Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tranquil or Vivid? Pick Your Mood

Tombow Irjiten Colored Pencils Review

by Tim Jeffs

Barred Owl Colored Pencil drawing 

Being an nature artist that works extensively in colored pencils, I have to admit, I have never used Tombow products before, but I'm always game to try new colored pencils. So when Tombow asked me to review their latest products I thought what better way to really test them out than to do a drawing exclusively using them. With my most recent drawing of a Barred Owl, I'll explain my experience drawing with these pencils in depth. 

Tombow's Irojiten Adult Coloring Sets. Vivid and Tranquil

The pencil I used on this drawing were the newly released Tombow Irjiten Colored Pencil sets. 2 sets to be exact. The Vivid and Tranguil Adult Coloring Sets. Each set comes with 12 colors, a sharpener, and a sand pencil eraser. 

My first impression is that these sets have a very nice grouping of colors. With only 12 pencils each, each set is thoughtfully arranged into 2 distinguished palettes. The Tranquil set includes lighter soft colors and the Vivid has brighter, intense, and darker colors. For this drawing I used both sets. I picked a subject where I could try both sets on one drawing. Because of the softer colors of the owl's feathers, I drew the majority of the time with the colors from the Tranquil set, but used the darker colors from the Vivid set for my owls bold eyes, which require a deep dark look.

Fit and Feel

The round shape and the smooth enamel finish sat very nicely in my hand. I draw for long periods of time and tend to squeeze my pencils tight, and they remained very comfortable over long stretches of drawing. This drawing took around 40 hours to complete, and these pencils never bothered my hands or fingers during this long period.

Testing the Tips

I love detail. Extreme detail. My drawing style consists of very fine lines, so I prefer pencils that hold a very sharp point when they are sharpened, and won't break under pressure. I'm pretty hard on my pencils, and have a heavy hand, and I was pleasantly surprised how strong the lead was, and how sharp the tips remained. They never broke in my electric pencil sharpener, and always sharpened to a very fine point. As I drew the fine lines of the feathers, I found the sharpened tips remained sharp for long periods of time before I needed to re-sharpen them. They are not quite as hard as Primacolor Verithin pencils, but I would say they come in a very close second. And unlike the Verithins the color was more vibrant and laid down much easier.

Coloring Basics

I found the color blending of the pencils smooth, and layering down and building up colors easy to achieve. The eyes of my owl are extremely dark, and I found slowly building the dark blues and reds up was very easy to do. And unlike other pencils, I didn't run into any waxy build up. The Tranquil set was perfect for the softer colors of my owl feathers and body. With a wide variety of pastel colors that blended nicely to create a soft fluffy and feathery look.

Since I own and use a reliable electric pencil sharpener I didn't use the hand sharpener that was included in the set, but it's a nice addition for someone who needs one. The sand eraser came in very useful. I liked how it worked so much that it replace the eraser I've been using for years, which wasn't as effective.

Finished Piece

Over all I was extremely happy drawing with these 2 set of pencils, and they were the only pencils I need to complete this drawing. I will definitely continue to use them on future drawings, and recommend them to the novice colorist or the experienced artist.


Tim Jeffs is an American artist best known for his intricate and highly detailed drawings of animals. He has received global attention for his artwork, and his artwork has sold worldwide in more than 15 countries. Using only black ink pens and colored pencils he continues to bring animals to life through his ongoing series of portrait illustrations. His drawings capture even the smallest details of each animal’s fur, skin texture, and patterns. His artwork and his love of animal conservation has lead Tim to help raise animal awareness and research funding for well known organizations and conservation groups.

His works can be seen at:

A book of 50 of his animal drawings has been published and is available as an adult coloring book through Pomegranate Communications, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
Intricate Ink Animals in Detail. Coloring book, 108 pages with 50 animal images 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Intricate Ink Animals in Detail

A coloring book by Tim Jeffs

Available to order here:

Follow me, ask me questions, and see my latest artwork as I create it on social media:
I couldn't be happier and more excited to have 50 of my drawings packaged into a beautiful coloring book published by Pomegranate Publishing of Portland Oregon! Pomegranate out did themselves with the production of this book. It's a casebound book with a special lay-flat binding and sturdy, hardbound cover. It's 108 pages long and printed on high-quality paper. The Size is: 8¾ x 11¼. The coloring pages are blank on the back so they can be cut out and displayed once you've finished coloring them.

People have watched me draw the animal drawings in this book on social media for over a year now. They have supported me, encouraged my drawing as I’ve posted step-by-step process pictures, and many of the animals have been their suggestions. I feel their support has made this book happen. Therefore my hope is that now, with the book, they can be part of the creative process as well. And the book and their new color creations can become an inspiration for them to share with me and other coloring book enthusiasts.

Intricate Ink: Animals in Detail is a coloring book for animal lovers that explores each animal’s unique and incredibly ornate details, patterns and textures. This book is where coloring and fine drawing meet. Where the colorer has the opportunity to let the line art become part of the coloring experience. Most coloring books have thick outlines and simplify drawings which lack great detail. The user is limited to only fill in the areas within the lines, where this book lets the user lay color over the drawings and colorize the animals in a completely different way. The end result is a detailed drawing of an animals that is colored with the user’s imagination. The user can color the animals as they are in nature, or let their imagination run free. A rainbow elephant, a blue polar bear, a green lion, with an end result that is realistic, complex, and unlike any other coloring book experience before.

"Intricate Ink: Animals in Detail" takes the coloring book experience to the next level. This is the first coloring book with extremely detailed drawings of animals to color. It lets the user color animals like they never have before in other simpler-lined coloring books. The end result will be a piece of art they helped create. And one they will be proud to show or cut out and frame.

For coloring book lovers, this is the next step in coloring challenges. A book that lets the user explore detailed patterns that other coloring books just don't have. For animal lovers, it's offers 50 extremely detailed drawings of their favorite animals to colorize. For children, its a book to see animals in ways they never have before, and color them in ways only their imagination will limit.

Here are two examples of the 50 pages inside the coloring book

here's an example of an elephant I colored in from the book

and before and after examples of my Macaw and Zebra

A little history about me

Using black ink pens and colored pencils, American artist and illustrator Tim Jeffs is creating a veritable ink zoo of intricately drawn animals. Ever intrigued by their diversity and complexity, Jeffs strives to capture his subjects’ essence in his portraits. He begins each drawing with extensive research into a given animal’s conservation status, habitats, habits, and physical appearance. He then closely studies its skin or fur but lets artistic license dictate the patterns, textures, and colors he applies. He enjoys “having the control of making it my own creation, and not just another photograph.” Jeffs does, however, pay photorealistic attention to drawing each creature’s eyes, which “give it a personality, express emotion and let the animal tell its own story as it looks back at the viewer.”

The artist’s story began in Maryland in 1965. Born the seventh of eight children, and from a young age fascinated by drawing, Jeffs was a national award–winning artist while still in high school. A scholarship to Parsons School of Design in New York set the stage for a twenty-five-year career designing books, logos, and websites for Scientific American, Sunset Publishing, Time Life Books and others. Jeffs began sketching animals for personal pleasure; his finely detailed drawings have gone on to garner worldwide attention.

Here's the list of 50 animal Images included in the book:

  1. Alligator
  2. Bearded Dragon
  3. Black Bear
  4. Boa Constrictor
  5. Buffalo
  6. Chameleon 1
  7. Chameleon 2
  8. Chameleon 3
  9. Cheetah
  10. Crocodile
  11. Cuttlefish
  12. Elephant 1
  13. Elephant 3
  14. Giraffe
  15. Great Horned Owl 1
  16. Great Horned Owl 2
  17. Hippopotamus
  18. Humpback Whale
  19. Iguana 1
  20. Iguana 2
  21. Jaguar 1
  22. Jaguar 2
  23. Komodo Dragon
  24. Lemur
  25. Lion
  26. Lionfish
  27. Macaw 1
  28. Macaw 2
  29. Maine Lobster
  30. Moray Eel
  31. Musk Ox
  32. Nautilus
  33. Ocelot
  34. Octopus 1
  35. Octopus 2
  36. Polar Bear
  37. Ram
  38. Red-Tailed Hawk
  39. Rhinoceros
  40. Rock Lobster
  41. Sea Horse
  42. Sea Turtle 1
  43. Sloth
  44. Snow Leopard
  45. Spiny Lobster
  46. Squid
  47. Tapir
  48. Tiger
  49. Wolf
  50. Zebra

Available to order here:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Eight Days a Week

Drawing a Octopus In Colored Pencil and Ink

Prints, posters, stationery cards, and signed fine art reproductions  
are available for purchase in my Etys shop at: 

Octopus. 11x17"  Colored Pencil and ink on paper

As I began to do research on this drawing of an octopus, I became overwhelmed at the possibilities of colors to use. The octopus is part of a group of cephalopods that are skilled in the art of color change. And as I poured through different pictures of octopus I was amazed to see how many colors variations they can achieve. As I read more about them I learned that octopuses also have extremely well developed eyes that detect both the color and intensity of light. By using their excellent vision they can create color patterns that match the seafloor around them therefore being able to become camouflaged from predators. 

I noticed that their skin patterns looked very similar to the patterns in stained glass and decided to try to make my octopus appear to be made out of stained glass. And while looking at stained glass for patterns I came across the colors for my art piece. 

The piece of stained glass which inspired my colors for the octopus

So I now knew what colors to use, and the patterns I wanted to make, so now all I had to do was do it. Easier said then done, this go around. This drawing was probably one of the most labor intensive pieces I've created. I think it took me on and off over 2 weeks to complete. But I really enjoyed creating this one. I learned a lot about color and textures.

I'm finding out that people really do have an attraction for octopus. Theirs just something about a creature that has eight arms, can change color, squirt ink and squeeze itself into a bottle that is simply amazing!

This is also the piece that inspired me to offer my work printed on home goods. I've had a lot of requests for different products with my art on them, so I set up a store on You can visit it here where you will find all of my animal drawings not only as prints and framed prints, but as phone cases, throw pillows, tot bags, shower curtains, etc. 

You can buy my octopus on various home goods at

Here are some photos taken during my drawing process

Here's the finished drawing

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"ROCKin!" Lobster

Drawing a Tropical Rock Lobster In Colored Pencil and Ink

Prints, posters, stationery cards, and signed fine art reproductions  
are available for purchase in my Etys shop at: 

Tropical Rock Lobster. 11x17"  Colored Pencil and ink on paper

When I first laid eyes one on one these crazy looking lobsters, I though someone painted on it. The colors and patterns that adore it's shell are almost un-natural looking. They are so ornate that they are sometimes called "Ornate Rock Lobsters", which fits them perfectly. Even it's scientific name "Panulirus ornatus" has ornate in it. It is also known by a number of other common names, including tropical rock lobster, ornate rock lobster, ornate spiny lobster and ornate tropical rock lobster. They live in the indo-Pacific from the Red Sea to Japan. There are around 60 different species of spiny lobster throughout the world, and fossils have been found of them dating back to 110 million years ago. One amazing fact that has been recently discovered is that spiny lobsters can navigate by detecting the Earth's magnetic field. Pretty cool!

I grew up seeing the much plainer looking Spiny lobster that I encountered while scuba diving throughout Florida and the Caribbean Islands. They are much more monochromatic and lack the vibrate colors of this species.

56 pound Tropical Rock Lobster which was caught by a Chinese Fisherman

Recently a gigantic Rock Lobster was caught by a very lucky fisherman off the coast of China that weighted in at an astonishing 56 pounds! It ended up being sold at auction for $95,000 and was nick-named "The God of Lobsters". 

Before starting in on this drawing I decided to do some research and ask other artists what supplies they prefer to drawing with when it comes to working in colored pencils. I haven't been happy with the pencils or paper I've been using. And what I found out really changed my colored pencil experience. I've been using soft colored pencils to draw my details, which wasn't working out very well. They were hard to sharpen into a fine point, and they would break under the pressure of my hand. 

 Prismacolor's Verithin hard lead colored pencils

So someone suggested trying the hard lead Prismacolor Verithin line of colored pencils which are amazing. You can sharpen the tips to almost needle points for extreme detail work and they can take a lot of pressure without breaking. The colors are vibrant and blend very easily. 

 They come in a variety of sets
They are thiner and harder than standard soft colored pencils

Also when it came to the paper I was working on I wasn't satisfied with how it was excepting the colored pencils. The moleskin paper worked nicely with black ink, but it didn't except the wax of the pencils very well. I was told to give Bristol Vellum a try and was astonished of how nice it is. It's very thick and smooth and the color comes out extremely bright on it. Give it a try if you haven't.

Strathmore Bristol Vellum 

Here are some photos taken during my drawing process

Here's the finished drawing

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Catching a Crab

Drawing a Blue Crab In Colored Pencil and Ink

Prints, posters, stationery cards, and signed fine art reproductions  
are available for purchase in my Etys shop at: 

Blue Crab. 11x17"  Colored Pencil and ink on paper

These little amazing crustaceans are extremely close to my heart. I grew up in Maryland, and all Marylander's know about Blue Crabs. They are a favorite seafood delight to enjoy eating during the summer, and most summers during my childhood my family would have a crab feast. We would make a trip down to the seafood wharf in Washington DC where local fisherman would sell crabs by the bushel. We would haggle between the fisherman to get the best price and head home with a overflowing bushel of crabs ready for the boiling pot. Old Bay seasoning, brown paper table cloths, mallets and claw crackers were all part of an afternoon of hours sitting around picking crabs with friends and family. This is a tradition that I truly miss now living further north in New Jersey were blue crabs are hard to find. If you do find them they now cost a small fortune and are small, not like the jumbo crabs of times past.

My brother Peter as chef during a crab feast

I also spent many hours fishing for crabs with my brother Tony on the coast of Maryland. When ever we had a chance we would head out to the bay with our crab traps, nets, and chicken legs for bait and spend hours trying to get as many crabs as we could. Inevitably getting pitched by a crab as we took them out of the traps. And this crab knows how to pitch! Once they get you they don't let go! They were hard to a catch and on a good day we would get a dozen or so to enjoy as our prize. Crabs are part of my childhood, and they will always be something that I can't wait to enjoy whenever I get the chance. So if you run into someone from Maryland or Virginia ask them about blue crabs. I'm sure you will see their face light up.

Here's some blue crab facts. Their scientific name is "Callinectes sapidus" means "savory beautiful swimmer". A perfect name if you have ever seen one swim. Their life span is 1 to 3 years, and females only mate once in their lifetime. Their range is from Nova Scotia to Argentina. 

Today Blue Crabs populations remain in a serious slump. The number of female crabs has dropped to a dangerously low level. Severe Winter weather along with environmental issues have become the main cause. Overfishing is being control, and lets hope that they can recover and become abundant once again for all to enjoy.

Here are some photos taken during my drawing process

Here's the finished drawing

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: