that is wet, you are heading for disappointment.

I just happen to belong to several Bible art journaling groups, and one thing most Bibles have in common is thin thin thin pages, and nearly anything you put on them, especially the wetter mediums, will nearly always bleed through, so the resourceful artists tried using clear gesso and even matte gel mediums on the paper and discovered it works great, it strengthens the paper, it protects the paper, it helps prevent bleed through. Guess what? This works GREAT for coloring book pages and the pages you print out.

I began to experiment with ink jet printouts on inexpensive (cheap) printer paper, I have coated the pages with clear gesso and also tried matte gel medium, so far I prefer the matte gel medium. I discovered that the clear gesso can cause the ink to smear a bit, but the matte gel medium does not affect the ink jet ink in any way, and one coat is sufficient. Be sure you use a MATTE finish product, anything that is glossy or shiny will not take the color you are trying to apply very well.

Here is a page I painted using Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils, I was liberal with the moisture and had no bleed through, the paper didn't fall apart, the page took the Inktense very well, in fact, it allowed me to treat it more like a watercolor in that I was able to lift some of the color in places to create highlights. Derwent Inktense applies and works like watercolor, but it is in fact an ink that dries permanently so you can do multiple washes without affecting the layer below.

I have not tried painting or coloring on a page with the clear gesso yet, that will be an upcoming project. I have read from other artists that using colored pencils is better over the clear gesso vs the matte gel medium because of the "tooth" that is created by the gesso. I will tell you that with the matte gel medium, the brand doesn't seem to matter, I use Liquitex matte gel medium, but in the clear gesso, it does matter, most of them are too rough to use markers over, they will ruin your markers, Liquitex clear gesso seems to be the worst, the better brands (smoother finish) are Art Basics clear gesso by Prima, Dina Wakley clear gesso by Ranger, and Tri-Art clear gesso.

This picture is from The Amazing World of Horses, just to recap, this was printed out on cheap printer paper with an ink jet printer, I coated one layer of Liquitex matte gel medium, let that dry then painted with Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils, let me know what you think :)

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