Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Step-by-Step Watercolour Painting

I have just started a watercolour painting using the same theme as my recent oil paintings.  I thought you might like to see how I go about it.

Transferring the image onto the paper

Figure 1
Figure 1 This is the photo I will be painting from and the tracing that I have made of it.  I have started with a tracing in this case, because it will be difficult to get the bowl accurate if I don't.  A tracing saves time, I get everything in the right place quickly and move on to the painting.  It is also a good opportunity to show how to trace with tracing paper.  This will be a small painting - 10 inches x 7 inches (254mm x 178mm).  

Figure 2

Figure 2  When I have traced as much as I can see, I turn the tracing paper over and colour over the lines with pencil. The tracing is done in pen, so it remains visible under the pencil.  I have used a 2B pencil to colour with.

Figure 3

Figure 3 When I have covered all of the pen lines (on the back) with pencil, I turn the tracing paper back to the right side, position it on the watercolor paper and tape it down so that it does not move.

Figure 4
 Figure 4 To transfer the image, I again use pen and carefully go over the original lines.  I use a different kind of pen (or colour) from Figure 1, so that I can tell where I have been.  This is not as important in a small, simple tracing such as this one, but in a larger, more complex image, it is essential to see what has already been traced.

Figure 5
Figure 5 Here you can see how the image has been transferred onto the watercolour paper in pencil.

Figure 6
Figure 6 When the tracing is transferred, I take the tracing paper away, and look carefully at the original photo.  At this point I make corrections.  It is very easy to get a tracing wrong, and often fine details become thick and bulky in the tracing process.  Refining is essential.  I also use a putty rubber to remove as much of the pencil as I can without losing the image completely.  If I leave too much pencil on the paper, it will show through the watercolour and look clumsy.


To be continued...




Top Tips for Tracing:

  • Use a pen to trace your picture, and trace carefully.  There is no point in tracing, if you are not going to be accurate.
  • It is a good idea to write "right side" on the tracing paper.  I have transferred the wrong side of an image more than once.
  • Only colour over the lines, as too much pencil on the back of the tracing paper will smear on your watercolor paper.
  • Tape you tracing paper down onto your watercolour paper so that it does not move.
  • Use a different colour pen from the first one to transfer the image, but DON"T press too hard, you do not want to engrave the image into your paper!
  • Correct and refine after tracing so that you image is not thick and clumsy.
  • Remove as much of the pencil with a putty rubber as possible before you start painting. (Prestik or Blue tac will also do the job.)


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