Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Colouring snow and icicles

So I got a suggestion from HappyCrafter to do a little tutorial on colouring white things; in particular snow and icicles. So that's what I've done.
All of what I put here can really apply to anything being coloured white, but I've focused mainly on snow and ice as the Christmas season is creeping up on us, I and I know I've been already itching to do some illustrations for Christmas, and I've also seen lots of cards being created with a Christmas theme!

So to start off, Snow!
The thing about white things is, they will reflect whatever colours are near them. So technically snow is rarely ever "white".
Hold a red piece of card next to a white sheet, then hold a blue card. You'll see that the colour will reflect onto the white. Having said that, you want to simplify it a little bit for the sake of your own sanity.
My general rule of thumb is to make the snow a lighter tint of the main light source - The sky usually. Sometimes I do leave it plain white.
This is a very subtle effect for snow. Very simplified for very cartoony scenes.

Inking or stamping your snowy image in grey will help give a softer look. If you want to push that look further, not inking in details like divots on the snow, and merely colouring them in will push that soft look of snow.

So there's snow, in a nutshell. If you have any more questions, or anything like that don't hesitate to comment.
Okay moving on...
Icicles are a funny thing. They can vary in a million ways. 
They can be cork screw shaped, rippled, on an angle, or shaped like waves. Icicles are formed by water dripping and freezing. so as drips travel they freeze at the end of the icicle, effectively lengthening it, or on the way down, thickening the icicles and varying the shape.
for the most part icicles are mostly transparent and vertical.
An icicle being transparent will show through whatever colour is behind it mostly through the middle of it, while the glossy coating reflects the light creating a white and shadowed effect on the outside edges.

To simplify this for colouring, you'd just do the bg colour in a lighter tint in the middle, and white on the -edges. See my 3 examples. The first one has a big bright pink sunset behind it, The 3rd one, just the sky and more snow.
The 2rd one is another way of colouring. it still looks like a cold icicle still huh?

So you can really vary how an icicle looks, but still keep the nice icicle effect.

I hope this was useful to someone out there.
Feel free to add your links to images made if you were helped by my tutorial. I'd love to see them!

If you have any suggestions for other tutorials or just have a tricky thing you need to colour and need some advice or a step by step please feel free to email or message me and ask. I'll gladly make a post for your question!

All these samples were done with Copic markers on Copic Pure white illustration card. They were Inked with Copic Microns.

Happy Markering :D


  1. This is fabulous! I will use this soon and link my blog post back to here so people can see it.
    Thanks so much!

  2. @happycrafter yay! I'm glad you like :D It was what you had in mind I hope :D

  3. By the way, you should join one of the online communities and link your tutorials to them....You might like Crafters Digital Art Center http://priscillastyles.ning.com/

  4. OOOO! I joined :D Thanks so much :D I'm so new to the "crafter" side of it all. I feel like a bit of a jerk not really BEING A crafter but still playing in the genre :B

  5. O what a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing this ;D

  6. @cassie Thank you :D Glad you enjoyed it :D

  7. Love this, always wondered!!! Thanks........:)

  8. Great info! Really cool! LOL No pun intended!


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