Toyed with FW inks, last night:

I have a little time to write, here, but am not entirely sure of how much use I’ll be.

Yesterday, my godmother came over for a visit, so most of my waking hours were spent with her and M.  I did manage to get in some time to play with colors, but I ended up toying with the acrylic inks instead of dealing with jumping directly back into the watercolors.  (It’s probably because of the packaging, I’m not even kidding:  the FW inks kind of beg to be used in those little glass bottles.)

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Taken in filtered daylight
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Taken under fluorescent lighting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have done a bit of an experiment, here, though, with the photography.  I took a bunch of pictures of my work (most of which isn’t up here, because all it is, is my practicing Japanese writing [mostly, the same sentence] in multiple colors and nib sizes), and realized today on upload that I used the wrong lighting setting.  I should have used the “Tungsten” setting instead of the “Fluorescent” setting, as the latter leaves a lot of cleanup work.  The former blues everything out, but it doesn’t leave a heavy orange cast over everything like the “Fluorescent” setting does.

Anyhow…I did the above play last night and was curious about what it would look like under daylight today, so I took a second set of photos.  Both of the photos above have had Levels adjustments applied to them in Photoshop, though surprisingly, the night photo appears a bit clearer in relation to color.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t take the daylight photo under full daylight?

In any case, these are FW acrylic inks, as mentioned above.  I started out playing with “Rowney Blue” (PB15) + “Yellow Ochre” (PBk7/PY1:1), then — if my memory is correct — expanded to “Dark Green” (PG36) plus “Brilliant Yellow” (PY3/PY83).  There is probably a definite reason to use Brilliant Yellow over Yellow Ochre, given that the former is a slightly more brilliant hue than the latter, and that I’ve read that PY1:1 is to be avoided, as it’s apparently fugitive.

But anyway, I was curious as to what would turn out if I started blending colors which were not adjacent on the color wheel.  Rowney Blue is the nearest FW ink I have to Cyan (though they do make a Process Cyan color) — that is, all the other ones are either more green, or less saturated.  What I did find interesting is how quickly the blue ink tinted to deep green on contact with the Yellow Ochre ink.  I’m not used to a yellow reacting so quickly, visibly and strongly with a blue.  My gradation in this respect is found in the marks which appear to look like a tail, in the above photos.

I also did find with these, though, that if you want a stronger green, you may have to pull in a different pigment.  This is why I started using Dark Green, as I could make some nice greens with the former colors, but they were slightly grayed out.  Dark Green added some vividness, and along with Brilliant Yellow, made some really high-key greens that are visible above the “tail” section, above.

I did find, though, that like acrylic paints, these things dry extremely quickly; and so if you want to get color bleeds like you can in watercolors, you have a very limited time frame (seconds) to do so, before the first layer sets (at top left in the photos, I was moving too slowly).

It’s surprising to me that I was able to get such nice greens out of these colors.  Usually when I think about colors like Hansa Yellow Deep, I don’t think of making excellent greens with them.  To my eye, the yellow leans towards orange; however, maybe my eye is a bit off? and orange-leaning yellows can make saturated greens.

Anyhow, got to go…

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Having time to play with art supplies….

Last night I tried out some of the Strathmore 400-Series Mixed Media paper I bought, recently.  I was, in part, just intending to see what the new aquarelles (Supracolors, see here and here and here) looked like on top of this tinted paper, which is fairly predictable given what I’ve seen online.  But still, it is nice to see this without any photographic editing or distortion applied (some of which is inescapable, as we can see more colors than computer monitors can accurately reproduce — not to mention that I’ve heard scanners can “see” more variations in tone than human eyes recognize).

I also tried out a black Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink, using Speedball nibs.  This stuff is amazing — it goes on thick and solid black and dries quickly to a finish that I could not lift with my brush (a real brush, not a travel waterbrush) with significant application of water.

This is — in my experience — better performance than using a black (Faber-Castell) Pitt marker, which I’ve found to run under water washes, and which I’ve been told (by a former fellow student) runs even after 24 hours of drying.  (As a note, I have only experienced this with the Black pens, not the other colors.)  The Pitt markers are relatively excellent, though, so far as the depth of black ink goes.  Until I ran across the Derwent Graphik Line Painters (I’m not sure how long these will continue to be made, considering an experience I recently had), I could not find a blacker tone of black in a marker — granted that I generally have not used paint markers.

But the Bombay ink may actually surpass the Pitt black.  (I have not yet tried the other Ph. Martin’s black inks.)

The Copics and Microns are also decent, if you’re looking for fineliners — though as I said before, my Micron Graphic 1 pen did run under Supracolor laydown and wash (even when it was fine under a pure water wash).  I haven’t tried Supracolor over Bombay yet, though.  And I have also not found Copic or Micron to be as deep in tone…I did some experiments in my youth with black inks; at least in the early 2000’s, it was hard to find a good, deep black ink which would not fade or lift.  I think that at the time, I settled on black Higgins Calligraphy ink, though I can’t be absolutely sure without digging out my archives.

The only downside to the Bombay ink is that it almost immediately dries to stick to the metal nib.  Luckily, Ph. Martin’s does sell a pen cleaner (which I have yet to try; last night was all about soap, water, fingernails, and rubbing alcohol with Q-Tips (the last of which, works) — but I was using Speedball B-series (round) nibs, which are made of multiple metal layers…and I wasn’t into separating them and then trying to get them to go back to where they were before — I’ve found it relatively futile.  The bright point about the B nibs is that they glide over the paper (the tip is flattened), instead of incising it.

I have a variety of steel nibs, a lot of which I want to try again.  They are not all as pleasant to use as these, though, and I am not certain if it is because of the famed anti-rust coating (which I read, a very long time ago, needs to be burned off), or if a sharp new steel nib just rejects ink in general.  I can try again after singeing the nib I tried to use last night, but seriously…I am going to have to get a new lighter, and find the Third Hand…(a free-standing pair of jaws which can stand getting hot — I’ve used these for hard soldering/brazing, before.  Though all the nibs may need is a small flame, I’ve unintentionally softened plier jaws before by the addition of heat — even with as little as a cigarette lighter).

Back to what I began this post talking about…the Strathmore 400-Series Mixed Media paper.  This is much heavier than the paper I’ve seen sold in Canson XL Mixed Media paper pads.  The latter is 98 lb/160 grams per square meter (gsm), while the former is 184 lb/300 gsm.  My lesson on how to interpret the given weights of paper was so long ago and so de-emphasized that I know that one of these weights is relative and variable and the other is not, but I can’t remember which.

In any case, the Strathmore paper I have is very stiff and resistant to warping, almost like Bristol board (or heavier), while the Canson paper is much lighter, possibly better for everyday use — it is something which I wouldn’t feel bad about using up in experimentations or journaling.  Also, the Canson XL pad has 4x as many sheets (60) as the Strathmore pad I’ve got (a high-quality pad with 15 sheets)…though I think I saw this in a thicker pad…which I didn’t get, as I needed to try it out, first.

Strathmore Mixed Media paper, though, comes in tan and grey as well as white — which is a big reason I tried it (I have been curious about tinted paper — particularly the tan Strathmore variants which can take water-based media, since I have decided to stay away from pastels, at least for now).  In addition to watercolor pencil and ink, I also played around with the FW acrylic inks on this, last night.  I did tape the paper down, but at this point I don’t believe that was necessary.  Using tape actually may be a disadvantage with this paper, considering that the Artist’s Tape damaged the paper when it was lifted off…and I didn’t seem to need it.

Just one last note on this before I move on:  I have just found heavier Canson Mixed Media pads online — reading as 138 lb/224 gsm, still a bit lighter than the Strathmore, but decently heavier than 98 lb/160 gsm.  They just are not the ones which are sold as XL pads.  The XL ones are just the ones you’re most likely to see, if my experience is anything to go by (they often go on sale and may be some of the only inexpensive Mixed Media papers to be apparent, depending on what stores you have available).

Anyway, last night I splashed around in some acrylic inks…I do have a test paper, but it’s largely calligraphy (Japanese and English).  What I realized about the FW inks is that you don’t need to have many colors to get a pretty wide range of tints and shades.  The White tone is good for making things more opaque, though the shimmer colors will also opacify a mix (I’m pretty sure I have Sundown Magenta [a pink, sparkly ink which looks like nail polish], which hasn’t really proven all that useful, but it’s interesting to play with).

Last night I was using Flesh Tint, White, Red Earth, Marine Blue, and Purple Lake, before I began to play around with the sparkly Sundown Magenta to make shimmer teals, and started wondering what I was doing.

It is really possible to get a wide range of colors out of not so many of these inks, though.  I got a muted lilac, a muted teal, an inky violet-blue, bright teal, bright violet, pale red-leaning floral violet, a series of skin tones, and a very muted grey (the last, from Red Earth [orange overtone] plus Marine Blue [green overtone].  It looks better than it sounds, apologies for no photo!).  It’s got me wondering what would happen if I intentionally limited my palette…and what this would have looked like on a white paper, as versus a tinted one.

The colors looked relatively thinned out on the scrap of white Canson Mixed Media paper I used, but it’s very possible that this is because I was running low on ink in my palette.  I’ve noticed that the FW inks tend to get thin if only, say, a drop or two are dispensed at a time.  Coverage is great and intense for a little while, then things start to get paler with the addition of proportionally more and more water from the brush.

It needs to be decently thick — maybe like egg-yolk consistency, or a little thinner — to be able to appear brilliant.  And then the tinting strength of each ink is extremely variable, though that should go without saying for any paints or inks.  It’s just that some of these inks will run out (much) faster than others…again, a common sentiment.

With this stuff, I’m also using disposable palette sheets — I’ve already ruined one palette by letting the acrylic inks dry to a film on there…at least with the sheets (reliably white background), I know I’ll be able to tell what colors I’m mixing and what they actually look like.

If things happen the way I plan, tomorrow, I hope to get FW Flame Orange, Indigo, and Prussian Blue inks (I really want to mix decent greens, as I dislike the Emerald Green color I’ve got — and I was mistaken in assuming I had Prussian Blue.  I also want to see if Indigo is violet-leaning enough to give decent violets…I don’t think so, but it’s worth a shot).  I also should check for other B-series Speedball nibs (I have B-6, B-5 [2], B-3 [2], and B-1:  leaving B-4, B-2, and B-0).  I actually haven’t used the calligraphy Speedball nibs I got at the Japanese stationery store — but I think C-5 was the one I destroyed as I was trying to fix it.

Aside from that, I want to get a Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen Cleaner.  I’m also thinking about a decent detail watercolor brush — my favorite one is a size 3, which may still be a bit big for comic illustrations.  I’d just be looking for something tiny, sharp, and stiff — not unlike my Niji waterbrush, but not my Niji waterbrush (I wouldn’t be able to get acrylic out of there).  The great thing about this is that tiny brushes are often cheap — even really good ones.

I was also thinking about sepia ink, but at this point I think that would be overkill, especially as I still have about half a bottle left of Walnut Ink (though I’m not sure if it’s waterproof).  And copying Koko Be Good isn’t high on my list of things to do.  I’ll see if I can make things work with the acrylic inks — and check out the Bombay inks sometime after I can earn more…

One last note on process, and that is:  if I do want to make a webcomic or graphic novel (the former is preferable for a number of reasons), and I want to make it by hand and then do the assembly on the computer, it will be to my advantage to create the art larger than it has to be, and then resize it and letter it, after scanning.

This also means that I don’t have to draw the final artwork by hand, in position, and then scan it in.  I should also be able to fit in much more detail, this way.  The big thing that I might want to learn how to do, prior to this, though, is how to create what I think is a Layer Mask (in printmaking, I think this would be called a “Key”) which has all of the black components selected, so that I can scan a black-and-white copy of the linework, go on to paint the original artwork, but then also be able to overlay the outlines back on top of the scanned and colored image, in order to preserve the integrity of those lines.

Or, I could color things digitally (not what I want to do, for a number of reasons), or use (actually) transparent inks so that it isn’t an issue, at all.

Testing Supracolor II watercolor pencils…

Supracolor II, FW acrylic inks
Supracolor II 30-set color chart — see the middle stripe for the cleanest wetted colors.  The blocky, intense colors are FW acrylic inks…take note that I’ve had to apply a “Brightness” adjustment to this, as I took the photo at around 11:30 PM.  Lower left are mixtures I was playing with.

I did try out the Caran d’Ache Supracolor II pencils, tonight.  I am a little underwhelmed, upon seeing the color density next to full-strength FW acrylic inks…though I am glad that the Supracolors will work with a good degree of opacity, on top of black paper.  (I was using Strathmore ArtAgain coal black paper.)  Using them on toned paper was my fall-back position, in case I wasn’t satisfied with their performance as aquarelles (watercolor pencils).

In Caran d’Ache’s favor, for the tests I was working with very little pressure, ranging to heavy pressure; with a clean waterbrush, the great amount of white showing through was likely due to the synthetic bristles wiping up the pigment, as versus simply wetting it.  And after the bristles pick up the heavy amount of pigment in the dark area, the brush wants to spread it everywhere…which could be a plus or minus, depending on your aims.  I haven’t learned how to control the pigment flow yet, though.  And I’m thinking that the sketchy quality of the soft leads might be something that grows on me.

I think I’ve mentioned before that two of the main reasons I stopped using colored pencils were the fact that the (usually white) color of the paper shows through to a degree I really can’t let slide; and the tiny point of contact with the paper.  In addition, paints and inks often have better color intensity, and they cover the entire area (excepting dry-brush techniques).

Aquarelle pencils, however…can cover the white, once they’re wet; and though they are also suited to detail work, I can also switch out with a brush to manipulate the pigment.  I am aware that my most effective present method for eliminating white paper showing through is to paint the substrate first (or use toned paper, which is meant to show through).  I haven’t tested this yet — though I did indeed get the Supracolors to use on top of acrylic ink or watercolor laydown.

What I did with the acrylic ink tonight did show me that the degree of opacity offered by the FW inks is acceptable to me — only three inks were marginal enough to cause concern (White [obviously], Emerald Green, and Flesh Tint), and the two which weren’t white were both convenience mixtures.

The biggest drawback to the FW inks — besides the fact that they each have to be shaken up — is that there is no Ultramarine equivalent (I have used) for mixing, meaning that one is more or less dependent on their (warm-leaning) Violet, which can be tinted with a bit of blue, or Crimson.  I think Indigo is the only deep blue of theirs which I don’t have, and I left that one because of concerns about color temperature.  That means that Rowney Blue is the most violet-leaning blue that I have, and…that isn’t saying much.

However — I am now thinking that maybe I am better off with acrylic inks, as versus aquarelles…except where it comes to convenience in travel.  I can use the Supracolors at work, that is, because I don’t need anything except the aquarelles, a waterbrush, and paper.  I shouldn’t, on the other hand, use acrylic inks or paints at work because of the toxicity issue — the only sink which is not used for food is in the bathroom.  And I would much rather separate utility and food (and toilet) sinks, given that I don’t want to take a chance with exposing my co-workers — or anyone else — to pigments (as I’ve been told that, “none of them are really good for you”).

I was working on top of watercolor paper tonight, though.  The effects of both media may be different on a surface like Bristol board.  I haven’t yet tested this, but it was apparent that the watercolor paper (Canson Montval) absorbed the ink of my fineliner (Micron Graphic 1) enough so that it seemed as though it did not dry to the point it needed to, in order not to lift when hit with water.  (Either this, or there was some sort of reaction with ingredients in the Supracolors.)

Consequently, washing water over the aquarelles caused black ink to tint the original run — even though hitting it with plain water alone, did not cause any lifting or smudging of the Micron.

I’m also wondering about whether or not I want to actually scrub the aquarelles with my brush — it’s not something I’m used to, and this time it actually did lead to a messy outcome.  It is a watercolor-like outcome, but I never scrub my watercolors with my brushes unless I’m lifting it off of the paper.

In any case…I’ve got to play around with color mixing and layering.  I should be able to do that, sometime soon…

And…back to reality

It does help to have something to do, that much I can say.

Summer Session 2017 has just started, for me.  In addition to my Vocational appointment, and a medical appointment which will soon be followed up upon (possibly a good thing), I was able to pick up study materials, work through the course intro, my first lecture, and complete one of two readings (it was only two pages long, not a big deal).  It looks like I will be able to make it to the group on Wednesday:  I have three chapters to read (about 55 pages), an introduction, and a Discussion post due by Sunday night.

Tomorrow, I have to get the rest of my bloodwork (blood tests) done (fasting), see my counselor, see my optometrist (I’ve already decided to keep my current frames).  After that, everything else is optional until Friday, except for work.

I’m not sure if it’s necessary to say that I haven’t done any art, today, although I have been curious about the watercolor thing.  And the Notan thing, not to mention that I found photos of acrylic ink swatches last night which I prepped, but didn’t post.  (That would be this:)

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I think I’ve been over this, already, though.  At the time, I was intending to try my hand at comic illustration, and so invested in some muted hues in FW acrylic inks.  From left to right, I’m pretty sure they are:

  • Red Earth
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Flesh Tint (I’m not sure if that is white mixed in with it, to the right)
  • Burnt Umber

(By the way, those are just the names on the bottles.  All of them are convenience mixtures made out of two or more pigments.  Noting that, the original photo of this was so bad that I had to digitally alter the colors so they were visible.  I can see that the background looks a little blue — and dim — from here, though.)

However…maybe I want to try a form of drawing or painting with these that isn’t comic-centered, given that the world of humans can be an irritant to me.  (I wonder if I can work this into printing, or if I just habitually start projects and don’t finish them?)

One thing I do want to experiment with, though, and clearly:  I mentioned in a prior post questions about color mixing; how I had mixed secondary and tertiary colors but — for lack of a better word — had not fully explored muted tones.  A predominantly orange color (yellow + red) plus a little blue, for example, makes brown.  But what about the other mixtures?

How do I even map that out?  I can’t do it in my head:  I’ll have to write it down, then probably copy it over onto good paper and see what happens if, say, I make a color wheel and fill in as much as I can.  But then, what if I start mixing colors which are not split-complementary (like yellow/red + blue are)?

I mean, you can see where I’m going with this?  What about yellow-orange, what is that, “yellow/yellow/red”?  And that then shifts the complementary color towards violet…but again, I don’t have to use the direct complement.

I think I’ve been up too long.  I’m going to bed.

More acrylic inks, you say?

There is a lot which has happened between my last post, and now.  Significantly, everything which was not already late was turned in on time.  I got the technical exercises out of the way first (including a botched Cataloging quiz — I’m not sure to what extent I’m concerned about this, anymore), then spent all of Sunday on my Literature Review for Research Methodologies.  The day after was mostly spent asleep (I felt like I earned it), though toward the end (my memory is fuzzy, but I think this is right), I started experimenting with the FW Acrylic Inks, again.  I think that’s what this was:

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From 3-13-2017, lest I forget.

This was just mostly playing around with color.  I meant to post about it yesterday (Monday the 13th, I mean), but I didn’t have the energy.

You can see that I had started to make marks over the top of the acrylic inks with the colored pencils.  Those are my Progresso Woodless colored pencils…where the marks are bold, I was pressing pretty hard.  Anyhow, this was just me messing around with four to five colors.  (Crimson, Purple Lake, whatever they call Phthalo Green [I think it’s “Marine Blue”], Rowney Blue [Phthalo Blue] and a yellow which looks like Hansa Deep…I just checked, it’s called “Brilliant Yellow.”)

Of note, I have seen no evidence of an Ultramarine equivalent in the FW Acrylic ink line (which would make more vibrant violets) — and I just went to the art store, today.  It’s very probable that it isn’t made because they want all the colors to harmonize, and the palette of the FW inks leans toward warm tones.  (It’s really easy to make clashing colors when the original colors are not well-coordinated…)

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it causes the color mixing range to be limited.  With Daler-Rowney making so many of these colors, though, I can see where they would like to limit their financial risk in color production.  Especially since it seems like many have trouble mixing colors as it is, without venturing into “mud” territory (I may have said this before, but I think mud — dull color perceived as “lifeless” — can be rescued).  But maybe I’m just spoiled on the good stuff…

I have gotten pretty tired color out of Prangs (note that some people can make gorgeous art with Prangs — and they aren’t really bad for what they are — nontoxic, inexpensive colors that flow well and wet easily and have comparatively good color strength for the price range), but that just caused me to stop using Prangs for colors that Prangs aren’t strong in (for example, cool red).  The problem is that when one starts out with a dull color, it isn’t necessarily going to get stronger with other colors added to it, unless those other colors (or hidden hues in those other colors) dominate the first, or can mute a dominant hue and support a hidden hue.  (I can expect someone to ask me what I mean by this, and the truth is that my left brain [words] doesn’t necessarily know how my right brain [art] does what it does.)

Let me get off of that.  Anyway,  😉  playing around with this stuff caused me to go out to an art supply store and replace my two broken Progresso pencils — which, finally, they had.  $0.74 each.  While I was there (first time to the art store in a couple of months), I picked up some hot-press watercolor paper (I have been after this for ages, but this is the first time I actually bought any:  it requires a special trip, as I haven’t seen Blick to carry many inexpensive [read:  not Arches] hot-press watercolor pads or blocks), and I also picked up a variety of earth-tone FW inks, because I may be using these for cartooning, and in that case, I’ll want consistent color and color that doesn’t move when it’s re-wet.

Neither of these things are going to happen with watercolors, unless I mix large batches of skin tones and let them dry in a palette.  Even then, there is the risk of movement when subsequent layers of color are added, though I’ve heard this can be mitigated with the addition of clear acrylic glazing medium at the time of painting.  (I haven’t tried it, yet — but be aware, addition of acrylic medium will make anything mixed with it not able to be reused, after it has dried.)  The FW inks don’t seem as intense as artist-grade tube watercolors, but they feel more controllable, and more suited to reproduction work.

(I go back and forth as to whether these inks or watercolors are more intense…after some experience, I’ve got to say that it depends on how much you thin them!  When I first used these inks, I was thinning them way out because I didn’t want to waste them.  In short, I was skimping on them [you basically have to lay out all your colors before painting in order to have them quickly available for mixing and altering other colors — and you have to say goodbye to all of what you’ve laid out at the end of a painting session, with acrylics], and it is obvious when I look at my first attempts at using these.)

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On cold-press Canson Montval paper.  Ink is from a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

The above image is something I was messing around with…as I realized at home that two of my colors (Yellow Ochre and Red Earth — neither of which are constituted as one would think they would be) were both rated as opaque.  Obviously, though, this is relative.  For example, with Payne’s Grey (though it may be due to the fact that it is blue-grey), you can’t really tell that it’s overlaying the black, here.  Pure Burnt Umber, as well, goes on and does not mask the underlying black drawing at all — you can see at center right.

However, you can see a tiny bit of overlap in the foreground here with the Red Earth (the only red used here) and Yellow Ochre overflowing their lines in the center swirl.  It also happened in the thing that looks like a tree trunk to the left, which I am fairly sure was a mixture of multiple colors, including red and yellow earth tones.  Possibly also white.  (I’m not sure, but I should add that last bit.  White is obviously not transparent, though be aware that the FW acrylic white, isn’t a dense white.  Daler-Rowney Pro[cess] White, though?  I’m not sure about that — I’ve seen it used as correction fluid and for highlights.  If I ever reach the finishing stages of a piece of art with this stuff and actually use the Pro White, I’ll let you know.)

What this means is that I will have to go back in and touch up areas where I have painted over lines which I need — if I use heavy coats of color.  (The colors being bound by acrylic resin, helps ease my concern of clogging nibs, in this regard.)  Pale washes, on the other hand, don’t really fade the linework noticeably (to me, at least).  One of the things I did realize, though, is that it is WAY easier to work with these super-fast drying acrylic inks on a small scale.  If I had wanted to, I could have avoided overpainting these lines, because my brush was that small and the shape was that small…but this was a test.

I’m not sure if it is the fact that I can see the colors of these inks through the bottles that makes me want to use them, but I’m sure it’s related to that.  I’m thinking of clearing out one or two of my small palettes to use for everyday watercolors (that is, not the specialty ones which I have to think about including, like freakin’ Aureolin).

Freaking Aureolin.

Okay, I’ll stop.

Oh, right.  I also have been trying to work on drawing people again, though they’re imaginary people.  I do have some photos of these, but to be honest, they’re pretty horrible (middle-of-the-night) photos, and I’m not even altogether that proud of the work anymore.  It was fun last night, then I looked at it again today and realized my character had Vegeta proportions, so…

Right.  I think I know what’s wrong, and it should be easily fixed.  It’s what happens when you draw the head before the body.  Still, though:  I would really like to photograph this in daylight, rather than releasing it to the wild and *cough* messing up my *cough* reputation *cough* 😉  Hehe.

We all screw up sometimes, it’s part of being human — and being an artist means you screw up OFTEN and REPEATEDLY until you can learn other ways.  😉  So the best thing to do is be gentle on yourself, and maybe not even call it “screwing up,” but “having a learning experience”.

(When is the Internet ever gentle, though?  SHUT UP ANXIETY BRAIN.)

Okay, I’m being told to get some rest now.  I do have to get up in six hours.  JOY.  JOY OF JOYS.

Eh, at least I should be able to get some (home)work done at lunch…

Couldn’t help myself: FW acrylic inks vs. watercolors, probably Part 1

I’ve waited quite a while to write this post.  Between wanting to fit in a visual comparison of the FW acrylic inks versus artist-quality tube watercolors (I’ve given up on the image editing, for now:  my digital photography skills are not as honed as my drawing skills), having come down with a cold over the holidays, and it being…well, the holidays, I haven’t gotten around to it until now.

I had intended to do a test to see if I could get the FW acrylic inks to bleed like watercolors, but unfortunately, I haven’t had the energy.  What I have been doing is swatching out watercolors over black fineliner to see how transparent they are.  Although while I was in the process of painting, it became difficult with some colors (like Cobalt Blue) to see the lines, after things were dry the transparency of (all) the paints was much more apparent, and with all of the ones I have (save heavy applications of Lamp Black), black ink underdrawings should be visible.

I should note for newcomers here that I’m not using any cadmium colors, which are known for their relative opacity, even in watercolor lines which otherwise tend towards transparency (note that intentionally opaque watercolor is called gouache and isn’t what I’m talking about now); I tend to shy away from cadmium pigments for health reasons.  There are other pigment families which also require caution in use, one of them being the cobalt salts; though I’m less wary of these (whether that’s deserved or not).

There are three cobalt pigments that I have used:  Viridian (a bluish, granulating green), Cobalt Blue (a sky-blue type color), and Aureolin (a cool yellow which leans green, and is said to darken over time).  There is at least one more, Cobalt Violet, which I’m curious about but haven’t tried yet…though I certainly shouldn’t go around collecting toxic materials for the hell of it.  In any case, all of the ones I’ve listed have seemed a bit…desaturated? to me.  I’ve been using Winsor & Newton, and almost scrapped Cobalt Blue from my palette because it’s so weak in mixes when trying to make green.

However!  There are uses for these pigments which don’t appear on the surface.  For example, Viridian mixed with Permanent Rose Red (a violet-leaning, delicate red) makes a really, really nice violet-grey.  (At least, I’m pretty sure that was Viridian I used, and not Viridian Hue — which is Phthalocyanine Green.)  Don’t ask me how.  It would be hard to explain.  😉  I might have been up for it if I hadn’t read parts of Blue & Yellow Don’t Make Green, by Michael Wilcox but I did, so…I can’t unsee it.  😉  The book I mention is on color theory and the physical aspects of pigments’ light absorption properties in relation to what colors we see them to be; I have the 2009 version, which is, of course, very dated by now (at least some of the paints tested in the book have changed formulation since 2009).

The short of it is:  it’s hard to explain how green plus red equals violet under traditional color theory, except that the green leans blue and the red leans violet…then the yellow in the green would mute out violet, and the red mixed with blue leans violet…but then there’s still green…AAHhhh…okay.

It’s…it’s just hard to think about, and I’m no longer sure that the color wheel is even a viable system, at this point.  For instance, is green GREEN, or is green blue plus yellow?  In the prismatic spectrum, there are pure greens…so where does the notion of green being “blue plus yellow” come from?  The point is that many yellow pigments eat blue light and many blue pigments eat yellow light, but they both reflect green, so green is the dominant frequency of the light that is left over and reflected.  It’s not the only color, though, as is visible when chlorophyll decays in maple leaves and you get spectacular yellows and reds reflected which were there all along, but dominated by the green light.

It’s because of this that I wonder whether any grouping of colors turning to “mud,” (dull, nondescript color) can be reoriented in some useful direction with the addition of one or more of the right colors.  After all, “mud” is basically…just a neutral, yeah?  That means it should have a lot of different colors in it being reflected all at once, with few dominant.  Take out what you don’t want, add what you do:  it would seem to be possible, at least?

I have been using a split-primary system (a modified color wheel which at least gives some direction)…but at some point randomness helps to find those gorgeous colors that you can’t get without mixing some colors not traditionally combined.  Mixing several steps further than the point at which a more cautious person (or brain-voice) would have told you to stop, can also be really fun (for example, mixing black is, generally speaking, a blast).  For me, at least.  I still don’t understand how my brain perceives color, but I think that it is in some way my thinking/language-oriented mind doesn’t know how to comprehend…like seeing what is not there rather than what is.

In any case (that was a long tangent), what I can say is that the watercolor paints I have, in comparison to the FW acrylic inks, display much more randomness when it comes to where on the image the pigment dries.  I’m not entirely sure if this is simply a quality of high flow with the watercolors, or has something to do with acrylic resin’s famed quick-drying ability.  (Those who have painted in both acrylic and oil paints tell me that acrylic dries very quickly in relation to …well, maybe anything would dry quickly in relation to oil…but I wouldn’t know firsthand.)

I have also noted that although the acrylic inks appeared more saturated than I remembered my paints being when I first used them, in one of my photos, the watercolors are clearly denser.  I’m not sure if this is an artifact of the camera, lighting, LCD display, or what.  I can get back to you on it, though.

By far, though, the biggest difference between the FW acrylic inks and the watercolors I have (mostly Winsor & Newton, with a few exceptions), is the fact that the watercolors move, after they’re laid down.  Particularly, Grumbacher Vermilion Deep (it isn’t actually technically mercuric sulfide, don’t worry), and W&N Viridian, Sap Green, French Ultramarine, and Burnt Umber…all show a tendency to highlight the texture of the paper (unless I wasn’t paying attention, this is a rather heavy Canson Montval cold-press).

Vermilion Deep, Viridian, and French Ultramarine, I would say, are all definitely granulating (or “flocculating?” hm, new word); that is, the pigment particles seem to cluster together as the paints are drying, which gives the area a distinctive texture — which, I’ve gotta say, is probably nicer in a Fine Art context.  If I were creating something to be reproduced, like a comic page, though, I might want to use the FW acrylic inks, just because they give a lot more of a reliable (though less exciting) outcome.  😛

And please, PLEASE remember to wash your brush frequently when using the FW inks!  I got a little happy and acrylic resin dried around the end of my ferrule on the first day of painting with these!  (I’m just lucky I didn’t use the one with real hair…)

Up next; unless I forget about this post entirely:  working wet-into-wet with both the watercolors and the FW acrylic inks!

late night color play…

It took me until 5 PM today, to fully wake up.  Accordingly, even though I am tired now…I know I should go to bed; I just don’t want to.  I did, however, get up the courage to play around with some colors.

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My one pearlescent FW ink is at center bottom — it’s the one with the glare.

Long story short, all of the non-glittery FW acrylic inks I have at the moment, are transparent, and neither my Micron nor Copic fineliners bleed under them.  The glitter in the pearlescent color I’ve got, however, blocks some of the underlying drawing, even when there isn’t that glare off of the surface (the glare is illustrated above).

Though I’ve tried to color-correct for this, all of the photos in this post were taken under artificial light.  Therefore, some of the more delicate aspects (like the differences between those three yellows up there) are probably not going to be as apparent as they would under full sunlight.

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Don’t let the water pool and dry, or you get this:

So, up next was the attempt at color blending.  These guys do a decent job of blending wet-into-wet if you drag the colors into each other with the brush (and not so much water), as indicated on that inside corner between red-orange and yellow-orange; they don’t do so well if you let the water and pigment pool and then dry on its own.

The latter technique was what achieved the blot in the upper right corner of this photograph.  I’m thinking it would have been alright if the amount of water had been far less.  But it’s an obvious difference from Western-style watercolor paints, which would probably not have dried like that.  You can see as well that glazing appears very effective.  I was working on Canson Montval cold-press paper, here.

Drawing a new color into a brushstroke which has already been laid down has the same subtle effect, as seen here:

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doodle.

…and I can actually somewhat see the colors separating out in the bluer “tail” of this doodle.  I’m not sure if that’s due to incomplete mixing or to the pigments actually settling out.  In any case, I’m really surprised that some of the color mixes I’m showing here look as decent as they do, because they looked pretty bad on my palette.  I can just say that.  🙂

At one point I did get the urge to see if these things could work wet-into-wet like regular watercolors.  The short answer to that is “no,” at least not when using staining colors, and at the same time having paper which is not fully saturated with water.

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The result of attempting to drop pigment straight onto wet paper.

The image to the right is the result of attempting to drop a few different colors into what was essentially water which I had spread on the paper, but not allowed to soak in.  The stain in the center-top area seems to be the result of Phthalo Blue working its way into the paper itself, as the paper absorbed the water that had been laid on top of it.

I kind of wonder if things would have been different, had I allowed that water to soak in fully before adding in the ink.  It would likely have changed the response a bit.  I notice that neither the green nor the yellow which I dropped in did the same thing, though, so maybe the difference can be attributed to Phthalo Blue being a staining pigment.

And, right:  that same pooling and settling thing happened in the snakes on the right side.  I’ve got to remember not to let that happen again, unless I want the effect.  🙂  (It really didn’t look that way when it was wet…then again, I saw a lot of subtle variations when the inks were wet which became difficult to see after they had dried.

Okay, see, and now I want to do a comparison between these and my true watercolor paints…soon, maybe.  What I can say is that I have got the saying in mind to let paintings be paintings, and drawings be drawings…I don’t remember who said that, but it is surely difficult to wed the two.

Having said that, I went out on a limb and tried drawing a person tonight.  Right now, she’s kind of a wireframe and difficult to see, being totally in pencil.  But if I were going to work in illustration, as for a comic book, I really do think that this media would be ideal for that.  The transparency of the inks allows inked underdrawings to show through, easily, and the acrylic component in the color allows lower layers of acrylic ink to stay put.  However, there is also a bit of an issue in my recording tools not being able to pick up the full spectrum of the light which I can see reflected off of the paper.

I wonder if maybe I should look forward to a dedicated scanner, if I’m going to be doing this stuff seriously (no, that is not a dare)…I just don’t want to deal with public machines where it comes to scans…