This is a paper doll based on the star of my book Mimi, which I first posted last year in a longer piece about the holiday (complete with book recommendations and latke recipe) here. I've colored the sheet with colored pencils (though unfortunately it hasn't photographed great and scanned even worse...) Anyway, as a gift for the first day of Hanukkah, I'm going to offer some tips on coloring for young artists.
Below is the uncolored page, which you can dowload and print as a pdf here.
Tip Number One: Use the Best Quality Supplies You Can
One thing many people don't realize is that the kind of colored pencils marketed for kids are, well, lousy. If you are lucky, you'll get even a small set of artist-quality colored pencils, like these ones made by Prismacolor for Hanukkah or Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate.
One caveat: artist quality supplies don't have to adhere to the same safety standards as kid materials. Make sure you choose appropriate materials for kids who still mouth things or lack the dexterity to handle tools which are sharp or otherwise dangerous. And remember the real stuff is more likely to stain...
Tip Number Two: Start Light and Work Darker
You can always make things darker, but going light again is less successful. If you start out light, you'll be able to add some darker areas around edges or in folds to give a sense of dimension. In the image below, see how I've colored Mimi lightly all over, then gone back and added darker areas (fading toward light) around the edges of her face and in her ears to give the sense of roundness and/or depth. (I've also used a slightly darker pencil for her nose, mouth and eyebrows, but you can get almost the same effect by using more pressure on the pencil.) Another note: the pink pencil I used wasn't Prismacolor but highish quality kid pencil - and see how much less waxy and smooth the coverage is than with the yellow.
Another tip is to use dull pencils (or crayons) for large uniform areas of color and sharp ones for picking out details. And an advanced technique (which I did not use here) is to go over your colored pencils with a white one - it creates a smoother texture. That's called burnishing.
One other thing: many art educators frown on coloring; they feel it stifles creativity and doesn't teach kids real art skills. While I agree that coloring alone is not art, I disagree about its value. It lets kids (and adults) experiment and practice with basic skills and color use in a very low risk way. Similarly, using tracing paper, stencils and other "cheating" ways of drawing can help kids develop an understanding of how to draw things and muscle memory that lets them work more quickly on similar things in the future.
Tip Number Five: Add Details, Make Changes, Make It Your Own!You don't have to be limited by what is in front of you. I added an "embroidered" snowflake to Mimi's dress and yellow and orange stripes to her undies. I could have done more things - made Mimi a brown pig or even a green one. That's the beauty of coloring and drawing - you can make anything you choose!
I've always loved this description of one of the "Useless Presents" the poet Dylan Thomas recalls in his now classic book, A Child's Christmas in Wales by (I know - wrong holiday):
"...and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any color I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds."
And that's it! If you want more advanced tips on drawing with colored pencils, you can also check out this tutorial.