Mar 24, 2010

A Poppy of a Tutorial

Every now and then, once in a blue moon, I post the progress of my work.  I've been illustrating so much for children's books lately that after painting "Day of Joy" I just needed to do another being with wings.  I still kept the youthfulness and quarky stylings that I would use in childrens' book illustration, the whole combining the two.  Now I'm rambling.

So this is "Poppy".  I like to sketch with my students during free draw at work (about 15 mins at the beginning of class we "free draw" to loosen up.  They can draw whatever they wish.)  I highly suggest it if you're not already sketching before you dive into a project.

And instead of using my mechanical pencil and moleskine sketchbook, I decided to use what they were using.  HB pencil, pearl eraser, and copy paper...I was reminded of jr. high...those were the common tools.  Sometimes it's good to go back to basics.

On the left is the sketch I did in HB pencil.  I used to just go crazy with my fashions, but have mellowed out a bit lately.  So I wanted to bring that back in.  I may have gone a bit overboard, but I'm lovin' it!  Kids loved it too.  :)  It's a great example of where practice, practice, practice will take you.  I personally love detail, I think the more detail you have the more engaging the piece becomes.  Tho I will say, negative space is just as equally important.

I took the sketch from work (which was a good size, about 5x7) and placed it on my lightbox, and taped it down (corners).  If you don't have one, get one!  They cut a lot of work time in half and now after buying a higher grade box, I don't need to ink my work anymore!  I'm a pretty messy sketcher, so the lightbox allows me to trace over my sketch with clean crisp lines.

I laid my pre-cut (cut it so that I would have enough white space around the image when I'm finished painting) Arches 140lb hot press paper on top of the sketch on the lightbox with the light on.  This way I can see exactly where my lines are going.  Taped the watercolor paper down, again...just the corners.

After I have everything I want from the sketch, I turn off the lightbox and continue working on the final line art.  I draw pretty light at first and have pretty good confidence in my line quality.  I say that not to be big headed, but that I rarely do backgrounds or major character development on separate sheets of paper.  I typically do them right on the watercolor paper without prep.

One last thing, although it's becoming more frequent, finalizing a sketch into watercolor is still pretty new to me.  I think one of the reasons why I haven't is because, I don't know about you and fellow artisans, but I always prefer the sketch over the final line art.

Why I don't just use that, I dunno.  Obessesive over clean lines...
View the first steps to adding paint now!


christine grove said...

This is GREAT!! I'll be back to read the coloring process. Thank you! You're painting is phenomenal and being to to see how you go about it is really a treat:)

k.h.whitaker said...

she is lovely

Kelley said...

I'm with you, I never like my final line art as much as my sketch...I think it's that my original sketch show more movement and somehow I'm not translating that into the final...something for me to work on :)

I love this by the way, the border is great and the way you have her name spelled out so intricately. Can't wait to see the next steps.

thanks for sharing.

Sara Burrier said...


Kelley, yeah, I believe that is why. The sketch has the initial emotion and such beautiful gesture that the final drawing just doesn't have. I feel like I loose some of the spirit of the drawing when I transfer and clean it up. :/ I'm becoming more and more aware of it tho when I redraw, so like in this particular piece I tried to go back to my initial feeling and stroke as I redrew. Kinda worked, I'm with you, need more practice at it. :)

Amanda Makepeace said...

Wonderful!! I couldn't resist putting this in the EBSQ Friday Five. Check it out tomorrow. :D

roberta said...

Wow fantastic!

Megan M. said...

Hi, I'm kind of new to this site. I saw this picture and I really liked it because it was image I was looking for. I am a writer in training and when I write I try to match images to charaters and this one was totally perfect for a story I'm working on. Thank you for your Awesome Picture it really made my day.

Fawn Palmer said...

I was just browsing, and happened upon your website through Crafts and Me, and all I can say is wow. Your art is beautiful! I was awe-struck by your talent! I just started looking, and I can't wait to see all of your other images! Your art is breath taking! Thank you for sharing. Hugs