Racoon Tutorial - Layering Colour

Tutorial by Jill Czajkowski - Illustrator
ImageI am a freelance illustrator, painter and costume designer -- I wear many hats -- but my first love is working with art markers. I mainly draw animals as I find them to be a lot more fun and expressive than any other sort of character. I love storybook illustrations as well as more contemporary, conceptual character illustration work

I taught myself to blend and texture with only a few colours accompanied with some coloured pencil highlights, and once I learned a bit more about being an artist in general, I was really able to develop a style and palette that really suited me. Being an artist is all about experimentation and practice, finding your voice and letting that voice change.

Image Image Step 1
Here's our inked image, ready for colour. Be sure to choose an ink that will not bleed or smudge with your markers.

Step 2
Start with a neutral base colour, putting your brighter colours aside for later. Here I've used a beige, O819. I have laid out where my lights and darks will be and have not completely blocked in the raccoon. I will layer on top of this colour.
Image Image Step 3
Now I will slowly darken the colour of my raccoon by layering. Here I have applied a darker beige, O928, where my shadows and darker colours will be. Take it slow and use broad strokes.

Step 4
Now we will start to blend. Using the lighter colour, O819, I go back over the harder edges where the darker beige was applied. Use thick, broad strokes. Continue to saturate the area until you achieve a soft, smooth blend. Try to always blend your lighter colours over darker colours.
Image Image Step 5
Here is where the raccoon starts to look more like a grey raccoon. I begin to layer a warm grey, like CG07, where my shadow areas are. Remember, light to dark colours. I blend the grey into the beige with O928, then O819 once more.

Step 6
Again, I continue with the layering and blending. I gradually darken the grey areas, always being concious of my light source. I continue to blend my darker colour into the lighter colours.
Image Image Step 7
The layering continues ... Do not be afraid to layer your warmer neutral colour back over your darker colours -- this will warm (or cool) your form and your lights and shadows will blend together much more smoothly.

Step 8
Even more layering! As you can see, shadows are worked up gradually. By layering, you are able to apply layers of colour that work with one another to create a form with much more depth and life. Use broad, quick strokes for a painterly effect.
Image Image Step 9
Almost done! I added a few coloured highlights to add more visual interest to the raccoon (V626, for example). Lighter colours may make things a bit muddy as your shadows get darker, so be careful. It also helps to brush up on colour theory as well! Very bright/dark colours are used sparingly in very select areas.

Step 10
Finished! I limited my use of very dark values in order to retain the integrity of the raccoon's markings. By taking your time and layering, you will be ale to achieve a great amount of form and detail with your markers. Smooth gradients are also possible with simple blending, it just relies on having a wide range of lighter colours to work with. Practice layering and blending on your own!