Friday, 28 November 2014

learn: Watercolour in-process, with Nicky Johnston


I am often asked to explain the steps I take to get from an initial idea to the final completion of an illustration. So, I decided to take progress photos from my most recent illustration, Week 45: LEAVES.

STEP 1 - Idea
A lot of my ideas begin on scraps of paper, backs of envelopes or sticky notes.

STEP 1 - A very quick initial sketch

 STEP 2 - Refining the sketch

I like to refine my sketches in my sketchbook so I always have them for any future reference. When I visit schools, I also like to show children my rough sketches, to demonstrate that not everything I do is a work of art!

Here is the refined sketch of the bear in the leaves.

STEP 2 - Refining my sketch
STEP 3 - Masking Fluid
STEP 3 - Masking Fluid. I have tried many brands, and this is the only one I use.
I lightly traced my final sketch onto water colour paper (300gsm). I wanted to have a brightly coloured  background for this piece, so I decided to use Masking Fluid to make the painting process of the background quicker.

Masking fluid is prone to wrecking your brushes so for this reason I have an old brush that I always use. Thanks to some helpful advice from members of the Challenge, I now lather soap into the brush before using the masking fluid which helps protect the bristles and makes it easier to wash out when finished.

Masking fluid creates a barrier over areas on the paper that you DON'T want watercolour paint to touch. I applied Masking Fluid to the areas I wanted to keep clear of the background colour.

STEP 3 - Masking Fluid
STEP 4 - Background

Once the masking fluid was completely dry, I mixed my background colours. I mixed two tones of blue/green making sure I made enough paint to cover the large area.

This is the part where I work the quickest, adding water to the brush to create lighter/darker areas. Because I only used masking fluid around the edge of the bear, I had to pay attention to where my brush went, making sure I didnt paint anywhere except on the background area.

STEP 4 - Background.
Once the background was completely dry, I lifted the masking fluid from the paper*.

*With dried masking fluid that peels off, I roll it into a ball and keep it. I use this to help lift the dried Masking Fluid from paper. It sticks to it and helps roll it off reducing the chance of ripping the paper.

STEP 5 - Bear

STEP 5 - Bear
Once the masking fluid was removed, I began painting in the bear. I mixed a couple of shades of brown, using additional water to thin out the colour while painting (making it lighter).

STEP 6 - Leaves

STEP 6 - Leaves
Again, with a range of orange/brown tones, I painted the blank area with leaves.

STEP 7 - Pencil Outline

STEP 7 - Pencil Outline of leaves
To outline the leaves I used a chocolate brown pencil.


STEP 8 - Pencil outline of bear

STEP 8 -  Pencil outline of bear
To finish the illustration I used a sharp black pencil to outline the bear, giving him a fun, playful expression.


To see more of Nicky's work:

Website

Author/Illustrator Facebook Page

Happy Hero Facebook Page

4 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this. I love watercolour and experiment with it but many aspects are still a mystery to me. Looking forward to trying some of your ideas ;)

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  2. Thanks Nicky. I always wondered how you did your background.

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  3. This is brilliant, Nicky! LOVE the use of masking fluid in this way.

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  4. This is my third attempt to get this comment to load!!!:(
    Shortened version;)
    Loved the tute. I use same masking fluid- best one. Thanks for tip on brushes- lots of mine gone to brush heaven!!!!
    Love your work:)
    Skye x

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