Tutorial

Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush Pens – A Review and Video Tutorial

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush Pens are created and kindly sent to me to review by Spectrum Noir. These pens are exactly what they state, brush pens containing coloured glitter pigments that can be used for colouring, crafting and anything in need of a bit of extra sparkle. The pens are available in 34 colours including a clear glitter one and can be purchased in a number of different themed and sized sets. The set I’m reviewing is one of the 12 pen sets in a carry case and mine is called Vintage Hues, there are three further themed 12 pen sets called Special Holiday Set Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer and the pens can also be purchased in grouped sets of 6 and 3 making it easier and more economical to replace used up pens when you need to though they’re sadly not available open stock currently. The pens have a completely black barrel and lid and arrive with a plastic yellow ring around the centre which has to be removed in order to activate the pens, this is a bit of a tricky process as seen in my video below but as you work through the pens it does get easier. The end of the lid and centre of each pen is coloured indicating the colour of the ink and states the colour name on one side and Spectrum Noir Sparkle on the other, these colours are fairly accurate at showing the ink colour but do test them on scrap paper or create a colour chart before diving into colouring with them. The ink flow takes a while to settle down and you do need to regularly give them a gentle shake to ensure that the ink is mixing with the glitter or you can end up with some sparkle-free areas. To begin with, the ink comes out quite quickly and is very wet and easy to saturate your colouring page so it’s best to start working on pages with thicker paper first. The pens need to be opened carefully, the lids are well-fitting and close firmly but this also means that the lids can be a little stiff occasionally, you need to ease them off rather than yanking them as this can cause ink spillage. The brush tips are made of nylon fibres and are a good shape and seem hard-wearing, sadly one of mine arrived damaged (see photo below) and a word of warning, if the brush tip becomes damaged it will cause huge leakage problems rendering the pen difficult or even impossible to use as the ink leaks when the lid is closed and gets all over where your hand holds the pen and stains your skin for a while so do be really careful not to damage the brush tips.

The ink is water-based with lots of slivery glitter inside, it’s translucent and can therefore be used over colouring pages with the lines showing through your colouring. I don’t have the clear glitter pen but have researched it and it can be used to colour over almost any medium adding sparkle to any colour you fancy, I hope to get my hands on one soon because it seems like a great idea and by far the most versatile of the pens in this range. The pens themselves are a similar design to water brushes with a nice chunky barrel that is comfy to use for extended periods of time. The end of the barrel is squared but the holding part is round so there are no corners to dig in or dent your hand or fingers so they’re very comfy to use and the brush tip is strong and flexible and allows you to vary your brush stroke thickness from very thin to thicker with different amounts of pressure applied. The ink is more like using paint than a traditional water-based felt-tip or marker pen, it’s very wet so you will need to use it sparingly, especially on thin paper and work quite quickly to spread the colour where you want it so it doesn’t pool in one area. When flowing correctly, the pens rarely bleed or shadow through normal to thicker paper but do test in an inconspicuous area so that you don’t ruin an image.

From what I’ve seen on the Spectrum Noir website, the colour range is pretty good and covers a wide range of bright, dark, pastel and metallic colours however, they’re often grouped in sets quite oddly making it a bit tricky to get hold of the most useful colours without needing to buy a large number of sets. I would recommend checking out all of the different purchasing options so that you can get the colours you want without having to purchase too many colours that you’re not so keen on or less likely to use. The colours in the set I was sent are lovely but they’re mostly very dark, there is no orange, bright green or pink but two very similar purples and two very similar mustardy yellows so I do feel the colour selection across the sets could be a little better thought out. Having said that, these pens are great for accents and special features in a colouring page and because of the price, it’s unlikely that you’d want to colour whole pages with them so you’d probably only want to use a couple of colours per page which then makes them more useful as you can tailor your colour schemes to fit the colour of sparkle pens that you have access to. One thing to note is that the glitter isn’t permanent and so you’ll need to be careful when colouring to make sure your hand won’t keep going over it and rubbing it off. The glitter is quite shiny, certainly not the sparkliest I’ve seen, that award has to go to the Sakura Gelly Roll Stardust Glitter Gel Pen, but this glitter is nicely shiny and very pretty, especially in the light.

The pens can be used alone to add sparkly coloured accents to pages or you can spice things up and use some slightly more advanced techniques which I’ve shown in the second video below. They can be blended together to create gradients or could be blended on a paint palette or other shiny surface (a tile or something plastic) to create a new shade which you could then paint onto your work with a paintbrush. You can also make the colours lighter by adding water to your work and washing out the pigment a bit. As far as I can tell, anything you could do with normal water-based markers or watercolour paints/pencils, you can do with these so the sky is the limit!

Overall, these are beautiful pens in a wide range of colours and they do add a lovely shimmer to your pages and are ideal for glittery accents. They are a considered purchase for most due to their price point and therefore I’d suggest getting a small set in colours that you’re most likely to use or possibly the 3-pen clear glitter set so that you can make any colouring glittery and get used to how the pens work before splurging on a larger set.

If you’d like to purchase a small or larger set, they’re available here:
Amazon UK – Spectrum Noir Sparkle Gitter Brush Pens
Crafter’s Companion – Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush Pens

First Impressions and How to Activate the Pens on First Use

Techniques and Tips Tutorial

The images below were coloured using Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush Pens and some were blended or faded with water.

Colorist's Special Effects - Click through to see photos and read my written review.

Colorist’s Special Effects: Colour Interior Version – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Colorist’s Special Effects is illustrated, self-published and very kindly sent to me to review by Helen Elliston. This book is A4, paperback and is available in a greyscale or colour interior version (the greyscale version is cheaper and they both say on the front and on the online listings which they are, I’d personally recommend the colour version, I can’t imagine trying to follow the instructions without the colours there to see). The spine is glue-bound and seems pretty durable so far, the tutorials are printed double-sided and some of the practice sheets are printed single-sided but none of the content spans the spine so none of it is lost into it and all parts are accessible, it’s a little tricky to get the book to lie flat but this will ease up over time. The book is self-published through Createspace and therefore has standard medium/thin paper which is white and lightly textured, it’s not perfect for pencils or pens but it works fine and bearing in mind this is a techniques book, used to practice, it doesn’t need to be perfect to gain all of the knowledge you need to make your colouring pages really improve. The book begins with a contents page listing all of the techniques that you’ll learn within the book, they’re split into chapters of similar techniques so that you can work on a specific type of colouring at once if you wish. These chapters are Hair, Lips and Skin; Nature; 3D shapes and Objects; Gems; and Backgrounds. Within each of these chapters are a long list of specific techniques that can be used alone or in conjunction with each other, these include brown hair, metals, water droplets, faceted gems, woodgrain, pearls, fish scales, sunglasses, bubbles, 3D fabric and lots, lots more. The tutorials themselves are very clearly laid out with numbered diagrams all pictured in colour, each shows a coloured picture of the step you’re completing alongside short written instructions detailing what colour and where you’re using it. There is an absolute wealth of information in the book and Helen covers everything from simple techniques like a shiny fish all the way up to realistic eyes, hair and skin tones and everything in between. There are lots and lots of chances to practice and many of the practice pages are printed single-sided so that you can use any mediums you wish, there are multiple opportunities to attempt each technique so you don’t need to worry if you don’t perfect it first time. At the back of the book are a colour wheel that you can fill in yourself, lots of colour charts, first double-sided for use with pencils and then single-sided for use with wet media that might bleed through, these are all in four different shapes each with plenty of space to write down the colour/colours and brand that you’ve used for easy identification later. There is also a page of 12 signature cards, each with an image (2 of each design) that you can use a technique from the book on that can then be cut out and placed on pages instead of a watermark when photographing and sharing your work. There really is so much content that I can’t possibly talk about all of it here, every time I look through the book I find techniques that I’ve somehow not noticed before, there are loads of different skills to learn from colouring objects to scenes to backgrounds, you can use a huge variety of media and this book is probably the best techniques guide on the market because of the sheer breadth of coverage, it’s honestly astounding!

In terms of mental health, this book is hugely useful and very exciting but can be quite overwhelming and challenging too, this is in no way Helen’s fault and it isn’t a criticism of this specific book, it’s more something that I’ve really noticed for myself when using techniques books, it can be really tough to get started, to follow and to have the confidence to give it a go or apply to other things and this is very much the fault of our conditions and symptoms rather than the books themselves. All of this being said, Helen has made the instructions and diagrams as clear as possible, it can be quite overwhelming when first looking at the page but if you can focus just on the first instruction and slowly move your way through them then before you know it, you’ve coloured a whole object and it looks amazing! The techniques are mostly laid out in one of two ways, either, each colour is shown separately in each diagram and described in the instructions so that you know what order to place the layers, or each diagram is cumulative with colour showing each new layer on top of the previous ones, I personally prefer the first type as it’s much clearer and easier to focus on for anxious, over-stimulated eyes, others may well prefer the second type because it’s clearer what the whole thing should look like throughout each stage because the images mimic what you’re actually doing rather than just the one layer each step is focusing on. It was a clever move on Helen’s part to use both types of diagram and these are all created in paint to clearly show the layers and differences between colours with a colour photograph of Helen’s finished piece in pen or pencil at the end so that you know exactly what you’re working towards. The line thickness on the practice drawings is pretty consistent throughout and remains thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary depending on what you’re learning to colour, almost none of it is particularly intricate or detailed because the techniques are very much about learning to blend, layer and build colour and 3D shape which usually requires a fair bit of space to work within so this book is definitely suitable for those with normal levels of vision and fine motor control.

All in all, I can’t praise this book highly enough, nor can I fully describe it without possibly writing dissertation length post about it, there is just so much content and it really is like an encyclopaedia of colouring techniques from small objects, people, and animals, all the way up to metal, and backgrounds. No matter what level of colourist you are, you’re sure to find something useful and inspirational to improve your colouring.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Colorist’s Special Effects
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Colorist-s-Special-Effects—Color-Interior/9781546646594/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Helen has also just released a second book, Colorist’s Special Effects 2, I have just received a copy and will be reviewing it soon, suffice to say, it’s incredible and an absolute must-have so if you’d like to order a copy, you can purchase it here.
Amazon UK – Colorist’s Special Effects 2 

The images below were coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Color Workshop by Rachel Reinert - Click through to see photos and read my written review of this fab tutorial book!

Color Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Artistic Effects – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Artistic Effects is illustrated and written by Rachel Reinert and published and very kindly sent to me to review by Get Creative 6. This book is A4, paperback, with flexible card covers. The spine is glue and string-bound and very durable. The content is printed double-sided throughout. The paper consists of two different types, the tutorial section is printed on glossy white paper and the colouring practice pages are printed on bright white, matt paper that is medium thickness and lightly textured. The book is split into two sections, tutorials for the first two thirds of the book and illustrations to practice your colouring techniques on for the last third. The information and tutorials are very comprehensive and cover a wide range of topics from colour theory and detailed descriptions of different colouring mediums to basic colouring techniques, ways to choose colours and use mediums in new and different ways, and then moves onto how to create artistic effects like blending, highlights, adding backgrounds, water droplets, auras/glows, a basic tutorial for colouring skin and hair (better ones can be found but this is a good start), crystals and lots more. Rachel uses different mediums for each technique so you’re sure to find one that you already own the tools to create and she names each colour she uses so you can match it either identically or by finding close matches within the mediums you already have. You can learn to use a huge number of mediums from coloured pencils to watercolour pencils and paints, alcohol markers, gel pens, pastels and mixed media. The colouring pages exactly match each technique so you can directly copy the instructions without having to first work out how to apply them to a different image. The colouring pages are perforated and can therefore be removed before colouring so that you’re not constantly having to flick to the tutorial and then to the page to colour, it also means you can copy them (for personal use) to print onto the paper of your choice so you can practice multiple times to really perfect each technique or to try out different mediums. The images are all very natural and mostly include plants and flowers. The techniques are all written in clear, plain language with any specialised terms explained so that anyone of any level will understand them. They are all illustrated with full colour photographs and laid out neatly and numbered so they’re very easy to follow. There are helpful tips written in coloured circles throughout the book so they’re easy to find and the contents page clearly lists all of the techniques and page numbers.

In terms of mental health, this book is great but you will need to be aware of a few things. The premise is ideal for perfectionists, you can learn all sorts of techniques that you’ve wondered about for ages and practice them in a dedicated space and build up your confidence before being let loose on your actual colouring pages, following written instructions means that you don’t have to keep pausing or rewinding a video if it’s going too fast for you and you can read all of the instructions before starting if you’re worried about making mistakes or if you don’t quite understand a section. Each technique is broken down into small sections with each focusing on one or two colours so they’re manageable to work on over time if you don’t want to complete a whole technique all at once. All of these are great positives and particularly good for those of us who like things to be perfect, realistic, and who struggle to follow videos. However, you will need good concentration, I don’t know about you but now that I’m ill I really struggle to read and concentrate for any length of time and therefore following instructions is extremely difficult for me. I often get easily overwhelmed by the sight of lists of things to do and find it very challenging to follow them. However, I have found that if you can possibly not skip ahead and just focus on each instruction one by one then it’s much more manageable and able to be followed because you’re just using one colour in one or two places at once before then moving onto the next. I have also found it helpful to read the whole technique a few times and study the accompanying pictures before starting to follow it. Many of the techniques can be mixed and matched and also swapped across mediums too so they’re far more versatile than you might first assume. The illustrations used to practice on are varying sizes with some pages containing a few smaller drawings and others containing one centralised image. None are huge and none are tiny, they’re all quite a middling size and very manageable to colour in one sitting if you wish and can concentrate on the techniques and instructions for long enough. The line thickness is pretty consistent and remains thin with some medium thickness sections or outlines. The intricacy and detail levels vary and range from quite detailed to much less so, none of the images are hugely intricate because you have to be able to apply the techniques to each one and there’s not a lot you can do with very intricate images so these illustrations will suit most levels of vision and fine motor control apart from those who have particularly poor levels of either.

Overall, this is a great book that’s ideal for any level of colourist to learn something new from, the practice sheets are perforated which is ideal so you can see the instructions at the same time as colouring and also for making personal copies and the techniques are explained in clear, simple language with lots of colour photographs which add clarity. I’d highly recommend this book, it’s written in an interesting and accessible way and broken up into concise sections that are easy to navigate and roughly run in order of difficulty.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Color Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Artistic Effects
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Workshop-Rachel-Reinert/9781942021575/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured with: Poppy – Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils; Leaf – Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and blended with Zest-It and a Blending Stump.