Martina’s background school, step 1-4

My coloring friend Martina Brisegård recently published such amazing tutorial, on how to do a beautiful background with colored pencils, in Johanna Basford Your pages Facebook-group. I know that this is something that many people are scared of trying, and I know that many people have questions about backgrounds. So I asked Martina if I could publish her tut0rial here aswell, and she kindly said yes.

Martina’s background, in Magical Jungle:


Step 1: Pick the right page for you and form a plan.

Step 2: Someone asked if it mattered which pencils they used. I have done a little test and it doesn’t really matter, but it is easier with Polys or Prismas and the more expensive pencils have stronger pigments and a bit deeper color.

I would advice you to find a range of at least six shades. My test is done with eight colors, because the more shades of the same color the smoother it will look.

But I also did it with four and two, just to show what I mean.

Find a white sheet of paper and play around with the pencils you have and try to find which ones work best for you.Test them like I have tested mine.

Look at the first picture, the left column is not blended at all, in the right column I have shaded the colors into eachother. That is the look we are going for.

When you know which set to use, try to find the right shades for your picture.

Looking at the names of the pencils might help. With Polychromos there is an advantage there are whole series of colors with a common name. For example: in the yellow/orange section there is Cadmium, in the blue/green section there is Phthalo etc.

Ergosoft, Crayola, Polychromos, Luminance and Prismacolor Premier.

Eight shades between light yellow and deep red. (Seven in the case of Luminance because there isn’t a dark red shade that fit in.)

Lightly color with the light red from the bottom up. Go softly in the beginning, it’s always easier to add a bit more than to try to remove it. Especially if you color with Prismas.

Now add a soft layer of orange and try not to leave any straight edges.

Go in a little harder with the yellow. Don’t be afraid of blending with the lightest shade down over several of the darker.

And finally go back up with the darkest shade, smoothing out the edges.

Can you do it with just four or two shades??? Well…yes sort of, but not with the same results…

Trying to blend two shades that are pretty far away from eachother will be harder and will take alot of work.

Make it easier on yourself and pick at least six shades, if nothing else it’s less boring coloring a background when you can change color a little more often. And you don’t wear out your pencils so fast 😉

I did this quick little test with just four colors here. Just to show the gist of it.

The lightest yellow, a medium orange, the lightest red and the deepest red.

Prismacolor premier

Step 3: (that perhaps should have been added before step 2) Step 3

A question from a few followers, How to pick the right colors?

Well there are several ways:

– Look for inspiration color charts, there are such albums here in the group or maybe on instagram or pintrest.

– Use a color wheel, you can buy one on Amazon.

Shades that lie next to eachother in a color wheel are easy to blend. Yellow-orange-red, red-purple-blue, blue-green-yellow etc.

– Find a photo with a lovely background, maybe a sunset, and use a color finding app to pick out the right pencils. I sometimes use one called Colored Pencil Picker.

– Ask for some elses combination, I mean any good combination of colors can be used on a background, just your imagination that sets the limit.

Or my own personal favorite:

-Trial and error. I’m going to teach you a Swedish word, because I can’t find the right one in English ”kladdpapper” I’ll show you what that looks like below.

Have you found your colors yet?

Kladdpapper – a sheet of paper that you test your colorcombos on. This one is new and rather well organized, usually it’s alot messier 😉

Gather all your pencils in one color, I picked pink this time, arrange them from light to dark as good as you can. Color a little with each and then cross out and remove the pencils that looks most out of place.

Do that until you have your selection.

See if you can blend them together.

I ended up with these four this time. Can be used to color a flower, a curtain or a background.

Trying to find a color to bind the light red violet to the delft blue.

Is there one color that can do that job?

Not really but two or three might do it. But actually the crimson pencil looks better at the end….

And the two top most colors where rather similar. So I play around and eventually end up with colors that I like. There is no right or wrong.

And your kladdpapper will just become more colorful. 😊

Colored Pencil Picker, but there are other such apps out there, just find one that works for you.

Step 4: This one is short and a bit similar to Step two, I even borrowed the same pencils, but you can use colors of your choice if you like. You can even use an ordinary lead pencil to practice with.

What you need to practice is how to fade in and out the different colors. Look at picture #3

This will help with everything you color, not just backgrounds. I rarely use blenders, I prefer to use one of the lighter colors to seal the gaps so to speak.

The trick is to color in a way so that you can’t really tell exactly where one shade ends and another begins. This takes a light hand, practice and most of all patience.

Begin simple with just a little column of the colors you have chosen. Then practice on a little bigger area.

If you struggle with coloring too hard then I have a few tips:

– Sharpen your pencils, a pointy lead breaks more easily and therefor you are forced to apply less pressure.

– Angle your pen more and don’t hold on to it so close to the point. The further back you hold the softer your touch will be.

To color the column on the right, I have basically done this, just in one column and not eight.

Move back your grip on the pencil, angle it more and use a sharp point for a lighter layer.

Go to step 5-7 here!


Författare: Passionistacolorista

I´m a hobby-colorista from Sweden, with a big passion for adult coloring books. It started as a way to feel better when I was sick two years but now I just addicted and wants to color every day, although I´m feeling better. Colors makes me so, so happy! I have two coloring book podcasts: Passionistacolorista and Målarbokspodden. And I also have a youtubechannel, called Passionistacolorista, where I do some livestreams.


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