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Thread: Watercolor WIPs- Sharing and Learning

  1. #21
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    Jan 2011
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    Eyes on the Mountain

    Did this yesterday over about 3 hours. This is one of the first pieces where I was really playing, IMO, with the medium being digital. What does that mean to me? Well, beyond using stencils to lay down color, or importing textures for certain areas that I then reduced the opacity on, etc, etc, I also used the Select Layer Contents and Adjust Layer Color tools for the first time.

    So, in this painting I actually moved some layers around, after the fact. I also imported to a layer a digital watercolor doodle that I'd worked on before-- washes and whatnot with texture-- and then flipped the image vertically and horizontally-- just trying stuff out. I changed the color of a different layer too, fiddling around with the contrast and hue dials. Mostly, it seemed like a good opportunity to experiment and have some fun-- seeing what kind of results I could get if I did different things.

    Then I stared at it for a bit, and put saw the faces. Went back in on a new layer and penciled in the shadows and highlights. What was interesting to me, by the end, was I beginning to see how I might use some of these rather abstract techniques in portraiture and more representational work.

    Eyes on the Mountain--
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  2. #22
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    Interesting and well done

  3. #23
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    Terrific work - and the potential for a great thread.
    // "Appreciation fosters well-being. Be well." - Byron
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  4. #24
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    Jan 2011
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    Steve B's Watercolor Tutorial #1- A list of useful tutorials

    In an effort to share some of what I'm doing with watercolors, I thought I'd start what I'll call a sort of "Tutorial in Progress" on some of the watercolor techniques I'm using in Artrage and Paint Tool Sai. I don't think I'm ever going to get to it if I try to "write it all up" and then post it. As this thread was already built to accomplish some of these things, I decided to bring it back up from the Fall. There might some info in it that's helpful to others already, so why not expand it?

    So, lets start at the beginning-- how I steal stuff from other people! Here's a list of links to those watercolor painting tutorials I thought were most critical to helping me. I thought this sort of "collating" of info would be helpful to others, as I've not seen anyone really bring these together yet on the forums. I'll be going over how I apply some of these techniques as well, but first, where I myself started to learn stuff.

    First, the thread where I found out you could really do Watercolors in Artrage. There are some examples of work from the DAA Artrage class from last year. Sos chimed in, and there are a number of good examples of still life pears in it, some discussion gradients, some disscussion of sticker usage, etc. A good starting point.
    http://www2.ambientdesign.com/forums...ad.php?t=32860

    Now, the big 5. These were, to me, the most important tutorials I found for helping me along.

    1) A wet into wet technique by Someonesane-
    In this wonderful thread he talks a lot about laying down basic shapes, then selecting them, inverting, and using that as a template for your other layers. It makes a lot of sense when he talks about it the video. An absolute must if you want to get any sort of wet into wet techniques but don't want your paint going everywhere. Gotta use Sos's texture taken from a picture of his rug if you want to get good watercolors! ;P Really, it's true! LOL.
    http://www2.ambientdesign.com/forums...ad.php?t=33202
    and this videos as well by him
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Asgwb...eature=related

    2) Moving pigment around with "water" by Karen Bonaker-
    These 2 video tutorials by Karen Bonaker from the Digital Art Academy are also very good. She talks a lot about using a brush with a lot thinners in it to lay down water and push pigment around. They both feature a lot of clouds and wet work. A good technique as well.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s144gsnPKHY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsdpW...MH8blT21rn2C0=

    3) Using Stencils for texture buildup by Jon Hodgson-
    Jon Hodgson has some very interesting videos and tutorials as well. This thread I'm linking to was started by him to share them. There's a number of them there, and he has short descriptions for each of them. They're not watercolors specfically, but they're very worth exploring.
    http://www2.ambientdesign.com/forums...ad.php?t=30851

    4) The essential Nick Harris tutorial-
    Nick Harris is a very good artist, and if you've seen his thread, you know its true. This pdf tut by him was very useful to me. Very helpful to see his work in process, how he lays in textures with imported images, etc. A helpful read.
    http://www2.ambientdesign.com/files/nick%20harris%20textures%20tutorial.pdf
    He has additional tutorials as well, and they're all worth exploring, IMO. Here's one, for example, as a pdf, and with a youtube video series to accompany it. The videos have some odd audio problems, but its still worth it, IMO.
    http://www.imaginefx.com/02287754329...9/tutorial.pdf
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek8bwvH63XU

    5) How to make an underpainting using blend modes-
    This tutorial was sort of revolutionary to me when I saw it. It's a 4 part series, and is very good at explaining how to make your values count, how to build an underpainting, and how to then apply watercolors to it. If you're looking for a more controlled watercolor technique, but still want that "wash" over the top, this is a very useful place to start. This is a real natural media technique, so although it might feel very "digital" it actually almost exactly emulates a way of laying down very controlled values and building color on top of that. Here's the first video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9NDd...8&feature=plcp


    These are some of the additional techniques I've learned from others in the forums.

    Getting pigment buildup on the rims--
    This thread is about how to "push" watercolors around and get those rim textures one might want. Part way down the page royblumenthal has a very useful post just about this. I tried it out and posted my results there as well.
    http://www2.ambientdesign.com/forums...ad.php?t=34537

    Getting good dry brush reaction to paper texture-
    I'm not really a fan of how dry watercolors in Artrage work with paper texture, but I've found that the Gloop Pen does very well to get some of these results. Use it right (lay down color in one go, then use a new layer each time you want to lay down new color/swaths on top of each other) and it can get nice results. Here's the thread where I learned about this-
    http://www2.ambientdesign.com/forums...t=26981&page=2

    How to get good "ambient" inner texture while painting-
    I was just having a conversation with Twagger about illustrating children's books, when he did a nice tutorial thread last week. In it he goes over one of the best ways to get that kind of ambient "grit" that's so nice while painting in watercolors-- importing textures to a layer that you then set to Overlay. What's so nice about this is that if you set this up ahead of time, you get the textures in real time, as you paint, which is much more realistic in feel than putting them in later. I'll be going over this more, but this tutorial by him is a good place to start.
    http://http://www2.ambientdesign.com/forums/showthread.php?t=39747


    Next up, I'll try and either a) share some thoughts on my process with completed paintings, or b) build a painting from scratch, and give some screen shots. Hope this introductory list was useful to some of you! It sure was for me.
    Last edited by Steve B; 04-14-2012 at 07:53 AM.

  5. #25
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    Apr 2012
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    Chatsworth, GA USA
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    I like the feeling of water collors too. They offer so much to the emotion protraied in the painting. Keep up the good work.

  6. #26
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    Apr 2012
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    los angeles
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    The perfect afternoon inspiration. Great work!

  7. #27
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    Glad to hear it means something to someone besides myself. I'm bringing over my latest landscape from the other thread, just to sort of bring it in with the other paintings and descriptions of my process.

    Here's what I had to say about the painting in the other thread--

    For those who are interested, my basic approach is to build many layers of pale washes, which I then blend out, one after the other, as I see fit, leaving some sedimentary edges and grit. I know some people want to simulate the "spontaneity" of real-world watercolor washes, and so don't utilize many layers or blend modes or imported textures or stencils, but personally I find that sort of a skewed perspective that often falsely looks at the mechanics of painting digitally as a process that's antithetical to the experience of real world watercolor painting-- that's just an opinion of course. I actually find the two very similar in many ways.

    My experience, personally, with natural media has been that its a rather slow meditative process of gradually laying down many washes of various colors, slowly building up texture, color, shadows, and contrast. Similarly, I use many layers when painting watercolors digitally-- just as I would dry my watercolors between washes of natural media. I often also import found textures or would use stencils after the fact, to occasionally give a more aggressive texture as well-- much as I might do by dabbing with a tissue, for instance. I also often lay down color, lock the transparency, and then blend new color into it, "pushing" against the edges, much as I might do if I were to lay down a bit of water in an area I was working in with natural media, into which I can place more than one color knowing that both of them will mix and yet not expand past the edge of the water.

    Anyways, on this one I used about 15 layers, and painted on a 3000 x 2400 canvas. Something that I felt I might be able to crop and print at 200 dpi on a 12" x 18" piece of watercolor paper. I find 200 dpi works pretty good for watercolors, which are very soft, and therefore don't suffer from the negative effects that crisper-edged mediums do when printed at something lower than 300 dpi.
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  8. #28
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    Jan 2011
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    Steve B's Watercolor Tutorial #2- Start with natural media watercolor techniques

    So, where do I start? Well, first, I approach digital watercolors much as I do natural media. What's that mean? I guess that you need to probably know a little bit about how natural media watercolors often work. This post is my basic approach before I actually get into details.

    Layering Pale Washes of Colors and Using Negative Space-
    I tend to work in the layering method of watercolors, going light to dark one pale layer at a time. So, I build up density bit by bit with the Multiply blend mode, generally not laying lighter values on top of darker values, just as would do with natural media watercolors. This means you're generally thinking in terms of negative space. I don't paint clouds, but rather paint the sky around them. My advice, for those don't do this much, is to go outside and actually look at trees and clouds, for example, and actually think about how you'd have to paint them if you're building a painting from light-to-dark (watercolors) instead of dark-to-light (oils, as I understand it), and having to use negative space for objects with a light value (objects that approach white). This means things like pale sky goes in first, pale highlights on trees go in first, bright highlights on a nose, etc. are painted in with a very minimal amount of color first (if at all) and are then preserved-- that all important and super critical thing with most watercolor work.

    Using Layers to "dry" your watercolors-
    This is also probably a good time to say that I use a reasonable amount of Layers (10-15 per pic), as I feel that they're no different than taking a blow dryer to a wet painting, drying it down, and painting on a new non-interactive layer on top of it. I know some people like to paint on one layer, but I often wonder if that's meant to emulate the experience of Oils more. It's never worked for me in terms of actually emulating the experience of painting on watercolors, where you layer your colors one on top of the other. For example, btw, in Autumn Colors I have something like atleast 10 layers. Not a ton, but more than some might think for such a "quiet" and soft painting.

    Use a bigger canvas--
    I also use what is, by some standards, larger canvases. Mine usually 200-300 dpi, and atleast something like 9 x 10 or 9 x 12, sometimes larger. I was taught that its almost always easier to paint bigger rather than smaller, and I still tend to agree. It's just so much easier to lay in detail if need to, explore areas, zoom in, etc. And that means something for the final product, IMO. If you right-click on last landscape painting I did ("Autumn Fog") and actually open it in a new window, you'll get the full size of the canvas, which is much bigger than the typical picture. Then you can get a sense of what I'm normally painting on, when I want to go in an put in details, shadows, etc.

    Common Natural Media Effects/Processes--
    I'm also often thinking about things like--
    "Is this going to be a background wash?" For that, I use the Airbrush, not a watercolor tool, and let it be very soft.
    "Am I feathering out these exterior lines?" For that, I plan on blending out with something like the Hard Wet Blender or the Instant Blur.
    "How much blue separation of pigment do I want?" If I'm doing a big wash, I know that Ultramarine and Cobalt will make sedimentation with natural media, so I'll try and emulate that with Artrage by importing a texture or using a stencil to lay down some additional texture for that color only, say, in the sky.
    "How much pigment build up do I want around the edge of this?" For this, I turn down the Thinners to nothing or almost nothing, and let the paint stop pooling around the edges.
    "How dry is this brush? How loaded? Am I going to get interesting texture on the edges of my brush stroke?" If so, then I am often fiddling with the Layer Textures to get them just right.

    Moving Past Artrage presets and labels--
    Basically, I don't want basic Artrage presets to dictate what I'm trying to achieve. I find the presets often replicate only a certain kind of watercolor work, and don't emulate as well as I'd like the ability to lay down soft washes of color that slowly build up a picture. I'm also not making myself stick to the "Watercolor" label of certain tools. To me, since it's all digital, I figure any tool that makes the mark I want is good to me. That means I see stuff like the Markers as useful for small highlights, or certain grungy Sticker Sprays (like some of SOS's set of pencils, charcoals, and oil sticks) lay down good texture when you blow them up to a large size, that then looks very real once lightly blended out.


    Also, I know I've said it before in other places, but since I'm here writing it all down in place, I'll just say that that quick spontaneous natural-media watercolor experience some people are looking to duplicate with digital watercolors is, to me, sort of a fallacy-- I just don't think it really happens in real life much, and I don't think it happens much with digital stuff either. Those awesome paintings that many of us like to explore most likely took hours (or many hours) to paint, and I think its the same with digital work. And the sometimes laborious (and seemingly rather technical) process of doing things like laying down textures with Stencils (just as an example) or importing images for textures is not really any different than using a sponge or a rag to build texture in a natural media watercolor, IMO. So, although there's a clear "exploratory" process with what I'm doing (they wouldn't be any fun without it!), where I get to find out what the pictures going to be like as I go, it's not so "flowy", but actually rather technical, step by step.

    I like quick watercolor work in real life, but I just don't think that digital watercolors are really there yet, in that regard. Just my two cents.
    Last edited by Steve B; 04-14-2012 at 09:23 AM.

  9. #29
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    May 2011
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    Matthews , NC
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    Beautiful, exciting painting

    Love the water color effects!

  10. #30
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    May 2007
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    Rome (Italy)
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    I'm very grateful for this tutorial, dear Steve!
    Panta rei (everything flows)!

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