The last few weeks I’ve had a lot of various distractions going on that have made it hard to get any art done. That’s always a bit of a tough thing but that’s life and we all have to deal with life. One thing that I did manage to get done was doing the marker coloring on one of my “Dreams of Things” faux comic book covers. The cover to number ten.

This cover has been sitting around for a while. I just check my calendar and I inked this pice three months ago in the middle of April. I did a bunch of my to-be-marker-colored pieces in the beginning of April that have been sitting around since then. Sometimes I get interested in one part of the process but not the others. In this case I was into creating the images and drawing and inking them back in April but had no interest in finishing them with color markers.

I don’t color all of my faux comic book covers with marker. It’s actually a fairly new style that I came up with last year. Most of my faux comic book covers are inked and then scanned in to be colored on the computer. That’s if they get colored at all. Most get left in black and white. I came up with this worker technique so I could make some finished, real life, colored covers.

For the first ones I did my “Love-Love” faux covers and kept things simple. A single figure from the waist up. Not a lot of different shapes and spaces to color so I could keep it simple. Simple was the point. Then I moved on to add some “Dreams of Things” covers. I had already come up with the “Dreams of Things” logo and did a couple of them in black and white when I realized they had simple enough imagery to use the colored marker technique on. So I made a couple of them. And then continued to make a few more. I’m not even sure how many more since they’re tucked away but since this is number ten I’m betting it was at least six. I don’t always do them in order.

So why has this one been sitting around for so long? That’s not always an easy question to answer but in this case it might be because my images started to get a little too complicated. When the color was simple it was easy to do in marker. Once the shapes get complicated the color gets complicated too. One of the things I didn’t want to do with these is have to make a color sketch. I wanted to keep the color uncomplicated. That wasn’t happening as I went on and on with these faux covers.

And one of the most complicated things when it comes to marker coloring is large areas of color. That’s because the techniques for applying marker to paper are fairly limited. If I was doing this piece in paint I’d have no problem with large areas of color. I know a dozen techniques that I like and could fill and have something to say with those areas rather easily. Filling in large areas of flat color was one of the things I really concentrated on back in my school days and I’ve been making works around it ever since. But the only way to apply marker is thinly. It has no surface to it.

No matter how you apply marker to paper it’s not going to be smooth and seamless. There are going to be variations in the density of the ink as the paper absorbs it. I usually add two coats of marker as a matter of habit to minimize the marker irregularities but they’ll always bee there. The key is to make them work in your favor. I like to use a marker as I would a brush. That means I like brush markers best. I use them almost exclusively an like to apply the ink as if they left brush stokes. I’ll follow the form of a shape and use the varied ink density to define the form. But a large flat area of color is different.

There are basically two ways I’ve found to handle large flat areas. To good ways at least. The first is geometric. Make all you lines as you fill in the color in one direction. First fill in the shape with horizontal strokes and after that is done fill in with vertical strokes. This minimizes the different ink density and leaves a pleasing pattern behind. The main problem with it is that it leaves a very geometric impression on the viewer and you might not want that. The other drawback is that irregular shapes don’t always lend themselves to horizontal and vertical strokes. Sometimes it’s hard to keep things straight when the shape has no straight edges or has small winding pieces to it.

The second method is to move the brush tip in small circles. Try not to make any straight lines at all and fill in the shape as if a spill of water was filling up the kitchen floor. This method also need too coats to minimize the brush stokes and increase the color density. Maintain your circular stoke discipline too. You don’t want to mix the two techniques as often people who are just coloring for fun do. You want a consistency to the final piece. I used the circular method on “Dreams of Things” #10. Mostly because of the shapes. I had to go around all those logo letters and the curves in the drawing. The circle strokes made that easier.

The other technique I used on this one was my my sort-of pointillist shading. I dab a darker marker over my base color and then dab the base color over that. It’s not quite a dark-to-light shading but it mimics it a little plus adds some texture. It’s that texture I’m looking for. Texture is a main component to painting and I want to work it into my marker coloring too. It has to be done differently with marker though. Not trying to make smooth gradations works for me. It gives the piece a little more visual interest.

In the end this piece really wasn’t hard to finish. Once I got how to do it in my head if was daily simple to pull off. My not wanting to finish it a few months ago probably had a lot to do with mood. Sometimes I just prefer to do one thing over another.