One of our favorite ways to add color to our art projects is with trusty TriBlend™ markers. We recently picked our artists’ brains and put together a list of 10 practical tips, tricks, and ideas for using these colorful tools!
If you are not familiar with TriBlend™ markers, inside every marker there is a gradation of colors, from light to dark, delivered through three separate fine bullet nibs. You basically get three markers in one! The alcohol-based ink is especially designed to blend seamlessly for mixing and layering the shades.
When blending alcohol-based inks, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. The surface onto which you are applying the inks will make a difference in how to layer or mix them. If you are using a porous surface, like paper, and are hoping to create a seamless blend, don’t allow the ink to dry between color applications. Start with the lightest color, then add a darker shade, overlapping some of the color in the middle of the two. While the ink is still wet, it will move and spread through the fibers of the paper. When two colors of ink are wet on top of each other, they will spread into each other, creating a more seamless blend.
The same is true in the opposite scenario. If you want to create a seam in between colors, allow the first color to dry. When applying the second color, don’t overlap too much, because this second color will continue to spread into the first color until it dries.
2. This second tip is more of a trick that we use when we color our stamped images with TriBlend™ markers. Like we mentioned above, alcohol ink will spread through the fibers of a piece of paper when it’s still wet. Keep that in mind as you color a stamped image, and avoid coloring up to the edges, leaving a tiny space for the ink to move into on its own. If you apply too much ink to a stamped image, even though you may have colored in the lines, it may not look that way by the time the ink is absorbed and dries.
3. Alcohol ink doesn’t just absorb into paper and cardstock, but it usually also soaks through it. When coloring parts of a project, we recommend using scratch paper underneath it. If you are going to color directly onto your project, remember that you will see the bleed-through on the other side. If you are working on a card, for example, you will see bleed-through of colored images on the inside of your card if you color directly on the card front. There are two ways you can address this: You can either create separate pieces for coloring that will get attached to the card front afterward, or, you can add a piece of cardstock on the inside of the card to cover up the spots where the ink has soaked through. (In the cards above, the elements that were colored with TriBlend™ markers are on separate pieces of paper from the card base).
4. If you’d like to color on vellum with TriBlend™ markers, go for it! Vellum is less porous than regular paper, therefore it does not absorb the ink. Since the ink does not absorb into vellum, it also doesn’t spread the way it would on paper. You can still move and blend the ink, but in this case, you will do so yourself with the nib of your marker. The ink will dry on the surface, and it will dry well since it is alcohol-based.
You can create a softer “stained glass” effect by coloring stamped images on vellum from behind!
5. Our fifth tip is to use the Blender Marker. Though technically not a “TriBlend” marker, since it only has two nibs, this marker contains a colorless alcohol-based ink and is intended to be used as a blender with other alcohol-based color markers. What we’ve discovered is our use is that this marker works well to lift and lighten other colors. Our artists love to use it to create sheens or light reflections on things like balloons, sunglasses, or fruit.
One of the perks of blending different shades of one color in alcohol inks is that creating shadows has never been easier!
6. This tip applies to all coloring projects, not just ones using TriBlend™ markers! Before you begin coloring, consider your “light source.” If you are hoping to achieve a more dimensional look by coloring your images with shadows, you will need to decide where the fictional “light” is coming from to determine where the darker, shaded areas of our images will be. Where the “light” hits your images, these areas will be lighter.
7. Once you know where your “light” is coming from, you can begin shading your image. Start with the lightest shades and gradually work out to the darkest shades. Blend these different shades by going over the intersections with the lighter shade. Also, remember to shade while the ink is wet. Break larger images into sections in order to blend while the ink is still wet. If you color all of the lighter areas first, by the time you get to the next shade your first one will be dry.
8. If you want to create an actual shadow behind an image, the lightest Brown Grey blend marker is the way to go! Color outside the lines of a stamped image, only along the parts where a shadow would fall. Consider your light source to figure out where that should be. this shadow outline will create a dimensional effect, as if your picture were propped on foam tape even though it’s not!
TriBlend™ markers can be used for so much more than just coloring a stamped image!
9. Alcohol markers are a great tool for coloring embellishments! They dry very well on non-porous surfaces, like those of gems and acrylic shapes. (Revisit this post from a few weeks ago to see more!)
10. Use TriBlend™ markers to color the white core of a ripped piece of cardstock or paper, create a “wash” behind titles and sentiments, freestyle additional design elements for your projects, or even use them with a stencil!
To create a wash with your marker, it’s easiest to hold your marker horizontally to the paper and use the side of the nib rather than the tip. Also, be aware that alcohol-markers will stain any stencil that you color through. These stains will not ruin your stencil, they will simply make it more colorful!
We truly love creating with these markers, and hope you do, too! Get creative as you color your art, and experiment with the different shades each of the TriBlend™ markers has to offer.
To help you do that, we’ve put together the following color reference chart:
Download and print a free blank chart, here (here for AU/NZ), and add the three shades of each available marker color to its corresponding rectangle. (You’ll notice that the downloadable chart is two pages long, and that is because we’ve added to our color options since this top chart was created!) We’ve also added the True Black marker to the list, although it doesn’t have different shade options, in order to have all the color options available for reference in one place.
**Make your chart last longer by printing it on cardstock rather than regular printer paper, and keep it handy as you’re making color and shade choices for your artwork.**
Thanks for joining us on this colorful journey today! In the comments below, let us know how you’re using these markers and what you love about them!