Monday, May 20, 2013

Working with Crayon

Crayon?  Sure, why not! I'd be willing to bet that, for most of us, crayons are the first tool we ever used to make art.  And for a toy like paper dolls, crayons seem very appropriate.

I also wanted to talk about crayons because one of my nieces made me a paper doll for my birthday.  It's the first time anyone has made a doll for me, and not the other way around!  Her medium of choice right now is crayon.

I have a nostalgic love for Crayola, so this doll will be colored using Crayola crayons.  There are a number of crayon brands out there.  Each has a different wax to pigment ratio, different color schemes, and, in some cases, different types of wax.  I am also using artist's beeswax crayons to demonstrate how those work.

First things first, get a doll prepped & ready to go.  Usually I use a mechanical pencil and ink over it, or erase it and paint over it.  Today, we're not doing that.  Crayons can pick up pencil marks and smear them all over paper.  As a result, I recommend using a hard, light pencil, such as a 4H.

If pencil grades are new to you, H is for hard and B is for soft.  Why B? I dunno.  The numbers indicate the level of hardness or softness.  A 4H is a fairly hard, light pencil. A 9H is even more so.  Hard pencils are lighter than soft pencils.  And to further confuse matters, F is the midpoint between H and B pencils.  Check out this Wikipedia article for more information.

So I outlined a doll on smooth paper using a lightbox & a 4H pencil.  Make sure your lines are clean and light.  I traced my doll without erasing, and, if you can, try for that.  Eraser marks will show on the paper.  I'm not going to post an image of the outlines - the image is too faint.  And that's exactly what you want!

Once more thing before we color a doll.  Choose your surface carefully.  Any surface you color on will come through as a texture.  I like to color on a drafting board or on a few sheets of paper to eliminate any textures.

Here's a comparison of beeswax and Crayola crayons.  Beeswax crayons are easy to find (there are tons on Amazon) and come in a variety of shapes and colors.  My set includes 8 block crayons (perfect for covering large areas) and crayon-shaped sticks. 

I used the block crayon in the top sample.  I used a tortillon (or blending stump.  See the Colored Pencil on Smooth Paper lesson)  to blend part of it.  I then used a stick to create two lines below.  And I blended the bottom one.  I like this effect on the smooth paper.  It ends up looking almost like marker or paint.

For the Crayola sample, I did the same thing on the top three samples as I did on the beeswax crayons.  The bottom three samples are from the Twistables line.  These are a harder crayon.  Keep these in mind for detail work.

I colored the skintone first and added some shadows.  Then, blend those together with blending stump.  A lot of the color came off and left a bit of a shine on the paper.

This is a close-up before blending.  I tried to add pink to the lips & cheeks.  You'll see how that turns out...

After blending, I added a slightly darker brown to make the shadows a little deeper, and blended again.

Here's the second layer after blending.  The pink blends almost completely out, which isn't quite what I had in mind.

Another close-up.  I colored over the blended color with the skintone.

Another close-up.  I colored the hair with two similar colors.  I colored the eyes and clothing.  Unfortunately, this is about as much detail as I could get with crayon.

Here's the final doll.  I'm not thrilled with the way it came out, but I felt that posting it was important.  Not every experiment is a success, but every experiment is a learning experience.  In this case, I think I'd like to play around with markers or colored pencils with the crayons.  I love the way the the crayon leaves a subtle color on the paper, but it needs a little contrast.  Worth working on some more.

As usual, any suggestions or comments are always welcome!


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