Coloring a page isn’t all about how you fill the space in between the lines, if you really want to lift a design from the page you need to think about how you extend the coloring beyond the page! Learning how to color the background of a design could take your coloring to the next level.
In this two-part article thecoloringbook.club bring you a crash course in some of the most common techniques to produce beautiful colored backdrops to your coloring pages.
In part one; we answer some of the basic questions like; why should I color the backdrop of my coloring page? and how do I start coloring the background of my coloring page? We finish by showing you three tricks to create simple backgrounds using coloring pencils.
Why should I color outside the lines?
Whilst the lines on the page make the picture, the coloring outside of the lines can set the scene!
Coloring the background can help lift a design from the page. Light backdrops can draw focus to the main design. A cleverly blended background can introduce a sky to garden of flowers and the contrast of a pitch black background can make a neon coloring page zing!
In our free Owl and Woodland Fox coloring page challenge we saw an example of a beautiful backdrop, in Caroline Japp McGrory’s winning coloring page, that gave the impression of an autumnal sunset sky. This shows that in some designs, whilst the lines on the page make the picture, the coloring outside of the lines can set the scene!
Do all coloring pages deserve a background?
If you are in the mood, you can color the background of any page, but it is fair to say that some pages suit a background more than others. Madalas and isolated geometric designs don’t usually need a colored background to lift them from a page as they are strongly designed and can be built from isolated shapes, like circles, that do not need a colored backdrop to help them stand out from the page. Doodle like designs and themed pages can work very well with a backdrop, either to add context (the water in an ocean themed design) or contrast (a flat background color against a doodle pattern).
Should my background cover the whole coloring page?
In the examples we have shown so far the background fills the entirety of the page, but some great effects can be achieved by using some simple blending to provide a vignette backdrop to your designs.
This beautiful page from docepapelatelier on Instagram has the same results of drawing the eye to the main design and extending the design beyond the drawing without having to cover every last inch of white on the page.
How do I get started coloring backgrounds?
The simplest way is to build on the techniques you have learned through coloring the main part of your design. A good place to start is by blending some pencils of the same shade. Like the example above, we can use two shades of blue to produce a graduated vignette.
Lay down your lightest shade first, coloring with gentle even pressure using small circles.
Next, take your darker shade and starting from the inside and working outwards apply a layer of color over your lighter shade.
You can apply the most basic form of graduated shading (see A in the picture below) by simply reducing pressure on the darker color as you move further away from the centre of the page.
If you have a white pencil in your coloring set, this offers the option of smoothing your shading further. Follow the steps for simple shading and then gently apply a layer of the white pencil over the top. This has the effect of reducing the intensity of color, but the white pencil helps spread the color evenly through the tooth of the paper producing a softer color. See B in the picture above.
Alternatively you can use a pencil blender for more control of your pencil shading (see C above), without desaturating the color (like the white pencil does). The process is exactly the same as the most basic shading, but the blending pencil is then moved in small circular motion over the two colors. Because the blender has a very fine roughness to it it massages the pencil wax into the tooth of the paper.
Try these simple techniques for your first attempt at coloring a simple background on your coloring page using pencil. Also take a look at our guide to coloring with pencils for more detail on applying shading using coloring pencils. Maybe with more practice I will be creating a beautiful blended ocean background like the example from docepapelatelier above.
If you are looking for a page to experiment with coloring backgrounds, don’t forget thecoloringbook.club monthly coloring challenge has a free Wizard of Oz themed page. Download the coloring page and share your work with us on Facebook.
In part two of this guide to colored backdrops we will, find out how cotton buds can be used to apply soft pastel backdrops to your coloring page. Learn why dollar store make-up may be the secret ingredient in lifting your coloring to new heights and demonstrate some simple techniques to apply smooth backgrounds to your coloring pages quickly and with great effect!
Over to you.
Has this guide inspired you to experiment coloring beyond the lines? Let us know below.