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Artist’s Process: From Sketch to Watercolour

Each artist has a unique process as well as different preferred mediums and styles. Here I share a bit about my process as well as the mediums and style I used for an illustration.

Before doing a fully coloured illustration, I first thumbnail some ideas. A thumbnail is usually a quick, abbreviated sketch, usually to figure out the layout of the final piece and refine the idea. These are usually a lot looser and messier, but for this sketch I had a pretty good grasp of my idea from the start. The thumbnail is like the first draft of an essay, or like taking notes during a lecture, as it gives you a better idea of the direction, mood, style and even mediums of the finished piece. This thumbnail was done in my Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook.

Thumbnail for final Illustration

Once I was happy with this initial sketch, I could move on to my final piece. I decided on watercolour as my medium, as watercolours can be used to create wonderful earthy tones. I also have a set of FineTec Metallic watercolours, which could be used for details in the armour and eyes of the characters. I moved to my Hahnemühle Watercolour Book and re-drew the sketch.

My style, which is very inspired by comic books and animated films, usually includes a form of line-art. Watercolours smudge most pens, but recently I’ve found that the Pigma Micron Pens are completely waterproof, meaning I can easily add my watercolours over the top of them, without any smudging! After lining the illustration, I can erase all the pencil and be left with completely clean linework. I can then add the watercolours overtop, as if painting in a colouring book.

The finishing touches are of course the Metallic FineTec Watercolours. These are of astounding quality, but pricey. They work best when layered on dry watercolours of a similar tone and colour. I used this to add shimmer to the characters’ armour and weapons. It really pulled the illustration together.

Here you can see some of the metallic effect. This is best appreciated in sunlight.

These characters are Achilles (left), Ajax (middle) and Teucer (right). They are inspired by Greek mythology and are also characters in a book I’m currently writing.  

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