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Techniques: Working with Felt-tips

August 26, 2010

Hi all! Now that summer is almost over I find that I have more time to work on my parchment. I am currently trying to expand and perfect painting with felt-tip pens. For some, this is a favored technique, and for some of us, it is intimidating and frustrating. But, I am here to tell you that the more you practice not only will you get better at painting, but you may just start to enjoy working with felt tips.

There are several different brands of felt-tips that you can use. Pergamano has their own usually referred to as PCE’s (Perga Color Exclusive). You can use other brands, such as Marvy Le Plume, Prismacolor markers, Copic, Faber Castell, etc.  If all you have available are your child’s/grandchild’s crayola markers, they will work too. Your choice comes down to availability and personal preference.

There are also different techniques for coloring/painting with felt tips. The first is coloring from the front or back. Traditionally, you will trace your pattern with pen and ink. Then, fill in each petal/bow/leaf with color only lifting your felt tip to move to the next section, and finally turn your parchment over and do your embossing.

When working from the back, first trace your pattern and then emboss. While your parchment paper is turned over (front facing down) start filling in the color with your felt tip pen. Try not to lift the pen until the whole part of the pattern is filled in. To add some depth, in this technique, you turn your parchment back over to the front and using a pencil in a slightly darker color than your felt tip, add some shading in the places that will have more shadows.

This can be quite an effective technique, and relatively simple to complete.

Now, let’s move onto painting with felt-tips. Don’t fear, I’ll go easy on you! 🙂

Originally painting with felt-tips was taught by putting a line of color from the felt-tip along one edge of your pattern. So, if you were painting a flower, you would put some color along one of your traced lines with the felt tip, and then with a damp (not wet) brush, spread the color using the round and round method, flattening your brush so the color fades gradually. Unless you worked fast, you would end up still seeing the line you originally made with the felt tip pen. This applies also to using two colors of felt-tips, and as you spread the color with your brush, the colors will blend.

Now a days, we find that it is much easier to rub a bit of the color from the felt tip onto a pallet or tile. Then, pick up a tiny bit of color with the tip of your damp (not wet) brush, rolled to a sharp point, and spread the color in the round and round method. Remember to keep the tip of your brush always pointing to the outline of the pattern or your traced lines AND flatten your brush so that you don’t get sharp lines, but the color fades gradually. Also, please remember to let the felt tips dry well, especially when working in layers.

As we move onto more advanced painting with felt tips, you will find yourself working in layers and no tracing of the pattern. The first layer applied is diluted and will be very pale while the parchment paper is tacked/taped to your pattern. Another layer or two of nearly “neat” to “neat” (not as diluted and undiluted) color is applied to the shadowed areas. As you add a darker color, first you should blend the lighter and darker color and apply in the shaded areas. Your last step will be the darker color applied undiluted with very thin brush-strokes, and once that color is dried you can go back over those thin lines with a clean damp brush to blend in the color. This piece to your right has about 6 layers of color, and honestly, as I keep looking at it, I think in some spots there could be even more layers. (I used Marvy Le Plume Wisteria and Violet for the petals.)

As I mentioned above, some folks can really make the felt-tips sing. By that I mean that their painting with felt tips are second to none. One of those is Dorothy Holness. Dorothy has a Techniques booklet that is definitely worth a looksie if you have no tutor, classes or workshops available to you.

While I still have a way to go in perfecting my painting with felt tips, I find that the more I practice the less intimidating this technique has become.

If any of you have a piece of felt tip painting (or any technique) that you would like to share with us, please send it on. I am in the process of finishing the readers gallery, and would love to showcase your work. You may also note at the bottom of each post are ways for you to share these posts with your friends/colleagues.

I hope you have found this helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Dawn Haylock permalink
    August 26, 2010 3:36 pm

    Thanks so much for this information Chiara. I have the Christine Colman DVD but I still find I really struggle with painting with felt tips. Its something I would like to master and your article will certainly help me. Here in Australia and here in Brisbane it is very difficult to find a teacher and I am a person that needs hands on teaching (unfortunately). Have a lovely day.

    • August 26, 2010 4:21 pm

      Dawn, I know how you feel about struggling with the felt tips. It’s practice, practice and more practice! If I can start getting a grasp on painting with felt tips, I know you can!

  2. Nelly permalink
    August 26, 2010 3:41 pm

    Hi Chiara, lovely description on how to use the felttips in different ways……….. however a very important part is to let your work dry after you have coloured it. Parchment paper didn’t absorb the ink of the felttips like normal paper does, so it takes a while to let it dry to avoid spots and other nasty things after you are working on your embossing.
    If you have used the paint method the ink will be dry sooner.
    I am still waiting for your butterflies……….are you still practicing??

    • August 26, 2010 4:08 pm

      Thanks Nelly. I knew I forgot something! I’ve added to let the felt tips dry in the post.

  3. Chris Watson permalink
    August 26, 2010 4:04 pm

    Thanks Chiara, I don’t like painting with felt tips, mainly cause it always goes wrong. I have read your description and you make it sound easy. Will give it another go after our move.
    Thanks for all your good work
    Love Chris xx

  4. Katy Kasar permalink
    August 26, 2010 4:28 pm

    Hi Chiara – another lovely and informative article – I think with this one you were sent to watch over me-lol – as you know I am doing my PCA Tutor Course – I am getting on really well, and have completed two of the four sections of the first half of the exams, those being the embossing and grid work pieces required in the first section (then I will go on to the advanced section)-
    however, I am now working on the third section, the colouring section – there are ten different coloured techniques of coloured pieces to do, one of these pieces being done with the use of felt tips, which, never having done before, I am practicing very hard at the moment – you must have known-lol – and having no `hands-on` teachers here in Spain, this beautifully explained article has helped me so much – your painting above is beautiful, and has given me much inspiration, so thank you again Chiara for your own hard work in doing these really helpful articles for us to learn from – thanks so much, and looking forward to the next one – take care Chiara, love and hugs, Katy xx

  5. August 26, 2010 4:44 pm

    WOW!!! Now I know why I could never get the hang of working with felt tips…lol Wonderful, easy explanation, C!! A few years ago while trying to teach myself how to do this I surely must have missed something along the way because I’ve always been as intimidated by painting (of any kind) but when my shoulder/arm settled down a bit more from the vehicle flooding cleanup mess I think I just might give my felt tips another try :)) Thanks bunches for the inspiration and wonderful narrative. Love all your sample pics too!!

  6. SueJ permalink
    August 26, 2010 6:25 pm

    Hi Chiara,
    Many many thanks for this, only last week I got my PCE’s.
    I have hardly done any painting so I have a lot to learn, I am looking forward to it though. Your work is lovely.

  7. Mary Price permalink
    August 27, 2010 7:20 am

    Great article Chiara. So many parchers seem to be very wary of painting with felt tips. Dorothy (Holness) has produced some great pattern packs which cover various types of colour work and they include step by step instuctions. No 3 covers felp tip pens and I can see from your Wisteria that it is where you have found this lovely pattern. All her packs are well worth the investment.

    • August 27, 2010 8:12 am

      Mary, I ordered 3 of Dorothy’s Technique booklets (#’s 3, 4 and 5) as an early birthday present to myself, if for nothing else to have her patterns. I’ll have to order the remaining 2 techniques booklets as an early X-mas present to myself – LOL! These are definitely a great investment. 😀

      Granted, I have had a lot of help and direction in working on painting with felt tips lately, but with practice it isn’t as intimidating anymore. Sometimes I will even break down a particular pattern into sections — i.e. I’m practicing painting faces in felt tips, so I’ll work on hair and then eyes. For me, that helps.

  8. August 29, 2010 5:08 pm

    Very informative and wonderful work as always Chiara. I might just have to get Dorothy’s booklet.

  9. Isha permalink
    September 1, 2010 6:23 pm

    Wow Chiara, amazing article. Enjoyed your post and its so informative.

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