• Color Study
Before start coloring the actual illustration, I prefer to try some color combinations at different opacities to see how it looks on the watercolor paper. This can be a very small-scale drawing just to study how the color combination, focus of drawing, light and shades are going to look.
There are many online tutorials and books available on watercolor paintings but I will try to incorporate all the techniques in this one example. Professional artists approach watercolor painting in proper step-by-step techniques. However I am a self-taught artist, I will show you the simplest way to use watercolor for illustration. I like to draw and color illustrations in Classic children’s storybooks style. It gives contemporary feel to a modern illustration.
While painting I like to start with eyes of the character, as it is always the focus of the drawing. It is said that ‘Eyes are the doors to the soul’. Then I spread out to secondary visual elements like, facial features, clothes, props and background in the end. The professional watercolor artists do exactly opposite to start with background first.
Initially I have started with the eyes and cheeks and also covered flat wash for hairs.
In the first round I have covered all the areas that need flat washes like her coat and dog’s body and let it dry properly. Watercolor tends to look different after drying so you might want to apply more color if required.
Then I started with detailing of girl’s dress that has polka dots. So I decided to keep the white dots uncolored and cover up rest of the area.
The colored portions considered as positive where as empty portions as negative. This helps me to know how to balance and enhance the composition.
Wait until all the colors dry and then use dry brush technique to enhance the features if needed.
I usually start with background coloring in the very end. I like to use wet in technique for background elements like sky, grass, walls, etc. This technique gives very unpredictable and interesting soft marks on the paper.
As I have mentioned before, I like to ink the illustration after coloring to add some thick and thin lines to enhance the features.
Sometimes you explore new techniques while using the medium itself. Like here what I have done is I have applied some water on the top of dry watercolor, which gives nice smudgy effect. And this is how our completed water color illustration looks like!
• Light and Shadows
If you have observed carefully, in watercolor the part of the subject that is in light left untouched and blank: only colors and shades are painted. For example while coloring eyes white dots are kept blank to show reflected light from pupils.