When working on backgrounds that consist of large blogs of colors, I like to choose pens and markers that I know will complement my spread to create small line work. I choose varying hues of the colors already found on the page, and use neutrals to contrast against the vibrant or pastel hues. My writing utensils range from cheap ball point pens, to expensive markers. I use paint pens, markers with bases of alcohol and India ink, and even highlighters! If it comes with a cap and fits in my hand, it’s likely to be used on my spreads.
Whenever I’m working with pens and markers on top of a pre-painted spread, I am already aware of my established color scheme and know what color utensils I’ll want to work with. For example, this spread was yellow, pink, and green; I pulled out my multiple collections of pens and markers, then chose yellow, orange, pink, and green writing utensils from my stash. After this, I queued up my markers in color order and created a list, writing the name of each marker/pen with the named utensils. This allowed me to compare all color types to one another, and gave me a reference to compare against my pre-painted spread. I call this a list palette.
Once my list palette is created, I place it close to my journal spread so that I can see which colors will clash against the background and which ones will provide an attractive contrast. For most spreads, I use white and black pens/markers without question, and this spread was no different. However, I did find it more difficult to choose colored utensils, as the pastel background was somewhat outside of my comfort zone. Besides the neutral colored pens, I ended up only choosing 4 others. I happily realized the tip types to be varied, giving me the ability to keep my line work diverse and interesting.
If you’re interested in seeing this process, watching me create some doodled chaos in my art journal, or would like hear some public domain folk music: view the video below.