Special Techniques Mixing Colors

One of the most intriguing techniques in marker sketching is called mixing, or blending. It takes advantage of the transparent nature of markers by blending different colors one on top of the other to create new colors and to produce new effects. For example, mixing and blending different shades of green on a tree canopy produces a more realistic appearance. Likewise, lighter spots on dark blue water tend to capture the sparkles and reflective nature of the water's surface. Plain marker strokes can look flat and dull when applied evenly, but mixing and blending will bring out the three-dimensional quality of the sketch.

However, this process can be risky, with often unpredictable results that are difficult to control. The risk lies in the unpredictability. Since mixing is often done halfway into the sketching process, errors of this kind are irreversible and can jeopardize the entire sketch. The only and most effective way to learn this technique is by trial and error, through which one can learn predictable patterns and results by testing and mixing different colors. Keep in mind that different brands of markers and different types of papers also produce different results.

To mix colors, you should be familiar with the color wheel and the nature of color. For example, red mixed with yellow produces orange, and blue mixed with yellow produces green. However, due to the chemical content and the rate at which the marker dries on a particular surface, yellow on red may be different from red on yellow. Again, one must pre test to become familiar with this kind of reaction. In addition, the markers used in mixing will no longer retain their original color due to contamination on their felt tips. They should be stored separately and labelled for easy identification.

To create the "bleeding'' effect of watercolor. systematically place selective colors on top of the original layer to dilute the original color while it is drying. For a more dynamic result, the wet on wet technique is very effective. To achieve maximum results, layer lighter colors on top of darker ones. Though not absolute, the reversal of this process often leads to a dark, muddy effect.

To achieve a satisfactory mixing result, a slow-drying drawing surface is required. White tracing paper is an excellent medium for test-mixing markers. It does not absorb quickly and it dries relatively slowly. The colors remain brilliant and true. Another excellent medium is photographic paper. The special coating is an ideal surface for mixing and blending, and colors are erasable. However, this special plastic coating tends to lighten the overall color effect. Another drawback with photographic paper is cost. It is very expensive! One should try to avoid any kind of bonded papers made from fibres. This includes watercolor paper, bristol paper, and any paper stocks that have a high absorption rate.

Use lighter fluid—such as Bestine—to erase markers, or a regular white eraser on photographic paper. To erase a large area, a few drops of rubber cement solvent on a dinner napkin pick up and clean a large area. Bear in mind that the type of paper and the coating on the drawing surface dictates the effectiveness of erasing.

Colored Pencil Techniques

Title: Architectural Study Original size: 12x8 inches Medium: markers and colored pencils Technique: mixing of markers

Solvent Sketching Pencils
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Title: Housing Study Original size: 14x18 inches Medium: markers on photographic paper Technique: quick sketch

Fountains With Bears Skatch

Title: Waterfront Market Original size: 12x18 inches Medium: color markers on white tracing paper

Technique: color markers on felt-tip line sketch; some mixing and color pencils on sky

Felt Tip Marker Sketch

Title: Fountain Study

Original size: 12x12 inches

Medium: felt-tip marker and colored pencil on white tracing paper

Technique: quick sketch, with lighter fluid drops to create the effect of snowfall

Sketching Architecture TechniquesSketching Architecture Techniques

Title: Architectural Study

Original size: 18 x 30 inches

Medium: felt-tip markers, colored pencil on white tracing paper

Technique: sketch and photographic montage

Sketching Architecture Techniques
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