2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, and so I wanted to share with you a piece of art that I made to celebrate the New Year.
New Year Rabbits
At first glance you may think "No way could I color that image! It's way too complex!" I beg to differ. You could color this image, you just have to work at it, piece by piece, rather than getting overwhelmed by the whole. Someone once said, the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So, let's look at the rabbits, and tackle them, step by step.
When coloring a tricky image that you might mess up on, color the hardest part first. That way, if you really mess up, you won't have to go back and color the rest of the picture again. Remember, the only thing you're wasting is a piece of paper, so don't be afraid to experiment!
I started by drawing lightly with a pencil the main scene, then I traced the pencil work with Copic Multiliners using a TracePad light table. I photocopied the line work so I could color it many different ways. Here is one of my colored versions. I used about 30 different markers on this illustration, which I forgot to write down, but I will mention as many colors as I remember. Also, I did not take step-by-step scans as I went along, so I'm just going to explain how I colored each section. Click on the image to enlarge it.
Here is my cute little rabbit family, waiting under the umbrella during a shower of blossoms.
There are a few details I want you to notice. On the rabbits, you can see that I used a Warm gray color range, however, I accented this with a hint of E31 in the shadows. The Copic warm grays are very brownish, and throwing in a hint of a very pale brown really brings out the brown tones even more.
I started by laying my W0 and W1 over all the brown areas, then scribbled in the darker tones. Scribbling gave me the slight furry texture, without having to worry about using a rag soaked in blender and messing up the background area. When I had finished adding darker colors, I went back and scribbled in with the light color. This subtly washed the tones together, making them softer and less harsh.
This scribbling is the same process I used on the bushes in the background, and also on the umbrella (discussed below). The ground was simply the same tones used in the rabbits dotted onto the pebbled path. The rocks were scribbled mostly with cool grays, then I dabbed on my blender to add texture.
To get the white tail and bellies on the rabbits to stand out more, I shaded them with Cool Grays. Notice how white the little bunny's tail looks, even though it is in the shadow and is colored gray. Then I threw in a hint of RV00 and RV21 to the ears.
The most tricky area on this image was actually NOT the bunnies, they are merely the focal point. The trickiest area is the shading on the umbrella. I can't tell you how many times I went over the umbrella to get the shadows correct.
When working on shadows, start light! I would carefully layer colors darker and darker to finally build up the tone I wanted. I had to be careful not to go too dark, as I didn't want to lose the color of the umbrella.
I used a wide range of V's, BV's and grays to build up the tone on the umbrella. Then, I used the same brown and gray families from the bunnies to color the wood on the umbrella. I used a gray multiliner to scribble a pattern onto the umbrella, then I dotted on pale blues, yellows, greens, and browns. From a distance, this looks like a complex pattern, but up close, you can see that it really is just scribbles and dots. The reason I used the gray multiliner was because it would remain crisp, no matter which colors I layered over the top.
Choices in shading
Notice the shadow on the ground. Where the shadow is close to objects- like the bunnies or the handle, I made it crisp and dark. However, I did not want the focus to go to my shadows, so I trailed them off, and faded them. This gives the illusion of bright sunlight (crisp dark shadows) but the viewer is not distracted by too much shadow. This was my own artistic choice, where I followed rules of shadows...up to a point. Then I chose to ignore them for the sake of my work.
Last, I picked out the highlights on the eyes and made the handle of the umbrella shiny with some Opaque white and a very fine paintbrush. My finished work is about 9" by 6 1/2" and took a couple hours to color.