Color Layering: Using Color Theory to Create Rich Illustrations | Sarah Nelson | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Color Layering: Using Color Theory to Create Rich Illustrations

teacher avatar Sarah Nelson, Artist and Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. The Class Projects

    • 3. Color Basics

    • 4. Color Layering 101

    • 5. Bold Colors

    • 6. Lights

    • 7. Darks

    • 8. Put It All Together

    • 9. Conclusion

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

It’s time to put on some jazzy music, grab your favorite snack, and get out ALL of your markers (or colored pencils) because we are going to have a COLORING PARTY! Using beautiful wildlife as our muse, we are going to explore the exciting world of Color Layering - empowering you to share your dazzling illustrations with the world!  

This class has something for everyone! If you have worked with color your whole life, but never with limited color mediums - this is for you! If you are brand new to the magical universe of color, don’t fret! I will take you step-by-step and you will come away with work more than worthy of your fridge! 


I used to be terrified of using color in my work until I stumbled on markers. They opened up a new world of expression and creativity that I never knew was in me. Now, I have built my full time artist career on these mediums and techniques! The methods have not only unlocked new mediums for me, but empowered my painting and my digital work as well! I want to take you on the journey of understanding how to use these unique mediums, and the color layering process, in hopes that it unlocks new ideas, opportunities, and forms of expression for you as well- whether it is for your personal creative process or your professional one!

In this course you will learn: 

  • A refresh on basic color theory
  • The foundations of color layering + using limited color mediums 
  • How to tackle bold and vibrant colors with color layering
  • How to use color layering to add shape to light subjects
  • How to use color layering to create rich and dynamic dark subjects


  • Limited Color Medium (markers or colored pencils) ** I will be using Copic markers - a list of markers I use are in the PDF
  • Paper
  • Scratch Paper
  • Printed Worksheets (class resource section)
  • Reference Photos on Pinterest Board 
  • The snazzy PDF workbook I made especially for this class! (class resource section) 

Please say hello! 


Original Music for this class was created by the magnificent John Mark Nelson!!


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sarah Nelson

Artist and Illustrator

Top Teacher

Hi! My name is Sarah Nelson and I am a full time artist and illustrator in sunny Los Angeles, CA.  

I am obsessed with our incredible planet, so most of my work is inspired by all the new things that I am learning about wild life and ecosystems. My usual project docket includes large scale (6+ft) pen and marker drawings for art exhibits or private commissions, and illustration work for clients using Adobe Fresco! 

In 2017 I quit all of my day jobs and became a full time artist. I have had solo exhibits and participated in group shows around the country, all focused on environmental concerns and the overwhelming beauty of our natural world.

Some recent work highlights:

 - In January 2021 I completed a&nbs... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hello all, my name is Terri Nelson and I'm an artist and illustrator here in Los Angeles, I love color, I am obsessed with the ways the color work together and the way that you can use color to express something, I think it's an incredibly powerful tool, I use it every single day in multiple capacities, and I'm so excited to share what I've learned and what has empowered my career, I hope you're getting excited too and starting to dream about how this can open up a world of new projects and new approaches with new mediums for your personal practice or career. One of my favorite things about color layering is that it gives you the tools to create rich color illustrations with mediums that are not mixable. These colors are limited in that we have to buy each individual shade of every single color that we're hoping to work with. I am so inspired by the natural world, so we're going to be using birds and fish in order to learn the techniques that we're going to be talking about today, this class is for all skill levels. I have all of these drawings in the class resource section for you, they're in a PDF, they're downloadable, they're printable, so that you can color right on them and print them out as many times as you want. By the end of this class, you'll have a better understanding of how to use and incorporate color theory into your illustrations, especially when working with color limited mediums. You'll be able to tackle bold colors, and highlights and lights, and bring the depths of the darks to their highest potential. Post all of your work, post the markers that you have, post inventory that you have posted in-process work that you have your base layers, all of these things that we're going to talk about, post them in the class projects section. Let me encourage you. Let me tell you how awesome you are. Also, if you have questions, please reach out with questions. I want to be there to help you feel empowered. I will wait to see what you create. Let's do this. 2. The Class Projects: Hi, everyone. Let's dive into talking about our class project. I am so excited about these. I've got a series of many projects that build up to the final project, just to make sure that you feel really equipped and comfortable with the skills that we're talking about in this class and feel good about the end project and diving into it. We're going to start with a color wheel, some color inventory. Move into actual basics of color layering, which we call clear sequencing. We're going to dive into bold colors using the Gouldian finch. Then we'll go from there and translate those and how to navigate highlights and then again, how to navigate shadows. Each of those have their own lessons where we'll work on a snowy owl and a two can, and then finally we'll put it all together using all of the techniques that we've talked about and work on a beautiful koi fish were so capable. It's going to be really fun. All you'll need for this class are the worksheets that I have available in the class resource section. Some markers or colored pencils. If you really want to, you can use watercolor as well. If you want to use the exact markers I'm using in this class, I have those available as a shopping list in the class resource section, PDF as well. Please check that out. Let me know if you have any additional questions and let's get started. 3. Color Basics: I am so excited to dive into the world of color with you. Got my markers at the ready, and I just want to dive into a little bit of what color actually does, how it relates to one another, some of the basics that maybe we haven't touched on in a long time. Make sure that we have those fresh in our minds as we try to figure out how to navigate these limited color mediums. If you want to really deep dive into color theory, there are some awesome color theory classes in Skillshare. I've got a list of some of my favorites that are available to you, I'm just going to do enough to set you up for the rest of the lessons and the rest of the class. Let's dive in. I'm going to encourage you to get out your markers right now and build a color wheel with me. It's good practice and it helps you know which colors you have in stock and how they relate to one another. Primary colors are the colors that are used to create all other colors that we know and no color combination can create them in return. When we're working with traditional mediums, we don't have every version of every single color available to us, so we'll naturally be working with a more limited color palette. I'm going to use the colors I have that are closest to the true blue, red, and yellow. Use the same that you have just as close as you can get to pure yellow, blue, and red. I'm going to blue at the top, and my true blue is a little bit lighter than what true blue would be if I had that. Then my red is really on the orangey side. My yellow is pretty spot on. I'm just going to form a triangle. Now I'm going to move into some color addition, some color math. What do we get when we add red and yellow? You guessed it, orange. From blue and red, we get purple. I'm going to use my eggplant color. Then from yellow and blue, we get green. These are called secondary colors. Then we're going to do this color math one more time, and we're going to add our secondary colors to our primary colors. Blue and green creates more of a turquoise, I'm going to use ice ocean. Green and yellow creates more of a greenish yellow. I'm going to use anise honey for the orange-yellow combination, Vermilion for my orange-red combination, I'm going to use baby blossom to blend my purple and red. Lastly, blue bell for my purply blue combination. Now we have our tertiary colors. Color gradation doesn't end here. You can mix infinitely, but this work will complete our color wheel. We're going to move on from this, but I do want to mention all of the colors that you do have in stock falls somewhere within this color wheel. Knowing how this color wheel shifts and how these colors work together helps us know how to fit those colors and which will help us create bridging colors, which is going to be important as we get into color layering. When we look at this wheel, we may start to see how it's naturally separating into warm and cool colors. That being said, the closer your blue gets toward red or yellow, the warmer it will feel. Then let's just look at grays for a second because I don't know that people know how to classify whites, and blacks, and grays. That's because they can fit in both categories, warm or cool. Some even have other colors in them and oftentimes, it'll be mentioned in the title. Another part of color is when you start working with tones, adding black and gray to white. In most cases, you would assume it would just create a lighter or darker version of that color, but when you actually think about it, you start to realize that with reds, once you start adding white, you quickly exit the world of reds and you find yourself in a land of pinks. Similarly, if you add black to yellow or an orange, you've really quickly leave the world of yellows and oranges, and you end up in the world of browns. Color layering is all about finding bridging colors to help blend things together. As an addition project for this lesson, I want you to look at a picture or something around you, so for example, I'm going to use this little bamboo tree and I'm going to document the greens and the additional colors that I see in it. If there are any other colors in the highlights or in the shadows that I might not have noticed right off the bat. If it's more of a yellow green, I'm going to know that I want to use more yellow and warm colors in my base layers or my highlights, and warm dark colors in my shadows. I'm going to make just a little inventory with the color markings that I think are closest to what I actually have and closest to what I see. I want you to do the same and to share photo of what you were looking at and share your color inventory and what you came up with. Lastly, I want to touch on a few types of color relationships. Like these complimentary colors which happened to be the colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel. You're going to find that these combinations are all around you. Yellow and purple, lots of sports colors. Green and red, Christmas. Using things like complimentary colors, primary colors, analogous colors which are just using colors that are right next to one another on the color wheel. Or even monochrome colors, which is just using different values in the same singular color. They are all effective ways to express yourself creatively. The more that we familiarize ourselves with color, and how it's useful, and how it works, the more confident we will feel when working with them. Thanks so much for joining me on this color adventure, I am so excited to see your color wheels and your color palettes. Let's get started with some actual color sequencing. 4. Color Layering 101: We have talked so much about color. It's time to put it into practice. If you haven't already grabbed the sphere worksheet that can be found in the class resource section, print it out on some drawing paper if you have it, and grab your limited color medium. Color layering it's a really special color work. I'm really excited about it. Get that sphere out, grab whatever markers you have the most variety of colors of and let's dive in. I can't wait to see what you make. Now it is time to take what we've learned and absorbed and apply it to color layering. Color layering it's most specifically used with mediums that are not mixable and have the ability to be a bit transparent. Markers, colored pencils, even watercolor, which can be mixed, they all have this transparent quality and this ability to build on top of one another. The first part of color layering is to learn how to organize your color layers. I personally call this color sequencing. It is not an official term, but it is the word I'm going to use for this process. The best way to understand color sequencing is to try it for yourself. I have a bunch of different marker colors. I've got my blues, greens, yellows, purples here. I'm going to pick a pink as my general go-to color for this sphere, I recommend you go with whatever color you have the most variations of. The first thing I always do is to identify my base layer. What is going to be my lightest color? We're going to keep a scratch sheet of paper next to me in order to test colors before using them, I'm going to start with pale pink fruit, and I'm going to work my way from the bottom of this sphere to the top with linear motions. I always want to start my mark from the part of the object that is furthest from the light source. Because even with light colors, the second I touch pen to paper, it's going to absorb the most ink in that spot and be the darkest part of my stroke. As your stroke continues, the color is going to fade and that's going to create this nice gradient going towards the middle. That's a really great way to create a base layer. I'm going to move to a slightly darker color next, you can see that this one's a good amount darker than my first color and is going to act as a good mid-tone. I'm going to repeat my stroke just like I did for my first layer from the bottom to the top and let it fade a little bit. So far, color sequencing probably seems pretty simple. We just move from light to dark. That is the general idea. But we need to re-mix it a bit by taking some steps backward every once in a while, sequencing matters because even though you don't change the colors you're using, you continue to repeat back to other colors. You need to know how to bridge those colors so that the blending is smooth as it can be and you want to be sure you're not moving into your darks too quickly without transition colors underneath. Because once you go bold or dark, there's no going back and it's really important to build up to it. Let's look at our second layer. Overall, it's pretty good, but I'm going to use my first marker, that base layer pale pink fruit to blend the first and the second one together. I'm going to make marks across the entire space that you can already see that it's making it look a little darker and a little more blended in almost every single color layering case it's a bit of a one step forward, one step back, using colors you used before to create transitions. Lighter colors also naturally have more transparency and tend to help soften the edges of bolder colors. They are excellent for bridging. Let's try this rose pink, which is slightly darker. It's going to make shorter marks this time and I'm going to move gently along the base and even repeat over the same layer. You can already see that it is blending into itself. You can see how we have this dark mid and light starting to take shape and we have only used three markers so far. I guess we could call it here, but because I have more colors to play with, I'm going to keep going and I'm going to move on to a slightly deeper pink. That's a good in-between. I'm going to brush from the base up and then I'm going to go back to my pale fruit to finish the blending process and cover the entire sphere again to make it look a little more smooth. I'm going to try this even darker, more purpley color. I'm going to use it essentially as an outline because it's a little too much of a jump from my last color, even as tiny amount of color is adding a lot of depth. I'm going to go back with my rose pink to blend it into. The bolder you go the less recovery you have so you always want to move into your darks and bold slowly. Well, let's see what happens if we add this smokey purple. It's a little lighter than the darker one I just used. It's this perfect bridge. The more markers you have at your disposal, the more smooth your transition will be and the more depth your gradient can have, I'm going to use another lighter tone, milky white, which is a step darker than my base, but I'm going to use it to cover everything up until latest part at the top of the sphere just to give it a sunset feel. My darks and my mids, they're all still looking good. Just for fun, I'm going to try a super bold color. This part always makes my heart race because bold colors are hard to add if you don't have a lot of good transition colors, if you do decide to use a really bold color, you are going to want a mid or a light color on hand to immediately soften the edges so that you can blend it as much as possible. I'm going to go back and use my blossom color to bring it back to the sunset tones and then my smoky purple to blend in a little bit further. Let's try silk to blend it all together once again. We have completed this sphere. Please post your sphere in the class project section so we can ooh and ah at your color work. Next up, we're going to talk about bold colors I'm really excited to dive into a few. I'll see you there. 5. Bold Colors: Let's talk about bold colors. What do you do when you're trying to layer all of these really, really bright rich colors? They are not easy. They're actually really, really hard. The Gouldian finch is an amazing way of practice on this because it has all of these bold color patches. We get to go through all these different color families to figure out how to layer them. I'm really excited to do this with you. Print out the Gouldian finch worksheet, grab your markers or your other color limited mediums, and let's get started. If you don't have a lot of different marker or color pencils in various color families, don't worry. You won't always have the perfect color match. Improvise with what you have. I am so excited to see what you make. Let's do this. We will start with the beak, I will use pale pink fruit. I will move from the edge of the beak inward, and I will also add just a hint of purple. Just like with the sphere, I will move from my lights to my meds. I'm going to use my lights to blend layers together. I'm going to use S3 to place the shadow under the beak and along the mouth and then I'm going to add some pink to soften some of the layers. For the dark part of the chin I end wings, I'm going to use C3 and C5, and I'll finish it up with some grayish violet and slit just for the edges. Let's move on to our reds. With most colors you add white and it becomes a later version of that same color, but with red, it transitions into pinks very quickly. I need to find a base color in the general reddish family. The first thing I need to ask myself is it an orangey red or a purpley red? I think it's an orangey red, so I'm going to use T orange as my base layer. We always want to use a super light version of our main color and work from the edges in and for reds that will always be either an orange or pink shade, maybe a purple. It gets a little nerve-wracking when working with red specifically because there aren't a lot of bridging color steps to take. I'm going to bank on orange highlights and I'll use some honey and then I got to go straight for the deep end and use vermilion, which is a pretty dark orange or red. Any other situation, this would break all of my rules because I usually work up pretty slowly into bold colors. But in the case of reds, you really don't have much choice and you just got to go for it. I'm going to use honey, just move over the vermilion and allow the orange highlight to pop. I'm going to use mahogany, which has a little brown in it and can act as a really good shadow. To blend it, I'm going to use prawn, which is another red shade and will help me blend in some of the highlights of the head. Then I'm going to use a purply gray just to add some gentle shadows to increase some of the depth and the roundedness of the head. Purpley shadows in a red are really helpful because guess what? Red and blue makes purple so it's already a part of the concoction. Then I'll go back to some of the other colors that I already used, like prawn and late mahogany, and vermilion and just move it all over. It's starting to come together. Let's move on to those blues. I want to go in aqua direction but I want to start with a lighter, brighter blue. I'm going to use moon white and go from the darker side out. We'll use it as a blue base for the tail feathers too and then I'm going to add a rising green as my second layer. I will only use it in a few small sections like the crease and in between the feathers. Then I'm going to use porcelain blue as my blender and top it all off with aqua blue. I'm going to move on to my greens. I'll use dim green as a base and then pale moss. An interpretation of this type of greenness that has a lot of yellow in it and I'm going to use annex to push the greens in a more yellow direction. It's also going to help it feel brighter. I am going to need a bridge color before I go into my shadows and I'm going to use cobalt for that. Then I'm going to use willow, I will blend it in with pale moss. I see a little bit of brown peeking through underneath some of the green feathers. I'm going to use sand white. I'm going to add it to those base feathers, but it's also going to be added into the green section, which will add a little bit more yellow into that green. We'll use cobalt, just a little hint of it and blend it in with another mid-tone. Then I feel pretty good about my greens. Let's move on to our browns. I'm going to use lineup brown, which has a bit of gold hint to it. Then I'll add fig and dark brown, which are pretty dark. Let's talk yellows. I'm going to use macadamia nut as my base, and I'm going to use my pen lines as my anchor for that color and I'll follow it up with pale yellow, should help the highlights really pop. I'll do a second layer to add just a little bit more shadow to that pale yellow layer, and then use macadamia nut to blend. A follow-up with buttercup yellow, lighting yellow, and again, use pale yellow as a blender. It's really a one step forward and a step back. It's a dance just like we had with our sphere. I'll use lightening yellow mostly on the far side and around the feet, allowing it to act a bit like a shadow. Making smaller marks helps a bold color look like it's tapering off. I will use buttercup yellow to blend in lightening and pale yellow again to bring some of those highlights and the brightness back. Macadamia nut for the final blending touch and here we go into our very last section, purples. Here are the colors that I'm planning to start with. I'm going to use iridescent mauve, which is a light lilac and I'm going to work my way towards the interior from the edges following the flow, the feathers. Then I will leave the white of the paper showing through the highlights just for now. Then I'm going to add another layer of pale blue and maybe some smoky pink here. I'll continue to keep that center a little lighter by just not adding as many layers. Hydrangea is next. Then all the way back to iridescent mauve to help me blend all of this in. Time to be brave and get into our very bold and dark colors. I'm going to use blue bell for some shadows and then I'm going to dive in with lilac, which is a very bright purple because I don't have much of a bridge here. I'm going to use lilac to cover the entire area. What I'm going to do is rely on the layers that I already laid down and built up to show through just enough to really show the depth of this part of the body and they're doing that. Great. Then I'm going to go back to blue bell and smoky purple. I'm going to bridge some more gaps between shadows and lilac and then use lilacs blended in all over again. I'll finish it up with grayish violet, which will really help deepen the shadows and again, it's in the purple family, so fits right in. Finally, we need to adjust the tail feathers and feet. The feet have a little pink in them, so I'm going to use pink flamingo as the base and some tea orange for a shadow. Then I'll add champagne to deepen the shadow. Then I will return back to my meds and lights, blend it all in and then to finish up the blue part of the feathers, I'm going to use ice ocean, which is going to help bring home that blue tail by adding some of that shadow. I think we did it. We have a vibrant Gouldian finch. I'm so proud. I'm so excited to see yours. Please post your finch in the class project section, tell us all about your process, about your color selection, what you were working with, what part was hard, and I'll see you in the next lesson where we'll talk about our lights. 6. Lights: Now we're going to take a lot of what we learned and turn it into a specific type of color layering, which is what we use when we're working on very light or weight subject matter. Because when we look at something that's white or light, even though we're translating it as the latest thing that we're seeing, it still has shadow and it has different colors reflecting in it. We want to figure out how to use color layering and color sequencing to add that shadow and that depth even to light and weight objects. I'm really excited to dive into this. We are going to use a beautiful bird, the snowy owl, which is awesome for this project. I hope you have fun. Go ahead and print that out, you'll find it in the class resource section, and let's get started. White emulate subjects are so tricky because they require a lot of intentionality. The rule of thumb is truly that less is more. With dark so you can cover things up, with lights once you pass your goal there is no turning back. That being said, don't worry, I'm going to guide you through navigating weights and we're going to do it while admiring the snowy owl. I am a firm believer that nothing is just one color. When I look at things I'm looking for those base tones. Weights always have a shade, They are cool or warm, and you see that mostly in their shadows and in their mid-tones. In this snowy owl, I'm going to go with warmer light colors. I'm going to start with my N1, which is a really light gray. Like I said before, less will truly be more. We want to be sure this owl stays snowy and doesn't turn gray. I'm going to start where I noticed shadows and I'm going to use the pen work as my guide. Our paper will always be our lightest color, which is going to make blending trickier because we will never have the white of our paper to use as a bridge blender into our other colors that we're going to apply. I'm not going to add much, and I'm going to be really intentional with my marker line work. Isn't it amazing how this my lightest gray is already filling so dark. Go slow. Don't rush and be sure to use your scratch paper before working on the drawing. A trick that I like to use when I don't have pen work to hide behind, and I don't have anywhere to anchor my initial marker line, is that I'm going to do a stroke above and then below, and I'm going to blend them together in that middle. I will try to put it behind some initial pen work, but that's a great tool to create a gradient in areas that don't have anything to anchor to. I'm going to use my pale gray blue that helps add a little bit more dimension to my gray shadows. Next, I'm going to add macadamia nut, also going to tie in the yellow of the eyes into the rest of the piece. I will go ahead and work on the eyes while my macadamia nut is out, and I'm going to add buttercup yellow for my mid, and then lightning as my dark yellow. Then I'm going to get my grayish violet out for the pupils and the beak. Using C3, which is a slightly darker gray, is going to help me deepen the shadows. I'm only going to use it in small areas around the face. I'm just barely touching pen to paper. Using it truly just as hints here and there. Then I'm going to use my pale gray-blue to soften those layers together again. For the spacles in the fur, I'm going to add this brown color, fig and voila, here we have it. We did it, we have learned how to do white and late subject matter. Less is more, go slow, and be sure to post your snowy owl here in glass project section. I can not wait to see them. I'll see you in the next lesson where we'll talk about our darks. 7. Darks: We have mastered, or at least gotten comfortable with talking about highlights and white subject matter. We're going to talk about the darks and how to navigate those color layers. I'm really, really excited about this. If you haven't already, please print out the toucan in the class resource section. Don't forget to post this at the end. Lets dive into the world of dark colors. I really like the process of making darks really rich and vibrant and I hope you do too. Like with all the other drawings we've worked on so far, we're going to start with our base layer. Dark areas always have an undertone. Is it a warm dark, is it a cool dark, is it a neutral dark? In this case, the case of the toucan, I see some blue highlights. I'm going to use porcelain blue, a very, very light blue for the base. Notice how I have a lot of pen work already included in the toucan, and notice how I left a lot of areas that are technically black, a little lighter, that is so that the range of color within the black body can actually show through. I want to be able to show lights and mids because the darks have that. They have highlights, they have range. I'm going to move on to Phthalo blue and add it to the eye and into some of the more shaded parts of the body. Another tip here is that if you're having trouble finding a color for the base, it's helpful to use a color that's already in the subject like this blue is already in different parts of the body, so it's going to naturally help tide that drawing together. If I wasn't sure what the undertone is going to be, I might add just a light version of that blue just because it was in the eyes, or I could go the other direction and add light yellows because I saw them in the beak. I'm going to use cardinal red for the bottom of the toucan's body, and then I'm going add a little more blue to his cute little eyes and move into the true darks from there. I'm going to grab that fancy grayish violet because it stays in the bluish family. Why do I know it stays in the blueish family? Because a violet is the product of blue and red. I'm going to work from the sides and anchoring my marker tip and moving away from the sides. This bird doesn't have a ton of highlights so I'm going to cover it all with the marker. Because we already had layers with our blues in it, it will show through, but in a subtle and effective way. Then I'm going to go a step darker with C7. It acts similarly to grayish violet and the layers will continue to build and keep the previous layers as a cell hint showing through. Then our darkest color is going to be slick, which is another bluish black. It's not a true black. The only true block that I'm going to use is my pen work, and this time I'm not going to cover the highlighted tail portion. I'm going to use C7 and just blend it in with the rest so that it stays a little bit lighter. I'm going to continue to rotate through my colors, and even though the variance is subtle, the colors are truly looking rich and dynamic, which is making me really excited. I will now move onto beak, I'm going to use macadamia nut for the base and a little on the white portion of the neck as well. Then I'm going to use N1 for cool shadows, tea orange and pale yellow to help brighten up that beak. Then we're off to a big jump into the bold end of the pool with vermilion. I won't use it a ton, but I'm going to use it a bit. I'm going to use the color honey to blend it in with the rest of the beak. I still feel like the top portion needs to stay pretty yellow, so I'm going to add some lightening and ocher to help me out with that. I'm going to use ocher for the shadow that almost looks like a little ripple on the beak. Then I'm also going to use C3 gray, which is going to help me add a shadow to the eye and to the beak. I'm just going to add those little hints just like I did with the snowy owl, just around the edges. Lastly, I'm going to use C1 to blend in some of those lighter areas too. We cannot forget his feet. I'm going to use C3 and a little porcelain blue to give that funky shine and I'm going to add a little bit of grayish lavender for the shadow. Then you can give yourself a pat on the back because you did it. You wave your way through layering dark colors and I'm so proud of you. I'm so excited to see your work. You can see that whether you're working with darks or lights or any color family, the process is the same. You start with a base color, you work your way into gradient of light, mid and darks, and you use the colors you used along the way to blend as you go. I cannot wait to see your toucans and hear about your experience working with your dark markers. Please post your work in the class project section and reach out if you have any questions or thoughts. Next up we dive into our main class project, I can not wait. I'll see you there. 8. Put It All Together: You've done so much. You've gone through color wheel and color basics. You've gone through the basics of color sequencing with limited color mediums. You've talked about the lights, you've talked about the darks, and now it is finally time to put it all together and we're going to do that with the beautiful koi fish. They bring together the lights, the darks, the bolds, and even talk about transparency. It's a perfect thing to really tie in everything that we've been talking about. Go ahead and print out the worksheet that exists in the class resource section and grab all of your markers and let's do this. It's time. You have learned the layering in multiple contexts and it's time to put it all together. Friends, what do we do first? You're absolutely correct. We find our base layer. With this fish, we're going to have a few different base layers. We're going to have one for our white section and one for our red section. The first one I'm going to use is macadamia nut, and I'm going to use it as a warm base layer, especially at the top of the fish. Then I'm going to make my way down with it. I'm not using it for everything. I'm only applying it to a few portions of the fin and body. I'm going to use pinkish vanilla for the base of the reddish orange layer. I wanted to have an orange pink feel right from the start. I'm going to move from the edges, inward, top, bottom to center, and then just like with all the other animals and the sphere that we worked on, we're going to put our pen down first in the area that we're moving away from. Furthest away from our light source because that's where the darkest part of our color will be, because the most ink is absorbed there. The last bit of base layer is going to be N1 and it's going to go into the fish fins. These fins are transparent, so the color they carry is subtle and I won't need much treatment there. I'm going to use N1 just really for the shadows more than anything and let the white of my paper carry the highlights. Just hints here and there. I'm also going to add a little hint in the reds because as they get built up, it's going to act as a shadow. You can see the base layers are fully in play now and it's time to start building on them. Let's use milk white to finish up the top part of this fishes face, since it has a little bit more color in it. Then I'm going to add to the top of the red section on the right side since it has a brighter side to it, and we'll need something to shine through the bold color to help it not feel flat. Let's use tea orange next to build our red layers, yellows and hot pinks. This is a tip, are excellent colors when trying to give a brightness to something especially a bold color. They're usually able to shine through without showing off their own color. I'm going to add honey, especially to the left side of the ridge and we'll leave a few areas for the highlights to help the base layer shine through, and then I'll add a bit on the tail and allow my drawing lines to curve with the tail too, and that helps add to the feeling of it being in motion. Time to dive in and be brave. We've done it before. We can do it again. It's time to use vermilion. It is always a scary transition. I'm going to start with the darkest parts of the fish and I'll move from the base to the top of the fin on the left side and work my way up. I can see that the honey in the orange layers are really coming through, which is a really great sign. I'm going to go over my vermilion layer again with the same colors so that it covers up some of the streaks and deepens the red orange. Then I'm going to add a coral which has a bit of a pink feel in its redness. It's going to help the natural red look just feel a little bit lighter. I'm going to use it to blend a little bit on both sides too. I'm going to use vermilion on the left side to just emphasize a little bit more its light shadow, and then add some honey to the right side to help it feel even brighter on the right. It's doing really good. Next up I'm going to use some light mahogany. It's my favorite way to use a shadow on the red because it has some brownish notes to it. Let's talk about this top fin that is blocking our view of a portion of the body. The fin is transparent, so we can see a portion of the body through the fin. But because of the fin is a whitish transparent color, the red will appear orange or pink through it. Think white plus reddish orange. I'm going to use tea orange to show streaks of the body that are showing through. There are also some other parts of the body that have some hints of orange and I'm just going to go ahead and add to those too. Now I'm going to use macadamia nut to blend in a bit of the tea orange in the rest of the body. I want to be sure I'm really keeping portions of the body, the white of the paper. I'm going to use C1 as the final blender. It looks so good, but I need it to go a little bit darker. I'm going to go risky and I'm going to add some grayish lavender, and just subtly suggest a little bit of those scales with some half circles throughout the body and give a subtle lines to the red, just to emphasize that edge. Barely using this color, I'm just going to use it to add a little bit of emphasis. I'll use C1 to blend those last touches together. I'll go over it with a little more vermilion on the gray lavender, and I think we did it. This is so exciting. I hope that you feel really, really proud of this piece. I hope that you feel empowered. I cannot wait to see your koi. Please, please, please post your final coloring work on the koi in the class project section. Congratulations, please stick around for some final thoughts. I'm so proud of you. 9. Conclusion: I am so proud of you, so proud of you. I'm so pumped to see everything that you've created. You have been refreshed on all of the color basics of color theory, and worked on a color wheel, worked on a color palette, and you dove into actual color layering and all of the basics and that using a sphere, and then you took it up a notch and we dove into the bolds and you mastered the bolds with a Gouldian finch. Then we went into light, and you mastered that with the snowy owl, and beyond that, you even took on the darks and you created a beautiful toucan. Now, you've put it all together and I am so proud of you. You have figured out how to navigate limited color mediums, which is a big thing to do. I hope you feel really proud and excited about it. I hope that you leave feeling so empowered and excited about new mediums, new opportunities. That you feel inspired and that you feel supported because you have so much inside of you that the world is only better off if they get to experience. All I want is that you leave this class having had fun, learned some things, also feel empowered to bring out what's in here into the world. Please review the class, post everything that you've created, all your thoughts and ideas, everything in the class project section. I can't wait to ooh and ahh over it. I love responding to your thoughts in the discussion sections, so please, please reach out. Check out my other classes on Skillshare and see you in another class.