Sunday, October 18, 2009

Seal's Watercolor Illustration - Process

Seal is currently working on a watercolor illustration. This piece is titled "Looking for Noah," loosely inspired by the Noah's Ark story and Blacksad, a comic album series created by author Juan Diaz Canales and artist Juanjo Guardino. Juanjo Guardino's detective story features anthropomorphic animals in full watercolor illustrated panels.

Seal mainly wanted to convey the overall tone of low key bar lighting, facial expressions of the different characters, and "a moment" during an investigation. Seal had in mind a Chicago bar with mahogany counters.

Seal usually starts with small thumbnails for composition, that get enlarged into a detailed pencil drawing. The above stage was trying to decide lighting. In order to get the "old wooden bar" look, she mixed burnt umber, purline, and rose madder. That way she can also control value and temperature just by varying the degree of each color.

Seal's palette resembles the color wheel. It makes it easier to reach across the complimentary color to mute, cool, or darken a color.

Seal normally doesn't like to use masking fluid, but because the piece called for extreme highlights, she does masks some of the lighted edges on the characters and bottles before painting. If you rub some liquid hand soap on your brush before using masking fluid, it will preserve your brush and make it easier to clean the glue off. Once the colors are mixed, Seal layers monochromatic value using a big flat brush. Textures are layered with hard small brushes. The result is the top above illustration. Eventhough Seal likes this monochromatic piece, she eventually wants to glaze some muted greens and blues to make the piece much more richer in color.

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