And then there was media study 5!

So I was thinking last night about this set of verithin pencils I’ve had on my shelf since before I had that shelf.  These are like regular colored pencils, except that their cores are much harder—akin to a 2 or 3H pencil—and so they can be sharpened to a point to help clean up lines or details normal colored pencils are too soft for.  In the past I haven’t found them to be very helpful with normal colored pencil work, but it occurred to me that might be just the thing to look like pencil-style rendering with added color.

For this composition I laid down some basic tones with watercolor and then went to work with black, grey, and umber pencils to render this unfortunate reprobate and his charming hat.  The pencils do a good job of getting that scratchy pencil look, but they are woefully transparent, even after many layers.  Still I liked the drawing I came up with, and decided to add some additional tone to the background with a few more watercolor washes.  After the washes though, the background grew so dark it was overpowering the light pencil-work, so I came back in with a normal black colored pencil and punched up some of the shadows.  I also added some texture to the background areas with the verithin pencils to tie things together a bit more.  This is the drawing paper I use with pencils, and it took quite a beating with all the watercolor washes.

I also took another approach to sketching this composition out.  Rather than working on another piece of scratch paper and then transferring a final drawing I just went strait ahead and did the sketch, such as it was, on the final piece of drawing paper.  I think not worrying about the sketch so much will be helpful, especially with techniques like this week’s paintings where it’s impossible to maintain a sketch after initial coats of paint.  I’m pretty happy with this one, although it took until just this minute to realize that I intended to give this man glasses, and completely forgot.

A Newspaper


Hello and welcome to another episode of media studies.

So we’re back to pencil for this one, but I’ve taken a slightly different tact.  Rather than pencil over watercolor, this time things were reversed.  Also I gave things a try on my usual pencil rendering paper rather than watercolor paper to see how it would hold up under the water.

Before I started I was very concerned that the pencil rendering would simply smear all over the drawing as soon as I got it wet.  I used a full range of pencils—usually up to 8 or 9B—and the drawing surface smears easily.  I work with a piece of tracing paper laid over things just to protect the drawing.  Just to be sure I made up some scrap papers with thick pencil marks on them just to see what would happen.  To my surprise the pencil was very stable, even under some moderate brush work.  In fact, the major difference is that areas saturated with graphite repel the water, so colors tend to sit on top and pool like painting over masking fluid.  There is some loose graphite that at least gets on the brush, but it didn’t seem to effect the drawing at all.

This approach makes it a little easer to control where the color is going to go—as opposed to laying washes down first.  However it does tend to darken the tone of the drawing as a whole, so I’m still going to need to compensate in the rendering process.  Now that I’ve tried things both ways I think I can easily mix the two methods, laying down some base colors over all first, then coming back in later with spot color applications.  Isn’t learning fun?

Child in Wheat Field


With some time off this week I’m trying to do some media studies for the salt shaker project.

I’m still not quite sure what I want the final style to look like, but I’ve been thinking a lot about simple pencil rendering lately, so Im looking for ways to introduce a little color to that technique.

This is my first attempt.  I started with an old scrap of cold press watercolor paper.  After transferring the sketch I did some simple watercolor washes (left image), just to block out large areas of color, and to tone the paper so it would look a little weathered.  Once things were dry I came back in with the pencil to add all the real tone and detail (right image).

There are things about the color that I like, but this paper just doesn’t take pencil very well.  Even fresh the texture is too big, and that just gets worse after it’s been wet and wrinkles a bit.  I’ll have to see if I can find some drawing paper that can take watercolor rather than the other way around.



Another attempt at mixing scratchboard and color.  In this case I started with a fully black scratchboard and incised the image.  I then came back and painted over select areas with washes of watercolor, blotting in some areas to let more of the white show through, and adding extra washes in others to make the colors deeper.  

The picture is based on a magazine photo.  

Toil in the Radish Fields


A little mock up painting I made to try working on hot-press rather than cold-press watercolor paper.  I actually did this painting some time last semester, but never got around to scanning it.  

I’ve always been told that hot-press paper (which is the smoother kind of watercolor paper) is best for ink and line work, but in playing with this and a few other scraps and some india ink I found that this paper was much more apt to leach and bleed the ink lines than good ol’ cold-press.  

The caption is a little hard to read at this dpi (and lacks a certain appriciation for proper spelling), so I’ve reporduced it below.  It reads:

Elizabeth was told on numerous occasions not to play in the fields at harvest time, but every year the temptation proved too great, so Uncle Mark always told the field hands to keep an eye out for her.  She would be the one that didn’t look like a radish.

The line is from a short story I was working on.

Watercolor Scraps

I did a few brief watercolor paintings over the last semester that I never really got around to posting, until now.  Most of these were done on scraps of watercolor paper I had left lying around after cutting up larger sheets.  You’ll probably notice the watermarks from the paper in the corner of some of these.  The other holes are from the staples that held the paper while I stretched it.  


This was based on a photo of one of those hairless sphinx cats.  The red lines were made by filling an old-fashioned lining pen with watercolor water.


Based on a much cooler photograph of the same sort of wet and unfocused view of a city street.  Wish I could find the photo.


I love a lot of the birds on here, but there are a few that don’t look quite right.  They also happen to be the last few I added.  Sometimes it’s hard to stop, even when you know you should.


You can never have too many walruses.