Filling In the Walls
A pretty good amount of new territory has been covered on the Barroom Brawl in the last couple months.
The scan below shows you the newly colored area.
The scan above shows the full width of the piece, but little more than the top half of it.
By the end of the last issue, the barrel of the ceiling was finished. When I came back, the natural
next step was to continue down the sides and back wall. First came the vertical wooden area in the
back of the ceiling vault, which has lots of random junk hanging on it. Then came the junk.
After that, I faced a problem. The logical next step seemed to be the horizontal beams that lined
the ceiling area, but I had no idea what color or tone to make this trim. Would a lighter trim work
better, or a darker one? It's an important question because the wrong trim would fight with the
walls instead of working with them. I did have a good idea of how I wanted the walls on the left,
though: off-white upper half with a worn but patterned dark red fabric below. So the trim was skipped
for now and in went the walls (along with the pictures hanging on them). Once the walls were done,
It was obvious the trim needed to be dark and not too saturated. A dull, dark red to accent the red of
the walls seemed like a good direction and is the one I ended up going with (as seen in the picture
to the right). The trim may ultimately be too saturated and will probably be grayed more by the end.
One impression that struck me after this area was finished was how uncluttered the new area felt.
As the area had moved from a flat pencil sketch to a fully rendered coloring, the perceived
space became better defined. Objects which had been piled together before are
by "empty space" that you can now sense. There's still a lot of detail, but it seems more
open and visually manageable.
The Tools Involved: The Pencil-Dust Problem
The tools I use when coloring are:
- Prismacolor pencils
- blank typing paper
- a big, soft brush
- frisket film
I keep the blank piece of paper under my right (pencil-holding) hand while coloring. This helps
to prevent smearing, especially of the pencil-dust flecks that accumulate. The brush is used
to dust those flecks off every few minutes. The brush needs to be very soft, or the bristles
end up just rubbing the flecks onto the paper and causing permanent dots. A big brush simply
makes the dusting faster. To be exact, the brush I use is a Loew-Cornell 275, 3/4 inch (see
picture below for scale)
because it's one I had handy; it works great. The frisket film is a new method I found
recently for lightening an area or fixing a mistake. One side of the film is
slightly tacky. When placed tacky-side down on the colored pencil, it can pick up a small
amount of the color. This is done by applying pressure on top of the
film with a blunt tip (I often use my Prismacolors). There is a small risk of damaging the paper
underneath by repeated pressure, but overall it's a much less damaging
and more precise way of lifting color than by using erasers.
As you can see, two of the four listed items are used specifically to minimize the effects of
pencil dust. If you don't take steps to reduce these flecks, they will cause two problems:
a general darkening of the paper around the colored areas and lots of small dots
all over the surface of your piece. The dots are nearly impossible to remove, and will smear
when you color over them later.
Dark colors and heavy pressure create the worst amount of dust, but it will accumulate over time
even with light colors and little pressure. A heavy toothed paper makes
the problem worse. The most practical solution
I've found so far is constant use of the big, soft brush.
The typing paper keeps the colored pencil (and initial sketch) from smearing
under my hand. It also keeps the oils of my skin off the surface of the
piece. After a few hours, the bottom of the paper picks up a lot of the
pencil dust. Simply turn it over, then throw the entire sheet away when
the second side becomes dirty. Since this piece of paper is only used to
keep the artwork (and my hand) clean, I use the cheapest typing paper I can
A Final Note: Scale
The scan of the pencil and brush, above, is a perfect chance to show the scale of
the detail in the piece. Here is a closer view of the same scan. The Prismacolor is the same
size as an average pencil. The piece of artwork is 19" x 11".