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All in "steps"

Start a Coloring Practice in 3 Steps
Dec 27, 2018

Coloring is an inexpensive, easy, and fun way to de-stress and unwind.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or under the weather, coloring can make you feel better. It can clear your mind of clutter and make you feel calmer and more in control.

You may feel a bit silly, confused, or even a little embarrassed to begin coloring as an adult; but, hey, coloring is an “in” thing among adults and even if the adult coloring book industry has dipped in sales, it still is a major player and won’t disappear anytime soon. Perhaps, not ever.

Getting started may be the hardest part if you’re a beginner but once you realize just how peaceful and calming coloring is, it may be hard for you to stop.

3 Steps to Start Your Coloring Practice

Here are three simple steps to start coloring:

1) Get a Few Coloring Supplies

You don’t need any fancy supplies to start coloring. In fact, you don’t need much of anything to color.

To start with, get a blank sheet of paper, a pen or pencil, draw your design or image, and add colors from crayons or pens you already have.

I bought my coloring supplies from a local art store when I started coloring. They were quite expensive but since my adrenaline was high for coloring, I didn’t mind.

You don’t have to take that route. There are many inexpensive and reasonable options, as follows:

First, if you already have a personal collection, use it. Look around. You may not have realized it but what you’re looking for may just be right under your nose.

Second, if you’re a mom like me, scour your kid’s supply box or bags for crayons, markers, coloring pens, or paints. I have three kids and over the years, we have accumulated a bunch of coloring pens, markers, pencils, pastels, and paints. We have already discarded a whole lot but still have more.

Third, hunt for used coloring supplies at your local thrift shops.  They would be in used condition but not completely tattered. In one of my trips to Value Village, I found a set of Grumbacher Deluxe Opaque Watercolors at $7.99 Cdn. A brand new set sells at $49 Cdn or $35.99 US. It was a great find.

Fourth, go to your dollar store. There are lots there.

There’s no stopping you from buying fancy coloring supplies. However, if you’re just starting out or simply testing the waters, go for used, discounted or inexpensive ones. You can then go premium as you progress in your coloring practice. You save a handsome lot that way.

2) Get Yourself a Coloring Book

Finding an adult coloring book these days is easy. If leaving the house is an ordeal, shopping online is a convenient way to go. Shop around town and find one at your bookstores, shops, department stores, or grocery. You may even find one at your local thrift shop as I did. Have a look at what I found in one of my treasure hunts. 

3) Sit Down and Start

Find a comfortable spot where you can do your coloring. Sit down and color.

Keep in mind that:

  • You are alone with yourself (except when in a coloring community).
  • No one can judge you nor tell you what to do.
  • There is no rule to follow – not even rules in color combination – except yours.
  • You don’t have to be perfect in anything – strokes, colors, time, musings, emotions, outputs.
  • You are accountable to no one.
  • You need not show your artwork to anyone if you feel uncomfortable doing so.
  • Your process is your own.

Know that there is no right or wrong way with coloring. You do as you please with what goes on while coloring. What you get out of it is a personal thing.

Why don’t you try it, if you haven’t yet? See how it goes, how it feels, and how it works.

If you are already into it, please let us in on your experience:  How did you get started? What steps did you follow? How did it go?

Thanks for dropping by!

A 13-Step Guide to Create Your Own Coloring Pages: Not as Hard as You Think!
Dec 18, 2018

The craze over adult coloring books has subsided but there still is a significant demand or volume of sales for it in the book market.

If you are looking at creating your own, there is plenty of room to do that. Besides, you can always create a hybrid product that incorporates coloring designs into journals, planners, calendars, cards, bags, mugs, fabric, among others.

This opportunity should be a source of inspiration and motivation to you.

Your Coloring Hobby Need Not Be Expensive

Coloring is a pleasurable activity that brings significant health benefits to your mind and body. It works on releasing happy hormones to relieve you of stress, calm you down, let you sleep well, and maintain your level of energy even in stressful situations.

Yet, maintaining a coloring habit can be strainful to the pocket. Take these for instance:

  • Coloring books. You don’t only buy one coloring book to work on. You buy more. You don’t only buy once but you buy every time one catches your eye or your favorite artist releases a new one.
  • Coloring supplies. Then, you need to buy your coloring supplies; not just any kind. You don’t want used ones but new. Because you color on a regular basis, your supplies get depleted and you need to replenish them.
  • Coloring events. You decide to join a network of local colorists who meet regularly. There is a “minimal” fee to attend, excluding food that you bring to share or buy at the venue.

Yeah, it’s fun but where does that take you?

What if you create your own designs?

What if you publish and sell them in online shops or offline bookstores or outlets?

What if you organize your own coloring events and use your own designs for participants to color?

What if you open your own online store and sell digital copies of your artwork?

What if?

Have you thought of all these possibilities?

Why not?

The possibility of creating your own coloring pages to feed your hobby may not be for you. You may not have the skills, inclination, motivation, or openness to do it… and all you really want is just to color. 

That’s fine. 

However, if you do, then this is for you! 

How to Make a Coloring Book? One Page at a Time!

To reach a destination, you always start with a single step. That’s also how you create a coloring book – one step at a time. 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~Lao Tzu

Before I came up with a finished digital image of a cancer-stricken woman, I had an image of her in my mind. I then sketched her with a pencil, occasionally erasing parts that didn’t go well. 

I inked it, scanned, and went through various other activities to achieve the result I want. 

Voila! Done! 

I drew other women like the Geisha, Ndebele woman, Chinese, and Afro, following the same process that I learned from others then tested and polished to achieve the results I want. My other illustrations also followed the same process. 

13 Steps to Make a Coloring Page

Through the years that I’ve been creating line art, I’ve come to settle on a personal creative process that is an iteration of those I saw others do and those I learned from experience. 

My process involves pretty much nine steps, as follows:

1. Conceptualize

This is a quick process that does not require much thinking. It is here where I think about what to create based on a theme, topic or idea.

At times, this process can be unnecessary as creating a coloring page can be random or from out of the blues, when inspiration strikes. 

2. Research (Optional)

This is an optional process that I do when I lack knowledge or information on something I like to focus on.

For instance, I search online, the library, or my collection of books, when I need quotes to use. When I drew an image of an African Ndebele woman, I researched online about the tribe particularly on the dominant facial features and attire of their women. Drawings of flowers can be based on imagination or stock information, but when needing accuracy on specific aspects, research comes in handy. 

3. Sketch

This is when I put pencil to paper to draw what’s in my mind. Sketches could be a product of conceptualization and research but it can be anything random. It can even be doodles. Do whatever works for you.

For supplies, I often use Staedtler HB pencil. There are many brands to choose from, including pencils kids usually use at school. There is no hard and fast rule for this, only that which works.

4. Erase

This goes hand in hand with sketching and is done to delete mistakes or unwanted strokes.

For this, I use the kneaded eraser or putty rubber.

Kneaded erasers can be shaped by hand for precision erasing, creating highlights, or performing detailing work. They are commonly used to remove light charcoal or graphite marks and in subtractive drawing techniques. However, they are ill-suited for completely erasing large areas, and may smear or stick if too warm. (Wikipedia)

I use to like Staedtler’s retractable eraser but supply for the refill is hard to find and they leave residues or shavings all over. The kneaded eraser doesn’t have this kind of mess although it can smear and get sticky with aging and hot weather. 

5. Ink

I ink my drawing using Sakura’s Micron ink pens with the thickness of either 01, 05 or 08. I have tried other brands but the Sakura Micron pens work best for me.

After inking, I discover remaining pencil marks that I either erase with the kneaded eraser or clean up at Adobe Photoshop. 

6. Digitize

This is where your scanner comes in handy. I scan my images with the following settings:

  • Color format: black and white (instead of grayscale or color)
  • File type: JPEG
  • Brightness: 100%
  • Resolution: 1200 DPI.

If your scanner can only do 600 DPI, that’s fine, too. Others recommend a resolution that’s higher than 1200 to capture the details; however, my scanner can only do until 1200 DPI and I have no problem with that.

7. Clean Up

Now that I have a digitized copy of my image, I go to my favorite photo editing software, which is Adobe Photoshop, to clean up my images. I have tried other applications but I always go back to Photoshop even though I pay a monthly fee for subscription to Adobe’s suite of tools. It’s just a personal preference but if finance is a concern for you, or you don’t have Photoshop skills nor the patience to learn it, use whatever works for you. 

Clean up involves any one or all of the following:

  • Erasing pencil marks and unwanted elements in the digitized image
  • Smoothening the lines
  • Thickening or thinning the lines
  • Adding or subtracting elements
  • Compositing or combining images.

8. Vectorize (Optional)

Vectorizing an image is one that I almost always do it because I love that clean look. I use Adobe Illustrator for this. I simply drag my image from Photoshop over to Illustrator then click image trace. I then do the needed adjustments to create the look that I want.  

The finished product from Adobe Illustrator is a vector image when saved in SVG. Vector, unlike raster, images are those that can be scaled to any size without pixelation or loss of quality. However, my purpose for vectorizing is just to achieve a clean look. At the end of it, my coloring pages are saved in non-vector formats. 

This process of vectorizing is optional but recommended to give your images that crisp, clean and professional look.

9. Save in Your Desired Format

Once done with vectorizing, I drag back my image to Photoshop and save it in preferred formats. I always do JPEG and PDF for my coloring pages, but if an image requires transparency, I create a PNG file. In special cases, I save an image in SVG format at Adobe Illustrator if a vector image is needed. 

Use this guide for familiarity with file formats acronyms:

  • JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • PNG – Portable Network Graphics
  • SVG – Scalable Vector Graphics
  • PDF – Portable Document Format
  • TIFF – Tag Image File Format.

I don’t normally save in TIFF format. 

To save on time, I always do formatting in bulk, not by piece. 

10. Test print

I print out a copy of my pages, usually just a sampling, to see how well they look.

11. Review

I review the test prints to check on the following:

  • Font type
  • Font size
  • Spacing of text
  • Adequacy of allocated space
  • Margins
  • Clarity of message
  • Thickness of line art
  • Placement of elements
  • Balance
  • Grammatical errors
  • Typographical errors. 

12. Enhance (Optional)

I do the needed enhancements after printing test copies of the pages. Otherwise, they are good to go.

13. Compile

When I have completed all the pages I need for one document, say this 31-Day Gratitude Coloring Journal, I bring them over to a publisher or word processing application. I use Microsoft’s Word or Publisher for this. When dealing with images only, I also use Adobe’s Acrobat. 

When I have everything in place, I save the document in two formats:

  • Native file format – Microsoft Word may be saved with .doc or .docx extensions while Microsoft Publisher is .pub. You need the native file formats so you can edit or refer back to the original document. 
  • PDF format – Files in PDF format are handy for sharing files in an easily readable form as well as publishing to platforms (i.e. Createspace) that require a PDF file. 

This process is what works for me. You may try it as is or tweak it for your own good. Again, whatever works is best! 

If already creating your own coloring pages, how do you do it? What process or steps do you take?

If not yet, is creating your own coloring pages something you would try?

I would love to hear what you have to say about this. 

Please share your comments below to enrich this post. Thank you!

Journaling with Morning Pages: Start Your Day Right
Nov 14, 2018

Are you a morning person?

How familiar are you with morning pages?

If you are into journaling, have you tried it?

Morning pages is a form of journal writing that you do upon waking up in the morning. How you do it is pretty simple.

3 Requirements of Morning Pages

While any form of journaling in the morning would work, the most widely known method of doing morning pages has three requirements:

Requirement #1 – Write as soon as you wake up.

It’s best to do your morning pages right when you wake up. It is when your mind is fully rested and relaxed enough to not overthink and rationalize. It’s also when you’re able to write honestly and from the inner depths of your mind.

Requirement #2 – Don't stop until you have done 3 pages. 

This three-page requirement, which is roughly 750 words, is a good amount to come up with in-depth writing. If you stopped after one page, you’d only be scratching the surface with your journaling.

Write whatever comes to mind.

For the first half-page or page, you may find that you’re filling the page with blasé observations, but stick with it and you’ll likely end up with some gems in the rest of your writing. It’s all about being patient and committed.

While how long morning pages take depends on how quickly you write, people typically complete theirs within about half an hour. You’ll likely find that you get through yours a bit faster when you get used to writing them.

Requirement #3 – Write your morning pages by hand. 

There is this thing with putting pen or pencil to paper that’s special.

Writing with your pen or pencil rather than using the computer creates a much stronger bond between yourself and writing.

Computers, on the other hand, can stifle that connection and creative flow.

It’s also much easier to jump into your morning pages when you wake up if you’re just grabbing a journal, not turning on your computer and loading your word processing program of choice.

Since morning pages are intended to be private, it’s best not to let anyone read yours. This makes it easier to write honestly because you don’t need to worry about being judged for what you write. In fact, you may not even want to reread yours later.

Flexibility with Morning Pages

Creating a habit with morning pages takes commitment and action. However, if these requirements constrain you, then go ahead – do journaling in the morning, your style.

If you prefer using your computer or tablet, do so. Nothing can stop you. There are even sites like 750words that are specifically designed for that purpose.

It still is morning pages in a loose sense. What’s important is that you get into the groove of journaling and experience maximum benefits.

If you’re into morning pages, let us know:

  • how you do it
  • if follows the 3 requirements as discussed earlier
  • what doing your morning pages has done for you.

If you’re doing it differently, we’d love to know about it as well and learn from you! 

 

How to Start a Journaling Practice
Oct 19, 2018

If you are new to journaling, you probably may have asked:

  • How do you start journaling?
  • Is there a proper or right way to do it?
  • When can you start?
  • What materials do you need?
  • How can you succeed at journaling?

I started journal writing in my late teens over 30 years ago (yes, that’s how old I am) when journals weren’t in style and were called by a different name. Yes, diary! And guess what, I used plain old ballpoint pens and lined notebooks. My journaling practice included writing my thoughts and feelings, inspiring quotes, expenses, contact information, daily to-do list and accomplishments, sketches, stories, insights, class notes, outlines of things to write, relevant facts and figures, among other forgettable stuff.

My daughter started journaling at elementary some seven years ago with just a pen and paper. It was a lot of girlie stuff, love notes to me, doodles, and stories. She still does now that she’s at Grade 10 and oh, dear! She has become so much better. She does it every day non-stop. She loves art so her journals are full of it.

We both weren’t well aware that what we were doing was journal writing. We just started it.

We didn’t think if there was even a proper or right way to write our thoughts, feelings, and creations on paper. We just did it.

We started when we felt ready. We didn’t give a thought about when. We just did.

We used whatever was there. Nothing fancy. Just plain old paper and anything that writes on it.

You may do that, too.

Journaling is simple. It knows no rules. People make their own. 

It is inspiring to use fancy journals and accessories such as:
  • ink pens
  • coloring pens
  • markers
  • stickers
  • stamp pads
  • sketch pads
  • dividers
  • acid-free papers
  • watercolors
  • gelli plates
  • glitters, and
  • various other embellishments.

You don’t have to.

It’s really up to you.

So about those questions, the answer is – Just start.

There is no right or wrong with journaling and how you do it is really up to you.

If writing long entries is what you enjoy or find helpful, do so.

Even the format is up to you.

You may jot down a few bullets or lines to serve as your memory aid.

However you do it, find a medium that’s comfortable.

Gratitude Journal: Make It Easy to Say Thanks Everyday
Oct 10, 2018

Why Practice Gratitude

Why not? Life is a blessing and every moment unnoticed and not celebrated is a waste.

If you imagine people never getting up from bed to see the light of day, you would realize just how lucky you are. Also, you don’t have to buy a bottle of canned oxygen to breathe fresh air, to scamper for food in a mountain of rubbish, nor to be subjected every day to the terrifying sound of bullets and real threat to life.

Life is great and there is just so much to be thankful for.

People who express gratitude, whether openly or in subtle or covert ways, radiate positivity and cheerfulness. They tend to be calm, peaceful, content, and joyful, knowing that blessings abound and are there for the taking.

God gave you 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “Thank You?” ~William A. Ward

So, why practice gratitude?

What do you think?

Get Yourself a Gratitude Journal

If saying “thanks” is an ordeal because you have so much to attend to, it’s a clear signal for you to stop what you’re doing.

Take a moment to breathe. It would unburden you of stress.

Be mindful of what’s happening in your surroundings and, more importantly, your life.

If you have a piece of paper or notebook, go on… write the things that you are grateful for, both big and small, important or not, Earth-shaking or trivial.

If you have a gratitude journal, all the better (though not necessary)! You could easily use the journaling prompts in it.

Keeping a gratitude journal is nothing complicated. It doesn’t have to be methodical or structured. Although it is more focused on practicing daily gratitude, it functions in the same way as most other journals.

The bottom line with keeping a gratitude journal is having a tool to express thankfulness.

5 Simple Steps to Practice Thankfulness Every Day

If starting a gratitude journal is something strange, here’s a brief on how to do it:

Step #1 – Ask Yourself: What are you grateful for today?

Think about events, people, challenges, learnings, or insights that have moved or enriched you.

Step #2 – Write down your thoughts on paper. 

It doesn't matter what you use to write on - standard notebook, fancy journal, tablet, print paper, calendar, post-it notes, scratch paper, or receipt. Personally, I use my cell phone and save to draft. What is important is getting into the habit of expressing gratitude each day. Of course, there is nothing like keeping a journal that you can go back to time and again. 

Step #3 – Keep a daily regular schedule.

Set a time each day to write on your gratitude journal. It may be on your work break, lunch, before bed... you decide. Your important keywords are daily, regular and schedule. 

Step #3 – Express gratitude any way you want.

Draw, illustrate or color. You may even write a poem or song. If that's how you want to say thanks, do it. 

Step #5 – Protect your privacy.

At the end of the day, keep your journal in a safe place. What you write in there is yours to keep. It's best to keep it private and secure. 

Aren't those steps simple?

Go ahead  – pause, breathe, reflect and write!

A piece of paper and pen along with a grateful heart are all it takes.