Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Dropping the Shopping (and a review)

I've been inspired by Aileen to write a review on the Docrafts Artiste pens that I bought last month, which gave me an ideal opportunity to have another play with them at the weekend.

In order to really decide how I feel about using them, I decided to colour the same image in four different mediums; Copics, Derwent Inktense Pencils, DI Reinkers and the Artiste Markers.

I'm certainly not an expert in any of these products, nor am I connected to any of the companies in any way (a girl can dream though, right!).  Although I am more confident with those that I use most often, I'll try not to let my comfort with my most frequently used mediums bias my comments.

The image I've used is called Dropping the Shopping by Lili of the Valley.  I chose this mainly because it included skin, hair and clothing as well as something cute and furry!  I thought all of these elements would give me a better range of colouring challenges upon which to make my comparison.

So here goes .....

Copic Alcohol Markers 

I thought I'd set the benchmark with the medium I find quickest to colour with in order to determine where I wanted the shadow & light and also to choose my colours. So my first sample is using Copics.  These are the only medium which are alcohol-based, rather than water-based, so I stamped with Momento ink onto smooth white card.

I've actually not used Copics for a few weeks, so it wasn't as easy as I'd thought!  To intensify the comparison challenge I decided to include some 'white' areas, and also outline the whole image with blue to give it a bit of 'pop'.

As usual, the pens were easy to blend (although I do find red the hardest to blend well) and I tried a couple of different techniques, including 'dotting' the grey to shade the hat and cuffs.

So, the bar is set, and although I think I could have tried harder with the pleats in her coat, I was fairly pleased with the end result.

So here's the Copic entry:

Docrafts Artiste Watercolour Markers

While I was in 'marker mode' I thought I'd dive straight into the Artiste marker pens.  These are watercolour pens, so I stamped with Stazon onto my preferred Langton watercolour 300gsm card. 

The first noticeable difference to Copics was the range of colours.  I have the 36 colour set so had to decide which colours were going to give me the best comparison to the Copics (erm, yes, I may possibly have slightly more than 36 Copics in my collection!).  For example, when I use Copics to colour skin, I use up to 7 different pens, but with the Artistes, I only had 3; a skin colour, a tan brown for the shadow, and a pink blush for her cheeks.  It probably helped that there was a relatively small surface area of skin on this image, but I think that the shading turned out ok, and she even has a little bridge on her nose where I popped in a bit of extra shadow, just as I'd done with the Copics.

The second main difference between the Artistes and the Copics was the brightness of the colours. I could possibly have used brighter colours in the Copics, but almost all 36 of the Artiste colours are bright, and there are no 'dusky' shades.  This makes the image instantly appear brighter.

When using the pens, I found that I didn't need to add very much ink before 'dragging' it out with my waterbrush. It was easy to add layers (using the same colour on top of the last layer to add depth and shading). I only used the brush nibs, but they are exceptionally fine and therefore accurate, and can get into the smallest corner to add colour.  It was also easy to add a bit of shading to the gathers at the base of her coat. 

There were relatively few colours suitable for the furries, but I used two separate shades of brown on the pup and he turned out a mahogany colour.  The 'white-grey' was fairly easy to shade, and the ink watered down really well to give just a hint of colour where I wanted only a subtle softness. Even the blue halo around the image was easy, although the blue was a fairly dark hue, so I ended up swiping the water brush down the pen's brush nib and adding the ink off the water brush instead of directly from the marker to make it lighter.  I guess I could have scribbled some marker ink onto an acrylic block and picked that up with my brush, but I was being lazy!

Overall, the pens were as easy to apply as Copics, but blended via water.  I feel that water-colouring looks softer and I found it easier to blend away harsh lines without washing out the colour which I sometimes suffer from with Copics when blending a lighter shade after a darker shade.

Derwent Inktense Pencils

The pencils are the medium that I'm least comfortable with.  I love how other people use them with great effect and I love the softness of shades that I've seen achieved.  I invested in a fabulous set of Inktense Pencils a while ago and they've seen very little use because I simply don't feel confident using them. However, I've bitten the bullet and included them in my colouring comparison.

The range of colours is huge (I have the beautiful wooden boxset of 72 pencils), and I love that they blend with water rather than the paper-stumps and Sansodor, but I do find that I can't always blend out the original area that the pencil makes on the paper and it leaves a feint line that is still visible after a lot of furious blending.

In order to do the 'halo effect' around the image I used my watercolour brush to take colour from the pencil and then transfer it from the brush onto the paper rather than applying the pencil directly to the image. This seemed to reduce the problem of the un-blended lines. The colours were a bit dusky and gave the image more of a vintage look.

One of the main problems I found was that even if the paper was only fractionally damp, the pencil lines were worse and if the pencil itself got wet, then I had to say goodbye to any hope of blending. However, I did find then that I could use the brush-to-pencil application method really easily to great effect.  

As well as loving the effect that I'd seen others' produce with them, another reason that I actually bought the pencils originally was their portability.  I couldn't take my reinker pallets with me when I left the house because the inks are far too runny, so I was limited to Copics if I wanted to colour anywhere than at home.  Saying that, hubby wasn't too impressed when I sneaked the rather bulky wooden box into his suitcase (I was travelling light with all my clothes in just hand-luggage) when we went on holibobs earlier this year.  Men just don't understand a crafter's obsessions!  I could've taken them out of their box to make them less bulky, but the box actually doubled up as an image protector and kept my images flat and safe from dog-ears in transit too. :0)

Distress Ink Reinkers

So lastly I've used the medium that I'm most comfortable with, my Ranger Distress Ink Reinkers.  I have 55 of the dinky bottles of inks, (eek, I've never counted them before) stored in 2 of the Tim Holtz palette trays.  On the downside, they have practically zero portability (I just about manage to take them outside onto the garden table, but even then once fell foul of a gust of wind that took hold of the tray and gave me a multicoloured gravel path and an empty palette.  If you prefer you can, I believe, use the ink pads instead and grab ink with your paintbrush by pressing ink from the pad onto an acrylic block (or the lid).  However, the reinkers are more cost effective (and I don't want 55 ink pads) and their lack of portability is more than compensated by the range of depth and shadow that can be achieved.  You can get an amazing array of style using these inks, from beautiful, soft, romantic, subtle hues (see the lovely Squirrel's amazingly delicate colouring) to the higher contrast effect that is all I seem to be able to achieve (despite my occasional attempts to take a leaf out of Squirrel's book and "keep it soft").

Another consideration is that these bottles of inks last ages because you need so little ink on the paintbrush. I've been using them for years, often on a daily basis, and I've not even used a quarter of a bottle of any of my colours yet, even those I use most like the browns.  A single drop from the pipette lasts months and they don't evaporate on the palette either.

Like the pencils, you have to be uber careful if you find you're adding another layer on top if the previous layer isn't quite dry because it will bleed. Worse, and far far far worse than any of the other mediums I've mentioned above, if you don't allow one colour to dry before colouring a neighbouring area you are at a high risk of colours bleeding into each other.  This can sometimes be saved with a clean damp brush and blotting with kitchen paper but is heartbreaking when it happens, especially if you've coloured most of the image.  I did have a small mishap (*ahem* purely in the name of research for this review, of course) on the bottom left corner of the purple bag, but I blended it with water to wash it down, and then the blue halo faded it a bit more, but that happened because I added the blue halo before the purple was dry, which can take some time.

Overall, despite their challenging mishaps, and lack of portability, the inks are still my go-to colouring options, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be getting rid of my Copics, Inktense pencils or Artiste watercolour markers anytime soon!

Side by Side

As a final comparison here are all 4 finished images side by side.  The Copics are on smooth white card, and the others, all being watercolour mediums, are on Langton which is a bit creamier in colour. My lamp was also in the top left corner of my desk!
  1. Top left : Copics
  2. Top right : Docraft Artiste Watercolour Markers
  3. Bottom left : Derwent Inktense Pencils
  4. Bottom right : Ranger Distress Ink Reinkers

And finally:

Here's a finished card using one of the images.  But can you see which one?  No prizes for guessing, so it's just for fun, but let me know in the comments section which medium you think I've used on this card! :0)

More importantly, I'd love to hear what you think of the review, and if you have any other questions on any of the above mediums. If you've made it this far down the article, I hope this has been helpful, especially if you're new to any of these colouring tools.

Card Recipe:
My card's been inspired by:
Happy crafting


Marianne's Craftroom said...

Very interesting. I always use Copics and of them all I do prefer the Copic image as that is the only one with pleats. Second is the reinkers. You have used the oencil image on here. I think pencils are good used with Copics but not on their own. I find reds easy to blend, purples are the colours I struggle most with blending. Thanks for sharing, I enjoy this type of post x

Mamma Mia said...

Great article and it made very interesting reading Annette. I'm with Marianne that there's more definition to the light and shade areas with the Copics. I use Spectrum Noir Pens and am very slowly acquiring brush nibs for my most used colours - like you I struggle with blending reds and also the blues.
I have tried colouring using the DI pads as watercolours, but it wasn't terribly successful - however, that might be more down to my artistic inabilities rather than the product itself! What you must do with the pads is stamp onto a block before using the water rather than taking a watered brush to the pad!!!!!!!
Another gorgeous card by the way, and you've used the image coloured with your Derwent Inktense Pencils on it.
Hugs, Helen s

Aileen Ryan said...

Well Annette they all look brilliant and I love your colouring style. Now which do I feel looks best I love the DI's one the best. I love Distress Inks and made myself an ink pallet out of a previous chalk holder pallett for Stampin Up. Just a wee bit more secure and I had hoped to be able to travel with it but alas it will leak if tilted. It only fits 40 odd colours so I picked my most popular and the others I tend to squish my ink pad on one of those disposable wax sheet paint pallets as the paint stays wet on there forever. I will keep it out of the way to use again till it gets too grungy.
I even tried writing to Tim Holtz and asked them to come up with a travel container for our distress inks but I suppose while they have the pens they wont bother. Its a shame as they are excellent paints.
Back to your images, thank you so much for doing a review of each. It was interesting to see the difference in colour once finished of each. When using the Inktense pencils I always end up using brush to tip of pencil, it just seems to work better for me. Sometimes starting with a very light colour in then building from there. Well you ended up with four fantastic looking images out of that. Cant thank you enough, much appreicated.

Aileen Ryan said...

Forgot to say it was the Inktense inage you used for the card, I do believe.

Tanya said...

Interesting read Annette! I started colouring with Promarkers and when I could afford it, moved onto Copics, which I much prefer :) I also bought the 72 pencil Derwent Inktense set (on a whim, I was on holidays and holiday spending is just so much easier to justify than at-home spending LOL) - I've coloured a few images with them, but they're mainly unused - can't get to grips with the blending! I'm going to do more holiday spending this year and either buy Prismacolor pencils or the DI markers...will see ;)

Great card too - Derwent Inktense image :)

Tanya xx

Kat W said...

This was a most fascinating read and I spent a long time looking at all the images to compare the mediums.
First up I have to say that all the images look great because they all have great attention to light source and keeping a good contrast in shading.
The Copic colouring looks awesome...love Copics...'nuff said!

I think the Docraft Artiste pens lose out slightly but only really because of the limited range of colours, because you coloured a chick recently with them that looked fab...so I think they just weren't so good for this image and tricky to colour match with the Copics. Other than that they look fab and not a medium I have tried.

I have also never tried DIs but always admire your (and Squirrel's!) colouring with them, so this version of the image also looks great.

Now, Inktense pencils...as you know I am currently having a bit of a love affair with them so I really do love the image coloured with them and it has that lovely soft look I like. I know what you mean about the blending and although I still consider myself a novice with them, I have gradually been figuring out how to get them to blend better, so maybe I should share some tips on my blog. I'm please that you chose this image for your card though!

Great post and a really good read :-)

Big hugs, Kat xx

P.S. Fab card too!

Deborah said...

A fab and interesting post Annette. I have copics, inktense pencils and a few re-inkers. Not brilliant at any, but Copics are probably my best. It was very interesting to see the same image coloured with the different mediums next to each other and your reviews of the different mediums. Your colouring of each image is gorgeous. Thank you for doing this as I love reading these types of post. Being cheeky, could I ask if you have ever thought about doing a tutorial on how you colour images?

The image on the card was coloured with Inktense pencils.
Deborah A

Lisa E said...

Really interesting read Annette thanks very much for taking to time to do it! I covet reinkers sooo much but am building my copic collection first and daren't start buying the DI's just yet. I actually prefer the DI image best but they are all gorgoeus and so different it's been fun comparing the images and seeing how they differ. I love my Inktense and have had successes and complete failures with them, always down to pencil marks and not blending. I'll start the chorus to get Kat sharing some Inktense tips on her blog....yes please Kat! I'll also second Deborah's suggestion about colouring tutorials, you have an easy way of explaining Annette I know i'd enjoy reading how you colour. Thanks again. Lisa x

Carol S. said...

I have used all except Docrafts pens. I mainly use DI Ink pads, which I tap onto an old smooth tile. They stay fluid for weeks. I only clean them off when they are too dusty to use!! My preferred alcohol pens are Copics. They are the only ones that the colour stays true, no matter how many layers you lay on top of each other. They also do not bleed. I find that Promarkers and Spectrum Noir pens change to a darker shade if you lay another layer on top of your first layer. Which is rather annoying! They also both bleed, even when I use them to edge around a piece of card. Copics are the only pens I can do that with. I bought a box of Derwent Inktense pens when I visited the factory in the Lake District. Like you, I have a problem when using them direct onto the Langton card. I find it worse if it is on the stamped line. So I tend to use my water colour brushes and take the colour off the pencil with them. I really want to use them more but it takes me longer to colour an image, than it does with D Inks. I also love the soft finish with my Distress Inks. I wish they could of made the colours in the pens the same as the pads! Then they would be perfect to take anywhere! Some of the colours are fine but others are nothing like the pads.
Thanks for doing the comparison test. Your gorgeous card is of course Inktense Pencils. Hugs, Carol S.xx

Christine L said...

Well.... I thought it'd be easy to choose which I liked best.. but it isn't at all!! I like each and every one of these coloured up images for different reasons... so couldn't make a final choice.

It was good to read what you said about each too.. I have DI reinkers (but struggle with them) not to mention the number of DI pads I have too! I also have Inktense pencils... but don't have a light enough touch - and to be quite honest, I haven't tried very hard with them! One day.... when I have a bit of time! I watched Dena colour with them at the LOTV 10th birthday open day... she made it look SOOOOO easy!

My trusty Copics are my 'go to' colouring pens - but I've just started to use Kuratake Clean Colour pens.... and ooh I'm impressed with the fabulous bright colours achievable!

Big hugs
Christine x

Sarah said...

What a brilliant post Annette, those samples must have taken an age to produce. I hope Hubby has forgiven you for the stowaway pencils in his luggage!! I am a Promarkers fan, as you know, but do enjoy using pencils from time to time. You have certainly inspired me to be a bit more adventurous with my colouring mediums and I might even have a go at a spot of painting...who knows!!? xx

VĂ©ronique said...

Beautiful card. Thanks for joining us at the challenge of The Sketchy Challenges. DT Veronique

Neva Zver said...

Great card love the design. Thanks for playing with us at Dream Valley Challenges!
Neva DT

Kirsty-Anne Duckworth said...

Hi love your comparisons great idea think each one is wonderful in their own way and it is fun to use different mediums fantastic finished card thank you for inspiring us at the Sketchy Challenges :)

Sharon said...

Love this image and they are all beautifully coloured. Your finished card is fabulous.
Thank you for sharing this with us at Noor Design UK.
Hugs Sharon. x

Melanie said...

A lovely card! And gorgeous colourings...
Thank you soo much for taking part in our "Anything Goes” challenge over at The Sketchy Challenges & good luck in the draw.
Hope to see you again in our next challenge as well…

(DT-Coordinator Creatalicious Challenges)

(DT Crafty Friends)

(DT The Sketchy Challenges)

Sue said...

awwww Annette - you are a colouring/painting genius. First up - I love this article - you are so thoughtful to generously use your precious crafting time to do this review!

I think your finished card is with the Inktense?

Now, speaking freely, I love all your samples but your DI colour work is EXQUISITE ! also, I am very very in love with your Inktense colouring so pleeeeeease do some more - total gorgeousness!

Your Copic and DoCrafts images are also beautiful though so how on earth you decide what to use is beyond me! I honestly believe you are so talented you could colour an image with an HB pencil and it would be stunning!

Thank you so much lovely friend for sharing your time and expertise with us in this way.

Nicole Haupka said...

Thanks for this post, you put a lot of time and effort into it. Your colouring is amazing, as usual!

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