Monday, January 27, 2020

Colored Lead with Watercolor-Easy Lineless Watercolor Illustrations

One of my favorite 'tricks' for alcohol markers or for watercolor is to create a lineless artstyle using colored leads.  One of my favorite leads for this is the Pilot Color Eno Pink lead- perfect for florals and faces!

Today I want to walk yall through my process for using colored lead with watercolor.  The materials vary, but the process remains the same on almost any substrate, regardless of whether I'm using alcohol markers or watercolors.  Both watercolor and alcohol marker dissolve the pink lead a bit, and unlike graphite, colored lead won't necessarily ruin your marker brush tips.

If you're new to colored leads, I recommend you buy this set- it includes all 8 colors preloaded into handy mechanical pencils.  I find it really handy to have color coded, designated pencils for my leads.  If you have your own preferred mechanical pencils, you can get just the 8 pack of leads.

Demonstration 1

Fluid 100 Watercolor Paper

Step 1:  Sketch your sketch using the colored lead of your choice onto your paper.  Remove construction and excess lines with an eraser.

Step 2:  Paint as you normally would! 

Check out the Timelapse:

Demonstration 2:
MozArt Komorebi Palette

You're not limited to just pink though!  Match your leads with your subject matter, like in the below example with morning glories.

Demonstration 3:

Rice Paper Fan
Pilot Color Eno- Purple, Pink, Blue
MozArt Komorebi

Demonstration 4:

Pilot Color Eno Lead- Purple, Blue, Green
Rice Paper Fan
MozArt Komorebi

Demonstration 5:

Grumbacher Watercolor Paper Sample
Pilot Color Eno- Pink, Green
Da Vinci Mixing Set

Check out the Tutorial: 

Finished Works:

Grumbacher Watercolor Paper Sample, Color Eno Pink and Green, Da Vinci Mixing Palette

Fluid 100, Color Eno Pink, MozArt Komorebi

Strathmore Watercolor Paper, Color Eno Pink, Qor Mini Palette

Hahnemule Postcard, Color Eno Pink, Turner watercolors

Fluid EZ Block, Color Eno Pink, Derwent Inktense palette

Thursday, January 23, 2020

2019 Top Ten Favorites

It's a bit belated, but after much thought, I compiled a list of my favorite art products and services for 2019!  Some are new and some are just new to me, but I think there's plenty for yall to enjoy.

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Most of the products on this list have already been reviewed or have tutorials that utilize them.  Artnerds received these videos awhile back, and they're currently being queued to go live.   Join the Artnerd community on Patreon to gain early access to video reviews and tutorials! 

Comic illustration created with Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor markers, Inked with Pitt Pens
This piece represents several of the products on this list!  Strathmore Toned Tan Mixed Media Paper, inked with Pitt Pens, colored with Albrecht Durer Watercolor Markers, Pitt Pens, and Polychromos Pencils.

Strathmore Colored Mixed Media Papers
Toned Tan

Working on a colored base makes illustrations in opaque media pop off the paper!  I even love using alcohol markers and gouache on the Strathmore Toned Tan mixed media paper.

Strathmore's colored drawing papers have been around for awhile, but the mixed media equivalents are very new to Strathmore's paper lineup.  The black mixed media paper is the newest addition, and is great with color pencils like Polychromos.

Faber-Castell's Albrecht Durer watercolor markers

There're a lot of watercolor markers on the market, but most are dye based.  Faber-Castell's Albrecht Durer watercolor markers are water soluble India ink, so not only are they going to move easily with water, but your art will be lightfast for years to come.

watercolor illustration on Stonehenge Aqua hotpress watercolor paperWatercolor illustration on Stonehenge Aqua coldpress
 Watercolor on Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress and Stonehenge Aqua Coldpress

Stonehenge Legion Aqua watercolor papers

The coldpress is a great workhorse cottonrag watercolor paper- sturdy and easy to use- not a fussy paper.

The hot press is the best hotpress I've ever used- smooth texture that's great for inking, but can take layers and layers of watercolor.

The black watercolor paper is just as nice as the hotpress and coldpress, and the dyes used in the manufacturing process seem to be quite stable.  This paper is amazing for opaque watercolor techniques.

Zenpop Stationary Box

I've been disappointed by subscription art boxes in the past, but the Zenpop Stationery boxes really deliver!  Cute stickers, notebooks, washi tapes, pencils, and more, delivered to your door each month!

I had a sub from January until May, and was thrilled with the contents of my five boxes.

Check out the unboxing streams on Youtube!
January 2019
February 2019
April 2019
May 2019
July 2019

Pentel Tradio Stylo Sketch Pen

I've reviewed a LOT of pens over the years- technical pens, brush pens, fountain pens, and the Tradio Stylo offers something unique! A plastic nibbed fountain pen that's fun for sketching and handlettering!  Refillable with rich black ink, inkflow is consistent and immediate.

Watercolor illustration on Shizen Hotpress watercolor paper
Watercolor on Shizen Hotpress watercolor paper

Shizen pre cut watercolor paper
Hot Press
Cold Press

Inexpensive cottonrag watercolor paper that's amazing for wet into wet techniques.  A bit softer than standard mould-made paper and doesn't contain much sizing, so it takes getting used to.  If you enjoy coldpress watercolor paper, I recommend going with the hot press for this one.

Molotov Chrome Marker

There's a lot of metallic markers out there, but this one really delivers the chrome!  If you use it on a non porous surface, you'll get a shiny, mirror like effect!  Even on porous surfaces, it still stands out well.  Molotov Chrome markers utilize an alcohol solvent, so are not marker proof, but are indelible to water.  Can be removed with rubbing alcohol.

Copic marker illustration with colored lineart and mixed media background
This piece represents several products!  Kara and papers were adhered with a Tombow Permanent taperunner, Kara was inked with Tombow Fudenosuke brushpens.

Tombow Adhesive Tape Runners

Not just for crafters, adhesive tape runners are great for artists and stationery fans!  Your paper won't buckle, and Tombow's runners are available in both
versions!  I love using these for mixed media marker art!

Tombow Fudenosuke Color Brushpens (Discord Suggestion)

I love adding a pop of color to the inked linework in my illustrations, and Tombow Fudenosuke brushpens are alcohol marker safe!  The smaller brushes on these pens are easy to use, and available in a rainbow of color! 

Honorable Mentions:
Colored Pitt Pens (Twitter suggestion)
These colorful pens are lightfast, available in a huge array of colors, and available with a wide array of tip options, from fixed width felt tips to brushes and even soft chisel tips.

Stillman and Birn sketchbooks (Twitter suggestion)
These are super popular with artists!  Available in several paper colors (I love the ivory!) and many paper types and finishes, Stillman and Birn has a sketchbook that's perfect for your favorite media!  A bit pricy,

Other Awesome Art Supplies:
2018 Top Ten

Monday, January 20, 2020

Developing Concepts and Illustrations

Most of my illustrations are developed in stages.  This gives me a chance to refine the concept, improve the anatomy, and restage if necessary.  I often work in a combination of traditional and digital media- digital gives me the flexibility to create as many layers as necessary to get the sketch right, and allows me to easily cut and resize problem areas.[=

Generally, I do my first sketch in my sketchbook.  My brain just handles conceptualization better if I'm staring at paper rather than a screen.  But once the thumbnail is drawn, I'm free to go digital.  Sometimes I'll take a quick photo of the sketch with my phone and send it to my computer via Discord, sometimes I'll scan it when I'm putting together my monthly Patron sketchbooks- the transfer method doesn't really matter.

Image to the left- thumbnail sketch

Refining the Pose and Sketching Anatomy

Sketching in Clothing and Tightening up Details

Finished Sketch, later printed onto watercolor paper

This isn't the end of the process!  After this stage, I convert my sketch to grayscale and adjust the contrast so that it's just black and white, then use Duotone to convert it to non photo blue.  I then print the bluelines onto the watercolor paper of my choice and either pencil or ink the illustration.  The finished illustration will be in watercolor.

Lately, working this way has become a staple for my standalone illustrations.  Working digitally to develop sketches gives me the flexibility to resize easily, or to rework problem areas, or to clone and copy pieces that work well and that I want to duplicate.

Thumbnail sketch

Refining the Figure

Tightening Up Character Details

Adding Background Details

With the next example, I did a lot of alteration on the basic sketch- moving and resizing things- before committing.
Thumbnail Sketch

I wanted to play with scale a bit- making Naomi seem a bit smaller, and Kara a bit larger, and being able to manipulate things digitally helps with this!

I think this method is particularly helpful for people with tablets and iPads, particularly if they're busy and have a hard time carving out time for art.  It's easier to put it down when necessary or to break the piece up into discrete steps, and you don't feel the pressure to nail it on the first shot.

If you wanna see how these pieces turn out, check out my Instagram!

Friday, January 10, 2020

How to Succeed in the Mid Winter Slump

It's winter, and everything I draw comes out looking blah.  Any suggestions?

This question is a good one, because it's one a lot of artists seem to struggle with, even if they don't make the correlation between winter and art slumps.

First off, I want to point out this is a perfectly natural phenomena.  Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, many also suffer from a lack of sun based Vitamin D, and of course, cold weather makes it harder to get outside and get fresh air.

Many mammals hibernate all winter long.  Mammals that don't hibernate often spend most of their time during the winter sleeping to conserve energy and stay warm.    Humans have this same instinct to sleep and conserve energy during long winter months, even if we don't heed it.

Sometimes it helps to just accept that this is going to be an issue during the winter, and stop blaming yourself.  You can use this winter downtime intentionally- use your free time to enjoy friends, family, or attend fun events and refill your mental tanks.  You can also use your time to stock up on inspiration- like a chipmunk or squirrel creating a winter stash- and consume a lot of media that inspires and enriches your artistic life.  This time can also be spent doing non-creative drawing tasks like drawing skill drills, studying figure drawing or perspective, or practicing a specific skill set like folds.  This is also a great time to do style tests and refine elements of your style.

This is a wonderful time of year for reflection, and doing art redraws is a wonderful way to appreciate the progress you have made skill wise, even if you feel creatively tapped.  Redraws are simple- pick an image from 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even earlier in the year, and focus on using your new skills and techniques to redraw it.  Fix up the character design, redo the pose, actually draw the hands- use this as a chance to focus on demonstrating your improvement, and worry less about being creative.

If you do have creative ideas, don't push yourself to make something finished and perfect- keeping things light, sketchy, and in a thumbnail stage is a good way to capture the idea without furthering your winter burnout.  This is a great time to work on research or development for projects, since the production quality isn't important.