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Color Planning on Paper

A leading colorist explains how she uses colored pencils and paper to plan her complex designs.

As a child, I loved coloring books and big boxes of crayons—the bigger the better—and I have never outgrown the love of coloring. So when I acquired the tin set of 120 Prismacolors some years ago, it was very much like getting my first box of 64 Crayolas. Only this time, I was coloring my very own designs.  

To conquer color planning on paper, you have to be familiar with your tools. Start with a nice selection of colored pencils and regular printer paper. If you want to be organized about it, color in an approximate 1/2" x 2" swatch to show a transition from light to dark for each color in your palette. To see a spectrum of values that any given color can produce, vary the pressure as you color. This exercise will also familiarize you with what the actual lead colors look like because sometimes the painted pencil exteriors are slightly off in their representation of the true lead color. Keep this swatch record for reference in all your future color planning until you become familiar with the pencils.

This article is from the November/December 2010 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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