Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Winter Dragon: Watercolor (Traditional Underpainting)

So in my last post in this series, I showed you the finished drawing. Since then I've plunged into the watercolor stage of my process. This piece actually marks a lot of progress for me, for several reasons. First, this is the first watercolor I've ever done that I've felt "good" about. I've managed to achieve some pretty good texture, keep the colors within a predetermined scheme, and get a fairly unified look to the whole thing. Secondly, it's the first painting I've done that stands alone as a finished watercolor painting, but still leaves room for some digital manipulation, which I will complete in the last stage.

The image I'm posting (above) was tweaked just slightly to bring up the levels from what the scan gave me, but otherwise, it is untouched by Photoshop. Over the course of the painting stage, I used these steps, which I will give you here in case you are interested:

Here's a very poor picture of what the underpainting looked like. 
Pretty rough, huh? 

1. Light underpainting - wash of warm brownish undertones to unify the colors.
2. First washes of local color. This was the stage where I added in my midtone colors, leaving my lightest areas untouched, and saving my shadows for a later stage.
3. Final washes of darker areas - adding in shadows, etc.
4. Final touches of local color, a little more fine tuning.

The final watercolor. Wrinkled, but still alive and kicking!

That being said, there were a lot of things I learned, and things that I will do differently next time:

1. Instead of doing a wash over the whole painting, do a light underpainting on individual elements of the image, such as the trees, the dwarves, the mountains, dragon, etc. This would eliminate some of the dramatic bleeds that I got.

2. Stretch the paper. I skipped this stage, but it was only because I forgot to do this before I drew on it, and didn't want to lose my drawing. Overall, the drawing held well.

And that's about it. I'm sure there were other things I noticed but can't recall at the moment. Anyway, I got through the whole ordeal without incident, and was pretty pleased with the result!
Now I will retreat into my digital laboratory and tweak the DNA of this thing with Photoshop. We shall see what madness shall ensue!

Character detail.

Up Next: Digital Process!


Seth Rosamilia said...

Glad to see it, and looking forward to the digital final. I'm quite taken with the hats on the dwarvish fellows–very fitting, in my opinion. And I also like the axe in the log, and the way it kind of completes the circle around the campfire.

~ Seth

Seth Rosamilia said...

Hey Will, I'm not sure if you saw my post on the Lamppost Guild facebook group page, but I'm looking to create a self-taught art course for myself next school year. However, I'm not exactly sure what such a course really ought to entail, what books/videos/resources I should use, or even really what kind of things I should focus on studying. If you had any advice or suggestions, I'd really appreciate it. Anyway, still waiting for the final digital with much excitement.

~ Seth

Will Kelly said...

Hi Seth! I have an email response to your question, but can't find a good way to contact you with it? Would you mind shooting me an email so I can send it? Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you!

Abrian Curington said...

Nice going! I actually draw first since I trace from a light table to establish forms then I stretch afterward. I wet the back then flip it over taping the dry front with masking tape. Then gently wet the front. It kind of seals in the drawing to a point. Good to see you appointed to the LPG crew!

Will Kelly said...

Hey Abrian!
Thanks for the tips - I may try this next time I do a watercolor.