Handcoloring digital images


TPF Noob!
Aug 15, 2010
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Has anyone found an inkjet paper that works with Marshalls Oils? I have tried using the Marshall Inkjet Canvas but it is very difficult to blend colors together. I have also tried Marshalls Inkjet Paper. It accepts the oils initially but then the color rubs completely off. I have also tried using photographic paper after fixing it in the darkroom. This, of course, is the perfects surface, however the ink smears as it gets ready to exit the printer. Has anyone else had any success handcoloring in the digital age?
Thanks, Laurie
it can be done, perhaps with a matt paper. Terri may show up here as she is an expert with handcoloring and i know she has an understanding of this process with digital materials.
Hi Laurie - sorry, I overlooked this thread until now!

You are experiencing what has frustrated a lot of hand coloring artists, as it can be challenging to marry a traditional process with digital output. However, it can be done.

A few choices: the Marshall's Inkjet Canvas is a fast & easy choice. My main nitpick with it is its heavy texture: it really does feel and handle like canvas, which IMO makes it less suitable for some images. But, you can apply the photo oils directly to the surface and also use oil pencils, and with light pressure everything blends easily. The paper is acid free, too - so, when used with the more archival pigmented inks in a photo printer, you end up with an original hand colored print that actually has some archival stability to it.

Another down & dirty trick is to just apply a "workable fix" type of spray directly onto your inkjet paper - Krylon is a good brand. Spray quickly and evenly, first horizontally and then vertically to ensure a good barrier. I tried another product, Print Guard spray recently and it worked great and was smoother than the Krylon.

I would look for an inkjet paper that calls itself a "watercolor" type, hot pressed surface if you can find it as that will be smoother. The sprays take to these surfaces very well. Depending on your patience level, you can also head to any artist supply store and just buy real hot pressed paper (generally in large sheets) and tear it or cut it down, and apply sprays to that after printing. Your printer doesn't care if it's inkjet or not, as long as you choose the correct loading method.

And yes, photographic silver gelatin paper will always be the best choice, more archival and the oils flow beautifully - so, I'd be remiss if I didn't add that you could always learn some darkroom enlarging skills, maybe at a local college, and make your own prints. :mrgreen:

Terri may show up here as she is an expert with handcoloring
I dunno about that, Ann - but I am persistent! :lol:
I have been trying many methods of handcoloring including pastel. I use to use Marshal oils, but since I stopped shoot film and doing my own developing, I stopped handcoloring. Now I am also trying to get back into it. I found if I use the pastels on the watercolor printing paper by grinding or shredding the pastel and then "painting", (applying with a brush) the pastel, it is starting to work. Unfortunately, I have not got it down pat yet. A friend uses Pan Pastels and does awesome work.
I love the look of pastels. For me they require some patience, though, through a lot of layering. For inkjets, I've also tried Print Guard spray, which has a nice tooth. Of course, medium like pastels don't require any ground, I just usually use one so I can clean as desired with no fear of damaging the inks.

Do you have any Marshall's pencils? Being photo oil pencils you'd need some kind of spray ground on the paper, but it would allow you to use the oils. A few even coats of the spray could even allow you to use the oils, depending upon the paper. I used to only use the old Knox gelatin trick on inkjets - it took longer but I knew I had a ground I could apply photo oils to.

There's also the option of wax pencils that don't require a ground, like Prismacolor. I find them personally harder to blend, but I've seen some beautiful hand colored work done with them, so it's all about personal technique and your own measure of patience. :)

Hand coloring is still the nicest way to add color to B&W images, IMO. I can't imagine sitting in front of a computer messing with it. Different strokes, and all that.... ;)

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