About Grayscale

What is Grayscale? Grayscale is typically referred to as color images converted into black and white and all shades of gray in between.

When coloring over grayscale the gray serves as your guide. Think of it as an adult color by numbers without the numbers. Instead the darkness or lightness of the gray tells you how dark or light a color to use and where to apply it. Simply put, light colors over light grays, dark colors over dark grays and medium colors in between to seamlessly blend light and dark.

So you might be thinking, “I’ve heard of this grayscale coloring stuff…what is it exactly?!” When I first heard about it, I wondered the same thing and I couldn’t find much information about it. I did some of my own experimentation and found out how incredibly FUN it is!

Why color over grayscale?

Coloring over grayscale can give you the look of shading without having to shade at all! Depending on the darkness in the grayscale image, you can color a single color over an entire area and the shades of gray underneath create all sorts of subtle variations providing depth that is very hard to achieve on a traditional coloring page. My original paintings take me weeks to create! I paint layer, upon layer of color to build up shadows and highlights. You can mimic this look in just an hour or two by coloring on top of grayscale! Once you start experimenting, you’ll see how magical it can be!

Is it hard?

It doesn’t have to be! The grayscale image underneath does a lot of the work for you depending on the technique that you use. It really can be as simple as choosing a color and coloring that same color over the entire area, much like filling in a blank space in a traditional coloring book. I’ve actually found it to be a lot more forgiving than coloring on a traditional coloring page. You don’t see marker streaks as much, you can get away with coloring outside of the lines much easier and I don’t feel like I have to be as thorough when coloring an area either.

Of course if you want it to be more challenging, it definitely can be! Advanced grayscale colorists can use the grayscale image as simply a guide to place their light and dark colors. The grayscale image aids you less for shading with this method and the shading is instead built up by the colorists themselves. But that’s the great thing about grayscale coloring! You get to choose the difficulty level by using different techniques which I’ll go into more detail about below.

Coloring With Copic Markers