How to ‘layer’ colours using Promarkers: Tutorial/Video

Blending your Promarkers can be tricky, especially for a beginner, so IS there an alternative? Well, I’m a watercolourist as well as marker-user and i’d like to share the ‘layers’ method with you. Simply put, this is a way to colour with markers and create depth but without having to blend them. Read on to find out more…

Don’t forget the giveaway at the end of the blog…

OR watch the video TUTORIAL right here and now:

So, working in ‘layers’ is something I learned when I started using watercolours and it lends itself to markers really well. Basically you build up your colours/shadows, from lightest to darkest by using successive layers of colour. You can do it by using just one marker again and again but I think you get far richer and stronger results using a palette of around 4-5 marker colours. I demonstrate this using my drawing of a Pink Rose…

1. FIRST and LIGHTEST layer of colour (base layer):

After testing a bunch of colours, I went with Pink Pearl as my base colour; pink with a slight purple tone to it. I use this to colour all the areas of the rose that have colour and I leave the the white highlights as just white paper.rose pink pearl  Then, I let that colour dry before adding my next one.

2. SECOND colour, beginning to add depth:

Next, I add my second colour, Blossom. This colour is just a little darker in tone so its not a big ‘jump’ and shouldn’t be too much of a contrast. I add this over the Pink Pearl, leaving some of that colour showing but covering it in places where I want a stronger shadow/contrast. This is clearest in the top-left petal, where you can see I do both.rose blossom

I like how it’s looking at this stage, so it’s exciting to know that I have more colours to add…

3. THIRD colour; halfway through my chosen palette!

I get a bit braver with my third colour, Peony. It’s a darker pinky-purple colour and darker than Blossom. I add this layer in the same way, leaving some of my previous 2 colours showing in some places and covering them completely, for a good contrast, in others.rose peony

And because i’m not trying to blend them, I have TIME :) I don’t have to rush it, I can let each colour dry before I add the next and take a bit more time over my decisions, about where to make it dark and where to keep it light.

4. FOURTH colour, getting darker…

Now the meaty dark colours are going on and this one is a real jump up from Peony! It’s called Trick Or Treat and you know the approach by now :) what you should find is that the darker you go, the less marker you’re using as you are always making sure that the previous colours are showing through, for depth – so you should be using less!rose trickortreat

Woah, thats quite dark!? Yup, and after adding it I thought the jump from Peony to ‘Trick Or Treat’ was TOO much, too extreme. So what do I do? Can i fix it?

5. INTERLUDE – Peony

Remember when I said earlier that you could ‘layer’ just by using one marker again and again? Well, that’s how I decide to change the big jump between Peony & Trick or Treat. rose peony 2I get the Peony and start building up a second layer of it on some of the areas that are too contrasty. I just hope that by making some of the Peony areas darker will soften the jump up to Trick or Treat!rose peony 3

5. FIFTH colour; proper shadows going on now!

Almost there as I add some Red in the shadow areas.  It might seem a strange colour to use at this stage after all the pink-purple colours but I was working off a reference photo and there was strong red in the shadows.rose red The Red gives the rose a different feel and I think makes the existing colours richer.

6. SIXTH colour; just a little extra dark ;)

I could have left it right there, with Red as my last colour but I just wanted to add a little extra depth to the shadow areas :) I tested a few colours on a scrap of paper and Crimson would give me a bit of extra shadow without being too contrasty.UntitledHopefully, it’s quite subtle and you can only see it here and there in the Red areas!

So, there you have it; colouring in ‘layers’.  I like this style because:

1. It gives the picture a more graphic look, a bit like a screenprint.

2. It’s easier than blending :)

3. You can take your time because you’re not trying to blend it – so you can do a bit, stop halfway through, then come back later. If I stop halfway through with the ‘blending’ technique then i’ll get drying lines and strong edges to each colour where I don’t want it, but more on that next time… ;)


NEXT MONTH: Drawing a Rose by ‘blending’ with Promarkers…

It’s GIVEAWAY time, with a ‘Promarker Blue Set‘ up for grabs :)
What do you have to do??
  • Just watch the Tutorial Video below, leave a comment ON THE VIDEO including the word, ‘GIVEAWAY’.  I’ll draw the lucky winner out of a hat next month :)
How easy is that?



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About gee massam

Gee is a full-time carer who draws, paints and illustrates. He has used markers extensively since 2012 and has gotten into using Aquamarkers in the last 2 years. As a long-time watercolour painter, he is still working out all the effects that you can achieve with them.

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