Thursday, 14 October 2010

Glowing Candles - how to

So I promised tutorials and now I'm delivering tutorials. This one is going to deal with that glowing candle business. Glowing candles are really hard to get to look right. Frankly, I would like this to be a better looking flame but it does it's job I think, and maybe the techniques will be useful. I kinda rushed these ones since I was trying to cook dinner at the same time, I could do better, but... ya.
So here I've got 2 techniques to show you
First off a quick one image technique.
Okay, the first 2 pictures are examples of what is being achieved. It's a watercolour effect.
Step 1: do a yellow bg leaving the shape of your flame uncoloured (white) (Y00)
Step2: Darken the area closest to the flame base a little around the edge with a slightly darker yellow using the tip to tip or palette method*.
Step 3: Using the palette method, and a darker yellow (Y00- original colour +Y17 - darker) darken the base of the flame again. and around the middle of the flame.
*by the way, this palette method is one of my favourite ways of blending. I have a laminate desk I use as my palette!

This is a nice watercolouring effect for those of you without the Copic Airbrush system, but for those of you with the ABS, there's more for you!
Okay, so the final step also looks kind of bad, because in real life it looks pretty cool but photographing it really brought out all the evil in it. bear with me. if you take more time lining up things, you'll get a better result.

I started with an ink drawing of the top of a candle. I did not ink the flame. Also leave some space in the outline of the candle's back edge where the flame would be.

I cut out a piece of frisket film in the shape of the flame and stick it down  (it caught the light well) In retrospect I would have touched the sticky side a few times to reduce the tack of the film because it actually tore my paper. You'll see.
This image is not the candle I'm working on but I used it cuz I forgot the photograph that step. I did a later of a soft spraying yellow for the base colour and sprayed a good circle around the flame. This was Y04.

I then did a darker ring around my light glow with Y17.

I also did a tiny spray right in the middle of the flame. This will create a point of high contrast, and make it seem extra bright. It's important that this be incredibly subtle!

I darkened up the bottom of the candle as well, and added a layer of frisket along the top of the candle where it would be lightest.

I added post-it notes around the edge carefully lining up the edges so they overlap the frisket so to not get hard edges where they're not wanted. (I didnt do it carefully enough)

I took YR14 and sprayed the base of the candle. This is where I buggered up. I over-sprayed not anticipating the force and velocity of the spray. I also hadn't lined up the post it notes right. but YOU WILL!

Removing all the post it notes and frisket, then added a bit of white gelly roller which I promptly smudged, then tried to fix  and failed. I'd use opaque white in the future. See how the white of the flame is so bright? see also where it's toothed the paper from my over sticky frisket. 

So did that help anyone, or is this utter crap? I kinda rushed it. I'll do better next time.
Some tips

  • Test the markers in the airbrush before attempting on the image - some colours spray kinda sputtery and some have a sort of dash spray while some spray in a circle. All the nib adjusting in the world doesn't really fix it either, LOL.
  • Touch frisket film on the sticky side to make it un sticky before putting it onto your paper. for all my tests I did that and did really well, and then on the one I start photographing I forgot, and screwed up my tutorial! Woof :<
  • Use warm colours as much as possible, but use cool colours in the shadows. If you have a nice bright yellow candle, the lower part of the candle could have a touch of lavendar, ohhh, that would look good.
  • If you wanted to be a little more advanced you could add some more detail in the flame using frisket film.
  • I used Grafix frisket film for this. I have huge rolls, it's great stuff!

As I was looking around for the palette technique (rather than explain it, I thought I'd link it) I found that Ilikemarkers had some good tutorials that were Christmas related I wanted to share!
Colouring Pine or palm trees
Opaque white Snow

Thanks! Toodle roo!


  1. Thanks so much. Being a papercrafter who failed all school art classes, I really appreciated your tutorial. It was specific (candle flames - I can practice that). The directions were clear, at least to me. And your rushing/ foibles even make playing more approachable than if the tutorial was perfect. (I don't have to shake my head and moan, "I can never do that!"

    thank you

  2. @christine - Thanks so much :D I'm glad you like it :D I'm glad my mistakes are more helpful than damaging, HAHA!

  3. I'll probably won't ever try this. (Your tutorial is great; my coloring is eghh...) BUT, in case I ever change my mind, I'm glad to know I can come back and reread your awesome tutorial!

  4. They are beautiful! You will be a great resource when I take the plunge into Copic Markers!

  5. This is wonderful, great technique, now I want to try it!


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