How to colour fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer

While we love to colour all kinds of magical fairies and sprites, it can be hard to achieve a beautiful, slightly transparent effect on your fairy wings. In this tutorial, originally shared on our YouTube channel, professional colouring pencil artist Jo Barber guides you through the process of colouring stunning translucent fairy wings, with a beautiful rainbow shimmer.

In this tutorial, Jo is colouring a page from our Colouring Heaven Fairytopia Special. For more detailed instructions, click the video below and colour along with Jo!

How to colour fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer

How to colour translucent fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer Colouring Heaven how to colour

1 – Find inspiration and references

When you are trying to achieve a particular effect, it’s really helpful to find examples that you can use as inspiration. You can simply search on the internet – try and look for images that are royalty free to avoid copyright issues, and look for photography of the effect in real life, so you can reference an accurate source.

In this tutorial, Jo uses pictures of shimmery wings in nature as her reference, including the wings of a damselfly, a bee, and a lacewing.

How to colour translucent fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer Colouring Heaven how to colour

2 – Design a colour palette

Using your reference images, design a colour palette and plan some colour transitions for your rainbow wing. Jo starts with a light aqua and a yellow, overlapping the two colours to get a smooth transition. You can find all the specific colours Jo has used in this design in the description of the video below.

Where your colours overlap, you may want to accentuate the blending by adding more colour. For example, where aqua and yellow overlap to make green, Jo adds some colour with a green pencil to emphasise the beautiful seamless blending.

How to colour translucent fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer Colouring Heaven how to colour

3 – Apply your colours

With the colour palette and transitions you’ve created, you can now start adding colour to your colouring page! At this stage, use very light pressure to add pigment and blend your colours gradually. If your wings have different panels or parts, you may want to vary which colour you start with to create a natural rainbow look.

To create a smoother finish, Jo has burnished over her blue areas with a very light blue pencil. You can do this anywhere you think your colours might need touching up.

How to colour translucent fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer Colouring Heaven how to colour

4 – Add detail and dimension

To add a three dimensional effect to your wings, add more colour along the veins of the wings, so these areas appear slightly darker. Make sure you use the corresponding colour to keep your rainbow looking beautiful and colourful!

How to colour transparent fairy wings

How to colour translucent fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer Colouring Heaven how to colour

5 – How to colour transparency

For this technique, you may find it helpful to look at reference images or artwork, just like we did in the first step. Jo looks at a painting called Madonna of the Pomegranate by Botticelli, noticing the transparency of the figure’s lacy veil.

The important thing to note for transparency is that you can still see some of the colours underneath, but they may be more muted or faded. To replicate this with your colouring, we recommend lightly colouring your transparent material first.

How to colour translucent fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer Colouring Heaven how to colour

6 – If needed, add lines

In this design by Mystic Art Mirrors from our Fairytopia Special, the artist uses quite thick and dark line work. However, we can see that these lines don’t continue behind the fairy wings. When you want to create a believable transparent effect, you may need to add your own line work in some areas. Jo uses a grey Stabilo pen to replicate the lines in this design.

How to colour translucent fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer Colouring Heaven how to colour

7 – Add the colour underneath

Now, you can gently add your colour underneath your wings. For the part beneath the wing, you may want to press more lightly, or even use a slightly darker or more muted version of the colour.

Why not bring in a few very subtle highlights from the reflection of the wings? For example, Jo uses some pink to highlight areas of the hair, which gives the impression of light filtering through the colourful wings and landing on the fairy’s hair.

How to colour translucent fairy wings with a rainbow shimmer Colouring Heaven how to colour

8 – Use a white pen to add highlights

Using a white pen (Jo uses a white Posca marker), add little highlight lines and dots to your shimmery fairy wings. Put the line along the top edges of the wing and panels. This will make it look like light is reflecting off the shiny wings.

And now you know how to colour beautiful, shimmery, rainbow wings with an amazing translucent effect. We hope you enjoyed colouring along with this how to colour fairy wings tutorial – don’t forget to watch our video tutorial for a more in depth guide by our colourist Jo, and you can watch a full speed colour of this design by Jo here.

PS Take a look at our next tutorial about how to colour realistic tree bark!

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