Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Watercoloring a landscape

(Originally posted HERE and HERE on August 25, 2010)
This was a special request to watercolor a landscape.  I decided on the Asian Garden image by Doodle Pantry because it includes stone, wood, bark, leaves, grasses/foliage, and water.
  • Small round tip waterbrush with water reservoir filled with distilled water
  • Tombow markers 942, 947, N65, 946, 856, 098, 177, 526, 899
  • Canson 90 lb. watercolor paper with digital image printed on it
These instructions can be applied to a more simplistic landscape, but they are designed to help you feel less intimidated with the more complex and detailed landscape images.  The basics are that you start from light colors and move through to the darkest, and to keep in mind the landscape light source, and the landscape elements requiring different brush or color application techniques.
Using your waterbrush:  To get water flow out, you gently squeeze the barrel until desired flow penetrates the brush tip.  Sometimes too much is coming out, and you need to wipe off on a paper towel until you regulate the flow to being steady.  Sometimes, there is not enough water in the brush and you need to give the barrel 3 or 4 quick repeated squeezes until the flow returns.
Blending:  When working with nature scenes, sometimes, if you are "trying" too hard, you won't get a natural look.  Just move gently, make sure water flow is enough but not saturated, and try to only go over an area once, if possible.
Brush stroke style:  Think about the element you are coloring/blending.  Is the bark on a tree smooth or rough?  Where is the light coming from?  Is the water element still?  Or moving?  Bushes and distant trees usually have varying shades within them, make note if the foliage you want to achieve is blotchy or has straight lines through it.  How you tap or stroke your brush on the color in these different elements will change the outcome.
Color order:  I generally work from lighter colors to darker.  I personally feel this is the easiest way to color my images.  Select ALL your images colors prior to beginning and then place them in order from lightest to darkest to the best of your ability.  And then you just start with the lightest color.
Timing:  I find it is best to wait at  least 5 minutes inbetween each color blending to allow  the area to dry as mucch as possible before applying the next color. The only exception to this is if your intention is to add some more marker color to the damp area to give a little contrast of shade.
My lightest color on this image is the 942 brown.  I added the color to the tops of the branches and the tops of the bridge posts, railings and walkway boards.  If you look closely, you will see that I even went a little outside of the lines.  Lighter colors are easy to cover up with darker colors later on.  Using  your waterbrush, blend with one stroke over each area.  Don't over-do it, all you are trying to achieve on this is to dampen the paper and lightly soften the color you just applied.
Add the darker brown color 947 to the shadowed areas on the tree trunk and bridge.  Remember to constantly think about where the light is coming from as you color.  Usually, underneath creases and where joints meet is where darker colors are.  You really don't need much of this color, but i added a little more than I normally would have, just for the sake of this tutorial.
TREE TRUNK: Blend with the waterbrush by brushing over the lighter color first and then moving the brush toward and into the darker color. Once you get to the darker color, go to the edge, carefully, and then back out into the lighter color. Quickly move to the next adjacent section and repeat.
BRIDGE: Touch the very tip of the waterbrush to the darker colors and with VERY short and quick strokes, move the color out into the lighter color.  Stay within the lines of the bridge sections.
Don't try to blend too much.  Often times, it is better to just go over once, and wait and watch as the color blends and dries.  Many times the first blending is the perfect one and playing with it too much will make it harder to achieve a natural look.
Here's what is looks like after you blend the darker color into the lighter.
Next color is the N65 gray for the stone and cement elements.  Add color to the areas where you think there are the darkest shadows.
Blend by touching the brush to the clear areas first and then blending into the areas where you added color, and then move the brush back out until the areas are covered. Finished blending of stones above.
For the leaves, I used mustard color 946 and just added a small dot in the center of each leaf.  I Blended by dabbing the tip of the waterbrush over each leaf individually.
Above is the blended leaves.
I wanted these leaves to have a prominent red color in their centers, so I touched very lightly with the 856 marker into the center of each leaf, AFTER the mustard color was dried, and I did NOT blend the red.
Landscapes quite often have many tones of greens, so try not to limit yourself to just one type of green.  Above, I used the 098 color for the mossy ground around the stones and the bush at the other end of the bridge.  I added dots of the color on the bush, and applied blotchy patches of the color on the ground.  Blend with the waterbrush by grabbing the color from the ground and moving to areas on the ground where there is no color.  Stay away from those leaves.  Using the smallest tip of waterbrush will help you.
Dab the tip of the wet waterbrush onto the bush, but don't try to blend too much, as white spots left will be filled in later with red for "flowers".
Above: olive  green areas blended
Add color 526 blue to the edges of the tree/leaves for the sky, and along the bush line, as well as under the bridge for the water, and create some squiggly streaks flowing out, if you want "moving" water.
Blend by applying the wet waterbrush tip to blue areas on the sky and move back and forth to pick up all the color in that section and move outward to fill the space.
Above: Blend the water by touching the wet brush tip to the white areas on the water and moving into the area under the bridge. Move the brush back again and over the entire water area.
I used the 177 green to color the ferns below the tree, the grass on the other side of the bridge and the bushes along the horizon.  For the bushes and grass, I dotted the color on so that after I blend, those dots will remain as an undertone and give the bushes a natural look of lights and shades. 

Above is after blending the 177 color. Notice how the bushes appear realistic with the variation in the color due to how I dotted on the color.
Using the fine tip of the 177 green, I drew over the long grass near the shoreline, added a few blades of grass on the grassy section on the other side of the bridge, as well as next to the big rock in the front left. No need to blend these areas, except for a tiny touch at the  base of the tall grass next to the riverbank.
We are at the darkest color now, the 899 brown, and this is used for the bridge supports, and for the bark in the tree trunk.  Blend the bridge supports.

To add a bit of color, I used the 856 again, for the large leafy plant near the bank, and "dotted" on the bush next to the other side of the bridge. Blend the red on the leafy plant.
Above is where I added the 899 brown as the bark on the tree trunk.
A few final touches:
Add some gray N65 to the undersides of the stones just to accentuate their contrast a bit more.  If you'd like to blend very quickly and lightly, do so now to smooth out the stones.
Above: Using the 899 brown again, apply very small dots in the green grassy area in front, just to add some variation in color there. Blend by dabbing quickly with the tip of the waterbrush, over each dot of color.
Here is the raw finished image.
Now you can apply and attach your layers, sew and finish your image panel.  AFTER the panel is finished, you can add your effects like clear lacquer on the water, or flower soft on the ground or on the bushes.
I chose to add green ultra fine flower soft near the bottom and red flower soft on the little bush and clear lacquer on the water.
My finished card:
  • IMAGE: Asian Garden image by Doodle Pantry
  • CS/PAPER: Canson 90 lb. watercolor paper,red, mustard, chocolate, K&Co Classic K Bailey 12x12 stack DP
  • INK: Tombow markers 942, 947, N65, 946, 856, 098, 177, 526, 899
  • ACCENTS/TOOLS:  Waterbrush,Spellbinders scallop square die, SU button, CDS mustard seed satin, thread, sewing machine, ultra fine flower soft green and red, clear glossy accent lacquer, pearls, glue dots, pop dots
Thank you for taking the time to go over the tutorial.  I hope you are encouraged to go and COLOR! Wishing you a wonderful weekened and many stamping pleasures!

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