For those who are interested, this is a step-by-step on how I created this piece of art. I will also include links to the materials and supplies I used, at the bottom of the page, if you’re interested. I hope you enjoy!
Setting up my work area. I love my work area. I wish I could have a permanent art studio area. LOVE it! The ritual of setting it up is almost as much fun for me as using it.
I use an Ottlite task light for lighting up the specific area I am drawing. Overhead lighting tends to create shadows right where I don’t want them!
First step, I created the basic design on my computer, in Photoshop, then printed it out. My inspiration for both of these was FAMILY, and the circle in both represents the unity of their families.
I made several art boards out of Elmer’s foam board. I love foam board for my art boards because it is very light and easy to handle, relatively inexpensive, firm and inflexible, and a bright white surface. And they are reusable. I have also made several of these artboards for my elementary school-aged kids that I give art lessons to. I use Frog Tape to tape the papers to the board because, well, I like frogs! Also, because it works without damaging the paper, although you do need to be careful when removing it.
Computer printout taped to my drawing board.
I tape Translucent Marker paper over the computer printout.
I use 100% Rag Translucent Marker paper by Bienfang. I like this paper because it is high quality and tolerates repeated pencil erasing. It takes ink well without any bleeding. It is translucent enough to trace with, although it is not as translucent as tracing paper.
Then I start tracing with a mechanical pencil. I like using a stick eraser as well.
I like the Staedler mechanical pencil, and their stick eraser.
After tracing in pencil, I will start creating designs and textures. When I start to like what I see, I will start tracing it in ink.
I have tried and will use several different kinds of ink pens. But my favorite is the Staedler Pigment liner.
I put graph paper under the paper to use as guides for some of the designs I draw. I will reposition the graph paper at different angles, sometimes, to get a different angle or effect in different elements of the drawing…
Partially pencil drawn, partially inked.
I erase and re-draw patterns in pencil until I find some that I like, that I think will “work” for what I have in mind. Then I will ink that part.
All inked! Now I take it down to Office Depot to get laser prints made on water color paper. I like laser because it is crisp and black, and won’t run if it gets wet when I use my Tombow Markers on it. I like the quality and texture of the watercolor paper. I make several copies of the design so I can experiment with colors and media.
I use Canson Watercolor paper, 140lb. I haven’t tried a lot of other types of watercolor paper, but I really like the texture and weight of this paper. It is very slightly off white.
I have found that not all Office Depots have the laser printer that will accommodate this weight and size of paper. I have had to shop around. I always have them run me a test print on regular paper before I give them my watercolor paper, because invariably I find that they have a speck of debris here or there on their copy machine glass. I make several copies (usually around 5) so I have extra copies to experiment with different color combinations. Color is really not easy for me.
Color testing… Very frustrating for this drawing! I really wanted Ashleigh purple and Kayleigh pink (their favorite colors), but I made the background too busy, and the fonts were too fine. They simply wouldn’t “pop” when I colored them purple and pink.
I finally settled on these colors for the background, and decided to keep the fonts white. I colored a quick experimental one with watercolor markers.
I love, love LOVE my Tombow markers. They were costly, but worth it. One end of the pen is a fine point marker. The other is a flexible “brush” tip. With a little practice I have learned that they blend much like watercolors, but with a lot more control and less mess. They also have plain water “blenders” to help with the process. Their color selection is amazing. My only complaint is that they won’t sell one marker at a time in the specific color you need.
I tried outlining the letters with gel pens. Yuck!
I really do love Gel Pens. I use the TEKwriter Premium Gel Pens. They often add just a bit of sparkle to a drawing. In this case, it simply didn’t work, but you will see gel pen in some of my other drawings where it worked out very well, I think.
I tried a whole different background color, and I kind of liked this one. I waffled back and forth between the two backgrounds, but finally decided that Ashleigh might like the darker background, so I went with that one. It was truly a difficult choice.
Instead of using the Tombow markers I decided I wanted to use my new colored pencils. In fact I bought them for this drawing!
I bought some Prismacolor Premium colored pencils. They are so incredibly different from the cheap “Crayola” or similar brand style colored pencils that it is like working in a completely different medium. The tips do not break every 10 seconds, and the lead is softer and goes on smoother. The colors are deeper and so brilliant!
If the Prismacolor premium pencils are a little too pricey, I am also rather impressed by the Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils. They are far better quality than the cheap ones and the colors are great, too. Not as nice (or pricey) as the Prismacolor, but far superior to the cheap brands. I bought some for my 7 year old daughter who is just starting to really get into coloring (as opposed to scribbling).
And by the way, if you are going to get artist quality colored pencils, you should probably get a specialized colored pencil sharpener. I use the Kum AS2 Two hole automatic long point pencil sharpener. The “two hole” aspect of it doesn’t actually have anything to do with sharpening different sized pencils, but to break down the sharpening of your fragile, precious (expensive?) colored pencils into two stages. First you sharpen off all the wood of the pencil, and it bares the colored lead. Then you gently put the pencil in the other hole, and it sharpens only the pencil lead to a very fine point.
I watched a few you-tubes about using colored pencils, and I discovered such a thing as colored pencil blenders! I never knew! Note the difference before and after blending (right near the letter “y”) . I was excited!
I learned that there are two different styles of colored pencil blender. One is a pencil style, that is basically a colorless colored pencil with no pigment. I tried the Prismacolor Blender Pencil. The other style is kind of like the water blender for the Tombow markers, but it has a solution in it that kind of melts the colored pencil together. I tried the Finesse Blender Pens. I used both. They both work, although I think I mostly preferred the one with the solution in it. Blending (both styles) made the colored pencil look so rich! It eliminated the white “texture” behind the colored areas.
Almost done. All colored and blended…
The final product. Drawn, colored, blended, and then I added the shading. Shading is my favorite part. Shading is what brings a drawing to life, makes it pop!! I always save shading my drawings for “dessert”, lol!
Framed and ready to gift! It was well received (or at least she faked it well!)
I am sure that a lot of more experienced artists could create something similar to this is a much more efficient, expedient method. But this is the way I have developed. What is important to me is that it is fun, gives me room to learn, play and experiment, and that the end result is something I am proud of. Also, when I am creating a piece of art for someone I love, I find that I spend a lot of time really thinking deeply about that person that I am creating it for. I try to incorporate elements I think they would like, and ideas that represent what they mean to me. And truly, Ashleigh, and her little family unit, mean an awful lot to me!
Please comment! Have you ever done anything similar? Any ideas or inspirations you want to share? What would you do differently? Any ideas new to you? Did you find anything on this post helpful? What else might you want to see on a post like this? Any suggestions at all would be welcome! Please share, too!
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