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"We would like to see examples of your color work," said the handwritten message on the postcard from an art director at a children's publisher.
Oops. She liked the black and white art samples I & # 39; d sent her, but she zeroed in on my weakness: The painting instruction I & # 39; d never really got into college.
Now I had to process some full color illustrations that showed my painting bravura or lack of them. It was a long time ago and I & # 39; will spare you the information on how I spent the weekend whipping up watercolors and doing the best I could with the little I knew. I could draw characters and scenes decently. But in my color and laundry, there were always as many misses as hits. My painting efforts were all guesses. Did it show?
I guess it did, because I didn't hear from her again after I sent in my hastily mounted watercolors, or rather photocopies of them.
I have learned a lot since then from painters, art leaders and other illustrators, who were also, thankfully, teachers of the heart and generous.
The result is that I have learned that what I thought of as the scary part of the illustration was not so scary or so complicated. In fact, it's a ton of fun.
Turns out that art does not have as many rules as many other subjects. A handful of design principles apply to illustration in almost all types of visual arts. And those, combined with some common sense, professional courtesy (to your viewers) and some practice can go the way of your painting that looks like you & # 39; have done it forever. And on top of the metaphorical cake, I'll add some glaze - my ten favorite top paintings for watercolor painting I've learned or discovered on my own way.
1.) Before painting, remove (with pencils) a small, loose value sketch of your scene to determine where your image is midtones, light and dark should be, so you have a strategy and a little pattern to follow in your painting.
2.) Use good material for painting - a few quality sable or sable / synthetic blend of round brushes will make a big difference. But not even nearly as big a difference as the right paper, which must be 100 percent cotton cloth watercolor paper (it must be said that: 100 percent cloth, so you know it is not made of wood pulp - but rather real cotton fibers. Paper is a good brand To look for either type - cold press (toothy texture) or warm press (smooth surface), both types will do well for your illustrations, and either paper weight: 140 kg or 90 kg will serve you well.
3.) If your illustration will be a little complicated, make a full-size drawing of it on plain drawing paper. It is not to be confused with your value sketch, which will be quite small and should be done after you have worked on your careful larger drawing. Easily transfer your pen sketch or a copy of it to your watercolor paper using a light box. Or trace your sketch on your paper with a window and natural light from the outside.
4.) Think in terms of a dominant color for your painting. You will add some, but not many other colors to your palette - especially one that is opposite to the dominant color, which you can use to darken or neutralize the other colors a bit where needed.
5.) Begin your painting with a mid-tone wash of your dominant color. Mix lots of it in advance so you don't run out. (It's OK if it's a "broken" or slightly neutralized version of the color. Colors depend on your scene & # 39; s mood & subject.) When painting, & # 39; 39; Don't forget to reserve areas with glossy paper in the composition - for the white and lighter colors that will go in these spaces. In the final painting, you want to place the darkest cans against the brightest bright spots where you want your viewers to look their best. It will be the center of interest for your painting.
6.) Make sure your brush is good and wet (but not sloppy without control) with the paint solution when painting. Your washing solution should be well saturated with the pigment so that the color becomes rich and strong - but not opaque and heavy. Just tilt the target board so that the washers run slightly with gravity down the sheet in one direction - down towards you. If you see a light floating pearl formed at the bottom edge of your brush strokes, you & # 39; works with a brush that is wet enough and that your board is leaning just right.
7.) A good watercolor tip is one that you can hear from all professional house painters: Work with the biggest brush you can get away with - for the economy with the means, the brevity of the technology. This means you cover the area you need, but do not overwork a passage. Less is usually more. If you can complete a whole section with just a juicy sweep of the brush, great! You can always come back later (after it is dry), if the first pass wash did not cover enough.
8.) You will enjoy learning lots of good watercolor painting techniques, but if you remember the big idea: to keep your brush wet, your color is moving and yet rich and strong with color, that & # 39; a good professional start for a painter.
9.) Know that your brush strokes will always dry a step or two (in the value scale) easier than they look when they glitter wet. So don't be afraid to get darker with your color mixes. Tap these darks in your image - for better clarity and contrast and for a stronger design.
10.) Don't forget to put down your brush and step away from your painting sometimes. But do not stop for a great rest until you have filled all four corners of the painting with some kind of color. (But remember to leave some white spaces where you think you may need them.) Only when your first coverage of the painting & # 39; s surface dries, you can judge how much you need to go. And it may not be as far as you think. Wait until you've had a good rest before trying to assess your painting.