Kitten! – Pencil to Paint Tutorial


Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and watercolor on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Escoda Perla Round Size 8 and 12

I’ve got family stuff going on this week, and won’t be around too much, but I wanted to get at least one Pencil to Paint tutorial done.

Since most of my Pencil to Paints revolve around my Postcards for the Lunch Bag, there is a certain similarity to them and I had an idea that would shake things up a bit and save me some time.

I’m going to write this as a series of questions. Hah! Bet you weren’t expecting a quiz! Don’t worry. The questions for each section will be answered at the end of the section. You’re the only one who’ll see your answers or know if you just scooted to the end to look for them.

Don’t fret if you don’t automatically know the answers. Knowing or figuring out the answers isn’t really the point. These are questions that you’ll want to answer with your own work. Eventually, you know your own answers without even thinking, but you do need to ask them in the beginning.

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

Reference photo courtesy of MauricioMagana on Pixabay

Okay. So it’s obvious I’ll want CUTE!

  • What about this photo screams cute?
    • (your ideas may be different from mine)
  • What techniques might I use to create the cute?
  • What edges might I want?
  • What colors might I use (keep in mind that I may change my mind as I go on. I’m thinking ahead at this point)?
  • What might the biggest challenges be?
Answers

See. I told you the answers would be right here!

What about this photo screams cute?

  • This is a puffball!
  • And how about that beard?
  • Those misty blue eyes
  • That frown
  • That tiny pink nose

What techniques might I use to create the cute?

What edges might I want?

What colors might I use?

  • Monte Amita, Aussie Red Gold for the kitten
  • Moonglow for the shadows and eyes
  • Undersea Green and the above colors for the background

What might the biggest challenges be?

  • There isn’t a lot of contrast. It will be easy to make the eyes stand out, but I don’t want them to seem like they’re floating in fluff!

Pencil

(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

  • What did I establish with this drawing?
  • What technique did I use to draw this?
Answers

What did I establish with this drawing?

  • That the kitten fit on the page
  • Where the facial features and ears should be placed
  • That the eyes matched in size and shape
  • Where I’ll add texture to the fur

What technique did I use to draw this?

  • Blind Contour Drawing (but I peeked often)

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Pen

Whoa! This is quite a bit different from my usual pen drawing. As in, there isn’t much of it.

  • What did I establish with this drawing?
  • Why didn’t I draw the shapes, textures and directions of the fur?
  • What kind of techniques am I likely to use when I paint?
  • What kind of edges am I likely to use when I paint?
  • Why did I squirkle (scribble) in the background
Answers

What did I establish with this drawing?

  • The focus (the eyes)
  • Values. There isn’t a lot of contrast from dark to light, but the eyes and shadows at the bottom of the kitten are the darkest areas.

Why didn’t I draw the shapes, textures and directions of the fur?

  • Kitty is such a soft, fluffy, puffball. I want this softness most of all, so I’ll only lightly indicate shapes, textures and directions with the paint.

What kind of techniques am I likely to use when I paint?

  • Washes, wet-into-wet, glazing, color lifting, and negative painting.

What kind of edges am I likely to use when I paint?

  • Mostly soft, some lost and found, and a few hard edges.

Why did I squirkle (scribble) in the background

  • Again with the softness. I don’t want a lot of detail and the squirkling will add some interest and some contrast without needing detail.

Values= dark to light. When you establish your values, you are deciding where the darkest areas are, and some of the important mid-tones.

Paint

  • Was my paper wet or dry?
  • What paint to water ratio did I use for this step of the painting?
  • What techniques did I use?
  • What kind of edges did I create?
  • How did I depart from the reference photo?
  • What colors did I use?
    • Why did I decide to switch one color from my initial plan?
Answers

Was my paper wet or dry?

  • My paper was wet.

What paint to water ratio did I use for this step of the painting?

  • For these initial *washes I used the consistency of tea – essentially just a enough paint to color the water.

*A wash is a thin layer of paint spread over an area at the beginning of the painting. A wash that is applied over previously dried paint is called a glaze – they’re the same thing except one is directly on plain paper and one is over paint.

What kind of techniques did I use?

  • Wash and wet-into-wet**. A little negative painting*** to create the shape of the head and beard.

**Wet-into-wet means color is dropped or brushed into already wet paint so that the colors mingle, creating lost and found edges.

***Negative painting means you painted darker color around a shape.

What kind of edges did I create?

  • Soft edge. Negative painting is usually done with hard edges, but at this stage, I used soft edges.

How did I depart from the reference photo?

  • The kitten is more of a cream tabby. That color wasn’t one of the important things to me. I decided to go more ginger – red on yellow so I could create more contrast.

What colors did I use?

  • Monte Amiata and Sodalite Genuine for the washes. Aussie Red Gold was brushed in the Monte with the wet-into-wet technique.

Why did I decide to switch one color from my initial plan?

I decided that Sodalite Genuine better matched the color of the eyes. It’s more blue versus the Moonglow’s violet.

  • Was the first layer of paint wet or dry?
  • What paint to water ratio did I use for this step of the painting?
  • What techniques did I use?
  • What kind of edges did I create?
  • What colors did I use?
    • Why did I decide to switch one color from my initial plan?
Answers

Was first layer of paint wet or dry?

  • The first layer of paint was completely dry.

What paint to water ratio did I use for this step of the painting?

  • For this step, I used the consistency of sweetened tea. Still watery but a heavier concentration of paint.

What kind of techniques did I use?

  • Glazing and Negative painting.

What kind of edges did I create?

  • Hard and soft edges. Hard to create the stripes and some of the negative painting shaping. Soft edges on the body.

What colors did I use?

  • Aussie Red Gold for the stripes. Quinacridone Rose for the interior of the ears, and around the mouth and nose. Wisteria and Moonglow in the background.

Why did I decide to switch one color from my initial plan?

Originally I had thought I’d use Undersea Green and go for a red/green complimentary contrast. However, there is such a soft atmosphere about the reference photo, and I decided I wanted a softer contrast. (In other words, I changed my mind midstream).

I decided to go for the yellow/purple contrast and went with wisteria and moonglow. I did leave some of the Sodalite Genuine showing so it would echo the color in the eyes. This also meant I let the yellower Monte Amiata dominate over the Aussie Red Gold.

  • Were the previous layers of paint wet or dry?
  • What paint to water ratio did I use for this step of the painting?
  • What techniques did I use?
  • What kind of edges did I create?
  • What colors did I use?
Answers

Were the previous layers of paint wet or dry?

  • The previous layers of paint were completely dry.

What paint to water ratio did I use for this step of the painting?

  • I used two consistencies. I added shadows with a water and the barest tint of color. I used the sweetened tea consistency to darken up the background.

What kind of techniques did I use?

  • Glazing for the shadows and the background, and Negative painting where the background meets the kitten.

What kind of edges did I create?

  • Soft and Lost & Found for the shadows. Hard for the negative painting.

What colors did I use?

  • Moonglow for the shadows. I deepened by glazing more Moonglow and Wisteria in the background.

Almost done!

  • Were the previous layers of paint wet or dry?
  • What paint to water ratio did I use for this step of the painting?
  • What techniques did I use?
  • What kind of edges did I create?
  • Pencil lines show in the finished work. Is that okay?
  • What did I use for the last step?
Answers

Were the previous layers of paint wet or dry?

  • The paint was just barely damp, and dry in some areas.

What paint to water ratio did I use for this step of the painting?

  • I didn’t add any paint in this step.

What techniques did I use?

  • Color lifting along the outline of the kitten and on parts of the body.

Paint flows toward wet. When you lift color, the paint needs to be wetter than the brush you are using to lift. You don’t want to scrub, just run the brush across the area where you want to lift color. You can also dab with brush or kleenex.

Some of the color shows through from beneath and you can get a woolly texture which is what I wanted for the puffball effect.

What kind of edges did I create?

  • Soft and Lost & Found edges.

I had thought I’d keep more of the hard negative painting edges at various points but went all soft.

What did I use for the last step?

  • I used a white gel pen to add the eyes, the whiskers and to lighten the beard just a tad.

Pencil lines show in the finished work. Is that okay?

  • Yes. Since watercolor is so transparent, it an accepted thing for the initial sketch to show through. Some artists seek to keep it showing.

Afterthoughts

How might I have done this differently?

Answers

How might I have done this differently?

  • Wet-into-wet is the hardest technique for me, but it would have been a good way to approach this painting. I could have left the pen drawing out altogether, used wet-into-wet then glazed the details of the face.
  • I ran out of time, or I would have brightened the shadows with a very light tint of Rose of Ultramarine.

So what you do guys think of this method? As it turned out, it didn’t save me a whole lot of time, but it would if I did it often enough.

Tools

And where you can buy them

Daniel Smith Watercolor:

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Joseph Zbukvic Watercolor Set No.1 Set of 3 Fine Artist Paint Brushes

Puppy! – Pencil to Paint Tutorial


Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and Daniel Smith watercolor on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Jane Davenport Travel Watercolor Brush Collapsible Mini Paint Brush and Jack Richeson Richeson Grey Matters Synthetic Watercolor Flat 1/4 in.

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Did you know that dogs have over 100 expressions, most of them created by the ears?

Before You Start

Reference photo courtesy of Oldiefan on Pixabay. G

What’s to even think about? This puppy’s so stinkin’ cute and that’s what I want. And I decide that those eyes will be the most important thing in the painting.

I can almost hear some of you saying desperately, “I know I want cute, but how do I get it?” Look closely and take note of:

  • wild, fluffy ears
    • bottom of one ear is higher than the other
  • large, clear eyes
  • lovely chocolate color – hints of lavender and red
  • the slight head tilt
  • width and height of the head compared to width and height of the snout
    • always important but the head is larger in babies of all kinds. Better to exaggerate that than to make the head too small

The one detail I decided to leave out? In the mid background there’s an object that looks a bit like the puppy’s tail, but whoosh, what a long tail that would be. I’m not sure what it is, but it ain’t going into my painting, lol.

I did a Chocolate Labrador Retriever Puppy postcard a while back, and I’ll use the same colors for this painting.

Pencil

(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

Gridlines added via the Art Tutor Grid program.

Truthfully, the shapes in this photo are simple enough that I didn’t need a grid. But I thought it was time to focus on the drawing portion of my postcards, and this makes it easier to show you what I’m doing.

Keep in mind, too, that with experience this stage of the process usually takes seconds. I have to slow down in order to explain it, because it’s so automatic to me now.

I have a bunch of postcards that I’ve drawn grids on. Rather than draw the grid on the card that I’ll paint, I put it underneath. If I can’t see the grid, I use a lightbox (for the grid and the card I’m drawing on. Not the photo reference).

Note that the grids don’t have to be exact. They’re just meant to be a guide.

I did some photoshopping to make it so you could see the pencil drawing and the grid together. In real life, my drawing has no grid lines and it is much lighter.

My last Pencil to Paint tutorial was a peacock, and if you read that, you’ll know that I started with the overall shape and worked inward. I chose to do that because the peacock was a real challenge to fit on the page and there was so much detail, it was important to get those shapes down first.

This is a much simpler drawing, so I started with the exact opposite. Note that many artists always start with the outer shape and work in.

I start with the eyes because want them to be my central focus. Then I draw the nose, the the outline of the head, then the body and then add a little facial detail.

I use the pencil drawing to fit the puppy to the page, establish the major shapes, and place the most important details. I don’t worry about the background at all. This is also the time where I make sure the eyes are the same size and in the correct relationship to one another.

It doesn’t matter at this point if everything is exactly right. I can make adjustments when I use pen (or paint, if I were going to skip the pen drawing). This is meant to be a guide that will allow me to change my mind if I wish to.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Pen

I did a pretty detailed pen drawing, knowing that much of it would disappear under the paint. Gasp! All that drawing for nothing?

It’s not. There is a technique’ Grisaille‘ that refers to underpainting with gray tones before adding color. What I’m doing is similar. I’m creating a map for myself, creating a unity to the painting and it’s something that will affect the finished work, whether the viewer sees the pen lines or not.

When I say ‘mapping’, I’m establishing values – light to dark, the direction of the fur, areas of interest and the kind of edges that I want.

Knowing the kind of edges you want is important. Getting them is a matter of practice and has to do with the amount of water to the amount of paint and whether you add paint to a dry area of paper, a damp area, or a wet area.

But what are edges? (feel free to skip this if you already know)

  • hard edges
    • color changes abruptly, lying next to each other with no mingling
  • soft edges
    • the point where color changes is easily seen, but the colors mingle at the line where they change
  • lost and found edges
    • two or more colors are easily seen, but they mingle so much that it is hard to see where the actual change begins.

Obviously, you create these edges when you are painting, but I establish where I’ll put them while I’m drawing. Some examples:

At the top of the head, I just leave the pencil line. This is where the light is glowing off the fur. I’ll create a soft edge where the color just fades away.

I’ll add hard edges around the eyes. Note the distinct little furry shapes along the snout down from the bottom corner of the eye? I’ll use negative painting, painting darker around those shapes to create hard edges at various points. Not too much, but enough to imply clumps of fur rather than single hairs.

You can control where there will be lost and found edges but beyond that you have to let them happen, and they are done entirely with the paint.

It pays to think about edges ahead of times. Those times when you are unhappy with a painting and aren’t certain why? Look at your edges – they might be part of the reason.

Values= dark to light. When you establish your values, you are deciding where the darkest areas are, and some of the important mid-tones.

Paint

I start with Raw Sienna for the eyes and a touch along the snout.

Piemontite Genuine is a Daniel Smith Primatek color, made from natural mineral pigments and it is one of my favorites. It is also an expensive color. Some mixes of PBr7/PV19, such as Raw Umber Violet, are similar and usually cheaper, so if cost is an issue they might be a better choice. Another option – Piemontite Genuine is available as one of Daniel Smith’s watercolor sticks.

These watercolor sticks look a bit like pastel, but are stickier. I cut them up and put them into watercolor pans, but you can use them in other ways. The sticks are usually much cheaper than the tubes.

Lavender was added and some Aussie Red Gold. I felt it was applied too thickly and lifted a lot of it, didn’t like the resulting color and re-applied more color. Two or three times.

I was fighting the brush that I was using (I wrote about it yesterday), not happy with the amount of color being put down (too much for this stage). I’m still learning how this brush works so I accepted that my plan was not working and adjusted my strategy.

Switching to my Grey Matters 1/4 inch Flat brush helped. Not that my first brush was a bad one, but it was not right for the techniques I was using. Now I know.

My plan was to have lost and found edges, created with wet-into-wet technique on most of the head and ears. This technique doesn’t work well on paper after color has been lifted. I was using a more appropriate brush, but needed a different technique as well. There are soft edges but many more hard edges than I originally intended.

Lavender wasn’t meant to be the dominant color, but it started to happen, and I liked it so I went with it.

Essentially, I lifted most of the color from my earlier attempt, let the paper dry and painted again. I knew I could do this with the Hahnemühle Cold-pressed paper. As long as I don’t scrub too hard, this paper takes a lot of lifting.

You can see along the top of the head – there is some ugly there that I couldn’t fix. Chances are, most of you wouldn’t notice if I hadn’t pointed it out. But it’s the kind of thing you notice when you are the artist and getting frustrated. I let it go and I believe the painting works even with it.

Lavender is an opaque color, so it hides colors underneath. It can also appear chalky. My challenge was to balance the Piemontite so it made the Lavender glow. Adding Aussie Red Gold to the background, and a little to the eyes, helped. I used Rose of Ultramarine in the shadowed areas.

A wash of Undersea Green was used for the grass,

I added shadow and darkened the pupils of the eyes with a thin wash of Piemontite Genuine and called the work finished.

After Thoughts

I sort of switched gears on you, didn’t I?

This tutorial was written as I scanned in each step, so the details would be fresh in my mind. I was focusing on edges, and suddenly I was writing about changing style mid-stream.

I was conflicted. Should I rewrite the earlier steps and make the tutorial more cohesive, or let it stand and make it a tutorial about adapting? I let it stand and hope it was helpful.

Paintings often go pear-shaped when you meant them to be apples. Being able to adapt can result in something wonderful, even if it isn’t what you planned on. And no matter what happens, you learn something valuable that will make you a better artist.

Tools

And where you can buy them

Jack Richeson Richeson Grey Matters Synthetic Watercolor Flat 1/4

Jane Davenport Travel Watercolor Brush Collapsible Mini Paint Brush

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Zebra Zensations Drafix Technical Pencil, 0.5mm

Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard

DANIEL SMITH watercolor:

Peacock – Pencil to Paint Tutorial


Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and watercolor on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard.

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

I had a difficult choice to make with this painting.

Reference photo courtesy of AvinaCeleste on Pixabay.

Did I want to focus on the beautiful detail? Or did I want to capture the beautiful flow of the feathers overall?

I decided I wanted the flow, and started thinking of waysto meet the challenge of fitting the entire bird on a postcard.

Right off, I knew that I needed to avoid too much detail. We tend to focus on faces, even with animals, and it was going to be small in this painting.

Pencil

(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

I spent far more time with my pencil drawing than I usually do, deciding what details I wanted, and how to fit it into the small size.

If you’ve ever studied drawing, you have probably come across the idea of *blind contour drawing. Many people don’t see the value, feeling you can’t possibly draw anything worth while.

This is the kind of drawing that makes it worth while. If you do it enough, you can keep your eye on the reference, only glancing down ever so often to make sure you aren’t too far from where you should be.

I drew the outline of the whole bird first to get the overall size and fit to the card. Then I drew the sections for the head, shoulders, back and wings

Then I drew the sections of the tail using the blind contour method, moving back and forth. I did look at the paper each time I reached the side of the bird and needed to move down to the next section. That meant I could look at the paper fairly often, and could easily keep track of where I was. It also kept me focused on the flow of the feathers rather than the detail.

Once I had all this established, I drew in some of the feathery eyes and a little bit of shading to help guide my eye during the pen drawing.

*Blind contour drawing is done by looking at your reference and drawing without looking down at the paper.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Pen

The pen drawing was mostly following the pencil, though if you look close, you’ll see that I didn’t follow it exactly. I wasn’t using the blind contour method at this point because I already had my ‘mapping’ done

Having sketched if first, it was easier to see everything the second time, and I made adjustments as needed.

The main difference was that I picked out some of the darkest values and added the texture of some of the feathers. Except for the head and shoulders, I kept my values pretty light. At this size, anything that is overly dark is going to stand out like a beacon.

I decided the background would need to add balance for two issues. The peacock created a strong vertical stripe and to make it worse, I placed it directly in the middle of the card (too busy paying attention to the detail, darn it!). I wanted to add some horizontal detail, and have more of it on the left than on the right, to make it look like the composition was less centered.

A good part of drawing and painting is lying. But then our eyes and brain lie to us all the time so life follows art, right?

Values= dark to light. When you establish your values, you are deciding where the darkest areas are, and some of the important mid-tones.

Paint

I had just found a palette where I had collected various brands of paint, and then never used any, after that, so purely on a whim, I decided that was the palette I would use. Why not add extra difficulty to an already challenging project, lol?

Actually, there was a little logic to this madness. The palette had some shiny colors with mica. It doesn’t show up in the photos but this peacock’s feathers do shimmer.

I started with a light wash of Prussian Blue. While the first layer was still damp, I added a thicker wash of the same color to the back, letting it blend in. At this point, I was done with the head, neck and back.

I used Hematite (because it was a shiny gray) for the wings and wall. I started working on the background because I wanted to make sure it was well-integrated with bird. Working back and forth between bird and background made it less likely I’d overdo either at any point.

Leaf green was used along the tail. Quinacridone gold and an unidentified green were blended on the paper, for the foliage and I continued with the gold for the sky. I choose this sky color because it makes the Prussian Blue pop and helps keep the small head and back the focus of the painting.

I used a shiny handmade watercolor from Aquanut – Cosmic Turquoise – for the darker areas of the feathers, working some into the wings as well.

A little Quin Gold was used to warm up the top of the wall. A wash of Ultramarine Violet Deep covered the rest. I let the color fade towards the bottom to balance it with the lighter color at the top. Schmincke Neutral tint has a brownish cast and I used it for shading on the wall and worked it into the bottom of the foliage.

More leaf green was added to the eyes and foliage.

I should have taken another scan at this point but forgot. Sorry.

The last step was to lighten areas of the tail feathers and along the wall by lifting color, and letting some of the under color show through.

After Thoughts

If I were to do this again there are definite changes I would make. I would pay more attention to where I placed the bird so that it wasn’t in the middle.

I would have started the wall just slightly above the wings and made it slightly lower on one side, because I think that would have given the painting a better balance.

I’d choose a different palette. I’m not unhappy with the colors I used, but I know I could have made it better yet.

Tools

And where you can buy them

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review)

Keel-billed Toucan – Pencil to Paint Tutorial


Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and Schmincke watercolor on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Princeton Neptune Quill Size 4 & Neptune Round Size 8.

Did you know that Toucan Sam, the lively toucan on Froot Loops cereal is a Keel-billed Toucan?

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

Reference photo courtesy of Suju on Pixabay.

I was looking for a subject that I could use as one of my Postcards for the Lunch Bag as well as to meet the Doodlewash prompt of ‘Rainforest’.

This guy grabbed my attention because of his expression, his fuzzy head and bright colored bill. Those were things I most wanted to capture in my painting.

Pencil

(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

I really punched up the darkness on this pencil scan because I wanted you to see everything.

All those little speckles come from erasing – I kept drawing the bird too large for the postcard. You can’t see the damage with the eye but it does create more texture when I paint. Usually you don’t want that. I didn’t, but felt it was workable.

Usually I can eyeball proportions and draw a bird without too much trouble – I don’t have to think about it too much. But this toucan is sitting at an odd angle and it was one of those days where my brain and my hand were not communicating well.

So I did something I seldom do – I actually measured the distances of the shapes (you can see the horizontal and vertical lines I drew as a guide).

My point being that no matter how much experience you have, some days you are just off your feed. Instead of fussing, stop what you are doing and try it a different way (or just stop and come back later). I have to remind myself of this, often.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Pen

Before starting my pen drawing, I had to make a decision. Usually, I establish the values in the painting, as well as the outline when I do my pen work. But the toucan feathers are largely black and gray, which would call for a lot of pen and create a very stark, dramatic appearance.

As I discussed above, I wanted those bright colors to be a focus, and I felt heavy pen work would take away from that. So I only drew an outline.

I outlined more of the background than usual. One of my goals was to satisfy the prompt of rainforest, so I thought I’d give the background more of the focus than usual. It was a secondary goal though and I kept the outlines simple and loose.

I wanted to be able to change my mind.

Values= dark to light. When you establish your values, you are deciding where the darkest areas are, and some of the important mid-tones.

Paint

The toucan’s face was painted with Rutile Yellow and Cobalt Azure. The bill was Cobalt Azure, Saturn Red, and Brilliant Red Violet. The body and tail were done with layers of Payne’s Blue-Gray, Cobalt Azure, with an addition of Saturn Red and Perylene Violet on the head.

I soon realized that the bright colorful area that I wanted to be a focus was too small at this 4 x 6 size. For this reason, my sky became a blend of yellow and bleeding into blue. A kleenex was used to lift some of the wet yellow to light it for more contrast between the bird and the sky.

The tree limbs were painted with a mix of Perylene Green and Perylene Violet applied in layers. I mix my browns, by dropping a second color into the wet paint on the paper. Green and violet are my favorite mix, but it depends on the other colors in the painting.

The foliage was done with various *wet-into-wet mixes of Rutile Yellow, Viridian, Perylene Green, Perylene Violet and the occasional touch of Yellow-Orange.

*Wet-into-Wet means you add more wet paint into an area of the paper where the paint is still wet.

Because I wanted the rainforest feel, I added quite a bit of detail to the background, although it’s still loose and abstract. I alternated negative painting (painting around shapes) to create hard edges, and lifting colors for shapes with soft edges.

Something about the bill was bothering me but it was late, and I put the painting away. When I made the scan the next morning, I saw it immediately.

In the left photo, notice the area at the tip of the bill; the darkness sweeping in the same direction? It seemed to be part of the bill, messing up the proportion.

I t was time to put this in hubby’s lunch bag, so I just wet a finger and smeared the area so it wouldn’t be as dark, lol. Ideally, I would have lightened it while keeping more of the leaf shape.

Remember the erasing I mentioned earlier?

I ended up with lighter color on the face, because there was an ugly blotch of damaged paper that showed with darker color. I didn’t achieve the exact goal I had in mind.

Does that make me unhappy? No. Having a goal helps me make decisions as I paint, but I like staying flexible and not always knowing exactly what will happen.

Tools

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review).

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Princeton Heritage Synthetic Sable 4050 Round 8 

Golden Snub-nose Monkey – Pencil to Paint


Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen, Daniel Smith watercolor and ARTEZA Real Brush Pens on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Princeton Neptune Round, size 8.

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

The BBC has been advertising their new series, Seven Worlds, One Planet, which features the Golden Snub Nosed monkey. Every time the commercial plays, hubby asks me for a postcard painting of one. Trouble is, there aren’t any photos of them on any of the photo sites I use for reference.

This means lots of prep, because I have to come up with my own composition, researching the subject and figuring out how to draw it without taking too much from any one photo.

Recently, I received a Hahnemühle 1584 Notebook (review to come in the near future) which has dot-grid paper in it. I decided it would be perfect for my studies.

First, I did a study working out a pose. I used the dot-grid to help me figure out proportions without using a ruler or getting too worried about being exact (sorry for the shade along the gutter, this was done on the first page).

On the next page, I did a study to figure out proportions of the face.

While working on this, I put some thought into what I wanted from the finished painting, and what ‘gotchas’ there might be.

I was choosing to do a baby, so I wanted to capture that halo of fuzzy baby fur. I also knew that even though in real life the snub-nose is cute, it also looks a lot like the nose on a skull.

Pencil

(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

Using my studies from the 1584 notebook, I penciled in the monkey, focusing on proportions and placement of facial features and limbs.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Pen

Values= dark to light. When you establish your values, you are deciding where the darkest areas are, and some of the important mid-tones.

The babies have very light fur, so I kept the pen drawing fairly minimal, mostly mapping out the sections of the fur.

Paint

I decided that the delightful blue face on these monkeys was closest to a cerulean blue.  Since I also intended to use Buff Titanium, an off-white that easily turns green when mixed with blue, I had to use some caution.

The monkey’s fur was done with a layer of the buff titanium, and a mix of Aussie Red Gold and Monte Amiata, leaving the lightest areas the white of the postcard.  

I used Cerulean blue for the sky, and various mixes of lavender, Rose of Ultramarine, Aussie Red Gold and the Monte Amiata for the rest of the background.  Then I let it all dry.

I’ve never used the color lifting method to try and get that fuzzy halo furry look and decided to experiment.  I began to lift color all around the edges of the fur.  This is done by wetting the brush, lightly brushing where I wanted to lift color, blotting the brush on a paper towel, then dabbing in the same area to pick up the water just applied.  Some of the color comes up too.

Unhappy with the background (I didn’t plan it – I usually don’t, but should have this time since I didn’t have a reference), I fussed with it quite a bit until I spilled water on the lower left corner, and then couldn’t get it to take color.  

I let it all dry.

With a purple Arteza watercolor brush pen (the type where the pen is prefilled with watercolor), I added color and pumped up my values so there was greater contrast. The color in these brushes is more of a dye, so it takes where the paper is too damaged to accept pigment watercolor. I used it throughout the trees to tie the colors together.

I decided that I wanted lighter fur around the face, and I didn’t want to lift more so I grabbed my Uniball white signo and added some white ink.

Overall, this took far longer than my usual daily postcard – about 4 hours.

Tools

And Where You Can Buy Them

Hahnemühle 1584 Notebook (this is a new item, so it may not be listed on websites yet)

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review).

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Daniel Smith 15 ml watercolors:

Princeton Neptune Travel Brush, Series 4750, Round, Size 8

ARTEZA Real Brush Pens

White Tail Saki – Pencil to Paint Tutorial


Artwork- Zebra Zensations Technical pens and Daniel Smith Watercolor on Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Photo reference from A_Different_Perspective on Pixabay.

This is the last of my lost and found postcards, along with Sunday’s caracal cat, and Monday’s Sheep. So details will be sparse because I can’t remember that far back.

The White Tail Saki monkey of South America weighs about three pounds. This is a painting of a male. The females are lighter, and have bright strips of hair from eyes to chins. 

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

I didn’t take enough time before I started this card. I was getting ready for my trip to Florida and painting cards ahead so hubby would have them for his lunchbag while I was gone (then I mislaid them – cheesh!)

No painting is a waste of time, though. I know why this one didn’t come out the way I wanted it too. And that happened before I even began.

Usually, I look at my reference, and think how I might create the values, the textures and the colors, I’m seeing. These days, it only takes me a few minutes, and I know which palette I’ll choose and the brushes I’ll use. But those few minutes are probably the most important in the entire painting.

I’m not really satisfied with the way this painting came out. NOT BASHING! Just not totally satisfied. And this is the step where I went wrong.

Pencil

(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

Another reason I can tell that I rushed through the beginning stages of this painting is because my pencil sketch is really minimal-even more so than usual. Mostly I made sure it fit the postcard and placed the facial details and foot. That’s all that is really needed, though.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Pen

With all the fur going every which way, it can be hard to figure out what’s fur and what’s foot, arm, leg or hand. I tried to get away with the direction of the fur, and a little value.

I would have been happier if I had decided to go all fur and merely suggest the arms or been much more detailed and really worked on getting my values correct.

Paint

I like the background to this painting much more than I like the monkey. It’s pretty abstract as my backgrounds often are. I used negative painting in places and lifted color in places to create the feeling of foliage.

I have to guess at the colors, but I’m pretty sure these are the ones used.

There is a red in there too, but I’m not sure if I used Burnt Sienna (most likely) or Tranparent Red Oxide.

Want to know more about the Tools?

Hahnemühle Postcards (review)

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

A Sheepish Hello – Pencil to Paint Tutorial


Artwork- Zebra Zensations Technical pens and Daniel Smith Watercolor on Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Photo reference from Skitterphoto on Pixabay.

Have I mentioned that I have gremlins in my home? I know I have, because if I turn away for an instant – an INSTANT – things disappear. I couldn’t possibly lose this many things! Further proof – the things always reappear somewhere, right where I’d trip over, days or weeks later. Months in some cases.

So, I scanned, I lost and I found it the other day along with yesterday’s caracal cat, and the card I’ll post on Wednesday. So details will be sparse because I can’t remember that far back.

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

Make sure you keep track of your supplies, and your finished work and maybe your shirt and shoes.

Pencil

(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

All the shapes are simple – notice that most of them are ovals.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Pen

There isn’t a lot of value contrast (light to dark) in this painting, so my penwork focuses on the outline and on the texture and direction of the fur.

Paint

I don’t remember what I did, but I can tell that this is a painting that I did very quickly, and it was kept minimal. I used very watery mixes, slightly thicker for the eye. The whole thing, from pencil to paint, probably took about half and hour and that was including taking the time to scan each step.

It’s a guess, but I’m pretty sure these are the colors I used (I kind of checked it out by using the same colors for yesterday’s caracal cat).

Want to know more about the Tools?

Hahnemühle Postcards (review)

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Caracal Cat – Pencil to Paint Tutorial


Zebra Zensations Technical pens and Daniel Smith Watercolor on Hahnemühle Rough Watercolor postcard.

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

Okay – this was one of those paintings where life and art collided a bit.

I thought I had scanned the pencil drawing, but I didn’t evidently. Note also that the pen drawing is minimal – almost unfinished. That’s because it’s unfinished.

It would be nice if you could always plan what you want and get the result you want. Sometimes though, you just do the best with what you’ve got.

I was interrupted when I was doing the pen drawing, and life got crazy for a while, and I didn’t get back to it for a couple of months. Who knew what I had planned at first. In the end, I made my decisions at the point where I was adding paint and they were partially dictated by the fact that I had left masking fluid on the paper for too long. I’ll explain why later.

Reference photo courtesy of Rinzler on Pixabay

I’ve written elsewhere about using color in shadows. In that write-up, I talked about the intense blue and purple shadows that can give a real sense of light.

With this painting, I wanted a much more subtle effect. I don’t know if you see it on your screen, but on mine, this cat has subtle hints of violet. It’s pretty subtle, but that’s one of the things you start looking for when you are more experienced.

I also had some colors that I don’t use too often, and I wanted to play with them. So I did.

Pencil

Oops! No pencil scan. The shapes are fairly simple though, so I know I freehanded it, mostly just blocking in the shapes, placing the facial details and making sure everything fit the size of the card.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Pen

The light blue on this scan is masking fluid. There is a lot of white on this cat, much of it interspersed with other colors so I decided to reserve it before drawing with the ink. As mentioned above, I was delayed in painting this and the masking fluid came back to bite me for two reasons.

  • You shouldn’t leave masking fluid on paper for very long because it will be harder to remove.
  • You shouldn’t use masking fluid on rough paper because it can seep into the wells of the paper and be harder to remove.

You get the theme of this? Harder to remove. More about that later.

When I came back to this drawing after a couple of months, I knew at this point that the masking fluid was going to be a problem, to the point where I might have to throw the whole thing away, so I didn’t draw any further.

Paint

Daniel Smith is known for colors made from unusual pigments. Often, these seem to be so close to other more common colors that people wonder why bother.

The difference often has to do with characteristics – the unusual pigment might granulate more, or be more intense. Sometimes, the main difference might be the way in which the color mixes with other colors.

It was the mixing qualities and temperature I was exploring with this piece. The colors I used were:

I also used Phthalo Blue Green Shade, which is a common color.

Note that I used watery mixes for all of this. I wasn’t trying to capture the exact correct color of the fur, but I wanted a subtle sense of light shining on fur.

I started by painting the sky with Phthalo Blue and dropped in touches of Wisteria here and there.

Many animals have an off-white color in their coat, especially when it is ticked or mixed with other colors. Buff Titanium is a good color for it, but I’ve found it easily leads to green if you add blue to your shadows. Monte Amiata is a yellowish color, but can take a little blue without going green. In a light wash it looks similar to Buff Titanium. Not giving up the Buff but Monte will be used more often.

For the shadows, I wanted to punch up that subtle hint of violet and turn it more towards purple so it would be warmer (look up purple vs violet if you are confused by that) so I used Wisteria.

In essence, I wanted the fur to reflect my background, which was Phthalo Blue with a little bit of Wisteria, so I add some Phthalo Blue to my Wisteria shadows, especially at the top of the head.

Rose of Ultramarine is an interesting granulating color. It’s a mix of Quinacridone Rose with Ultramarine Blue. It’s a purple, but the blue granulates – settles into the wells of the paper so the rose comes forward. (And yes – you could mix your own if you have these two colors-though getting the right mix might be a challenge).

The cat’s fur has a variation of color – more of a charcoal & brown with cream in real life giving a textured look to the fur. I added a darker mix of the Monte Amiata to give a feel of the real color, and then used the Rose Of Ultramarine for the rest of the darker fur, as though the light was hiding the real color from the eye. I let the Monte and Rose run together slightly.

The granulation doesn’t show well in the scan, but is there in real life.

And now for the masking fluid. I did get most of it off, but not all of it, and it left a muddy greenish stain in a few areas. Fortunately, that doesn’t show very well in the scan, either.

Should you run out and buy these colors? Only if you are at the stage where characteristics like opacity, staining, temperature, granulation, and other qualities of color pigments have started to make sense. The reason for this post is to help you get to that point, but there are other similar colors among the standards that are cheaper and easier to use for the beginner to intermediate watercolorist.

Whew! Sorry that turned out to be a longer post than I intended.

Manatee – Pencil to Paint Tutorial


Artwork- Zebra Zensations Technical pens and Miya Gouache & Van Gogh Interference on Hahnemühle Burgund Watercolor Postcard Rough. Photo reference from extrabrandt on Pixabay.

Did you know that the Manatee is also known as a sea cow, but is more closely related to the elephant? Doesn’t it seem sometimes, that every strange looking animal is related to the elephant?

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

Sunlight streaming through water evokes such a serene feeling and it’s something that I love to paint. By human standards of beauty, the manatee is an ugly beast, but in the ocean surrounds they have poetry. I wanted to capture a bit of that.

The manatee has a textured skin, and water ripples, so I chose one of Hahnemühle’s rough textured postcards.

Pencil

(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

The shape of the manatee’s head is very simple, so I drew it freehand, mostly to make sure it fit the postcard, and to capture placement of the eye nose, mouth and some of the shadows.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Pen

After inking the outlines, eye, nose and mouth, I used a masking fluid pen to reserve the white of the postcard.

Sometimes, I use a white gel pen after painting to add white, because it can be difficult to reserve it in a painting this size. But the white of the paper gives you a softer, yet more vibrant white. I chose to go this route because the light in this painting is important.

Paint

It only took a few moments to paint this, possibly because I had a strong idea of what I wanted.

Timing was important. I painted the manatee by dropping watery mixes of Ultramarine Blue and Purple onto the page letting the colors run together. When they had dried for a few minutes, but were still wet, I dropped in the creamier darker mix of Ultramarine Blue for the shadows. I wanted the darker color to run into the lighter color, but not enough to lose intensity.

I used Tehran (Cerulean Blue) to paint the water and after a few seconds, I dabbed at it with a kleenex to get texture.

Once it was all completely dry, I removed the masking fluid. Sometimes, I use a damp brush to soften the edges of the white or to pull color into it. Not this time. I felt the hard edges suited the feeling of light catching the texture of the manatee’s skin.

Tools

And Where You Can Buy Them

Miya Himi Gouache Paint Set, 18 Colors 

Van Gogh Speciality Palette 

Hahnemuhle Burgund Watercolor Postcard Rough 120lb  (review)

Molotow GRAFX Masking Fluid Pump Marker, 2mm

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Wild Squirrel for Inktober – Pencil to Paint Tutorial


Zebra Zensations Technical pens on Hahnemühle Burgund Postcard. Photo reference courtesy of Skica911 on Pixabay.

If you are looking for my review of Alice Hendon’s Tangle All Around the World you can find it here.

Prompts:

  • Inktober – Wild
  • Doodlewash – Squirrel

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

There is a series of commercials where a squirrel sits in the road, causing a car to swerve and crash. Afterwards, he slaps hands with another squirrel and it’s obvious they planned the crash. The moral being that squirrels are EVIL! Well, actually, the moral was supposed to be that you should buy something, but I don’t even remember what.

To me, the squirrel in the reference photo had an evil expression and I wanted to capture that feeling that he was hatching mischief. The background in the reference was blurred, so I decided to add more color to create something soft and contrasting to the evil squirrel.

Pencil

(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

I decided to keep the detail limited – I wanted the focus to be on the facial expression.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.

Except for some texture added to the tree trunks, I just penned in the outlines and minimal detail. Even at that, I felt I’d added too much so I addressed that in the last step.

With Daniel Smith Watercolor and White Uniball Signo Gel Pens added

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna with a touch of Rose of Ultramarine were used for the squirrel. Wisteria, Rose of Ultramarine, Cascade Green and a touch of Monte Amiata were used for the background. If you don’t have these Daniel Smith colors, a Raw Sienna, red violet, red violet & white, and a blue-green would give similar results.

Notice that there is a roughly circular flow to the colors in the background and the most contrast is along the lower branch, leading you to the squirrel’s face. The sharpest detail is in that face.

As mentioned in the step above, I felt I’d penned in too much line detail, so now I grabbed a white signo pen and added highlights to the fur along the back and blended some of the ink into the yellow behind. I used it, smoothing out the gel ink with a finger, along the other two branches so the light would again lead the eye toward the face.

Did it all work?

Today is the 16th day of Inktober, where anyone who is interested is challenged to do an ink drawing every day! There are prompts: Jake Parker (founder of Inktober) has an official list, but many others have put out lists as well, including the usual set of prompts from Doodlewash.com.

The official Inktober Prompt List.

And the Doodlewash prompt list for the month.

Zebra Pen is joining the fun with a month-long challenge, giving you the chance to win $250 dollars worth of pen products! Just follow zebrapen_us and zebrapen_canada on Instagram, and when you post your Inktober drawing there, use the hashtags #zensationschallenge #Inktober2019 and #Inktober.