I am using my most recently finished painting "And Then The Sky Fell" to demonstrate how I use watercolours on a main human figure. The methods I adopt may seem unusual as they seem to defy the nature of this medium, therefore it is best to view this not as a tutorial, but rather, as clearly shown in the title, a walkthrough. It is a long process, and captured in as much detail as possible without seeming repetitious, which is why this is divided in two parts. Thank you, and enjoy.
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So here is where we left off, at the end of Part I, where the first layer of colour for the human figure is complete.
The palette seems somewhat disjointed, however it serves its purpose as an underpainting.
What I need to do now is create an acetate mask.
I begin by taping the painting down to a large surface that I can easily move around, in this case a drawing board.
Masking tape is my preference as it is easy to remove. It is quite sticky, so in order to protect the paper, I stick it against my forearm, as the oil residue on my skin helps remove some of the tack.
Having secured my painting to the drawing board, I now cut down my acetate to size. This is Grafix Clear 0.75 Acetate.
The acetate sheet is then taped over the painting.
Using a permanent ink pen, one that is used specifically for drawing on clear film/plastic/glass etc., I carefully go over the general outline of the figure. The brand used here is Itoya Fine Point System 0.3, and it is resistant to both water and smudging.
Having completed the ink outline, I remove the acetate sheet from the drawing board and bring it to my self-healing cutting mat. Now I begin scoring the outline with a #6 X-Acto blade, which does a pretty good job as this acetate is quite thick.
The shape was scored, so now all I need to do is lift it out carefully. Sometimes I need to bring on the blade for sharp corners, otherwise the acetate will just tear and possibly ruin my mask.
The acetate mask, now complete, is then replaced carefully over the painting. The positioning needs to be exact, otherwise it could make things difficult later on down the road.
Tiny pieces of UHU Tac are slipped under some parts of the acetate to secure them in place.
And now comes the really fun part. Without Krylon Workable Fixatif, I would never be able to layer on deep pigments like I do with my watercolour paintings.
Note I am no longer in my studio, and have moved to the garage with the door open. Workable Fixative, like most stuff that comes out of a spray can, is quite toxic, and needs to be worked with outdoors. Even then, further protection is advised, and while not shown here, I had my T-shirt over my mouth the whole time I was operating the spray can.
While this photo might seem humourous, what I’m doing here is an important step. The can needs to be shaken vigorously for 2 minutes prior to usage, and because two arms are better than one... well. There you have it.
Before applying the Workable Fixative to my painting, I first test it out on the ground, to make sure the nozzle is working properly and the right amount of viscocity is coming out.
Now the real deal.
Keeping the nozzle around 6 inches above the work surface, I begin spraying diagonally over the acetate mask, from top to bottom.
I then repeat this process once more, except this time I go the other way around, from bottom to top.
When the job is done, the can needs to be inverted and the nozzle pressed down until the spray runs clear.
The acetate mask was removed and saved for later possible use. Here I am, tinting the skintone with dioxaxine purple. The good closeup stuff comes next.
And now the true potency of Workable Fixative is revealed.
Here I am using a Windsor & Newton Series 7 pointed round 1, running Alizarin Crimson over the Dioxazine purple of her hair. Without the aid of Workable Fixative, the underlying layer of colour would very likely run, and a lot of detail would be lost.
The reason why an acetate mask is necessary, is because Workable Fixative can greatly change the texture of a work surface, and I wanted to keep all areas surrounding the figure clean and untarnished.
This is how I prefer to work, rather like cel-painting with watercolours, because I am able to get something very clean and precise, while still utilising the wonderful qualities of this medium.
This is my Dr. Ph Martins Bleed Proof White ink. An indispensable medium for sharpening up details in my watercolours.
Going over the strands of highlights in her hair, using white ink.
Here is a closeup of the figure, after further layers of painting.
A very sheer layer of Dioxazine Purple was used over the darker parts of her skin. After that has dried, I washed a bit of Naples Yellow over all the painted segments.
Alizarin Crimson was used as a second layer of colour over her hair, while Windsor Blue (Red Shade) helped to establish the deepest shadows.
Magenta and Windsor Blue (Red Shade) were used over her lips and eyelids.
Finally, diluted Dr. Ph. Martins’ Bleed Proof White ink was used for highlighting.
At this point I am done with the figure. Perhaps I will work on it later on down the road should the palette need more cohesiveness, however right now I am satisfied.
The same methods are used for all the other elements in the painting.
This painting took 4 months to complete.
[ To view the painting process, please return to Part I ]