The supplies that I use in a typical watercolor
Jar or bucket for water
Screwdriver and/or pliers
Razor blade or Exacto knife
If you are serious about having
professional looking paintings, you absolutely *cannot* use cheap cake/pan
watercolors. These are meant for children and no serious artist should
use them. There is a *huge* difference in quality between kids'
watercolors and professional watercolors. I highly recommend shelling out
the cash for better watercolors - the finished product
always looks much better. Not all cake/pan watercolors are bad - a good
rule of thumb is that if they're sold by
Dick Blick or in the
professional artist section of a craft store instead of the children's, it is a
good quality product.
use Windsor and Newton Cotman paints. They are student grade, so
they are less expensive than professional grade watercolors and they work
well. (The difference between student grade and professional grade
watercolors has to do with the ratio of pigment to filler in a tube and
thus the price. Student quality paints are usually sufficient unless
you intend to make a living off of your paintings.)
It's also best to get a wide variety of
brushes - large ones, tiny ones, round ones, flat ones. The better
the selection of brushes you have, the more textures you can create and
the more lifelike your painting is. Don't be afraid to spend a little
extra money buying good brushes that are going to last. It's well
worth it in the end. Sable brushes are the best that you can get.
Also, it's wise to buy brushes that are meant specifically for watercolor
as they hold water better and are easier to use. Watercolor brushes
typically have shorter handles than brushes for acrylics or oils.
Also, it is imperative to paint on something
thicker than computer paper. In fact, even Bristol board is *way*
too thin to be painting on. What you need is watercolor paper, illustration
board or watercolor board. If you go for watercolor paper, the thicker
the paper (heavier "weight") the better. Watercolor paper comes in
hot press (smooth), cold press (textured), and rough (very textured).
The best thing to do when doing *any* kind
of painting on paper is to soak the paper for a couple of minutes
until it's saturated with water. A large tray or bathtub works well
for this, although holding it under running water in a sink works as a
last resort. The wet paper should then be carefully taken out of
the water and gently set on a piece of plywood that is larger than the
paper. I make sure that the paper is put on evenly with no wrinkles
or trapped bubbles of air, then I staple it to the plywood at regular intervals.
If paper is not soaked and stapled to a board, when it is painted on the
paper becomes warped and wrinkled. Soaking and stapling keeps the
paper flat and smooth and makes it easier to paint on.
Let the paper dry. Once it is dry,
the next step is to mask off a border with masking tape. The tape
protects the border of the painting from paint seeping over or under it
and keeps the edges of the paper neat and even. When applying the
tape, I stick the tape to my jeans a couple of times so it doesn't tear
the paper when I take it off.
Once the paper is attached to the board,
is dry and is taped off, the next step is to sketch out my image using
a 6H pencil (as shown in the sketching and inking tutorial). Remember
to use a very hard pencil because your lines *will* show through the paint.
If you feel the need to ink your image, remember to use waterproof ink
so that the ink doesn't bleed and ruin your image.
Play around with mixing your colors in your
palette. Using colors straight out of the tube is hardly ever a wise
decision. Try desaturating colors by adding opposite colors (i.e.
add purple to yellow, green to red, etc.). Paints are *excellent*
for helping you get a feel for color.
The reason why you need thick paper is to keep
your painting from getting too waterlogged too fast. Letting the painting
dry between layers for at least a little while helps to keep the colors from
bleeding into each other or getting too "muddy". Build up lots of thin layers of color.
Thin layers of color are good for making things look light and airy or
transparent. Watering the paint down is
good for putting down base layers and for making the paint go on more smoothly.
The thicker the paint is, the harder it is to make it go on smoothly. If
you want a thicker, heavier look, I'd recommend gouache instead of watercolor -
it's also water-based, but is meant to be put on thicker.
With watercolor it is important to work
from light to dark. Remember to leave areas that are supposed to
be white unpainted. It's more time effective than going back in with
white watercolors or gouache. Add more and more layers of color to
areas that are supposed to be dark; add less paint to areas that are highlights.
Use darker, less saturated colors for shadows.
When you're all finished painting, let
it dry completely before you attempt to take it off the board - otherwise
the paper may still warp. Once the paper is dry, carefully remove
the masking tape from the paper, then cut around the edge of the border
with a razor blade or an Exacto knife to remove the paper from the board.
Tear the remainder of the paper off of the board, then remove the staples
from the board using a screwdriver and/or pliers.