I found these WIP photos of my artwork ‘Night of the Blood Fliers’ and thought I’d share them to give you an insight into how I paint. Some are a bit blurry though, sorry about that. If you’re an artist yourself and need some guidance then I hope this tutorial is helpful in some way.
(The tricky part when taking these photos is remembering to actually stop painting and take the photo. I tend to get carried away and next thing I know I’ve painted half the damn thing and haven’t stopped to show the steps!) Anyway, here we go..
So I start out with a sketch – I didn’t think to take photos of that part, or maybe I did but deleted them by mistake. Not sure. But anyway, I sketched the drawing straight onto the water colour paper. (I think it’s 150gsm) I recommend however, to sketch up ideas then trace the final sketch with baking paper and transfer it. You can do this by placing the baking sheet drawing side down and re-tracing it on the other side. This will leave an imprint on your paper ready to be painted.
Now when painting with water colours I really should tape down the edges of the paper because the paint will shrink it when it dries, which causes the paper to crinkle.. but I tend to forget these things. But that’s ok. So here in the picture I have started painting the background (always paint the background first!) with a very watery paint mixture, blending purple and blue. I’ve made it blotchy as I plan to paint clouds in the background. I paint around the faery very carefully, except for her wings because I intend them to be see through. Intend. I have also started painting the skin using a light orange and purple for some shading. A tip when starting out with water colours is always paint with light (watered down) colours and layer them to get darker.
Next I have started to paint her dress and do the shading as I go. Light black wash for the first layer, then let it dry and go back over and layer up on the shading. I have also used white to add highlights where the dress gathers. Not much else going on here so onto the next one..
Terrible photo! Not too much going on here, just a bit of colour splashed in for the stone pillar and the roses. I wan’t going to post this photo but I did want to show the way the light watery colours are painted first then layered up in the next picture.
I’ve added more layers of colour and worked on her hair as well. As you can see I’ve been messy in areas to create texture, like on the stone, but kept the painting smooth on areas like her dress. That’s what I love about using water colours is creating textures and blending colours. (You can create some beautiful and interesting effects using salt too!)
More details again. Highlights on the roses and more details on the dress. Our faery now has lippy and I’ve started a little on the wings. I’m still intending for them to be see through at this point.
And this is what I was talking about! BAM! Painting done and no more progress photos. Crap. Well anyway I obviously got carried away and forgot! So here’s the finished artwork. I’ve added more layers to the pillar and roses, added clouds and moon into the background, (I know I said background first, but I always end up adding to it later..) painted the wings which did not end up see through as planned! I kept working away on them and filled them in but I like how they turned out. The butterflies weren’t in the sketch to begin with, but I felt there was something missing and I needed to fill the space. So I filled it with red butterflies – to match the roses and spread the colour through the picture.
The last thing I always do before a painting is complete is go over it with coloured pencils. I use a really sharp pencil for fine dark details and cleaning up edges, and a slightly blunt light pencil to smudge in highlights.
So this is the basic structure of how I paint. I’m always picking up new tips and tricks, and learning as I go.. and there’s always more to learn! This painting was made a few years ago and I can see things that I’d fix up if I did it now.. but I’m happy with it anyway, it is one of my favorites.