Experiments in “Traditional” Media: Watercolor Colored Pencils

So, over winter break I rediscovered these:

These are watercolor colored pencils. Basically, the core of the pencil is the same stuff those solid blocks of watercolor paint are made of. The idea is you can draw with the pencil, then go over it with a wet brush to get interesting blending effects, etc.

Following the advice in this video, the first thing I did was to make a color test page:

(click for full size)

Adding water can drastically change the appearance of some of the colors, so it’s good to know what they look like after water is applied. I also wanted to figure out how the pencils behaved on the watercolor paper, since the paper has a rough side and a smooth side (turns out there’s no real difference).

Onwards towards the experiments! As D has pointed out, scanning colored pencils is tricky business, so I’ve messed with the sliders in Photoshop a bit to get the colors as close as I can to the way they appear in real life.

Here was my first attempt. While I feel the coloring turned out fairly nice on this (particularly in the hair), D argued that it’s not really exploiting the particular traits of the watercolor pencils. Too “precise”, maybe. The jacket has more of the character of “watercolor”, so I decided to go with that on my next attempt.

More of the same. Given the trouble I had waterbrushing the previous one, I decided to draw bigger here. There’s still a lot of pencil markings in the colored areas, although there’s more of a “watercolor” effect this time.

(Aside: I got really used to drawing at a particular scale. It’s hard for me to draw much bigger than that, which I really need to get more used to doing so that I can get some scale variation in when I’m doing comic pages.)

I decided that maybe inking the sketch was working against my objective, so I tried to use the watercolor pencils to do the rough linearting on the next one…

This is probably too far in the other direction. Comic-style art has outlines for a reason. I think this might be a good technique to use for backgrounds and nature scenes though, which would provide good stylistic contrast with outlined foreground figures (I have used this technique previously in Sandstorm and this comic).

Having the brushes out gave me the idea to experiment in another direction though:

This drawing uses the ink I normally use with my nib pens for the lineart on colored works, but diluted with a brush. I discovered that it’s not actually waterproof (despite what it says on the bottle), but that means that I can turn it into interesting shades of grey by adding water to a little bit of ink. Worth experimenting further …

Next time: a comic!

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