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Coloring Digitally on a Budget

Coloring Online in Sketchpad

Today I learned that I can import images into a free online program called Sketchpad and can color them digitally.

I’m an art teacher, and like most of you, I’ve been temporarily assigned to work from home until this pandemic blows over. I’m in the process of trying to figure out how to turn a three dimensional ceramics class into a virtual pencil and paper course without boring anyone to death.

In my search for ideas about what I can have my students do besides completing fill in the blank activities, I pulled up a program called Sketchpad. We use this program in my art classroom as an “I’m done” activity. I’ve been telling my kids for two years now that they can use their Chromebooks and go into Sketchpad when they’ve finished their work, but I’ve never tried using the program myself. Just out of curiosity, I uploaded one of my coloring pages in as a PNG with the background removed, which is essentially a digital stamp, and played around with coloring it digitally. I discovered a couple of pros and cons about this coloring program.

Pros

First, you can do what I call ‘point and click’ coloring in Sketchpad. You can click on Vector fill, choose a color or gradient, and click on the background. It will fill your empty background with the color of your choice. You can also color closed shapes by choosing the paint button and selecting Pixel fill. Again, choose a color or gradient. After that, you can click on a shape and it will fill it with the color you just chose. I was really surprised that I could do this. I thought I was going to have to sit there with a spray can icon trying to stay inside the lines.

Secondly, it’s online and it’s free. That makes it priceless in my book!

Third, I found that I can save my completed artwork to my Google Drive. All you have to do is go into settings, which is found in the lower left portion of your screen, and activate the “Store files in Google Drive” slider button. If you don’t have a Google Drive, it’s easy to get. It’s especially easy if you already use Gmail because you already have a Google account. Here’s a link for how to get started with Google Drive.

I also found out that I can export my work to my computer as a finished piece. There’s an icon that looks like a floppy disk on the lower left portion of the screen. It’s immediately above the settings icon. If you click that, you’ll see all the different formats that you can use to save your art to your desktop or to a file.

Cons

I don’t know how to lock my image into place yet. As a result, I had a problem with my drawing moving around. This is the biggest problem I’ve found so far with the software. It does have layers, though, so maybe if I put it on a different layer, then that might solve the problem. Sketchpad also appears to allow you only one ‘undo’ per mistake, so you can’t go back using that option. I think you might be able to delete more steps by going into your history. I haven’t tried that method yet, though, so I’m not sure. Auto save runs slowly, which may be an issue with my bandwidth. Last, it jumps around when I’m trying to make changes or add fills to small areas.

If you want to try a sample project, I’m attaching a digital stamp of my coloring page called “Poppies.” This is the same one I colored in the picture above. Have fun!

https://colorwithsteph.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/poppies-b-png-no-bkd.png

To import the image into Sketchpad:

Click on the caption below the picture and save it to your desktop.

Go to Sketchpad and set up a new page by clicking the Plus icon on the lower left part of the screen.

Click on PX (pixels) and change it to inches, then make it whatever size you want.

Next, click the clipart icon. At the top, it gives you the option to load your own image. Click the ‘load your own image’ button. Your desktop will open, and you can click on the picture you saved and open it up in the program.

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How to Create a Coloring Page

When I first started creating coloring pages, I had a lot of questions about how it should be done. Are there any special pens or inks I need to use? What kind of paper works best? Is there one particular digital format that works better than the others? I know that other people have methods that work for them, but this is what works best for me.

Paper

I started out using Strathmore Bristol several years ago and quickly discovered that it ‘bled’, meaning that the ink doesn’t stay in a nice neat line. It seeps into the fibers of the paper, which can turn into a total mess when you scan your image. I switched to a brand called Borden and Riley Paris Paper for Pens, which I normally purchase through Amazon. It has a smoother, whiter surface and minimal bleed. It comes in a 9 x 12 pad, which I cut down to 8 1/2 x 11 so that it fits on my scanner.

Pens

I use Sakura Pigma Micron pens. This is just a personal preference on my part. I’m sure there are other pens that work just as well, but I’ve been using this brand since disposable pens came on the market. I occasionally use a black Copic marker as well to fill in large areas if needed, but at eight dollars a marker, I use this one sparingly.

Hardware and Software

You’ll need a computer with a good scanner/printer. Make sure your scanner glass stays clean. I have four cats and they’re fascinated with the printer, so this is easier said than done. I use a microfiber cloth and clean off the glass before I scan anything.

As far as software, CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint are my programs of choice. I realize that Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop have more technical capabilities, but I don’t usually need them. Corel software has less of a learning curve and is easier to work with. Corel Graphics Suite used to offer a monthly subscription for $26.99 USD and this is what I’ve always used, but I just discovered that Corel has now dropped this option. Unfortunately, you now have the choice of either purchasing the software package for $499 USD or purchasing an annual subscription for $249.

Drawing your Coloring Page

There are several ways to handle this part. One option is to draw your image in pencil and then go over it with ink, and then erase your pencil lines. This works fairly well depending on what type of paper you use. Borden and Riley erases more easily than Strathmore Bristol, for example. Another option is to draw your image in pencil using regular, inexpensive sketch paper and then use a light table to trace it on to your higher quality paper. This has the advantage of eliminating a lot of the eraser dust that sticks to your paper. That eraser dust invariably finds its way on to your scanner to create those irritating little black spots.

Scanning your Image

I scan my image at 300 DPI and save it as a JPG.

Importing the Drawing

I open up Corel, set up a new page, and import the drawing I just created. At this point, I usually click on Edit Bitmap, which takes the drawing into Corel Photo-Paint. I could also just open it in Photo-Paint. Either one works.

Cleaning up your Image

I run my scan through several filters before I even start working on it. First, I go to Effects and click on Noise, then I click on Remove Noise. This softens the lines and helps to remove some of the stray dust points. Mine is set to Auto on the threshold slider, so I don’t worry too much about choosing the perfect setting.

Next, I click on Image, then Correction, and then Dust and Scratch. Stray points are a pet peeve of mine, so I take extra steps to get rid of them! I set this threshold all the way to maximum, with a radius of three.

After that, I click on Adjust and then Auto Adjust. This makes all my lines nice and black.

Last, I go back to Image and click on ‘Convert to Black and White.’ This converts any gray areas into a one bit black and white image.

Fine Tuning

The rest is just nitpicking. I zoom in on the image and make sure my lines are clean and all of those annoying stray points are gone. I use my eraser tool to get rid of anything I don’t want, and connect any broken lines using my paint tool. The process is fairly simple, but this is the most time-consuming portion. It’s also the most important step to turning out a clean, well-organized piece of artwork.

When I’m finished, I save the piece as a CPT and then close it. I re-import it back into CorelDraw and add my borders, text or whatever else I want to put on there, and then I save it as a PDF, PNG and JPG. Last, I print it out to make sure it looks the way I want it to look before I post it. If you have time, it’s always best to sit down and color it yourself to make sure you didn’t miss anything, because everything looks good after you’ve been staring at it for hours!

Last Steps Before Posting

I strongly, strongly recommend creating a watermark before you post anything online, even if you’re just posting freebies. There are a lot of dishonest people out there who think it’s okay to steal your work and pass it off as their own. I can go into more detail on how to create a watermark in Corel later.

Hopefully this will help some of you who are trying to get started on creating coloring pages. I know it was a challenge for me because it didn’t seem like anyone wanted to share their super-secret methods. With a little time and patience, you will be posting your artwork online in no time!

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Sunflower Free Coloring Page

Sunflower Blooms Free Coloring Page

“Sunflower” is a printable, instant download, free coloring page in PDF format. It prints at 8 1/2 x 11, which is standard letter size, in portrait orientation.

How to Download

You’ll need two things to access this drawing. First, you’re going to need a printer. It’s a black and white image, so it doesn’t need to be a color printer. Second, you’ll need to have a program that will open PDF files, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. Adobe Acrobat Reader is free to download, and they provide simple, readable directions showing you how to install it. If you don’t have Adobe Reader and don’t want to download it, or for some reason are unable to download it, you can set Google Chrome as your default PDF reader and open the file that way.

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Paper Stock Choices

I created the coloring page by hand with pen and ink, and then I digitized the image, added the border, and converted it to PDF format. I recommend printing out the image on card stock for best results. My personal preference is Neenah 110 lb white paper, but 65 lb is good as well. Pound, in this instance, refers to the thickness of the paper. A thicker paper is less likely to cause you issues when you’re coloring, and it will hold up better if you decide to use a liquid medium such as watercolor markers. Click here to download the coloring page.

Terms of Use

The coloring pages on my site are for your enjoyment only. The files and images are not for resale, so please do not resell the digital files or paper copies. You are welcome to post any completed and colored versions of “Sunflower” on your website or in your online coloring groups with attribution given to Stephany Elsworth and/or Color With Steph.

Please like my Color with Steph Facebook page for regular updates and information.

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Hibiscus Free Coloring Page

hibiscus

Hibiscus is a large genus of tropical, subtropical or temperate-weather flowering plants. These versatile plants are prized and cultivated for their large, attractive flowers. Hibiscus blossoms add beauty and style to tropical gardens and landscapes, but they are also useful for attracting bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. In addition, they also have a variety of culinary and symbolic uses. Dried hibiscus is a delicacy in Mexico, for example, and people around the world enjoy hibiscus tea. Tahitian and Hawaiian girls traditionally wear a hibiscus in their hair as a symbol of their relationship status. If a woman wears a hibiscus on the right, it means that she is single or available. On the other hand, a flower behind the left ear means that she is engaged or married.

Medical Benefits

The flowers may have medical benefits as well. The tea contains large quantities of Vitamin C and antioxidants. In addition, it may also be useful for lowering blood pressure.

State and National Flower

The yellow hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower. The hibiscus is the national flower of Haiti, Malaysia and South Korea as well. People offer red hibiscus flowers to the Lord Ganesha and Goddess Kali in certain Hindu rituals.

I created the drawing by hand with pen and ink, and then I digitized the image and converted it to PDF format. I recommend printing out the image on card stock for best results. Click here to download the coloring page.


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The coloring pages on my site are for your enjoyment only. The files and images are not for resale. Please do not resell the digital files or paper copies, or post uncolored coloring pages on the web. (Not even freebies!) You are welcome to post any completed and colored versions of this coloring page on your website or in your online coloring groups with attribution given to Stephany Elsworth and/or Color With Steph.

Please like my Color with Steph Facebook page for regular updates and information.

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Free Rose Coloring Page

Free Rose Coloring Page

“Rose” is a free coloring page. It is available here on my website as an 8 1/2 x 11 printable instant download. I created the drawing by hand with pen and ink, then I digitized the image and converted it to PDF format. I recommend printing out the coloring page on card stock for best results. Click here to download the PDF.


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Roses are among the most loved plants in the world. They are part of the genus Rosa and are members of the Rosaceae family. These plants have been cultivated for thousands of years, and as a result, there are more than three hundred different species and thousands of cultivars. Roses can vary in size and color. Some are tiny, diminutive plants, while others can reach heights over seven meters. They range in color from red to yellow or white. Roses are a popular drawing and painting subject for artists. This rose drawing was created in a woodcut etching style.

The coloring pages on my site are for your enjoyment only. The files and images are not for resale. Please do not resell the digital files or paper copies, or post uncolored coloring pages on the web. You are welcome to post any completed and colored versions of the free rose coloring page on your website or in your online coloring groups with attribution given to Stephany Elsworth and/or Color With Steph.

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Free Christmas Tree Coloring Page

This free Christmas tree coloring page is a fun and easy one for the kids or a stress reliever for grownups. It prints at 8 1/2 x 11 inches. As always, please don’t post uncolored pages on the web.

Free Christmas Tree Coloring Page
https://colorwithsteph.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Christmas-tree-PDF.pdf

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Free Coloring Page: Lily with Water Droplets

https://colorwithsteph.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Lily-with-water-droplets-PDF-1.pdf

The image above is free for personal use. I recommend printing it on card stock for best results. Please do not post uncolored pages on the web. If you need coloring supplies, please see my Amazon affiliate links above.