Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Coloring cartoon sketches with watercolor pencils step-by-step

For one of the initial tests of my new Uni-ball Watercolor Pencil set, I decided to do a step-by-step demonstration of coloring a waterproof sketch with watercolor pencils. The Cretacolor leadholder loaded with the oil-based Nero lead was used to sketch this whimsical picture of two jungle animals-costumed characters on a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, and the set of watercolor pencils was used to quickly color it just like you would using regular colored pencils. The Nero lead was chosen because it does not smear as much as soft graphite pencil, and it behaves more like an oil-based black colored pencil. It did stain the tips of the watercolor pencils, so I was careful to avoid touching the Nero black outlines while coloring with the Uni watercolor pencils.
For the initial flat coloring is not necessary to saturate the outlines with the dry watercolor pencil marks since the steady flow of clean water from the waterbrush will blend and spread the pigment through each section of the illustration.
Close up of the loose dry coloring of the costumed girl's head.

I often find it easier to start at the head and work my way down. The yellow and ochre parts of the face, beak, and wings were moistened first. Then the pink and orange of head and upper body parts were further defined followed by the blue head feathers.
The waterbrush was used to selectively blend the dry colored pencils marks with water. It is more efficient to start from the lightest color and work towards the darker ones, so that the brush tip does not require too much cleaning between color changes.
This compact set up can work in very small spaces like this food court table. Taking a few minutes to stretch my legs and allow the initial flat coloring to dry a bit so later color applications will not run into each other uncontrollably.
Picking up pigment directly from the point of the Canary Yellow watercolor pencil with the moistened waterbrush to add some shading to the beak and wings. Watercolor pencils are quite a versatile medium functioning both as effective drawing tools as well as a ready source of watercolor paint. A few darker shades were added in a similar manner to add volume and texture to the initial flat coloring.
Finished illustration.
Final reminder tip: Use a napkin or paper towel to wipe the waterbrush clean between color changes and to wipe dry moistened pencil tips to prevent them from crumbling and weakening after using the pencils as watercolor pans.


Kyra K. said...

Any idea where I might be able to buy the uniball watercolor pencil set?

B2-kun said...

The only two places where I have ever saw them were at Jet Pens (no longer listed there) and while browsing through the Kinokuniya Stationery store in Japantown, SF. If you can not find them, you could try a set of 12 Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils and bundle them with a good waterbrush. Their performance is nearly identical.

Kyra K. said...

Thanks for the tip!