Beginner? Intermediate? Advanced?

about Marker Painting Workshops

Things are a little different here at Vanilla Arts

I'm not a card maker and I'm not a crafter.

I learned to color with markers in art school. As a result, my approach to coloring is completely different than what you may have experienced before.

I treat markers as if they were watercolor. We do not blend, we layer colors to get richer, deeper tones than what you're used to seeing in standard blending combinations. Speaking of blending combinations, we don't really do the blending combination thing here either. We layer the colors we see in nature rather than sticking with 3 markers from the same family.

We also color large. Our smallest projects are about 7 inches tall. The largest can span 20 inches.

So I guess this is a warning: What we're doing here may be different than anything you've done before.

If you're coming from the hobby world, blending small images for cards and paper crafting, we're happy to have you! Most of my best students started with traditional blending techniques for small stamps.

But marker painting is a different approach to coloring. You may have advanced coloring skills-- and we can totally put those to good use. But at Vanilla Arts, we're taking the fine art approach to coloring and this may require a shift from the techniques you currently use.

Don't worry, you can totally learn to do this. But let's be smart about which class you start with.

Wondering where to start?

If you're brand new to Copic Markers and have no experience coloring, we highly recommend that you start with our free course, More than Luck.

After that, try your hand at the beginner techniques featured in Oopsie Daisy and Flutterby. These are starter level classes which set the stage for techniques you will use in all Vanilla Arts classes. For the most comprehensive and thorough approach, do the 12 week course, Marker Painting Foundations.

From there, we recommend you use our indicator system. Each course has a black triangle indicating the degree of difficulty:

B = Basic marker painting techniques which you will use throughout the Vanilla Arts course system.

B Star = Challenges for beginners who are comfortable with basic marker painting techniques.

I = Intermediate techniques and practice opportunities. These classes do not offer instruction on basic concepts or techniques. The curriculum assumes you can troubleshoot your own basic technique issues. Not recommended as your very first Vanilla Arts class.

I Star = Challenges for intermediates. These classes are fast paced and will force you to apply independent thought and skill. Not recommended as your very first Vanilla Arts class.

A = Advanced. These projects will take several days to complete. The video demonstration can not cover every part of the process in detail. Demonstrations cover a sample portion of the process, then the student is left to apply the concept or technique to other areas independently. Not recommended as your very first Vanilla Arts class.

For more info about VA course levels, see this helpful page at our main site,

We can not determine your skill level by looking at your projects.

Your photos only show us your presentation skills-- not your level of knowledge or technique proficiency.

We can not tell if a project took you six hours of constant cursing or 10 minutes without breaking a sweat. Coloring, especially colored pencil, tends to attract perfectionists; this means people who are very capable of masking how hard they work to make something look effortless.

We also can't always tell if you're showing us the product of a tutorial, a project from another class, or artwork that you copied from someone else online. In these cases, you're showing us how well you mimic other people, not how well you color.

Time is also not helpful. There are people with years of experience who still color at a beginner level and there are people who jump in and master coloring in just a few weeks.

Be honest with yourself. Taking an advanced class does you no good if you're not ready to apply the concepts and theory. Ideally, you want to be just slightly out of your comfort zone. If everything seems easy, you're ready for more. If the instruction sounds like a foreign language, you're in too deep. You want to be nervous but ready to take on the challenge.

Further reading on the topic:

Amy's Article: Things a beginner thinks about as they color.

Amy's Article: Things advanced students and artists think about as they color.

Basic computer skills are required in ALL Vanilla Arts classes and courses.

This is online study, so if you can't navigate the website or access class materials, then perhaps online classes are not appropriate for you.

To test your ability to handle the technology, please take the FREE More Than Luck introductory course here.

This gives you an accurate look at the website structure for all our classes and asks you to download and print several items. If you can not independently navigate More Than Luck, please do not enroll in any of the paid classes here. We're sorry but we're a team of artists, we are not computer instructors. We are not set up to teach basic website navigation or how to use your unique computer, printer, or other devices.

Vanilla Arts classes are intended for mature teens and adults.

No matter how amazing the child is, the material is simply not presented in a way that appeals to children.

Amy had her own daughter Audrey wait until she was 12 to attend her coloring classes and even then, Audrey reports that she didn't really understand the concepts until about 15 years old.

By the way, Audrey is now a fine arts major in college, so this was a case study where the child had talent and was eager to learn, but as a teenager, she simply didn't have the maturity or life experience to focus on discussions about form, light, and saturation.

Your Instructor

Amy Shulke
Amy Shulke

Amy is a professional freelance technical illustrator with 25 years of experience in graphic arts. Amy began using colored pencils in 1985 and she started with DeSign markers in 1989. Colored pencils with a base of either marker or watercolor is her preferred process for portraiture and scientific illustration. She has a special passion for teaching crafters and shy artists to stretch their boundaries by adding established fine art techniques to their coloring projects.

Join Amy for fun and highly informative lessons which will not only change the way you color but the way you see color in the world around you.