Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Watercolour sketch: young Gawain

Yesterday evening I was pottering around with my watercolours. I 'potter around' much more often than applying myself seriously - mostly because, though I love watercolour, it also makes me nervous, and I have to overcome my fear before I can paint something 'for real'. It is just so easy to ruin a picture if you have as little skill with watercolour as I have :/. And yet it's fun!

What I was actually supposed to be doing is to paint Christmas cards. Trouble is, I haven't got a design yet that I like enough and can replicate a dozen of times. So instead I started to mess around. That is when I decided to do a little try-out for Gawain. It's very frustrating: he's the hero of my comic (even though at this point in the narrative he hasn't been born yet), but I have such trouble getting him to look right. One thing that annoys the hell out of me is that I never manage to colour his hair properly. Gawain has glorious red hair, and it's sort of important. Now, I used to start from a basis of cadmium red because I reasoned that real red hair looks a bit orange-y. But it always looked awful on poor Gawain, and it was also pretty difficult to combine with greens and blues. It was garish. Now, I'm pretty sure that much of the failure is due to my own ineptitude at mixing colours. But, well, there's no one but me to do this, so... In my experiment of yesterday, I started from a basis of crimson with some raw sienna. I have never seen anyone with this hair colour, but it gets the point across and it is easy to combine. I like the result - even though there is, as usual, lots of other stuff wrong with the picture :s.

For the record*:
- I used very cheap watercolour paper - 175 g/m² and with a texture like ordinary drawing paper. Not pretty. I wouldn't use this for a 'good' drawing, but it serves for a sketch.
- The drawing itself was done in lilac watersoluble pencil (Caran d'Ache Classicolor). This was fun and I think I'll do it again. The unnecessary lines just dissolved with water (I draw very lightly) and I was able to do some corrections while painting, most notably on the nose and mouth.
- The paint is Winsor & Newton and some Cotman. I mixed it on the page, because sketching serves as an excuse for the most awful laziness. It's a miracle the skin tones turned out as reasonable as they did XD. Colours used: raw sienna, Winsor yellow, Alizarin crimson, permanent carmine, permanent mauve (my new favourite! it's such a great colour for mixing), cerulean blue, Winsor blue, Winsor green. (You can tell by all the Winsor colours that I bought them all together in a box, I guess :P.)

*I need to keep notes, because otherwise I forget how I got a certain colour/effect, which is stupid.

I made a complete mess of the shadows, the nose and the placement of the eyes. So, um, suggestions for improvements are always welcome :-).

1 comment:

Cecilia said...

Indeed, using red pans for red hair usually makes them look false. I would use mostly orange, vermillion, red ocre, burnt Siena, but also dark yellow, yellow ocre for the light parts, and browns for the dark.
Mauve is a tremendously useful colour, I agree :)