Monday, January 29, 2018

Painting Pages in Batch: Watercolor Basics

You guys have probably seen me mention batch painting numerous times on the blog, on my Twitter, and on my Youtube channel.  Batch painting allows me to handle repetitive or time consuming tasks for several pages at one time- tasks such as stretching, toning, and blocking in color are all a little easier in the long run when handled in batch.  Batch painting also allows for color consistency across a scene- I can mix up plenty of color and utilize it across several pages.

To be honest, every stage of 7" Kara is handled in batch, which is unusual for a webcomic, but not unusual for print comics.  Working in batch allows me to stay consistent and organized, and helps me stay focused.  If you're interested in other parts of my comic process, please check out my Intro to Comic Craft series here on the blog.

Speaking of 7" Kara, all the pages shown in this tutorial are from Chapter 6 of 7" Kara!  I'm hustling to get Volume 2 completed, but you can read Volume 1, for free as a webcomic!  Fan of print?  Order Volume 1 from the Natto-shop, or pick it up at any convention listed in the sidebar!

I already have a Few other posts about working in batch that you might find helpful!

In Introduction to Working in Batch
Working in Batch: Trimming Paper To Size
Working in Batch: Construction for Icons
Working in Batch: Securing Your Paper

Comic Process Outline: 

Script Entire Chapter- Check out the tutorial
Thumbnail Chapter Check out the tutorials One Two
Scan Thumbnails
Break Up Into Individual Pages, Turn into Bluelines
Print Blueline Roughs Check out the Tutorial
Rough Chapter- Check out the Tutorials One Two
Scan Roughs- Check out the Tutorial
Correct Roughs
Turn Into Bluelines- Check out the tutorial
Print onto Watercolor Paper- Check out the Tutorial
Pencil  Chapter- Check out the Tutorial

Painting the Comic: 

Batches are usually 2-6 pages, depending on the scene.  Painting multiple pages at a time allows me to work more efficiently, and saves time- which is important when you're working on a huge longform project like a watercolor comic.

Pages are stretched onto white corrogated plastic (Gatorboard or chloroplast) with 3M Blue crepe masking tape.  They are secured to the board using bulldog and binder clips, to help prevent buckling.

Colors are mixed en masse in daisy palettes, and all areas with that color are filled in before progressing to another color or stage.  Textures and details are developed similarly.  Unles a page is significantly different from the others in that batch (such as a cover or an endcap) no one page is finished before the others.  Progress is slow, but fairly steady and predictable.

Once all the colors have been blocked in, textured, and shaded- when the majority of the page is complete, then detailing can begin.  This is done in batch too- outlines are tightened, colors are used at full saturation, the watercolor pencils come out, and finally white accents are added.

After this has dried, all pages are removed from their gatorboards and stored in a portfolio.

Watercolor Painting On the Floor

Tools For Working In Batch:

watercolor comics, watercolor tutorial, painting in batch

Once Pages are on the Stretchers:

  • All toning and washes are completed in batch
  • Rendering and shadows are built up in batch
  • Details are added in batch

Blocking In Color:

Developing Color and Tone:

Rendering Skingones: 

Adding Detail: 

Tightening Up Detail:

Final Passes for Detail, Adding Highlights, Using Color Pencils:

Once entire chapter is painted:

Chapter is scanned
Chapter is corrected
Chapter is bordered
Chapter is lettered

This tutorial is part of my Watercolor Basics series, a series of watercolor tutorials designed to get more artists creating watercolor comics.  If you enjoyed this post, please do me a favor and recommend it publicly to any friend who might appreciate it- your word of mouth is important to the growth of this blog!    Share it on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or Pinterest and give me a leg up!

This series spans my Youtube and this blog, to try to cover every aspect of watercolor for illustration and comics.  From tutorials, to reviews, to micro demonstrations, if there's ever a topic I've missed, please feel free to send me an email or Tweet at me.

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Funds from my Patreon are used to commission guest writers for guest posts, to purchase supplies, and purchase some of the equipment necessary for providing free art educational content.  My Artnerds get a new Early Access video almost every day, as well as access to backer exclusive goodies like comics and art resources.  Support starts at just $1 a month, and every dollar helps!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Toning Pages and Panels: Watercolor Basics

Today we're taking a look at one of my most used watercolor techniques- washes and tones!  I prep every single 7" Kara page with either panel specific washes and tones, or page unifying all over washes or tones.   Tones are one of the first steps taken on every page and give me an opportunity to influence the color for the entire page, or just a single panel.

This post is part of my Watercolor Basics Series!

watercolor tutorials, watercolor lessons, watercolor courses

This series of tutorials and reviews spans this blog as well as my Youtube Channel.

My Watercolor Basics course is designed to get you guys painting!  I start at the very beginning (papers, paints, and brushes) and walk you through every step.  Video tutorials help demonstrate techniques in real time, and timelapses provide inspiration and motivation to keep you painting.

All this is based on my experience painting 7" Kara, my watercolor webcomic!

watercolor, watercolor webcomic, kidlit comic, comics for kids

7" Kara is a charming all ages watercolor comic that follows the adventures of diminutive Kara as she explores the outside world and makes some huge friendships.  7" Kara updates with a new page every Friday!

Speaking of 7" Kara, every single page of 7" Kara sees either an all over wash of color, or individual panel washes.

Toning Your Pages and Toning Your Panels:

Toning is simply watercolor washes, or glazes, and may include:

Flat washes
Graduated washes
Wet into wet techniques

Reasons to tone:
Set mood in individual panel
Set overall mood on page/scene
Establish Shadows and Underglazes that might not otherwise be possible or feasible

A bright, warm yellow underglaze helps establish this scene as 'morning'

Single panel toning doesn't reflect the background, but does reflect the mood- such as the warm pink panel on the lefthand side, or the aura around the handshake on the left.

 This spread has blue green undertones (most noticable on Kara, bottom left hand corner) that wouldn't be feasible as a glaze once the yellow was completed.

Entire Page Washes Vs Individual Panel Washes

Left: Entire Page Toning to Set Scene Right: Individual Panel Toning to Set Mood

Entire page washes unify the entire page, and can be useful if you're working with a gamut of disparate colors.

Individual Panel washes can help establish environment, help with intense mood lighting and shadow, or help convey a specific emotion that may differ from the rest of the page.

Although the effect may seem overwhelming at the beginning, as the page comes together, it will start to make visual and narrative sense.

Toning Panels Demonstration:

Developement of Pages

These are selected pages from Chapter 7.  Each photo was taken at the end of the day, or at the end of a specific stage.

Panel Specific Washes:

As you can see, as the panels develop, the initial tone ceases to be distracting, but still influences the overall panel.  

Once the pages are complete, the tones are almost indistinguishable but add a subtle color shift to individual panels.

Panel Specific Undertoning: 

In this instance, early underglazes were used to help establish shadow that would influence later colors.  This could not be applied as a glaze on top, because it would reactivate prior layers and cause muddiness.

Entire Page Washes:

In this instance, a combination of entire page washes and single color undertones help unite all the panels on this page, and help convey a feeling of very early morning.

Useful techniques washes and toning: 

Flat Washes:
The workhorse of page and panel toning.

Basic Flat Wash: 

example of a flat wash

Graduated Washes:

Single Color:

Graduated Wash (Two Ways) Tutorial: 


Gradiated wash, graduated wash, wash, watercolor

Multiple Color:

Multi Color Graduated Wash Tutorial:


multi color gradiated wash, multi color graduated wash

Variations on Graduated Washes: 


Watercolor Sky Tutorial:


Painting A Sunset- Watercolor Tutorial: 


watercolor sunset, gradiated wash, graduated wash

Lifting Color Mini Demonstration

Quick Wet into Wet Watercolor Techniques

Applying a Mask:

Materials Used:
Winsor and Newton Masking Fluid And Qor Watercolor Demonstration: 

When applying a mask, I've found I have the best results when I use a synthetic brush that's been thorougly coated with brush soap.  If you don't have brush soap handy, handsoap will work- you basically want to prevent the masking fluid from permeating the bristles.  In natural hair brushes, masking fluid can ruin a good brush, so either use a ratty old brush, or a brush that's cheap enough that you don't feel bad tossing and replacing it should it get ruined.

You can also use masking fluid to create random speckles of white.  Prepare your brush as above, dip into your masking fluid, then gently tap your brush.

Some masking fluids have a colorant added to make them visible, but I've had issues with them staining the paper, so I prefer my masking fluid untinted.

Lifting a Too Dark Wash:

This technique is used to lift out Clouds in the Sky tutorial:

While watercolor is still wet, gently apply a paper towel or clean rag to the area you want to lift.  If you'd like to add a texture, you can use a textured paper towel, terry cloth towel, or a sponge.  Apply firm pressure, then remove.

Toning and Underglazing in a Single Panel:

In this panel, I really wanted to push a sparkly, shoujo effect to demonstrate Kara's delight.  Areas I wanted to reserve have already been masked off with masking fluid, and the initial layer of tone has already been applied.

I block in the shadows using the same color I initially toned with.

Once dry, I go in again, darker some shadows a bit more (like beneath the neck) and darken the background).

Once that has dried, I decide to paint the background in masstone SoHo Permanent Mauve, so the difference between toning and background is more pronounced.

Finished panel.

I hope you found this overview of washes and toning pages and panels to be helpful and informative.  If you enjoyed this post, please check out my other posts in my Watercolor Basics series, and please spread the word!  If you ever have any questions, or need to see something demonstrated in depth, don't hesitate to email or Tweet me.

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Artnerds see early access videos, weekly Newsletters, and backer exclusives like free comics and art assets.  Their financial support enables me to purchase supplies for review, and their emotional support enables me to devote the time necessary to maintaining this blog and providing art educational resources free of charge.  Their help is hugely invaluable, and I would love it if you considered joining their ranks.