To The Last Drop: Pencil to Paint mini-tutorial

If you are looking for the Life Imitates Doodles Weekly Wednesday Giveaway, you can find it here. And did you catch my Rainy Day Fun & Easy Tutorial at Doodlewash?

#Cow was one of the February prompts on Doodlewash and the reference photo I used was courtesy of Wallner at Pixabay. Drawn with Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and painted on Hanemühle Rough watercolor postcard using Daniel Smith watercolors and Princeton Velvetouch Long Round.

The subject for this drawing was rather complex, especially around the mouth, with that tongue and the wild hair flying all over. I studied it awhile, trying to decide what I liked about it, and what I was trying to capture in my version. Two things stood out for me.

  • It’s comical
  • I love the texture of the hair

I decided I would go with a negative painting technique to bring out the lovely texture and color of the hair.

In order to make sure I got my proportions right, I pulled out my set of pre-drawn grid cards and my light box. I opened the Grid Drawing Tool by ArtTutor and added a similar sized grid to my reference photo.

Using that as my reference, I put my grid card on the light box, with my drawing on top of the grid card so I can see the lines.

After I’ve done the drawing, I use a Pebeo Drawing Gum to add masking fluid where I want to keep lighter streaks.

I’ve already done a good portion of the work in the pencil drawing step so now I’m establishing the darkest values, the detail of the hair and creating a little texture.

The first wash is a layer of Titanium Buff over the entire cow. The pinkish yellow of that color makes a great base for the greys and browns I’ll be using. I use just the faintest hint of Quinacridone Rose on the tongue and palette and around the outside of the eye.

I drop in Jane’s Grey and Burnt Sienna while the Titanium Buff is still wet and let the colors blend.

At this point, I set the painting aside and let it all dry.

After I’ve added more layers of the Jane’s Gray and Burnt Sienna I remove the masking fluid. Notice how harsh the white seems, and how blunt the edges are? That’s a drawback of using masking fluid. However, I know the Hahnemühle watercolor postcards paper will allow me to soften those edges.

That isn’t true of all papers. You’ll want to test before using masking fluid, if you are using another paper.

Another thing that I want to note is that Jane’s Gray is a mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. By using it with Burnt Sienna, I’m merely altering the mix to be more brown in places.

One of things that I noticed as I was layering color was that I like the contrast between the blue masking fluid and the Burnt Sienna/Jane’s Gray. I decided to use a light tint Cerulean Blue (a very close match in color to the masking fluid) for the lighter streaks in the fur.

Then I had to make a decision. The complex area around the mouth was being lost in the complexity of the wild fur. I could either make that tongue stand out, or really punch up the shapes in the fur.

I decided to go with the tongue and blended the colors in the fur more than I had originally intended to. I tried to stop at a point where I still had plenty of texture, but the tongue is the first thing to draw the eye. I’m not sure if I succeeded and I might go back later and blend the fur even more.

If you aren’t sure about something, it’s always best to stop and wait for a while before going on.


Where can you buy these wonderful toys?

Paper: Hahnemühle Rough Watercolor Postcards:

Zebra Zensations Technical Pens

Princeton Velvetouch mixed media brush Size 6 long round

Pebeo Drawing Gum High Precision Masking Fluid Marker Pen

Daniel Smith watercolor Ultimate Mixing half-pan set (colors can also be purchased in tubes)

Published by Life Imitates Doodles Art, Reviews & Tutorials

Artist Ambassador for Zebra Pens. I'm a self-taught artist who dances about with all sorts of artistic mediums. My main loves are Watercolor, Zentangle and Ballpoint pen. The subjects of my work are many and varied and change at whim. I'm a little bit crazy, but doesn't that come with being an artist? At my Life Imitates Doodles Blog, I post a list of resource links for Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways two times a week. I also write reviews, hold giveaways and share my art work.

16 thoughts on “To The Last Drop: Pencil to Paint mini-tutorial

  1. I love reading about your process, and hearing your thoughts along the way. I always learn something! It gives courage to us timid explorers of paint.

  2. I always appreciate it when someone takes the time to explain their creative process.
    I’m still somewhat anxious about jumping into watercolour painting, but detailed explanations like yours help me to better understand the medium 🙂

      1. I have bought some inexpensive watercolour paint sets & some instruction books for beginners but I haven’t taken the plunge yet. I’m hoping this year will be the time for me to fully explore this medium.
        Strangely, when I started using acrylic paints years ago, I didn’t have this anxiety. I just went out, bought some bottles of paints, some canvasses & brushes, and then got on with it.
        I’m not sure what the block is around watercolours 🤔

      2. Watercolor has a bad rep for being difficult. It can be if you are trying to get some effects. It can also be easy. I think the hardest thing for people to adapt to is going light to dark. Not being able to paint lighter color over dark makes your approach a bit different and if you don’t realize it, then you can get frustrated easily.

      3. Thanks for this additional insight.
        As with the other artistic methods/media I’ve worked with, I guess I’ll just have to jump in at some point without worrying about what I might create 🙂

        Enjoy your weekend!

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