TECHNIQUES | Blending Colour
  • tool: markers

This is all about techniques on how to achieve that more subtle ‘intertwining’ of colours instead of harsh bold edges. Even though the title does say Blending Colours, please don’t mistake it for the special Blender marker. The blender can do various things, but it has less to do with the actual blending of colours unlike the name might suggest.

For this tutorial I used marker paper for the examples and FlexMarkers due to their brush nibs. Generally brush nibs do make it a lot easier, when it comes to more complex colouring methods.

Feathered Strokes

Unless you are filling in an area with a solid colour, feathered strokes are one of the major applying methods when working on an illustration. So, what are feathered strokes? It’s the method of pressing the brush nib on the paper while drawing and then lifting that pressure. The stroke you get will display a darker colour at the beginning of that stroke. The colour then becomes lighter and the end of the stroke will be tapered.

A tutorial on getting started with markers.

Put many of these strokes together in a row and you will have colour, which fades out slightly. You can also create all sorts of effects with this when varying the colour and amount of single visible strokes. Use a light colour for a really soft appearance, or be bold and create something with a glossy look when using darker colours.

A tutorial on getting started with markers.

One way to blend two different colours together would be by applying one colour from one side with feathering strokes, and doing the same from the opposite side with the second colour. This only works best, when the two colours are similar in value. A stark contrast makes it much harder to blend them into each other and more colours might be needed to achieve an even result.


This is one of my favourite techniques and can be used in many ways. The main idea behind it is that the second colour dissolves into the first one by its own. The ‘edge’ of the second colour will look fuzzy and soft, hence it blends into the first colour better. However, a must for this technique to work is to be fast. It only works while the colour is still wet on the paper. Any break will lessen your chance of that fuzzy edge. After the first layer is applied, the second colour should follow quickly.

A tutorial on getting started with markers.

It sounds simple, but you might want to practice the wet-in-wet technique before you put the colour down on your actual picture. Again, colours of similar value do blend better than dark on lighter ones. This is one of the techniques, where you can spend hours on possible colour combinations. It doesn’t have to be just two colours, it can be more, if you wish so.

Layered Blending

Layered blending does look similar to gradients and it is actually a technique to achieve them in some way. The colour blending is achieved by layering single colours with feathered strokes on top of each other. As you might have already geussed, the colour choices are at the core of the layered blending and the closer they are in their shade, the more subtle the colour change will appear.

A tutorial on getting started with markers.

For this example I only used two colours, but more are certainly possible. Here I applied the second colour on top of the first after it was half dry. In case the strokes should be more visible, apply the second colour after the first one has dried. It is possible to build the colour up from there.

Colour Transfer

The colour transfer is a bit of an oddball and the effect is more random than controlled. Since the effect doesn’t last too long, it is better suitable for smaller areas. Generally I found the colour transfer to be working better with bright and bold colours.

A tutorial on getting started with markers.

Before any colour hit the paper, I pressed the brush nibs of the two markers together. While doing that the yellow colour started to show some discolouration on its tip as it picked up the red. I took the yellow colour and started colouring until the reddish tint disappeared. As you can see, the redness disappeared rather quickly. When you use this technique, do not wait until all the darker colour is absorbed by the lighter coloured marker. Only the tip of the brush nib is fine.

I hope these few techniques are useful to you and have fun with them. Until next time!

© Aileen Strauch, first published on the Letraset art blog in 2013