Coloring 101: Bubble Bubble, Not Much Trouble!

Coloring 101: Bubble Bubble, Not Much Trouble!

When Selina posted this finished coloring from Johanna Basford’s Lost Ocean, with an absolutely gorgeous background, I knew I had to share this technique with all of you. I would have sworn the bubbles were actual drops of water sitting on top of the paper! Selina was generous enough to allow me to share her picture tutorial on how she created this amazing background.


  • Chalks – light blue, dark blue, turquoise green (I believe “chalks” may be another word for pastels. You could also use eyeshadow in shades of blue and turquoise.)
  • Colored pencils – pure white, pink, and blue
  • Gel pen – pure white
  • Circle template (optional)

bubble-template150Selina used a stencil to avoid using a greylead pencil that might show on the final bubbles. If you feel comfortable drawing circles, you could just draw the initial bubbles freehand.

Step 1 – Using a white pencil, draw in the base for the bubbles. Pictures won’t capture the white on white very well, but you’ll see how the pencil base becomes important as you add the chalk. You just want a simple white circle for the base of each bubble.

chalk1Step 2 – Selina used chalks she already had at home – Pebbles brand chalks in bright colours. Using a light blue, apply the chalk in a circular motion over the white circles. As you can see, this light blue barely shows on the paper, but you can start to see the white circles showing up. (Click any image for a large version to see detail.)

chalk2Step 3 – With a darker blue, continue applying chalk in a circular motion. You aren’t looking to get a solid color. The variation in colors and intensity will help give the watery look you see in the final image. The more chalk you add, the more “solid” the background is going to look at that point.

chalk3Step 4 – Finally, add more chalk in a turquoise green. As you can see in the second picture to the right, all of the white bubbles are showing now, as the chalk doesn’t stick to the white pencil base.

Now you are ready to add dimension to your bubbles. This is what really makes the bubbles “pop” off the page.

bubble-shading1Step 5 – Using a pink colored pencil, shade the top left of each bubble, blending the color down toward the center of the bubble, as shown in the picture to the left.

bubble-shading2Step 6 – With a green-blue pencil, add a shadow line under the bottom right of the white line on each bubble. You can see the bubble starting to take on a bit of dimension in the picture to the right.

Step 7 – With your white gel pen, add a small curved accent and white dot to the bubble, approximately in the same place you added the pink shading. Larger bubbles should have a slightly larger accent.

finished-bubblesAnd you’re done! This is a great way to add bubbles to any ocean background. But you can also add it wherever you might want water droplets – on a flower petal, or perhaps to show water “beading” on the side of a glass. Use your imagination and…

                                     Color on!

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