Box of Colors

Learning to Color Independently

This class originally ran as a four part series of Livestreams in September 2020. It was filmed live and unscripted.

This is a different style of presentation than the edited, pre-recorded Marker Painting Workshops. Amy speaks live and off-the-cuff, so this is a more conversational and less formal feeling class. Includes an introduction video with the opening of the class and a student Q&A session at the close.

Then in a series of demonstration videos, students will practice coloring the Box of Colors image. Instruction includes all elements, the cast shadowing, underpainting base markering, and pencil details. A total of 10 hours of demonstration video.


Join Anytime

Work at Your Own Pace

Join Amy Shulke, a professional illustrator and marker enthusiast for a fun and informative coloring lesson- Vanilla Arts style!

Marker Painting is a completely different approach to coloring with markers.

Amy teaches students basic techniques and color theory based on the way artists use paint. Instead of focusing on "how" to color a selected stamp image, Amy shows you the "why" behind color selection, shade, layering, depth, and form. This provides students with the necessary knowledge to color any stamp image in their collection and every stamp they might purchase in the future.

Take your coloring to the next level-- coloring with independence, creativity, and your own unique voice.


What’s holding you back?

What’s keeping you from coloring independent projects?

Our 12 week beginner Copic course- The Blend taught you techniques and concepts to develop amazing coloring skills.

Now with Box of Colors, we’re developing your artistic process.

We’re focusing on one challenge-level image and all small the steps it takes to go from white paper to photo-realism.

You've learned to blend and underpaint, but can you choose your own underpaint colors?

Do you always second-guess yourself? Which colors look best?

Box of Colors breaks down the underpaint selection process, using color theory and logic to build the color instincts you're missing.


You've learned that photo references are important... but do you actually use them well?

Many students don’t always understand what to look for in a photo reference. It's much easier to copy the demonstration than to read your own details from a photograph.

Photographs and real-life references don’t have to be intimidating.

Learn to select great photo references for your next coloring project. Then understand how to read the secrets hidden in the photo…what to look for, what to filter, what to simplify, what to ignore.

Realistic representation is at your fingertips.

You've learned about “warm” and “cool” colors, but do you understand why temperature matters?

Sometimes you know we do things a certain way in Vanilla Classes, plus you see that it looks good, but darned if you can explain why. In Box of Colors we work our way from one end of the color spectrum to the other, discussing the pitfalls and pratfalls that can happen when mixing colors.

We’re not coloring a set of watercolor paints because they’re pretty…

We’re practicing and experimenting with every possible color you will one day encounter on your own in other projects. Warm colors, cool colors, warm colors that lean cool, and cool colors that shift warm, plus neutrals that aren’t very neutral and neutrals so neutral they’re snooze-worthy. Whew!

Your Box of Colors project becomes a reference point for a Lifetime of Coloring.


Box of Colors is an advanced level demonstration

We welcome colorers of many levels at Vanilla Arts, but basic marker painting techniques are not covered in this class.

Challenge classes assume you’ve mastered basic techniques and are ready for independent work using artistic skills. Read more about Vanilla skill levels here.

Skill Level: Advanced

We do not recommend this course for first time Vanilla students.

Techniques Used:

  • Flicking
  • Push & Pull
  • Perspective
  • Color Theory
  • Temperature control and adjustment
  • Using photo references
  • Photo Realism
  • Overpainting with colored pencils

Course Includes:

  • Over 10 hours of video demonstration with Q&A timeouts. Work at your own pace.
  • Recipe guide
  • Printable learning aids, photo reference, underpainting guide, detailed color map, and full color sample


Basic computer skills are required to access class materials.

If you struggle with websites, video players, downloads, printing digital files, and communicating in discussion forums, this course may not be right for you.

We recommend that you try our FREE More Than Luck course to get a feel for how our site works and the type of computer skills you'll need to make the most of your learning experience here.


Required Supplies: complete printable supply list included in class package

  • High-quality Copic friendly marker cardstock
      • (Cryogen Curious Metallic is used in the demo but has since been discontinued. We now recommend Strathmore 300 or 400 Smooth Bristol.)
  • Copic Markers
  • Artist quality colored pencils (Prismacolor Premier used for this project)
  • Glassine paper
  • Mod Podge brush or Hake dusting brush
  • Clipboard or hard surface (glass mat is recommended)
  • Drafting tape
  • Pencil, pencil sharpener
  • Erasers - black and white polymer, white sticky tack, Tombow Mono Zero (round)

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We recommend The Blend and Jellybeans as a prequel to Box of Colors

If you haven't yet taken The Blend we highly recommend having taken enough of Vanilla Arts classes so that you have the knowledge and skills to keep up with this fast paced advanced level class.

The Blend is a 12 week course teaching the fundamentals of Copic blending plus an introduction to underpainting and color selection.

After The Blend, we recommend leveling-up your observation skills with Jellybeans.

Jellybeans is an introduction to seeing the form of objects rather than simply guessing where to shade. Understanding form is essential for Box of Colors.

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.

Course Curriculum

  S.O.S. Help
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days after you enroll

"It's the OMG moments. That's why Amy's classes rock. She explains things that you've maybe noticed before but never thought much about. I love it!"

"At 62 years of age I have no illusions about becoming a great artist but. I am so appreciative of the change in my perception since taking classes with Amy at Vanilla Arts Co. Now I see the play of colors, the motion and the grace... It's a great way to view the world around me."

"I just love the things I'm learning and can't wait to start the next project. Your images are challenging for me and I like that. I'll never look at another image and how to color it the same again!"

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
Immediately! As soon as you're through the registration and payment processes, the class material will be automatically opened for you.
How much of the course will I have access to? Do you stagger the release of information?
This course is 100% FULL ACCESS from the moment you join. Work at your own pace and take as much time as you want to complete the lesson.
How long do I have access to the course?
Anytime access! You have unlimited access to the content - across any and all devices you own.
Is the digital stamp included or do I have to purchase it elsewhere?
The digital stamp is included in the class materials. No new purchase necessary.
What if I'm missing markers or supplies from the required list?
I'm very liberal about supply substitutions BUT please understand that not all markers and pencils behave the same way, even if the colors are very similar. Every substitution you make will change the look of your finished project and the more substitutions you make, the harder your project will be to complete. If you are missing a color and want advice on alternatives, email [email protected].
What if I use a different brand of marker?
I'll be honest, I use Copic because of their brush nib. I've yet to find another maker brand with nibs as springy and juicy. I would suggest that some of my techniques are unlikely to work well without a brush nib... but if you've got other markers and are willing to match my colors to your brand, GO FOR IT. Sorry, but I won't be much help troubleshooting any problems you encounter because I won't be able to test your blends myself.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact me in the first 14 days for a full refund minus processing fees. Due to the digital nature of this course, absolutely no refunds are possible beyond the 14 day mark. NO EXCEPTIONS. Note: A refund withdraws you completely from the course. You will lose access to the course panel, course materials, and associated forum.

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