It's important to not take yourself too seriously sometimes. Use art to unwind. Just let go, and let the coloring take you to a better place. You may be asking, how can coloring do that? I mean, we all mastered coloring inside the lines a long time ago. What else is there? Well, I thought to myself, what about NOT coloring inside the lines?
Here are the steps to my Swirly Method...
1) Pick one color that will cover the entire picture. For Fluttershy, I picked a yellow-green. This unifies the entire picture. Swirl in a loose,continuous motion, rather than the normal back-and-forth scribble. Let plenty of white space show through in your swirls. Keep a light pressure. Pushing too hard will make it difficult to layer colors later on.
2) Instead of using one color for an area, use 3-5 variations. For Fluttershy’s mane, I used not only light pink, but magenta, violet, hot pink, etc, swirling one color over the other. Don’t worry about getting outside the lines. If you do, it will add some nice visual movement.
3) In addition to variations on the same, introduce a contrasting color to add depth and interest. Here, I used a little hint of dark blue in her pink mane, focusing on the areas that might naturally be in shadow.
4) Work with contrasts. If the most important areas are pink and yellow, go with their complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) for the background. The opposite of pink/purple IS yellow, which makes it tricky. That’s why I went with a blue-green behind Fluttershy. (FYI, the opposite of blue is orange, and for green it is red).
5) Use the same colors in several places. This creates a visual line for your eyes to follow. Notice here how your eyes sweep diagonally from pink flower to pony to flower.
6) Gradients are cool and interesting. Try fading one color into another. This means as you are swirling across, gradually make your swirls looser and bigger. Moving from the other direction with your second color, do the same. Overlap in the middle. Keep adding more swirls in layers rather than all in one go. This will prevent weird lines from showing up. The key is smooth transitions!
7) Let some white show through. This creates a contrast of lights and darks. It makes things pop! Fluttershy wouldn’t stand out so well if that negative space was filled in just as heavily. Rather than have a white area be entirely blank, though, lightly swirl some pastels across the expanse. You can see this especially well in Hello Kitty’s face.
8) Know when to quit! At some point, you may notice things are only getting worse. Don’t try to keep going until you fix it. Just walk away!