If you’ve read any of my posts over the last few months you will probably have gleaned that I’m trying to get back into the swing of drawing and the 2D arts.  You may be rolling your eyes if you’ve been following me a while, saying “uuuuurgh we get it, you’re practicing, just get on with it.”

Okay. Okay. You get it I know–but I’m still beyond excited every single time something turns out okay.  There’s that moment of “Wow! I did it! go me!”

If you’re a parent and you kid comes to alert you every time they finish a book no matter how late, watch out they may have my syndrome.  the “wow look I did the thing!” syndrome.

But yesterday I sat down with my markers and prepared to colour in my little mermaid (who by the way, I decided I will not draw again and again, because I don’t want to draw her again for a while. I’m indecisive.  Expect to see her again in about 27 days.)

As I started thinking about what colours to use though, I realized i don’t have as great a grasp on my markers and blending groups as I’d like.  So Of course, I set out to chart them.  (mmmmm~ organization)

Now Copic has an official colour chart, but my printer only prints up to 8.5×11 and something tells me printer ink won’t take well to alcohol markers on top of it. Also I kinda wanted to make my own chart, just because.  This is what I do for fun. I make colour charts. Get your kids into art, they’ll never do drugs.  They’ll have no money and be too busy making colour charts to cave to peer pressure.


Pulling out a sheet of bristol board (since that’s what I normally use my markers on) I sat down to bore myself to tear drawing out grid lines and putting little boxes where they’re needed.  I swiftly realized I didn’t have enough room to make a full colour chart so I improvised.


I fudged the spacing between each colour family based on how many markers there were available and how likely I thought I would be to purchase colours on either side of the spectrum. Eventually one day I’ll realize I didn’t leave enough room and have to do a new one, but in the meantime with was actually the most helpful tool I ever made.

With a quick glance I could see exactly what colours I had, their true values, and how they would blend together.  I ended up using RV29 as an accent colour on some pale orangy pinks that I never would have thought to do otherwise.(I think it was with R20 and R32 I blended RV29 with)

With the new found confidence of my chart I set out to pick my colours and notice all the mistakes in my original pencil sketch that didn’t come to light until you start trying to add colour.


I started with the skin.  Now I wanted a more olive-y skin tone, but all I had was pinks.  You never realize how diverse pale white people’s skin tones are until you try to colour them and realize “everyone looks irish now”.

Then comes the hard part: the tail.  I deliberatly didn’t put an end point on the drawing because I wanted them to blend together, like small scales slowly changing colour.  Well, I can’t colour that.More specifically, I didn’t want to try.  Then it occured to me, what if I make the tail fleshy? Why does it have to be all beautiful and colourful like a betta or an arowana? Yeah sure, that’s beautiful imagery and really drives home the half fish half human idea, but what if.  From the beggining I tried to keep her a little on the creepy odd angular side, so maybe this choice is what I needed to further than concept?


I like it.

Next was the agony about the fins.  I didn’t want them pink.  That just seemed too over the top to me. Now I love neutrals.  Give me greens, blacks, greyed out lavanders, browns and i’ll be happiest.  So what if I went with a neutral brown? (the back of my head was also thinking ‘oh a different colour skin tone for the fins’ but that idea was only the driving force for all of 10 seconds before I started thinking about the lion fish I saw at the petstore last week)


The brown made me hate the pink, but I love it so much <3

At this point deciding what colour to do the hair was easy, because i wanted to keep my scheme simple: match the fins.


Now ignore the derpy wierd eyes I didn’t notice were off kilter before, and focus on the hair.  I’m actually really satisfied with my ability to create additive highlights instead of subtractive.  I usually tint the paper and erase the light, so trying to think about it this was a whole new challenge for me. Now, did I capture it perfectly? No.  Will I roll my eyes at this in a few years? Absolutally.  Am I beyond proud of my ability to create movement and dimension through an additive process on my first go round? Hells to the yes.

I do wish I’d left the boundary of the shaved part as a dotted line though.

All in total this took me about 2-3 hours.  Not too bad, except I then sat there and stared at it for the duration of half of the Emperor’s New Groove trying to figure out how to give it some sort of background.

I did a fish piece several months back, if you’ll remember:

And in this piece I did all the foreground first, then put it away for a good several months until attempting the background.  I royally fucked it up, put it away for a few more months, then sat down to fix my stupids, with the above result.

I didn’t want to do that here.  So it needed to be something simple, more symbolic of a background that an actual rendered background.  I googled other people’s marker drawings, to see how they gave their doodles prescience and it hit me like a big giant “DUH” that fell from the sky.



I love my circle, it did exactly what I wanted it to. Bonus points, it allowed me to use the green I originally wanted to use for her fins. Since it was a little flat I took a fine paintbrush and dotted isopropol alcohol to give it some texture, but I’m really satisfied with how it turned out.

Now I want to do a flesh tone mermaid in a darker spectrum, but my dark browns are still very poorly purchased for shading skin, so it’ll be a fun challenge.



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