This Painting Doesn't Exist.


I've made a pretty big breakthrough in my creative process and I'm quite chuffed. First, the obvious to anyone that is familiar with my Instagram is that I've done this scene before. It looked a lot like this:


This is from a really personal story I've been working on and up until this point, probably the best digital painting I've ever done. In fact it inspired me to work out the rest of the story digitally. As someone who has to juggle 4 different people's schedules and spread across three three different schools the prospect of working on my iPad while waiting in the parent pick up line is super seductive. My painting station is awesome but it can be an anchor of sorts.


Sadly, the more into the story I get and the more digital work I finish... the less personal it feels. I've always used photoshop and or Procreate to enhance or tidy up my paintings but the bulk of the art was always traditional. I'm a watercolorist and this is a story that even if it never gets printed or published, I need to tell it and it has to feel right so... back to tradition.


I have always struggled with my composition and "neatness" of full bleed scenes. Between the masking and rewetting and layering my paper gets pretty beat up and sometimes overworked. A mistake on any part will ruin the whole painting for my tiny dinosaur brain. I know some of this can be remedied with more sketches and thumbnails (both already part of my process) but here's where my breakthrough comes in:


Ingredients:

  • Pencils

  • Sketchbook

  • Tracing paper

  • Watercolors

  • Watercolor paper

Instead of thinking of one scene as a big intimidating project... break it down. The characters, the background / foreground and the composition. I sketch the characters first because that's my strong suit, thumbnail the backgrounds and break out the tracing paper. Each character and background element gets transferred to their own piece so I can play with their positioning and overall composition. This means I can treat each element as its own piece of art which really helps me keep my focus on the task at hand. Once I'm happy with all the elements I paint them individually. so we end up with something like this:


Once they are painted I can remove the watercolor textured background in the character paintings and import them into the same file. I opted to do the linework / inking digitally because it makes "cutting out" the characters MUCH easier and I finally found a digital brush that mimics my micron pens pretty great. So we end up with something like this:



look at 'em. Just look at 'em. All the beauty and texture of watercolor with the vibrance and crispy-idy goodness of digital. Plus I hid all my soul crushing mistakes. win-win.




Now we have all of our elements each on their own layer and now I can mess with the composition all I want and if I want to replace any part of it... easy peasy. In the end we have this:



The only problem: This painting doesn't exist. until I print it out :)


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