ART of COLORING® is my registered mark for all coloring products: coloring books and coloring prints. I am continuously working on adding more to the gallery... Please feel free to send me suggestions and comments.

Below are some coloring tips that might be useful for beginner artists. I also included some samples of finished colored prints so they can be used as a reference.


colored pencils watercolors acrylics


Finished samples:



Art Nouveau Designs

Please note:
Some images are for color reference only - they have not been colored by hand yet.




Art Nouveau Patterns
Art Deco Patterns
Victorian Patterns

I recommend using colored pencils, gel pens and markers for coloring small areas in the patterns.

Ideas and instructions are to follow.

Coloring tips

Colored pencils

Colored pencils are an excellent art medium for coloring. Good-quality colored pencils are even better (My favorite is Prismacolor). You can use colored pencils to help make your drawings realistic and dimensional. All it takes is an understanding of how light reflects off a surface, and following a simple four-step coloring technique. Any complex form can be broken down into basic shapes. Once you understand the technique, you can apply the steps to any part of the design.

Think about how light is reflected from a surface that is facing a light source, making that area appear lighter. Usually these areas are the highest or most prominent. Areas that are further away from the light source are darker. Determining where a light source is enables you to know where to add shading.
Take a look at the Chiaroscuro effect:

  1. Highlight is the lightest area of an object. This is where direct light hits the surface.
  2. Light - as the surface curves, it does not get as much light, so value becomes slightly darker.
  3. Shadow - once the surface curves away from the light source, it does not receive any direct light, but it does get some indirect light from the surroundings - that's why it is not completely black.
  4. Reflected light is light that is bounced off the surfaces (surroundings), making the value slightly lighter.
  5. Cast shadow is the darkest value, but further it is from the object - lighter it gets.

Use chiaroscuro shading pattern when coloring. It can be applied to any form. When you shade (color) objects that are not placed into any surrounding space (illustration of a flower, design, etc) - you can skip the reflected light area as there are no surface to bounce the light off, there will not be a drop shadow either for the same reason. But you definitely has the main three: highlight, light, shadow.

Using colored pencils basics (practice worksheet)

  • Use Prismacolor pencils for better results (or any professional quality soft colored pencils)
  • Print out the worksheet
  • Choose a medium tone colored pencil as your main color for this exercise..


Once you chose a main color (medium blue) - you need to find two more pencils:

  • lighter tint of your main color (light blue), and
  • darker shade of your main color (dark blue)

White pencil is always helpful to lighten areas, blend light colors, fix mistakes, etc.


Sharpen the pencils before work. Continue sharpening them as you work on your assignment.

Practice shading with small strokes.

Your wrist should rest on the table, don't move it as you shade - move only the pencil - this way your strokes are tight and they are small. Reposition the wrist, then apply a new set of strokes - they can overlap, can be placed at different angles, or you can rotate the worksheet itself - whatever is more comfortable for you.


Strokes should be small - this way it is easier to control you shading.

Try shading while changing the pressure that you apply to your pencil - from full coverage (full strength) to fading.



If you move your wrist while shading - the strokes will become longer and sketchy - this is not the result we want for this particular assignment.

1 - solid color shading.

Stay inside the square.

No strokes and none of paper should be visible - solid, full strength coloring with small strokes.

Overlap strokes, make sure they fill in the entire area.

2 - gradation from color to a darker shade

Use two pencils: medium color and the darker shade.

Follow the steps below.

Transition should be smooth, without a define border between the colors.

Shade the square with the main color:

Start on the left with the full strength, lightening the pressure towards the middle, then completely fading.

On the right:

Shade with the dark color - full strength on the right, fading towards the left side.

Use the first (main) color for blending.

Use small strokes in all directions, or use circular strokes.


Always use the lighter color for blending.


3 - gradation from color to a lighter tint

Repeat the steps above with the main color and the lighter color.

Use the lighter color for blending.

4 - dark to medium to light

Create a 3-D shading (coloring) using all three pencils (main color + dark + light).

You can use WHITE pencil in the center for blending.

Strokes should follow the form.

5 - two-color gradation

Create a smooth transition from one color to another.

Remember to use the lighter color for mixing and blending.



Four step basic 3-D shading

Pick a dominant color - in this case it's medium green.

Prepare at least 3 pencils: WHITE, MEDIUM GREEN, and DARK GREEN. If you chose a different dominant color - use the formula:

White + Dominant color + Darker version of the main color

step 1

Start with a Medium Green. Shade lightly most of the surface.

step 2

Go over with the same Medium Green pencil and color more intensely, leaving the middle as is.

step 3

Use Dark Green and color in the sides of the shape, use Medium Green again to blend the two colors. Always use the lighter colors of the to for blending.

step 4

Use White pencil to blend the middle part - the lightest area.

Coloring a flower

Coloring a flower is not much more difficult that coloring a simple shape - the same rules are applied to each petal's surface: there are highlights, light areas, and shadows. There are also possible drop shadows from other petals!

Start with deciding on the main color. Then select colored pencils that you need to color the flower. Keep them as a group if you need to color multiple flowers in the design.

What I chose here (left to right):

Dark Brown and Indigo Blue - they are great for shadows
Dark Green - to add some green undertone to the areas, that are close to the stem
Dark Peach - for all mid-tones and shadows. Also works as a blender for the first three colors
Red - to add extra color to the edges of the petals
Light Peach - main color
Cream - for highlights

I'll focus on a simple shaped bud.

Place a piece of paper over the drawing so that you don't smudge it as you move your hand while coloring.

Place the highlights lightly.

Then focus on one petal at a time.

Shade lightly the light areas with the main color.

Overlap the two colors for better blending later.

Shade the darker areas (in this case it's the bottom of the petal)
Next, I added the red edges. Still very lightly shading, may be a little more intense close to the very edge.

Blending time!

I used the main color to blend all areas except the highlights.

Blend the highlight into the rest of the petal with the lightest pencil (in this case it is Cream)

Lightly added some green strokes for extra color.

Blend Green with the Dark Peach pencil.

This petal is done for now.

Color the other petal.

This petal is on the opposite side of the bud. If you compare the overall bud shape with a sphere - remember what is happening on the opposite side of a lit sphere? Shadow!

So I chose Dark Peach as a main color for this particular petal.

After the petal is colored - it's time to add more contrast and dimensions to the flower by separating the petals. How we separate them? By adding shadows.

This is when you use darker colors (Dark Brown and Indigo Blue) to lightly add darker tones to the shaded areas and areas with drop shadows.

Use Dark Peach to blend the dark colors.
Something like this.


click to enlarge

helpful links

color wheel color schemes ART 101 Op-design  


Use my rule #1:

Always mix colors before painting!!

Do not use paint straight out of a tube/pan

Coloring one shape at a time:

Coloring one shape at a time is a great technique if you are a beginner painter.

Once you are comfortable with watercolor paints - then go ahead and experiment with the washes and other watercolor techniques. Watercolors dry pretty fast - so you need to paint fast to achieve this unique "watercolor effect". So for now, let's color in one shape at a time. In my example - it's one petal at a time.

Apply a wash of a light shade of the dominant color onto the entire shape.

Don't wait till it dries to go to the next step.

Add other colors if needed and have them bleed with the wash.
As the paint dries - it becomes lighter - so you might need to add more colors to make colors look more vibrant.

In this image: I added extra color to the edges.

If the base wash is already dry - use a damp brush to fade the colors.

Add shadows.

I used a light blue wash to go over the areas that are in a shade.

Extra light blue wash for a soft shade.
When everything is dry - you can paint over to add more details.

You can lift color (lighten) by using a clean damp brush.

Other tips:

Use different shades of a color for areas that are in the light, and the ones in the shade - compare the leaves in the foreground and in the back.

You can darken some areas by applying a few washes to build up the value.

Have more color variations and details for the foreground areas, and less or no details for the background.

Use at least 2-3 colors or color shades inside each shape.

Make sure the colors "bleed" into each other for an authentic watercolor effect.

Don't be afraid to experiment with colors as you paint!




Acrylics is a very nice coloring medium - they dry fast, they are water soluble, odorless, and are easy to clean up. Few things you need to keep in mind though: they dry too fast (so don't place a lot of paint onto your palette) - you can add a drying retarder to your paint to keep it fresh; acrylics dry a shade darker than a fresh paint.

Use my rule #1: Always mix colors before painting!! Do not use colors directly from a tube!!!

Have a few brushes ready before you start painting.

Flat brushes are great for painting inside shapes define the edges.
Round brushes are great for painting longer strokes.

Unlike with colored pencils, you cannot get away with using just 2-3 colors to color in an area. Make sure you prepare your palette with multiple colors, even the ones, that you don't think you have in your area. These "extra" colors will serve you as add-ons to your main colors to create variety of shades for more "painting-like" effect. Flat colors make everything look cartoon-ish.

Mix, mix, mix colors!!!

Please do not use, for example Green paint to paint a green area. Try instead to mix a few variations of Blues and Yellows. As you can see in the picture - you can achieve a large variety of greens by mixing just 3 colors in different proportions.

This green square is painted with just three paints mixed. None of these paints was Green.

Can you see the slight variations of the colors? That is the effect that you want to achieve in your painting.

Even White and Grey areas can use some variety.

Look at the variety of shades you can create.

Different shades of Blue are great for defying the shadows.

Think of a light source as you paint.

Plan where you want to place your highlights and shadows.




Coloring Books

Sets of 24 original designs and patterns for coloring with markers, jel pens, and colored pencils.

Coloring Pages

12"x18" prints on acid-free watercolor paper. Suitable for all art media - including watercolors, acrylics, colored pencils, inks, markers, or a combination of the above.




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