This tutorial will show you how to paint a watercolor cover for the comic Andraste.
The entire process took approximately 4 days and required 8-12 hours per day.
Let’s get started. My palette uses watercolor paint. Although I have a variety of brands, I recommend starting with W&N if you are looking for a specific brand.
I usually start with a few thumbnail sketches to show the client. These thumbnails are rough sketches that only focus on the composition. It was very simple for this piece. The most difficult part was the setting of the character.
After the thumbnail has been drawn, I scan it and open Photoshop to edit it. To create the cover I combine photos, 3D assets, and tons of painting. This process can sometimes take up to a whole day.
Photoshop solves most structural problems and relationships between colors. This is because I don’t like to be blinded by a painting, except when it’s my personal work.
Once the mockup has been completed, I scale it to the area I will be working with and then print it ready for transfer.
To create the desired texture on the canvas, I first use a pre-primed Absorbent and then prime it.
Next, I transfer the mockup to the canvas. Because I’ve noticed issues like scratching and erasing that can cause damage to the surface and then later make it difficult to layer, I prefer to transfer the mockup onto the canvas.
Despite this, a transfer is rarely perfect. I often go back in after the work is done to do touch-ups and add subtle details to the piece. It’s the foundation of any painting, so it needs to be taken with the same care.
To create a background, I will use my 12-round and oval mop brushes. I prefer to build layers slowly and start light. This way, it is easier to manage the values.
My palette consists of both cool primary colors and warm secondary colors. A warm and cool palette allows you to control the temperature of your painting’s color scheme.
Tones tend to shift when light colors are used. This can sometimes make the piece look cluttered. It’s important to keep the pieces balanced between any hard color shifts. This is particularly important when trying to capture realistic light, as it projects through the scene and reflects off objects and materials.
The second layer of paint is applied to the canvas, and the surface of the canvas gets the most abuse. To capture convincing water effects for the ocean, I remove and reapply paint repeatedly.
It is crucial to complete the background before you start a scenic piece. We see less detail the further the landscape recedes. To increase the depth of the scene, colors and values can also be adjusted. This requires you to be able to control your palette and understand how colors complement one another.
I apply a neutral white glaze to the surface, which is diluted with water. I take care to ensure that the pressure used is minimal. An airbrush is used for glazing, as too much pressure with a regular brush can cause layers beneath to reactivate or lift.
After I have completed the background, I start to work on the figure.
Below is some more information about the “abuse,” I mentioned above. This image shows a technique that I accidentally discovered, but which works surprisingly well. Although I don’t claim to be the first to use it, I haven’t seen anyone else.
The airbrush is filled with water. I lower the pressure to around 10-15 psi and then spray the area. This will activate certain areas where I need to remove the paint. This allows you to create highlights or textures.
Although the surface is limited by its ability to withstand pressure, you can lift colors with very little staining if you apply it properly. This is a risky but fun technique that I am looking forward to seeing other artists use.
Now, I will fine-tune the painting and finish the touches-up. I’m only using my 10/0 and 2-liners at this point. Before the structure can be finalized, her face will be glazed with red. This involves some anatomical adjustments.
The liner is used to highlight areas that have been removed by the airbrush. It also punches out lighter tones. Additional adjustments to the atmosphere are made and water droplets are added to the figure.
Once I feel that the painting is complete, I will put it down for the day. I find certain aspects of the painting that I missed by looking at it later.
From the many talented artists I have met throughout my career, I know what to tighten and what I should let go of. Although some parts of the painting may not be rendered well, the most important points are very refined.
Liners are used at a later stage because they allow me to control the amount of water that is being held by my brush. It is easier to control the paint and build layers if you use less water. This allows each layer to dry quicker, making it easier to complete the piece. This is why I prefer to work with smaller pieces. Larger pieces take too much time.
The airbrush also helps to lock in the layers underneath so that when I paint it over, it covers well.
You can use all the techniques I have shared today on paper or wood. Arches Watercolor Paper 300 lb. Cold Pressed.
I am grateful that you have taken the time to come along on this journey with me. Although I did not leave much information, I hope that I have given you some guidance on how to approach a water-color painted cover.
I look forward to sharing this topic with you in the future.
Let me share some artists who inspire me, whether they are in books or face to face.
Dan Thompson, Glen Orbik & Laurel Blechman, Steve Assel, Daniel R Horne, Alex Ross, Das Pastoral, Irvin Rodriguez, Esad Ribik, Mike Colon & Ray Sierra.
If you would like to find out more about Andraste and see the other covers I’ve created for the book you can find them here 3dvkarts.
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