Why use water colors to improve your drawing skills?

This is a quick report for month 2 of my boot camp which should cover:

water color painting figures

  • Drawing

  • Character design

  • Color

  • Digital sculpting

Currently working on improving my drawing skills for more accuracy and speed. Worked with pens and now water colors following a course by Carcamo.

Why use water colors to improve your drawing skills?

I come from an oil painting background. It takes time to finish the painting but the medium is forgiving. you can rework an area and fix your mistakes no problem. Layers on top of layers... like digital painting, more or less.

Pro: more relaxed, you can change your mind a lot.

Con: over time you pick up the habit of "I will fix it as a I go" which is ok unless there's a lot to fix later on.

Learning a new medium is like playing a new musical instrument... same music, new tools and techniques.

Water colors is an amazing medium, but some see it as either a medium for kids or a medium that is so difficult. I haven't worked in oil painting in forever for several reasons. Water color allows me the fun and a sense of connectedness to my art when I use an actual brush without the health hazards of oil painting!

Working online, and working as part of a team, requires you to work in digital media. Since I work digitally, I desperately need water colors to stay connected to real media and to actually touch my work as I create it.

Water colors will help you with:

  • Gradation

  • Simplification

  • Process

  • Intent

  • Gradation

It's gradation muscle day! You can learn this skill using other mediums but water colors shine in this area because you can work in different techniques. This medium lets you work monochromatically, in different colors, to minimize boredom while you build the specific skill of gradation.

water color painting

  • Simplification

helps you simplify what you see. Overworking watercolors reduces its charm and appeal. You learn to see and choose what really matters. Focus on the overall, suggest the details.

water color painting monochromatic green

  • Process

Working in water colors helps you develop a process. You start light and add darker layers as you go. This process keeps you moving forward towards the finished result. When you do this to avoid making mistakes that can't be fixed, you become more organized. In other words, you end up working faster.

  • Intent

Water Colors are translucent or see through to a certain extent. You can't always wipe a color off the paper or color over it and still have the same feeling you were going for. It's not a very forgiving medium, you can only try and correct your mistakes so many times. To avoid this, you need to work with more thought and intent. Have a vision and a plan of what you want to do before you lay color on paper.

water color painting seated figure

Tips On Working With Water Colors:

Pebeo half pan
  • Work with pans and half pans for smaller areas.

  • Work with tubes on bigger areas: You will get a more saturated or darker colors easily.

  • Start light: go dark slowly/gradually: shadows on top of lighter layers, and dark objects on top of the light background.

  • Use the darkest darks sparingly

  • Start with exercises of gradients

Stick to monochromatic sketches and studies until you feel comfortable using this medium. Still life first, then landscape then figures.

  • Try colors on thumbnails first before you go big.

  • Long brush strokes will add more spontaneity to your piece.

  • Work wet (wet brush/paper) to get soft edges and work dry to get sharp edges.

  • Draw with intent, draw what you feel, great for gesture and quick concepts.

Still have more assignments to finish and a lot of practice but I am more comfortable with the medium now.

All these concepts and skills are transferable to the digital media so do your best and share your work in my study group for feedback.