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Post Reply drawing tutorials Watercoloring
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30 / M / phoenix, az
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Posted 7/25/08
Shojo Anime Art
step 1

Hello! Some think that watercolors is teh evil, but I'll show you that it's not! It's easy to work with, and could even be fun. Just remember that Rome isn't built in one day, so it takes time, effort and practise to perfect your watercolors. Still, it is a fun process!!

I may be quite lengthy as watercolors can get technical, but I feel it's better to explain lots than to leave questions unanswered! You don't have to read it all but it would certainly help. However, if you just want to skim through, just keep this in mind: Watercolors should be FRESH, CLEAN and BRIGHT! No matter what you do, try to keep it that way. If it is not fresh, clean or bright, if there are muddy colors (grayish brownish ick), or dirty colors (muddy red, yellow, etc) that means something has gone wrong.
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30 / M / phoenix, az
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Posted 7/25/08
step 2
Of course, first you need materials. When it comes to watercolors, I suggest getting good paper. It is very frustrating if the paper fails on you, but a great morale booster when the paper does its job so you can do yours. I suggest cold pressed Arches paper, but brand shouldn't matter. Just go to the shop and ask for watercolor paper, feel it and make sure it's nice and thick. Don't worry if it's too big, you can cut it later. The side with the watermark is generally the right side up.

To start with, let's start sketching. I use a mechanical pencil and eraser at this stage, and make sure to sketch very lightly, or else the pencil lines will show through the watercolors and it will look weird. Also, light pencils erase easily if you make a mistake. It will be a little difficult to pencil thin and light lines on textured watercolor paper, but do your best!
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30 / M / phoenix, az
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Posted 7/25/08
step 3
After you've done your pencilling, you can choose whether or not you want to ink the picture. If you ink it, the lines will be thick and defined, if you just color straight on the pencils, it will look soft and romantic. Either way is fine, it's up to you! However, on this tutorial, I'll ink the pic.

I use a nib and ink here. You can get nibs and holders in art stores. As for ink, you must use waterproof ink. If it is not waterproof, the ink will run when you start painting over it, which is not a pretty sight! Indian ink is black and waterproof, but in this picture I used Peat Brown Ink by Winsor & Newton. The brown matches the more romantic feel I want to give this pic. If I use black, it would look too dark and heavy.

Dip the nib into the ink and just trace over the pencil lines. Don't press too hard, just make faint lines. Be careful not to smudge! You'll have to refill the nib many times while inking, so don't be lazy! Keep your ink bottle open but be careful. Don't overload the nib with ink, it will blot on the drawing (ouch!!), just keep loading it. Take your time, take breaks, don't rush, and have fun! Remember to clean the nib after using.
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30 / M / phoenix, az
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Posted 7/25/08 , edited 7/25/08
step 4

Here's a pic of my finished inks! You can see everything is clean and neat and faint, it took me about an hour or so to ink it. I left the eyes and hair uninked because I want to keep that part of the picture soft. Other pencil parts are erased.

I used lots of references for this pic. I have many books about flowers and flower arranging, so I refer to the flowers in these books and make up my own bouquet. It is important to reference if you don't understand something, but try not to trace or copy the whole thing exactly. We're here to learn, not be photocopy machines!

The yellow stuff on the pic is masking fluid (it's that bottle with the green label on, but of course different brands have different packaging). It is a rubbery liquid and it preserves the area of the paper that is masked (cos the watercolor can't penetrate the rubber). Masking fluid is also known as frisket, liquid mask, etc., and generally comes in white, yellow or gray. Either color is fine, but yellow and gray make it easier to see which parts you've masked.

Use an old brush or a stick to apply the fluid (it is very unforgiving! Don't use a new brush unless you don't want to see that brush again), and be careful not to smudge. Leave it on to dry by its own accord.
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30 / M / phoenix, az
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Posted 7/25/08
step 5
Let's finally start the watercoloring! Here you can see the tools I use. I use watercolor from tubes and squirt em in a palette and squirt more when I need it. Though the color will harden and dry in the palette, it is still usable. In fact, I prefer hardened paints, though some work better when the colors are fresh. It depends on the individual. You don't have to get super expensive brands, but don't get super cheap ones either. Again, the choice of brands is by your own discretion.

I use synthetic brushes as they're cheap, but they spoil quickly. You can get proper sable brushes, but take care of them, and they will last you a long time. However, I'm a careless person so I find it better to use cheap and disposable stuff ^^;. Tissues are important as well, to remove excess water and paint. A rag cloth works as well but I like tissues as they're clean, dry quickly and disposable (^^;;). I have a poster skin color that I use, but watercolors sometimes come with their own skin colors too, or you can mix your own.

You can stretch and tape down the paper on a piece of board, but since my drawing is on a very small piece of paper, I didn't want to and prefer to hold the paper by hand. This is OK cos my paper is thick and won't crumple. However, if your painting is big and thin, stretching and taping it down would be a good idea.
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30 / M / phoenix, az
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Posted 7/25/08 , edited 7/25/08
step 6

I always start with the skin, but if you don't feel confident, practise on the other parts of the picture first. The main thing to remember is the wet on wet technique. First, use a clean brush and rub some water on a part of a picture. Then, before it dries, pick up some paint and apply it on the side of the wet surface. The paint will smear, and you can either add more paint to make it darker, or use a dry clean brush to pick up the paint if there is too much. It sounds complicated, but with practise, it gets super easy and fast. You can experiment to get different results. Try adding too much water, or too little water, try tilting the paper, it all gives different effects.

Try to be neat, but don't panic if you paint out of the lines. Paint from light to dark, everything is generally fixable, and try to keep your cool if something goes wrong. Only panic if you spill like BLACK INK on the character's face. Otherwise, keep on going, don't despair!

I generally use a few colors but mix a lot, and use water to vary the tint. I add lots of water if I want it to be a light color, and less water if I want it to be more saturated. So generally I use a lot of water and thin colors, and slowly build up the saturation. I find this to be a better way than to directly use dark and saturated colors.
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30 / M / phoenix, az
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Posted 7/25/08
step 7
Here you can see the wet on wet technique on her headdress and background. I build up layer by layer, this is about 3 layers. It takes a bit of patience, but the results are worth it! Good paper should be able to withstand the amount of water used.

Remember to change the water if it starts getting a tint of color! Don't use colored water containers, it will be hard to see if the water is clean or not.

Try to keep the white of the paper showing. Remember, there is no color brighter than the white of the paper. Don't color over the whole thing, always leave a bit of white. This keeps the painting fresh and bright!
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Posted 7/25/08
step 8
More colors are added, and I've started on the wings. The faint textures on the wings are done by sprinkling table salt on the wet paint.
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30 / M / phoenix, az
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Posted 7/25/08
step 9

The curtains are colored, and it is similar to how I colored the wings. You can see the lovely salt texture effects at the side of the curtains.

In the second image you can see I've added feathers into the wings using masking fluid. Make sure the layer underneath is completely dry before applying the fluid. You can also see the brush I've used to apply it. Don't ever use a new brush!!
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Posted 7/25/08
step 10
After the masking fluid has dried, I added a second layer of colors on over it. Wait for it to dry (or you can use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process), and carefully peel off the masking fluid with your fingers. Make sure your finger is clean or else it would smudge the paper. Here you can see it pulling away, be very careful. If the paper is not sufficiently dried, it will tear the paper. Throw away the peel or else it will stick to the other masked areas of the painting and make a mess.

Masking fluid mask hard edges on the painting, so I go over the wings again to soften the hard edges.
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Posted 7/25/08
step 11
Here's the overall picture. I've started on the main bouquet and the bunnies, and added more feathers on the wings. Faint rose patterns were added to her dress and the curtains were given faint patterns too.
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Posted 7/25/08
step 12
More details are added, the ribbons are colored in, etc etc.
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Posted 7/25/08
step 13

Finally the watercoloring is done! But the painting is still unfinished. Wait for everything to dry then remove all the masking, then enhance some colors, add textures and add depth! I also used some gold paint for embellishments around the ribbons. At this stage, I also use a bit of markers and pastels to add more saturation to the pic.

Be very careful when using markers and pastels! The markers are sharp and bright and might look too dark compared to the other parts of the pic. Use it only at the darkest areas to enhance it more. Though pastels add texture and brightness to the pic, it can also very easily muddy up the pic and stain everything. Very slightly brush it against the surface of the paper and then rub it with your finger.
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Posted 7/25/08
step 14
This is what the pic looks like finished, and before the airbrushing.
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Posted 7/25/08
step 15

Now it is time to add a bit of mist to the whole thing. I use an airbrush for this. Don't ask me about brands, airbrushes are too expensive to be choosy about. Compressors range from big to small, noisy to quiet, crazy vibrating to stable and calm and of course, expensive and cheap. One spray gun is usually enough, they're expensive too and I don't mind wasting time cleaning and refilling the spray gun if it saves me money.

You can also use canned airbrushes, or marker airbrushes, those are cheaper but could get expensive in the long run.
Instead of airbrush, you can also use pastels, but the effect will be textured and not as uniform as airbrushes. The lace trick won't really work either.

I load the spray gun with thinned liquid white acrylic and spray it over some lace for a soft effect. Watercolors won't work because it is too thin and transparent to be seen, but acrylics is thick and opaque. The lace masks the painting and creates a nice texture. You can also use paper doilies instead of lace, I think those would probably work better too (I just haven't gotten around to buying them! ^^;).
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