Wanting to work in an illustrative style.

transparency with intensity.

I realize now, that what I’ve been looking for in watercolors, acrylic inks, and inks is the strength and intensity of color I’ve found in heavy-body acrylics and gouache, but transparent. The transparency feature is mainly to allow me to take an illustrative/drawing approach (with visible lines instead of only blocks of color), so that I can scan the images and it will still come out looking alright.

One of my last art instructors said that the difference between drawing and painting, is that there are generally no lines in paintings, only blocks of color; which is the clearest definition I think I’ve heard.

digital media.

I think I know what to do at this point; which is to work with transparent, fluid inks (such as Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks), or transparent liquid watercolor (such as Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolor), and just resign myself to the fact that the inks are fugitive (will fade/change color over time), and my scan (a high-resolution uncompressed TIFF file) is likely going to be the archival copy of my work.

This also means that the archival copy is going to be digital…making multiple and regular backups useful, if not necessary. This will also necessitate migrating my work whenever older formats become obsolete…and I have some experience with that from my Digital Archives class.

painting surfaces and supports.

It also means that, if I’m going to scan these things, I’m really going to have to watch for cockling (warping) in whatever I draw + paint on. I might be moving to Mixed Media paper for this, though; instead of cotton-based watercolor paper, which is intended to be archival. (There’s no point to painting with colors that are expected to fade, on top of a surface made to last hundreds of years.)

I haven’t tried Bristol board for this, either. It’s worth a shot. And I haven’t tried Illustration board — to be honest, I still don’t know how to use Illustration board and control its warping with water, at the same time. (It tends to expand and contract unevenly, depending on what area is wet, and how wet it is. The wetter it is, the more convex it becomes.)

Also worth a shot are a couple of QoR mediums which could allow me to draw and paint with watercolor on board, as versus paper, but that’s probably further than I need to reach. If I stretch (or tape — I’m not sure Mixed Media paper can stand outright wet-stretching) paper onto Masonite and then shear out the final copy with an X-Acto and straightedge, I should be OK. I just can’t bet on using the entire sheet up to the true edge of the paper.

Of course, Masonite itself…likely isn’t the best substrate (it begins to fall apart on me when I pull the tape off). D suggested acrylic sheet as a backing, while I was thinking along the lines of a flat sheet of melamine. I don’t know if either will work, but I know what I’m doing now is (or would be, if I were painting a lot) kind of wasteful, as Masonite isn’t all that strong when it comes to working with water and adhesives. At least I would be able to remove tape from acrylic, without damaging the acrylic.

dusty watercolors. import, optimization, display.

One sad thing about importing photos onto my computer is that the chroma (color intensity) always looks stronger on the screen, than it is in reality. I’m not entirely sure why this is.

But then, I’m not entirely sure why color distortions happen in my camera, in general. I mean — I know it has to do with the lighting, and probably the specific wavelengths put out by whatever light is being used, and the camera accounting and compensating for that (or something like it). I just feel like I need tighter control of the photography angle of this.

The problem is that I don’t know much about digital photography — or, traditional photography, for that matter. I do know about Photoshop, but it’s knowledge that is very practical and not anything that lets me understand what I’m actually doing when I edit the Black and White points on a color channel’s Histogram.

But like I said before — I have a working color scanner that can encode into TIFF, so improving my digital photography skills and getting a better camera isn’t urgent or necessary at all to publish to the Web, at this point. It’s pretty much taken care of.

I just ran across someone online mentioning that colors in her watercolor paintings tended not to look as intense over time as she would like; and though I’m mostly dealing with paint swatches at this point (my watercolor painting time pretty much ended in Fall 2016), I can relate to a dusty, faded look in watercolors. It could be because of the fact that I’ve been trying (note, trying) to use them from a dried-and-rehydrated state instead of a moist (fresh from the tube) state, or it might have to deal with formulation.

branching out. watercolor brands and mediums.

Right now I’m primarily using Winsor & Newton, with one Grumbacher and one M. Graham (which I love — I’m just not sure if the ❤ is a property of the pigment [PY3: Arylide Yellow] or the rest of the paint! This is a brand which uses honey in its formulation as a humectant [do NOT eat it!], which could be why the color blossoms so freely).

I’ve also relatively recently gotten a couple of Daniel Smith colors and two Holbeins (Lamp Black, and Isoindolinone Yellow Deep [PY110]), but I haven’t been able to play with them decently, yet. It’s possible that a bit of an added watercolor medium (Ox Gall? Gum Arabic?) might be able to at least help the paints adhere better, let alone be more brilliant. But I (obviously!) haven’t researched this, yet.

Cerulean Blue Chromium (PB36) from Daniel Smith, in particular, granulates really strongly when mixed with Winsor Yellow (PY154, Benzimidazolone Yellow). I threw the test page out because there was too much risk of the [toxic: cobalt-based] pigment falling off and scattering, plus it looked horrible. I have photos of it, but they’re not great, and I’m not sure I knew what I was doing in the first place.

I’m also thinking that I will likely want to branch out from Winsor & Newton Professional grade. They’re fine to learn with (their tiny [5ml] tubes mean a lower initial investment for higher-quality paints than student-grade), but there are other brands and colors which could be more pleasant to work with, and to view over time.

And you can see my endless search for useful yellow pigments from the above (not to mention my initial green-leaning yellow: my Watercolor professor had us get Aureolin [PY40: Cobalt Yellow] which I hate largely for its toxicity and impermanence combined with its cost…though it does make nice graded mixes, in the short term).

don’t judge me 😀

thought shift: from permanence to ephemerality

I just have enough experience to know that if I’m working in Illustration or in an illustrative style, I will probably want to go for colors which are vivid and truly transparent…but that transparency comes with a price, which is the potential of having artwork that only exists temporarily, in the non-digital world. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, online (or in print).

At the same time, I still feel that this hybrid approach is more flexible than a born-digital approach, but I don’t want to alienate people with my feelings on that. They’re largely based on personal experience, and I’m very aware my personal experience has bias. Maybe if and when I can compose a defensible argument to one end or another, for a reason that is important enough to broach, I might say something, but otherwise, I’m not interested in causing disturbance.

It’s kind of interesting, though: shifting from a mindspace of “will this painting last for the next 600 years?” to “am I OK if this thing I’m working on biodegrades soon?” I mean, it’s kind of a different approach! But then, in my Digital Archives class, I’m learning that digital information is ephemeral by nature.

I wonder how long I’ve been working on this draft? 🙂

Advertisements

Art: portability? Catching small bits of time

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here; this is largely because I keep sitting down and reminding myself that maybe there are more pressing things to do, than write about things I haven’t yet thought out — and then actually going to look for those things, instead of just assuming they don’t exist, or that I’ll get to them, later.

Or I look at the WordPress text-editing screen and know that I could be making art, or exercising, or cooking, or studying my own extracurricular stuff (Japanese language), instead of writing incessantly about things I haven’t had the time to experience, to relate to readers via my writing. (It’s not this way anymore, but I have a history of being a compulsive writer [partially because of poor self-awareness in my younger years].)

However, I just finished sitting through two hours of backed-up lectures. I have three weeks left of school, and final projects in all of my classes. And I had to miss work in order to turn two other projects in, this week. Yes, even though Saturday was Veteran’s Day, and I didn’t go to work then, either.

And I have two other writing assignments due before the weekend is over (both for the same class). I also need to review material for the final project in that same class (again) before Monday afternoon. Then, I’m pretty sure that by Tuesday, I have to get my Web Design assignment in. In addition, I should at least outline a site redesign for my Final in Web Usability.

On top of that, right now it’s almost midnight where I’m at, and I actually do have to get up, tomorrow. And it’s probably going to be pretty backed up at work, because I wasn’t able to go in earlier this week. But at this point, considering some of the dreams I’ve been having around my job (including being terrorized by people who won’t stay out of the library when it’s closed, in the last case), it would actually be a relief just to shelve all day.

(Of course, though, the dream I put in parentheses probably refers more to boundary-crossing or outright aggression [boundary-ignoring] than it has to do with the location of where the dream took place.)

Anyhow, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about, but you can see I’m preoccupied. What I was actually thinking about…was the portability of markers and the possibility of using them during my lunch break at work, tomorrow. This is in addition to the use of color as a valid place from which to launch into drawing, and the fact that because I work at a place where both the utility and break sink need to be food-safe, I can’t take in my normal paints. And I’m not rinsing out my watercolor brushes next to the toilet.

I then have three options if I want to deal with intense coloring: one, a waterbrush plus aquarelles (Supracolors or Neocolor IIs). Two, markers (including waterproof fineliners and water-soluble and permanent brush markers) and possibly a waterbrush. Three, the non-toxic cheap watercolor pans (Prangs), and a waterbrush (though these won’t get a chance to dry, decently — and I’m worried about attracting insects, or growing microbial cultures, because of this).

I’m seeing a theme. I really pretty much hate the tip on my large waterbrush, though. But the alternative is to take in a cup to rinse a good brush in…and an actual decent brush…and then let the brush air out so it doesn’t expand from water exposure and fall apart. Putting a damp quality brush in a locker for hours, even in a case, just doesn’t sound like a good idea in any way.

Which leads me back to markers. I think I can work with dry media. It’s a lot less expensive, anyway; even though the sheer volume of what I’ll have to carry is much larger. (Oh, wait. Lest I mislead someone who doesn’t know how much markers can go for…watercolors are likely cheaper in the long run. But the paper used for painting with watercolor, isn’t.)

In those two hours of lectures I sat through, I started doodling in my notes (I’m not going to get into how I got that distracted; my professors know who I am). I just realized that 1) I was experimenting with layering transparent inks to make new colors (yellow with blue, red with violet), 2) what I made could very well be translated into a duochrome block print, and 3) the art thing doesn’t have to be hard.

I’m learning that most things don’t have to be hard, though…

What I was messing around with tonight, were clover and maple leaves (a bright red gel pen helps with the latter!). It seems like everyone has a “thing” that they really love to do, in the art world; I’m fairly certain that my “thing” is plants and flowers.

And with that, it’s almost 1 AM now. This looks like a good stopping point.

(Yes, I do know that I could just work on my school readings at work…but stopping work in order to do a different kind of work, somehow strikes me as getting rid of the reason to have a break in the first place…)

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.)

fw-play-3706w
Taken in filtered daylight
fw-play-night-3698w
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…

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.

Two hours to kill = art production ;)

I’m dealing with a little bit of hesitance toward putting my art online — but when would that not be the case, right?  I had a bit of a time earlier today with two hours to kill, so I — actually — did some drawing.

cracked-pot-w-3680
August 18, 2017; 1 hour study.  Supracolor II and Pentel mechanical pencil on Canson Montval paper.

I’m not sure the colors are altogether this bright in the actual paper version…??? but you get the idea.

This was done with the Supracolor II pencils on top of Canson Montval paper.  I wouldn’t call it exactly, “finished,” but this is what happened after about an hour of quiet observation and drawing.

I should actually do this more often.  I forgot how drawing from observation can get meditative.

I also forgot about the pleasure of seeing your work take form.  It wasn’t until I got to the shadows that this started to come together.

After having progressed this far (I should note that this study was done between 12:10 and 1:10 PM — if I want to duplicate the lighting), I wanted to try something else.  I wasn’t sure what, though…so I attempted to work on some illustrations, as versus doodling.

kate-3673

Right now, they’re all linework.

I can actually see where my drawings in comic style have improved, because of my two semesters in Figure Drawing.  I still have some work to do where I would be gauging the size of the skull against the size of the ribcage (I have a tendency to make the heads either too big or too small), but that doesn’t seem to be an issue in the drawing to the right.

I left all of my character drawings uncolored, with the intent of inking and coloring them later with the FW inks.

eri-w-3673

I do have some experience with drawing these two characters, though the third one on the same paper — that is, the one which was unfamiliar to me (and also the first I tackled), has been through so many revisions that I am not certain it is a great thing to post them online!

I can already see part of that image where I can obviously fix something…this is where the neck inserts into the skull…a problem I am used to.

At least, though, this gives me something to work off of, if I want to play with the acrylic inks.  I had wanted to go over these with Micron…but especially with the first character I posted above, I’m not entirely sure how to do that without obliterating the delicate and semi-spontaneous work that went into the original drawing.

I also know that it isn’t necessarily the best thing to be drawing with mechanical pencil, but I was kind of in a hurry to get out, today, and that was what I already had with me.  I’ve found Pentel leads to be pretty good where it comes to erasing, as well…next time, though, it would be good to take an actual dedicated eraser.  The Staedtler white plastic erasers are actually pretty sweet, but my stash is, again, old.  I bought a 4-pack of them I-don’t-know-how-many-years-ago, and have not run out.  I don’t know if they decay…maybe I should either sell them, give them away, or carve stamps out of them… 🙂

…or simply see if they crumble or ooze at all, at this point…

Alright, I think that’s about all I’ve got, for now.  I can look at inking these images…maybe I should do so using translucent marker paper, although that kind of defeats the purpose of having drawn them on watercolor paper…I will be able to make multiple versions, though, and see which ones I like best, before inking the final version.

And it is just an art journal, in practicality…

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…

Researching Caran D’Ache aquarelles:

I’ve just been looking around online at Caran D’Ache watercolor pencils. Apparently, there are now two kinds:  the Museum variety, and the Supracolors.

Museums look as though they are transparent, while the Supracolors have higher opacity (hinted at by the terms “covering power” at the Caran D’Ache site). It seems I’m a bit late to the game, here, as the WetCanvas link I’ve given above marks these as new for 2013…but I’m not an early adopter, so there you go. 🙂 Accordingly, I’ve read that Supracolors can be used light-over-dark if the lower layer is dry or has dried. I’ve also seen photos to this effect.

This…kind of gives me something to think about. I’m used to colored pencils not being terribly opaque (unfortunately), but then, I’m also used to Faber-Castell Polychromos, Blick, and Prismacolor brands (the last of which is a collection which runs back prior to 2000, as I think I’ve mentioned before). What I forgot to add is that I’ve been adding to that collection over the years; the font differences on the sides of the pencils tell me which ones are ancient and which are not. 😉

I’m…actually, still really interested in the Supracolors. The Museum pencils are fairly expensive, at ~$4 per pencil, while the Supracolors are a bit less (at around ~$3 per pencil in open stock). I would be buying my pencils, as well, to complement my watercolors — not to replace them.

When I tried the Supracolor I did, the pigment dispersion was very, very fine, as I had only used a little of the lead to see what color I would actually be getting (which was a bright violet-red, very different in appearance from dry pigment). And I didn’t have any black lines drawn on my test paper to see if the pigment would block out an underdrawing.

My major concern is wiping out those lines, which is why I even gave the Museum pencils consideration (I could get 12 for around $30…they may be what I’m looking for; I just hate to shell out that much money for that little product…although all signs say they’re high-quality). But what are in practicality, gouache pencils, do seem very interesting. And I have Derwent Inktense and watercolor pencils already. I don’t want to duplicate them (which is why I again started to re-swatch them, in addition to not recalling what they would do).

Despite having been out sick — I do think I’ll use my sickleave. (I’m not often sick, even when others are.) I’m hoping to do some sort of celebration of having completed Summer Session — on my mind is the 30-pencil set of Supracolors (which would be ~$2/pencil), which…wait…that would be twice the cost of the Museum pencils alone. It could be nice to get the Museum pencils and then a few open-stock Supracolors (particularly, light tones and greens), for the same price or less. (I’m intending to spend ~$60 at most, for these.)

Although — now that I look at it — how I’m going to use the pencils really caps all of this. I see a review which states that the Museums are not suitable for tight work, because of their softness — and I wanted to get them to tighten up the watercolor. Maybe I should get just a few colors in each style, and see how they’re usable. I already know that the colors in either style will be good.

What I had envisioned doing was laying down an initial layer of watercolor paint or acrylic ink to eliminate the white background, then going over it with aquarelle — like the Supracolors or Derwents — to add sharper details and fades (gouache could also serve, here), and then going over that with regular colored pencil, for texture.

Of course, though, this is all in my head, right now. I’m sure things will come up that I can’t predict, which will send me down one or another path, as regards workflow. You know what that means? That means I shouldn’t go to the art store yet, because I don’t yet know what I need. To find out what I need, I need to work on some drawings! In the process, I can see what hues I’m missing in my current collection. It may be that I don’t even have to buy a set. It may be that I don’t have to buy any new aquarelles at all.

One certain thing, though: I need to get a back-up pack of Derwent Graphik Line Painters (in case my “Snow” decides it can’t stand holding its paint anymore — it’s seriously messed up, as it was the first Japan-nibbed pen I ever tried to use, and I was not gentle enough with it).

I think I’m finally getting the hang of this art store thing. I mean — I’m actually doing research, as versus going in there and buying way more than I need, or items whose properties, I’m unsure of. Now — now, I’m wondering about taking a course on Web Searching…it hadn’t been on my mind, before, but it could prove very useful…and possibly, necessary…