Monday, March 14, 2016

Coloring Ducklings

Add contrast!
You may have noticed that I posted a new blog header recently. Here are a few step-by-step photos of my coloring process for the cute row of ducklings that I used on my header. I made this picture a few weeks ago, while demoing for the University of Oregon Ducks bookstore. (I figured this picture was  appropriate for the U of O.)

Once again, I need to give credit to my dear friend Maaike in the Netherlands for the beautiful reference photo. The whole process, from line-drawing to final coloring took about 6 hrs.

As with most of my illustrations, I started with a pencil sketch based loosely on the original photograph. Then I traced the pencil drawings with a 0.1mm black inking pen. I copied the outline onto my favorite marker paper.

I started coloring the little ducklings, as they were the focal point of the whole image. Y11, Y21,YR000, R81, YG91, Y28, YR14, E44, E47.

If you look close, you can see a corner of the reference photo peeking out. The log that the ducks are on sits in a murky, swamp with lots of interesting colors floating on the water. It took a lot of markers to suggest the water tones. At this point I was pushing at least 30 colors, so I stopped keeping track of all of them.

I like to put a lot of subtle base colors into things like the logs, then I add my dark colors to build up the variations. Compare the back log, which I've already darkened, to the log in the foreground. It is easy to see the yellows, pinks, oranges, and green in the light log. Then, when I add dark tones, it feels less flat. Also notice the pale blue I added on the underside of the log to suggest a watery reflection.

Contrast makes things jump. So, to make sure the ducklings are bright yellow and dynamic, I tried to keep the water behind them nice and dark. I added dark green dark blue, dark purple, dark browns, and all sorts of colors into the water so it looked murky but alive.

The grasses in the background are not as important, so I didn't emphasize those as much and I kept my stronger contrast in the foreground. However, I threw in a little airbrushing to darken it up back there.

My demo time was quickly ending, and I knew it would be a while before I could come back to finishing this piece, so I wanted to get it done before I left. A big risk with any complicated piece of art is overworking it. Knowing when to stop is important! Having a time limit has kept me from overworking many good pieces.

Here is the finished piece, including final touches of white added back in with the Copic Opaque White with a built-in brush. Scanning in artwork and color-correcting makes a world of difference (the lighting at the demo did not bring out the richness of the colors).

I hope you enjoyed the limited tutorial. It's hard to remember to take process photos when I'm also helping customers. May your week be just ducky!




5 comments:

lbreidify said...

You are such a gifted artist! The ducklings are just adorable. Thank You for sharing.

Shari said...

So very beautiful. 💗💗💗

Lisa Lara said...

Now this just blows me away!

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Donna Jo said...

Love the ducklings! I had one named Fuzzy Wuzzy when I was a child!