Friday, January 10, 2014

Guest Art for ODE

Not impossibly long ago, my fantastically talented friend, Annie Stoll asked if I'd be interested in contributing some guest art to her beautiful watercolor webcomic, Ode.  Since Annie's such a sweet person, and since 7" Kara is also a watercolor comic, I decided to go for a little watercolor artist solidarity and agreed. 

Unfortunately, my blog won't display the scan as large as I'd like, BUT! you can view it at a slightly larger size on Ode's site here.


  • Blick 140lb cold press watercolor paper
  • Blue drafting/painting tape
  • Large format printer (Canon Pro 9000 Mark II)
  • Photoshop CS4
  • Sketchbook
  • Non photo blue lead and drafting pencil
  • Intuos 4 tablet
  • Custom half pan watercolor palette (mostly Winsor & Newton watercolors)
  • Various watercolor brushes 
  • Caran d'Ache Pablo color pencils
  • White Gouache



When doing work not-for-profit, I try to vary my process a bit in order to  learn new skills or strengthen weak skills.  For this guest art, I wanted the image itself to be fairy simple- two characters, limited background, but I also wanted to include typography.  


 The thumbnail itself was pretty rough- colored pencil on sketchbook paper.  I didn't even delineate a border to the image.  Usually I'd scan my thumbnail, convert it to non photo blue in Photoshop, and print that on copy paper to do a rough, but I opted to do something a little different this time.  


I sketched out the figures in my sketchbook, and scanned them in before refining.


As you can see, I did A LOT of tightening in Photoshop.  I tweaked the figures quite a bit, sketched in the basics of the pine bough arch, and sketched in the typography.  


I printed the bluelines on watercolor paper, which resulted in a smaller image than I'd wanted, since I needed to accommodate the arch.  I decided not to pencil in the far background that I had sketched in the thumbnail and the refined digital sketch.

Stretching The Paper

  I've covered stretching watercolor paper in the past.  My method has changed a bit- I saturate both sides by using a mop brush, then I roll a roll of Viva paper towels across the surface to pick up excess water.  I wet the tape before applying it, so it'll stretch with the paper as both dry.

Laying Down a Wash


I've covered my general watercolor process in the past, and it really hasn't changed very much since.

I refined my colors with Caran d'Ache Pablo pencil colors and added white highlights with gouache.

 Finished Piece Compared to Original Thumbnail

I stayed pretty true to the original concept for the guest art.  Retrospectively, a darker fill inside the pine bough arch would probably help the overall composition.