Thursday, December 29, 2016

Watercolor Basics: Step by Step: Rendering

Now that we've introduced the basics of Watercolor Basics, it's time to take you step by step through some of the most common processes for completing a watercolor illustration.  I'm going to take you from start to finish through my 2016 Christmas card illustration, explaining my techniques as I go.  I have a series of video tutorials recorded concurrently that should be available on my Youtube channel soon, if you need some live action explanation. 



If you enjoy this series, if you have learned something, or if I have inspired you in some way, please take a moment to share this, or any post, with your friends and familiy on your favorite social networking platform.  There are handy sharing buttons below this post.  If you enjoy art education content, and would like to be part of the process, please visit my Patreon for information on how to join the artnerd community.  Backers get early access to popular series, backer exclusive content, and voting rights on upcoming content.



When we've finished these tutorials, this is what the finished illustration will look like!  This image was designed and used for my Christmas 2016 cards sent out to friends, family, and Patrons.

This image features Naomi and Kara from my children's watercolor comic, 7" Kara.  If you enjoy this blog, and enjoy my art, I highly recommend you order a copy through my shop!

Previously, I showed you guys how to block your illustration in (link)

In this tutorial, I'm going to demonstrate several methods I use to render a watercolor illustration.  This is the stage that takes the longest, and requires the most experience.  I highly recommend you watch the accompanying video for step by step explanations.  This post will gloss over the topic to give you an overview.

Materials Used in this Tutorial:

Watercolors of your choice (I use Winsor and Newton moist half pans, Daniel Smith, SoHo, and Holbein watercolors)
Daisy watercolor wells or palette of choice- For mixing large amounts of color
Deep welled watercolor palette- I used a recycled mochi ice cream carton
Watercolor brushes (I use mainly rounds)
2 watercolor cups- 1 clean, 1 dirty- I like the Faber-Castell collapsible cups
Paper towels

Paper used:
Canson Moulin du Roy

Watercolor Brushes Used in this Tutorial:

  • For rounds larger than 6, I use synthetic brushes.  Your preferences may vary from mine- I have several brands, and still have not found a brand I think perform as well as natural hair brushes.  Synthetic brushes are much cheaper than natural hair brushes, especially at larger sizes, and are useful for blocking in color, as we will be doing in this tutorial.
  • Creative Mark Rhapsody Kolinsky Sable Brushes- 4, 2, 1, 0
  • Creative Mark Squirrel Brushes- 4, 6
  • Blick Master Studio Squirrel- 4, 6

Step 1


Working quickly and wet into wet, I apply a layer of mixed brick red.  While that is still wet, I dab in brown and carbon black.




Watercolor always dries lighter and less saturated than when it is applied, so you may have to apply multiple layers to get the depth of color you want.  As you progress through the painting, you can mix your paints thicker and work with more saturated colors, but it's important to start out light, especially if you're new to watercolor.

 Step 2: Continue to work on developing colors and layers in the background







 Step 3: Work on non-adjacent areas while paint dries.




At this stage, it's time to add blush to Naomi's skin.  I like adding blush to darker skintones at various stages of the process- right after the overall tone has been applied, in between layers of skintone, and at the end of the rendering process.  I feel that this helps me develop believable skintones.  If this doesn't make sense, fear not- I have a tutorial for watercoloring darker skintones coming up, and I cover this in detail in the video tutorial for this image.


Step 4: When too many adjacent areas are wet, take a break to let everything dry.

I allowed my piece to dry for several hours, and returned when the piece was not only dry to the touch, but no longer cool to the touch.

For Naomi's skirt, I wanted to create the impression of black fabric.  To do that, you don't begin with black- black is the last color you add.  You begin with an indigo, a purple, or a Payne's gray.

Painting Black

Step 1:  Tone with a lighter color, in this example, Payne's Gray. 

Step 2: Gradually build up your layers of color to black, saving black for last.



Painting White

For large areas, you should avoid leaving the paper its natural white.  Instead, you want to go for the illusion of white, and white objects do have areas of shadow where the 'white' is darker.  For the shadow on Kara's shirt, I used a very light mixture of Holbein's neutral tint, violet, and a little Payne's gray, and slowly built the color up layer after layer.


Step 4: As layers dry, continue to add detail, blending out with clean water.

At this stage, I also darken the blush on Naomi's cheeks, as well as her lips.


And add another layer of skintone, leaving a rim of unpainted skin closest to the fire, to indicate light.



I want Naomi's stockings to read as sheer fabric, so I painted several layers of skintone (and even blush) before adding a layer of Payne's gray mixed with black, heavily diluted with water.




Step 5:  I continue to build up layers until things 'feel' right. 



I realize this isn't very descriptive, but it's something you develop over time.  In 7" Kara Volume 1, my watercolors in Chapter 1 are far less rendered, and have far fewer layers of watercolor, than Chapter 4, and Chapter 4 is less sophisticated in terms of how the watercolor is handled than pages from Chapter 7.  Check out the end of this post for those examples, or order your copy of 7" Kara, Volume 1 today and see for yourself!










When you're nearing the end of rendering, you can add your darker layers of color- like Naomi's hair, skirt, and sweater.  Adding these saturated colors early on may lead to bleeding when adjacent areas are filled.

Step:  Allow your watercolors to dry overnight before applying shadows for best results


Examples



 Left: Page from Chapter 1.  Right  Page from Chapter 4


Left: Page from Chapter 4.  Right:  Page from Chapter 6.

Notes:

  • If you have any questions, or would like to see something specific demonstrated, please email me using the form in the left hand sidebar.
  • Be patient- rendering takes time and taste- so allow your paper time to dry
  • Every painting has an ugly stage- and that's ok!  Learn to push past the ugly, try not to be discouraged!
  • Higher quality papers, and cold press papers, can take more layers of watercolor than cheaper papers



Coming up next:  Adding Shadows

For more beautiful watercolor work, why not pick up a copy of 7" Kara, Volume 1?  7" Kara is a lush watercolor comic the entire family can enjoy, following the adventures of tiny Kara as she discovers humans, explores the backyard, and befriends a kitten.  Created by Becca Hillburn, if you enjoy this blog and my art, you'll love 7" Kara.  Volume 1 is available in the Natto-shop.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Watercolor Basics: Step by Step: Blocking In

Now that we've introduced the basics of Watercolor Basics, it's time to take you step by step through some of the most common processes for completing a watercolor illustration.  I'm going to take you from start to finish through my 2016 Christmas card illustration, explaining my techniques as I go.  I have a series of video tutorials recorded concurrently that should be available on my Youtube channel soon, if you need some live action explanation. 



If you enjoy this series, if you have learned something, or if I have inspired you in some way, please take a moment to share this, or any post, with your friends and familiy on your favorite social networking platform.  There are handy sharing buttons below this post.  If you enjoy art education content, and would like to be part of the process, please visit my Patreon for information on how to join the artnerd community.  Backers get early access to popular series, backer exclusive content, and voting rights on upcoming content.



When we've finished these tutorials, this is what the finished illustration will look like!  This image was designed and used for my Christmas 2016 cards sent out to friends, family, and Patrons.

This image features Naomi and Kara from my children's watercolor comic, 7" Kara.  If you enjoy this blog, and enjoy my art, I highly recommend you order a copy through my shop!

Previously, I showed you guys how to apply a watercolor wash (link)

In this tutorial, I will show you guys how to block in the basic colors for your watercolor illustration.  This is a very helpful step for those of you who are new to using watercolor, or for people who have trouble with color palettes.

Materials For this Tutorial:
Watercolors of your choice (I use Winsor and Newton moist half pans, Daniel Smith, SoHo, and Holbein watercolors)
Daisy watercolor wells or palette of choice- For mixing large amounts of color
Deep welled watercolor palette- I used a recycled mochi ice cream carton
Watercolor brushes (I use mainly rounds)
2 watercolor cups- 1 clean, 1 dirty- I like the Faber-Castell collapsible cups
Paper towels

Paper used:
Canson Moulin du Roy

Watercolor Brushes Used in this Tutorial:

  • For rounds larger than 6, I use synthetic brushes.  Your preferences may vary from mine- I have several brands, and still have not found a brand I think perform as well as natural hair brushes.  Synthetic brushes are much cheaper than natural hair brushes, especially at larger sizes, and are useful for blocking in color, as we will be doing in this tutorial.
  • Creative Mark Rhapsody Kolinsky Sable Brushes- 4, 2, 1, 0
  • Creative Mark Squirrel Brushes- 4, 6
  • Blick Master Studio Squirrel- 4, 6


Step 1: Assemble Your Materials



 Step 2: Begin mixing your background colors in a large welled palette

These are not your final colors, just placeholder colors, so it's fine if your first wash seems far too light.  It's much better to start too light, and work your way darker, building up contrast and shadow as you add layers.

Step 2: Lay in your first layer.



In this case, we're laying down a very light pink to serve as the brick red for the hearth.  It's fine that this color is MUCH lighter than the final color- you want to build up your watercolors, so don't begin too dark!

Step 3: As adjacent layers dry, continue to fill in your objects.

This is a bit like coloring in a coloring book, or color by numbers, but blocking in color is an important first step for many illustrators.


When painting, I work in reverse from sketching/inking/penciling- I work from back to front.  As you can see here, I'm working on filling in the background.  This makes correcting issues easier.

Step 4:  If you would like to paint glow effects, add your darker color while first layer of paint or wash is still wet. 

In the case of the fire below, I painted a light wash of yellow, then added in undiluted Indian Yellow, which dispersed into the wet paint.


Step 5: Work from large to small, background to foreground, and fill in objects one at a time.

Give yourself time to plan a color palette ahead of time, or time to think while you paint.  At this stage, you can still make color corrections later, but art is 80% planning and 20% execution.


After the background has been blocked in, I bein by blocking in Naomi's skin and clothes.

At this stage, I added a bit of yellow glow to Naomi's eyes, as though they're reflecting the fire.



The finished and dried blocked in watercolor painting.



You may have noticed that I did not block everything in- some objects are so small that they aren't worth blocking in at this stage, or so saturated that they may bleed into other colors as details are added.

Key Notes:

  • Always use the largest brush you are comfortable working with- most of this illustration was laid down with a size 10 synthetic.  Working large and loose early on will help prevent the illustration from becoming muddy.
  • Start out light- you can always mix colors darker, but you can't paint colors lighter.
  • Be patient- watercolor takes time!
  • Working on high quality watercolor paper (cotton rag, not cellulose) allows for better blending effects
  • High quality paper is more reworkable

Coming up next:  Rendering Our Watercolor Illustration

Our Sponsor

For more beautiful watercolor work, why not pick up a copy of 7" Kara, Volume 1?  7" Kara is a lush watercolor comic the entire family can enjoy, following the adventures of tiny Kara as she discovers humans, explores the backyard, and befriends a kitten.  Created by Becca Hillburn, if you enjoy this blog and my art, you'll love 7" Kara.  Volume 1 is available in the Natto-shop.