How a print turns out depends very much on the combination of paper quality and printer settings. If you haven’t done so yet, this is a good opportunity to get comfortable with your Printer’s Manual and settings and see what options you’ve got.
- Before printing, check the printer settings for Paper Quality and Printing Quality, especially if you’ve got an inkjet printer. Smooth papers absorb less print than rougher ones, high printing quality means that more ink will be used, usually resulting in brighter but also darker colours, and even changing the hue of a colour.
- Coloured outlines will print a lot darker, too, especially with high printing quality. If you don’t want them to show much, try printing at standard quality, even on thicker papers.
- There’s no right or wrong way to combining paper and printer settings, it all depends on what you’d like to achieve, and maybe you do like thick, fuzzy black outlines? Experiment with different papers and settings, and take notes on each of what you’ve done. Investing some time, paper and ink on tests can save you much more later…
- For best results print on white printer/photocopy paper, photo paper or other cardstock suitable for your printer.
- First test your coloured pencils, crayons, felt tip pens (or with whatever else you are colouring) on a scrap of the paper you’ll print on.
- Coloured pencils and crayons “stick” better to paper that isn’t too smooth.
- Felt tip pens may bleed through normal paper; use a heavier weight paper like photo paper.
- Glossy photo paper gives brilliant results with markers (including alcohol markers) and ink!
- Make sure that the paper sits straight in the printer feed.
- Print only on one side of the paper.
Colouring & Troubleshooting
- If the colour doesn’t “stick” or you have to apply a lot of pressure, there may be three reasons:
- The paper surface might be too smooth for the coloured pencil/crayon you’re using -> try a different paper.
- The coloured pencil/crayon is too hard for the paper surface -> try a softer pencil.
- Some coloured pencils or crayons develop with time a thin, hard or waxy film on the outside; in this case try sharpening them before use.
- Handle the paper by the edges only. Fingerprints can cause paint not to stick to the paper, resulting in lighter areas.
- Place the paper on a flawless, clean surface. Crumbs and indentions can cause spots or gaps in your drawing.
- Too much pressure flattens the tooth of the paper and makes it difficult to add another colour layer. Instead of getting all the paint down in one go, apply it in two layers. This also helps with smooth, flawless application mixing two colours or shades.
- Holding the pencil upright results in darker application – without more pressure.
- Gel pens can take much longer to dry than you think, especially on smooth paper…
- Permanent markers bleed a lot on most types of paper, but they are great for tracing designs onto acetate or glass, for instance for fake stained glass effects. Use acrylic paint, “window colours” or glass paint for colouring.
Combining different media
- Coloured pencils/crayons with (ink) pen or fineliner: Apply pen or fineliner first as it may not stick on top of the paint.
- Harder with softer coloured pencils/crayons: Apply the softer ones first, then you can use the harder ones fur burnishing. – The other way round (soft on hard) the paint may not stick at all because the tooth has been flattened.
- Markers/felt tip pens with coloured pencils/crayons: It’s usually best to apply the marker first to keep the tip clean.
- Markers with ink pens: Test to see whether the markers will smudge the ink. If you can’t apply the marker first,
- try using coated photo paper
- or combine water-based ink with alcohol markers – or alcohol-based ink with water-based markers.
If you have any questions or problems regarding printing (in general, as I don’t know your printer) or colouring, post them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them on this page.