Watercolor Basics: Step By Step: Stretching Tutorial

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. 

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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 I pencil my watercolor bluelines (link!)

In this post, I'm going to take you step by step through the process I use to stretch almost any watercolor illustration I complete, from comics to standalone illustrations.  I've also provided links for where you can order the materials used in this tutorial.

Materials Used in this Tutorial:
Paper towels (I use Viva)
3M Blue Painters Tape
Bulldog Clips
Binder Clips
Cup Clean Water
Spray bottle full of water
Watercolor Mop (I use a synthetic Cotman mop)

Paper used:
Canson Moulin du Roy

Step 1: Assemble Materials

 Step 2:  Flip image over, spritz with water.

Step 3: Using the mop, apply more water liberally.

 Step 4: Using paper towel roll, roll over image to remove excess water

Step 5: Flip image over and position.  This will be your last real opportunity to position your image on the gatorboard.

Step 6:  Spritz front of image with water to reactive the blue inkjet ink.  Don't worry- this ink is waterbased and will come up.

Step 7:  Liberally apply water with mop.

Step 8: Using roll as a whole, roll paper towel roll over image.

Step 9:  Spritz again with water.

Step 9: Again liberally apply water with mop.  By now inkjet blue should be mostly gone.

Step 10: Using roll as a whole, roll paper towel roll over image to remove excess water and remaining blue ink.

Step 11:  Remove strip of blue tape length of long end of illustration

Step 12: Apply to underside of arm (this will remove excess stickness)

Step 13:  Brush top with water.

Step 14: Apply tape to paper.

Step 15:  Using paper towel, wipe down tape.

Step 16: Clamp down with bulldog or binder clips

Step 17: Repeat for all sides.

Step 18:  Allow your watercolor paper to dry thoroughly before painting.

Coming up next: Applying washes

For more on stretching watercolor paper, check out these posts!

It's Important to Stretch (Your Watercolor Paper)
Stretching Watercolor Paper Revisited

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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.


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