Coloring Transparent Objects

by Jennie Black

Create dimension with these tips for coloring transparent objects with alcohol markers.


  • Alcohol marker compatible paper (Neenah Super Smooth 03249 used here)
  • Alcohol marker compatible ink (Memento Tuxedo Black used here)
  • Alcohol markers (Copic markers used here – Green: YG01, YG03, YG25, YG63; Blue: B000, B00, BG02, B45; Coral: R20, R22, F24, N2, Yellow: Y11, Y13, Y15, YG24)
  • Stamp image with balloons, bottles, or other transparent objects that overlap (Stampendous Gift Drift CRP278 used here)
  • Adhesive (Scrapbook Adhesives and Xpress Tape used here)
  • Scissors for fussy cutting if desired
  • Other supplies as needed to complete the project


  1. Step 1

    Stamp an image of balloons or other overlapping transparent/translucent objects. Be sure to use cardstock and ink that are compatible with alcohol markers. Stamp several times if you want to have multiple layers on your final project.

    If you don't have an image, mask and overlap some single images.

  2. Step 2

    Choose 3 to 4 alcohol marker shades for each colored balloon (other transparent objects such as bottles can be used as well). Color each one completely with the lightest shade, leaving a white area to remind you where you want your highlight.

  3. Step 3

    Add the darkest shade of the same color around the edges of each balloon.

  4. Step 4

    Blend in your next lightest color by coloring in small circles or squiggles over the inside edge of the previous color, pulling it towards the highlight.

  5. Step 5

    Blend in your very lightest color by coloring in small circles or squiggles over the inside edge of the previous color, pulling it towards the highlight.

    Be sure not to color over all of your previous color or you will “bleach” out the previous color. You only want to dilute the very edge of each color, gently blending it into the next color.

  6. Step 6

    For added visual appeal, add in a cast shadow with a light gray marker or the darkest shade of each color on the corresponding balloon. This is done by adding a thin line on the back balloon where it meets the front balloon.

  7. If necessary, soften the shadow with a lighter color of each balloon.

  8. Step 7

    One balloon at a time, determine where the back balloon meets the front balloon. Using the lightest shade of marker used on the back balloon, draw a curved line through the top balloon, completing the shape of the back balloon. Fill in the area and it will appear as if the back balloon is showing through the front balloon.

  9. Step 8

    Finish coloring the image. If desired, color and cut out other stamped images to layer balloons, popping them up with foam tape for more dimension.

  10. Step 9

    Use the finished panel to complete a card or other project.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Coloring Transparent Objects. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

This was great! I will dig out some stamps and give it a try!
muscrat  |  Tue May 24, 2016 at 10:31 PM
This was a great tutorial. You explained things SO well.
Carolyn S  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 4:46 AM
Jennie-------this tutorial was EXCELLENT--really hit the nail on my head on understanding the "light source"!
Susanne Gleason  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 7:02 AM
Terrific video - clear explanations and it was great to watch you coloring. At!
claudia zimmerman  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 7:17 AM
Thank you for such a clear explanation! Mine seem to get muddied but I think it is because I don't own the multiple shades of markers. This is worth my trying again!
ciocidi aka Diane  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 8:07 AM
Because you used the "Hill and Valley" explanation I now understand what they mean by coloring in where there would be a shadow. Thank you. I love to color and this is just going to enhance the colorist in me.
Dani Neuenschwander  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 9:06 AM
Great job, Jennie!
Debbie Olson  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 10:15 AM
Love this idea! It's a beautiful card and I can almost smell the latex of the balloons it's so real!

When adding transparency, what order do you choose to bring in the transparency? Would it be the back item (such as the blue balloon) first, then the green, then the red?

With regards to the 'tail' that's tied off by the striing, which of the 4 markers do you recommend using? Lightest shade? Thanks.
Jann Schott  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 11:37 AM
This is a great video and I am going to try it. Thanks for sharing.

Linda D.
Linda Duensing  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 12:47 PM
I feel like I have had an art class today! Something much needed! Thank you for the training on light source and shadows!
Ruthie  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 1:00 PM
Facinating, this makes me want explore my stamps and dies.. Thanks again!!
Dori Umlauf  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 1:07 PM
I really enjoyed your tutorial! You made very easy to understand and want to try!
Betty Grandt  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 6:57 PM
Thanks so much! I am just starting to use the pens and really was having problems with layering. This was so clear a lesson.
Vicki-Joy  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 8:14 PM
I loved your video. You are so talented and your coloring is so realistic. Do you have any other coloring instruction videos?
Kay Zink  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 8:15 PM
thanks everyone. I do not have any more videos here on Splitcoast, I do have some on my blog. As for the question about the order of the balloons, I really didn't use a specific order. However, a tip. I like to use colors that over lap that have a color in common. For example blue and yellow over lap - and green has yellow and blue in it. These combinations seem to blend best.
Jennie Black  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 9:12 PM
Great tutorial! Thanks
Denise Hartley  |  Wed May 25, 2016 at 11:24 PM
One of the best tutorials I've seen. You broke the steps down perfectly and made them easy to understand. Thank you.
Rosemary Jackson  |  Thu May 26, 2016 at 6:43 AM
Super tutorial today.
Benzi  |  Thu May 26, 2016 at 9:28 AM
the attention to detail with the shadowing is SO COOL and easy for me to understand smile thanks for sharing this tutorial and your talent with us.
Stacy Sheldon  |  Fri May 27, 2016 at 7:22 PM
Jennie, thank you so much for a great tutorial and video! I loved how you explained everything and even used the bottle in your hand to show the hills and valleys and cast shadows. And your coloring was wonderful, and I appreciated the pace and how you explained everything you were doing as you did it! Great job, and thanks! Big hugs!
Cheryl Scrivens  |  Tue May 31, 2016 at 12:16 PM

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