Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Rugby Watercolour Print Tutorial


A new cartoon tutorial on how I created a watercolour for the sporting prints section of my RedBubble store.


I have another print. 

I could just show it to you, but that would be too easy, and anyway, I think you would rather like to see how it was produced; to go behind the scenes a bit and see what my thought process (for what it is), was for this picture. Correct?

Of course you would. But if you don't then take a look at the picture above, soak it in, enjoy it for what it is, and move on knowing that you've done your good deed for the day and made this cartoonist very happy.

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Okay. So for those of you who had a good look and thought: 'You know what, I think I'll invest a bit more of my day and quite possibly two thirds of this cup of tea and at least two and a half chocolate hobnobs to see just how he got from point A to point B.'

Part 1

So here we go.

With my watercolour prints---particularly the sporting ones---I tend to take a phrase or saying that is pertinent to that sport or past-time and create a humorous image around it. This particular painting was called 'The Drop Kick'.

Once I had the title I needed to create an image to go with it. After a while sketching layouts it quickly became obvious that the image I was leaning towards was going to be a very busy one; a picture that would incorporate a lot of bodies, sight gags and action.

Now the only way I can do this---without having thousands of indecipherable pencil lines all over my watercolour paper---making it virtually impossible to see where I've been, let alone where I am going---is to draw the component parts of the picture, paste them together then light-box them directly onto the watercolour paper.


Now those more eagle eyed amongst you will probably have noted already that on the finished picture not everything is as it was on the original rough layout. Whereas some characters have been removed, others have been added after the light-boxing was completed. 

I also know that I said to draw a picture of this complexity straight onto the finished page would be just too confusing. But to be honest with you, once the main body of the picture was complete, adding one or two more characters really wasn't going to be a problem. Especially, as I have done here, if they are going to be largely independent of the main scrum of characters. 

But at this stage it is more important to get the characters roughed and down; I can always move them around the page and light-box them in slightly different positions afterwards.


Part 2

To be honest with you I feel like I'm cheating when I light-box my art through to the watercolour paper. But I always try to equate the circle with the square by pointing out that the concentration and constant taping and re taping of the rough to the back of the paper while positioning and re positioning the image and changing the composition all the time is no simple task. And anyway. It was me that drew the rough images and layouts in the first place: it's not like I'm copying someone else's work, right?

Good. I am now happy and have talked myself into a nice place: very important when you are about to take on a project of this magnitude, peppered as it is with the multitude of potential disasters and pit-falls that they all come fitted with as standard.

Part 3


For those of you who have seen past watercolour tutorials, here on the Diary of a Cartoonist and Writer, you will know that once the characters are laid down in clean, crisp pencil lines, I mask some or all of them off, allowing me to drop in the big washes.

In this case I masked only a little before wetting the paper by where the sky was going, then I set to; I laid down the first big wash with a gulp and sigh of both trepidation and anxiety.

I placed a few strokes of Naples Yellow and I was off. Once the yellow was down I immediately added the cobalt blue, making sure not to let it bleed into the Naples Yellow causing it to turn a murky green.

'The beauty of art is that the rules are there to be broken; in fact I actively encourage you to do so'. 

Once it had begun to dry---but was still a little damp---I touched some raw sienna to the cobalt blue mix on my palette and tapped it in gently to a few areas to give the sky a bit more atmosphere: Rugby is, after all, predominantly a winter based sport, so moody or leaden skies are as regular as the fixtures themselves.

Having said that, I didn't want to make the sky so dark as to detract from the main image. If I had been producing just a landscape then the sky would be one of its main players, but seeing as the focus of the picture was going to be its characters, the sky had to take a back seat and take on the role as the support act.

Part 3



Like I say, normally I mask out the characters when laying out a large wash. But in this case---and with all of the confusion of characters---I really wasn't that confident that I would get everything that needed to be covered, covered: in the end I did wind up going over one of the players but luckily I spotted it at an early stage and turned his green hue into subtle shading.

At this point it all looks a little flat and unappetising, but this is normal for one of my pieces. I need to put a weak wash down as my method of colouring is to bring it to life using many layers; often more than is advised.

For example, most artist teachers say to give your paintings component parts three layers: light, medium and shade (or dark). I have often thrown that rule right out of the window I purposely leave open for just such eventualities. I, personally, work on as many layers as I think the painting needs. The beauty of art is that the rules are there to be broken; in fact I actively encourage you to do so. 


Part 4

I suppose I could go through every single stage from here on in, explaining what it is I do.What brushes I use. Which end I squeeze the paint tube from or how many sugars I take in my tea. And if you really want to know all that then it's a mixture of rounds, numbers 1, 3 and 6. A liner brush and a number 7 chisel. I squeeze from what ever part I pick it up from and it's one sugar in my Earl Grey.

But to be honest with you, the boring fact of the matter is: the rest of the process is as un-glamorous as just putting down one layer of colour on top of another until the characters become solid and three dimensional.

I will say this though: when producing a picture as involved and as complicated as this one, strong colours around it's central characters is paramount; it gives a uniformity that's easily broken up when darker characters arrive in the middle, and it is this contrast of colours that will pull the viewers eyes into the paintings main point: that of the drop kick.

But that said, here's a shed load of images showing you the stages I went through and the layers I built up to complete this project.

Typically a painting like this will take around fifteen man hours to complete, but it is rarely done in one sitting. A painting of this complexity needs me to walk away many times and keep on coming back with fresh eyes and a clear head.

Any way, please enjoy the images below and as always, any comments you may have, please let me have them in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer all your questions.



















 ...and finally, I used a dip pen (Gilliott 303 nib) and a bottle of Windsor and Newton nut brown ink to give the characters a gentle, yet subtle definition and filled the stands with spectators; signed it and pulled the tape of to give it a nice, crisp border.

The image is then ready to upload to my RedBubble site for all to see and purchase.



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