Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Drawing Tutorial 07- Watercolors

There are various water-painting techniques depending on the end result you are trying to achieve, but you need to make sure you have the proper equipment to exploit these techniques to their fullest.
(QUI la versione in Italiano)
The first item is the brush: it is important that you have a brush with a "steady head", that is a brush that has soft bristles, but reverts back to its original shape even after you pass your finger on it.
One brush, many sizes
I tend to use round synthetic brushes that are rather large (size between 8-20) because they allow me to pick up more water and color and I can change the lines' width (the brush has a pointy end) depending on how much pressure I apply to the paper sheet with my brush. Brushes maker "da Vinci" is a brand I feel confident to recommend: you can find it in your local art shops and it is not cheap, but if you want a decent enough result you really have to steer away from "el cheapo" ones where the tip of the brush has been covered with some glue to make it look more sturdy. You know the quality of a brush once you have tipped it in water and you see it loosing its pointy shape or not.

Quality-wise, be careful about the kind of watercolors you purchase. You can find them in tubes or in small pads, but avoid the round tablets that you can find in some convenience store as they are generally intended for kids. Such watercolors are powdery and a very low color saturation once they get wet, which might be the result of the pigments inside them.
My home-made set.
The proper watercolors in small tablets format are generally found in little white boxes, either individually or in a set of colors, are generally glossy, and get very intense when they get wet. The watercolors sold inside little tubes are the "doughy" version of the watercolors sold in pad form (kept in liquid form by the use of detergents): if you spread them on your palette and let them dry, you can re-use them by adding a bit of water.
Another important element, one that I usually forget before starting to work is a small handkerchief to soak up the extra water, some little smears, or the brush itself, but I think it is also best for me to note down the obvious stuff too, that is a small glass or cup of clean water which must be changed as soon as it gets grey-ish or you will stain the sheet of paper.
After procuring all the essential items, it is time to exercise yourself with the tools at hand. You need to get acquainted with your brush and the best technique to learn how to be accurate is the technique known as "campitura piatta a velature". Pick up your brush and dip it in some water and load it up, then take some of the color, liquify it a bit, and spread it on your palette by pressing the brush's tip against it. Repeat the procedure as many times as necessary to produce enough color to cover the area you want to paint.
If you want to mix colors, clean the brush with water before dipping it into another pad of color, and mix the color on your palette. You do not need to worry too much about the color intensity because you can simply lay another veil of color, a different one even, once the previous layer is dry.
Once you have loaded the brush up with color, keep the drawing surface oblique, and start painting from top to bottom making sure to always leave a drop of color.   Once the brush has been  fully discharged, load it up again and drag that drop down until you have covered the whole area. You will end up with a last drop of color which you can soak it little by little with the brush and then discharged in the handkerchief. If you make some mistakes or you get out of the borders a bit, do not wait until the color has dried up, but clean the brush, load it up with clean water, and "erase" the mistake or dilute it. After that, soak the excess water with the handkerchief.
Another technique you can use to fade dark colors into lighter ones consists of starting with a saturated color, diluting a greater amount of color to make the tint more intense, and add more and more water thus diluting it gradually. You can even create various shades of colors by dampening the paper and then painting strokes of color next to each other thus allowing the water to smoothly blend both pigments together. Such approach is especially useful to paint shades of colors in sky views.

In this video I have utilized various techniques to paint leaves and flowers so that I could show the effect of each technique in action.

To view the other tutorials click HERE

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