Monday, January 14, 2013

More Playing with Faber Castell Watercolor Pencils

Here's another page in my Stillman & Birn Alpha journal book playing with the Faber Castell watercolor pencils.  My play consisted of two methods of color application:

1)  Dry application using pencil to sketch and color then taking damp or wet brush to area to spread the color; and,

2)  Wet application taking color off the tip of the watercolor pencil with a wet or damp brush and "painting" on the paper surface like one would with normal pan or tube watercolors.

So far.......what I'm finding with using WC pencils is I prefer to take color straight from the tip of the pencil with wet brush versus sketching with the pencil first and then taking wet brush to an area.


1)  No surprises in how something might look after a damp or wet brush is applied (example of what I mean with this statement is shown best in the tree illustration below step 1 vs step 2).

2)  No hard edges or "ring around" a center area washed with wet brush causing color to pool along the edges;

3)  I can obtain a nice controlled application of pigment/water before laying down on paper.  Again no major surprises.

Berry Example - Sketched dry vs Painted On

Notice the left berry where I first colored in with pencil and then applied a wet brush.  There's a hard edge with the color "washing out" in the center.  I can always go back when dry and add more value but this just shows the initial results.  I'm sure I could also soften those hard edges with no problem but I would prefer not having to go back and fix something if I can help it.

The right berry is done with brush and color taken off the wc pencil tip adding a touch more color (with brush) as the area dries. With me personally, I just feel I have better control of what I'm doing.

Flower - Sketched dry / Color Washed out / Painted on Darks and Streaks)

Next is a close-up of the flower.  For this example I started out sketching color dry on paper first and then applying a wet brush.

I lightly sketched by outlining the petals with the red pencil and then shading with up and down hatch marks where I would want my deepest color concentration.

Notice how smoothly the color washed with the wet brush.  I pulled the color from the base of each petal out towards the edges.  Had I used another brand of watercolor pencils, I may have ended with harsh pencil strokes showing after the wash created with wet/damp brush.

As the petals were drying, I picked color off the pencil tip with a damp brush and applied extra color giving the streaked look and adding some deeper tones.  .

* I took my pen and Lexy gray ink last for some detailing after all was dry.

These steps illustrate the direction and how the original hatch marks were put in before the wash.  The hatch marks were placed between petals and at the bottom of the front petal.  Color pulled from base up towards top of each petal.

The stem was done coloring one side with dark green and then taking a damp brush over color fading out to one side.  Also darkened the one edge with wet pigment from my brush after pulling color off the pencil.

The Leaf was done both dry sketching and washing out plus "painting" the color on with pigment taken from tip of pencil to add darker values of the color.

Tree Illustration - Sketched Dry and Color Washed

This final illustration is a better example applying or scribbling in color first (as seen to the left #1) and then using a wet brush to blend the color with first results showing in #2.  I went one step further in #3 as noted in the example.

The minus for me sketching or filling in color first straight with pencil and then applying wet brush is not having any idea how an area will look from dry to wet until after it's been done.  At the same time, look at the neat effect one gets using different colored pencils together scribbling in an area and THEN using a damp to wet brush.  It would be difficult to achieve that look grabbing color off tips of pencils with damp to wet brush first and then taking to paper.  There IS an element of surprise this way but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing :-))  Sometimes that surprise can make it fun and exciting.

My Personal Conclusion from Playing

This is one of those areas where each person might have a personal preference in application depending upon what they might be after at any given time and/or subject they are working.

If one wishes for no surprises and better control, taking pigment off the pencils and "painting on" might be the answer.  For those who love that element of surprise and the ability to play with unpredictable results, sketching dry first and then applying water would be the way to go.  Or as in my examples above, one can use both ;-))


Sandy Sandy said...

Wow, interesting post. You have mastered both techniques here, Susan! I will email this to my mom!

Susan Bronsak said...

Thank you Sandy :-)) Not sure I've really mastered anything but appreciate the beautiful compliment.

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