Coloring and Paper FAQ
What colors are best to buy first?
Ask yourself what you like or want to color.
- Flowers: If you plan on coloring floral images, you may want to pick your favorite floral colors as well as a green for the leaves, and maybe a blue or blue turquoise set for sky.
- Characters: If you are planning on coloring images with faces and hair, you would want to purchase the Pale Hues set for skin, and pick a favorite hair color (cool greys, browns, yellows), colors for their clothing and possibly a blue or turquoise for sky.
- Animals: If you plan to color animal images, think about the color of the animal you want to color and then purchase that color family as well as green for grass or brown for dirt and blue or turquoise for the sky.
- Glitter art: If you plan to color on top of fine glitter, you may want to purchase the 24 pack of brights, pastels or lights for a wider variety of colors without as many blending combinations.
- Mixed Media: Take a look at the browns, grays, pale hues etc. You may also want to check out our bottles of ink refill that come with a great pipette/dropper. Refills are available in all 168 colors.
How does the Blender Pen work?
A blender pen is 100% solvent. Therefore, it dilutes ink rather than blend colors together.
Think of it as more of a correcting pen or special effects pen. Several fun techniques like fading to white, bleaching or adding polka dots or stripes to your image. These techniques can be found on our blog. The most popular use of the blender pen is correcting.
Any tips on using Spectrum Noir markers for the first time?
During the normal course of transportation and/or display in your local store, your new markers may have been stored vertically for long periods of time, taken for a ride on an airplane or been jarred vigorously by the local delivery company. All of these factors can lead to a stressed out marker, so we need to give our markers a bit of a rest before we jump right in!
Start by removing your pens from the packaging and laying them flat on your work surface. This will allow the ink to distribute evenly throughout the pen in the event they’ve been stored vertically and the ink has settled to one end of the pen or another. They should “rest” for about 30-60 minutes.
Once your pens have rested it’s time to wake them up! You’ll do this by removing the lids. Make sure you are in a proper work area free from fabrics or other items that may be stained from the permanent effects of alcohol ink. During transportation there may have been a buildup of air pressure in your markers if they took a ride in an airplane. As the lids are intentionally tight to prevent the drying out of your markers, this airtight environment can cause a slight leakage of ink through the nibs under pressure.
To remove the lids, hold the marker over a non-stainable surface. For best results you will want to hold your marker in the palm of your hand, wrap your four fingers around the barrel and use your thumb and forefinger to push the lid off. Use your thumb and forefinger of your other hand to hold the lid as you push it off. Do not twist your lids to try and remove them as this may cause damage to the lid. You will also find that trying to hold the marker in a fist and pulling the lid straight off with your other hand will be more difficult. Please note: The lids will be fairly tight when you first open the markers, but will loosen up over time as you use them.
Last but not least, you will want to make sure the nibs are all seated properly in the barrels. You can do this by pressing the nib down slightly onto a scrap piece of cardstock or other non-staining surface. A glass surface works very well and is easy to clean up after you’re finished. A nib that is not seated properly may allow leakage of ink or even have the opposite effect by not having proper contact with the ink. If you notice that a nib was not seated properly you will want to let that particular marker “rest” for a bit more after you’ve fixed him up to allow for re-distribution of the ink back to the nib.
When you accidentally color outside of the image lines, you can correct your mistake by following these simple steps.
- Place clean absorbent paper under your image.
This will give the extra fluid that you are adding a place to go. Gravity will force the fluid downward if it has a place to go; thus the reason for the extra layer of paper. If you do not place the absorbent paper underneath, the extra fluid will wick sideways and often run inside the lines of your image and dilute the color you want to keep.
- Gently dab the mistake with the nib of your blender pen.
This will begin to dilute the mistake. Stop before adding too much fluid or the fluid will wick into your image and dilute too large of an area.
- Wait until the blender pen fluid is DRY before adding more.
It is better to correct a mistake by doing this process slowly. Add only a tiny bit of blender solution at a time. Do not try to correct the mistake with one try. Remember that the blender solution will continue to dilute the color as long as it is wet.
- Repeat, let dry, and repeat again if necessary.
The lighter colors will correct easier as there is less color to dilute.
How do I get a blender pen?
The blender pen comes in the Essentials package of six markers that includes a few greys, browns, one black and one blender pen.
The blender pen is the only pen that is also sold as an individual pen.
Is the blender pen the only way to blend colors?
No, absolutely not. This is another common misconception. In 99% of the cases a blender pen should not actually be used to blend colors together. You should be using the lighter of the two color shades you’re trying to blend instead. For example, if you are trying to blend a light and medium blue together, you will want to come back with the light blue and work in a circular motion where the two meet to blend them into a transitional shade.
A blender pen is actually best used to remove unwanted color. Going over an unwanted color with the blender will dilute the color and work as an eraser.
In essence, It is more of a correcting pen, or special effects pen.
How do you blend colors together?
When blending colors together we need to remember that the lighter colors have more alcohol or solvent in them and will dilute the darker colors. With that in mind here is how we blend. (Directions for using three markers dark, medium and light)
- Start with your darkest color. (see below for a tip on coloring large areas)
- Now add your medium ink by slightly overlapping your darker color. This will dilute the edge of your dark ink and blend it into your medium color ink. This is often done by coloring in small circular motions going slightly into the dark ink and back into the light and repeating.
- Now use your lightest color color to blend your medium color ink.
For visual assistance, please watch this video tutorial.
What type of ink pad should I use to stamp an image before coloring with the markers?
A dark pigment ink works best and we’ve found that the Memento ink pads produce great results. An ink pad such as StazOn will not work with alcohol markers.
Does the paper or cardstock I use with my markers really matter?
This is perhaps the biggest mistake first-time users make when they first open their markers. The paper or cardstock you use is in fact just as important as the markers you are using. Cardstock made or approved for use with alcohol markers is readily available and should always be used with your markers to achieve the best results. Use of copy paper, textured paper or other stock with a visible grain will soak up the alcohol ink quickly and spread quickly. This leads to an effect called “bleeding” that will be quite prominent if you don’t use the right stock.
Type of paper suggested
Alcohol markers will work on any paper. However, to get the necessary results wanted by most colorists it is necessary to have a compatible paper for their personal needs. The paper must be smooth enough to prevent excessive wicking or bleeding. However, it needs to be soft enough to allow the ink to penetrate into the fibers of the paper to “blend” into the other colors. If the paper is too soft, a colorist will not be able to control the wicking or bleeding of the ink as it will spread to quickly. Crafter’s Companion has done extensive paper testing and offer the highest quality paper possible for excellent results.
Does watercolor paper work?
Yes, watercolor paper will work and often gives excellent results. However, watercolor paper is very absorbent and will use more ink than a more dense paper.
Does glossy cardstock work?
Yes and no. Glossy cardstock does not allow the colors to get down into the fibers of the paper, which prevents them from blending smoothly. It may even puddle a bit on top of the cardstock and become a bit sticky. However, Glossy cardstock is fun for special effects and advanced techniques. One very popular technique is marbled stone. You would apply the ink from the refill bottles directly to the glossy cardstock using a cotton ball or dabber with a bit of rubbing alcohol.