Since I’ve had a couple asks about it, here’s a few more shots of my process for this watercolor+digital piece! I wasn’t planning to post these, since I had so much trouble getting the original watercolor where I wanted it to go, and made so many mistakes - but hopefully this helps someone! (Some more explanation of my process below the cut!)

My first step was to thumbnail a couple pages in my sketchbook, before moving on to that larger, more detailed rough sketch. Then I went to final lines with a blue watercolor pencil, since I don’t want overall black or grey lines that will make the shadows/lines lose color.  And mechanical pencil for the focal areas that needed the most detail, since my colored pencil doesn’t get into the grooves of watercolor paper very well. 

Before starting my colors I did a few small, quick color studies, which were initially watercolor, and then digital to push them around a little more freely. After choosing to go with #2 up there, I put in the first washes of color on the final piece. This is usually the scariest stage for me, since you have to cover over all that nice lineart you did previously. I start with the sky, because I always mess it up (I’m not very good with flat gradient washes yet) But that initial mistake makes me feel less worried when I’m continuing the piece, since I’ve already messed it up, and nothing worse could happen - so I might as well just jump into the rest of the piece!  After that, I spent about a day working in details over the washes. (Sorry I didn’t take many photos at this stage!) 

At that point I felt a bit stuck with where the piece was headed, so I took a (poorly lit - don’t do that!) photo, and started working on it in photoshop, first adjusting the photo to match my original watercolor, then adding some more darks and lights to certain areas, figuring out what I needed to draw out or push back in space with large washes, and experimenting with big changes like redoing the color of the sky.

 After this I went back to the watercolor and continued where I’d left off, reworking it to match the digital edits as closely as possible. I also used a little bit of gouache at this stage, for flatter areas or spots that needed to be lightened. For the final digital version I shot another (better lit) photo of the final piece, and digitally painted in a little bit more of the intricate areas for the digital and print version. (Also applied size readjustments that I tried in the previous stage, since I realized after I’d put the washes down on the original that some of the characters were very out of perspective :,D)

I hope that helps! If anyone has more specific questions, let me know!


1 & 3 - Thank you very much! But I’m still pretty new to watercolors, so I don’t have too many general tips or advice to give.  Since I did take a class in it, I don’t have any book recommendations or much advice on self-teaching it. I’d recommend finding a book that talked about general basic techniques, and then doing several photo studies, portrait studies, maybe some plein airs. We did about 2 studies a week in my class, one for homework and one during class time. I’ve posted almost all the assignments I did in my watercolor class, if you need examples.

My process on the last pieces I posted was to thumbnail a few compositions until I found one that I was happy with, then do a few small color and value studies on scrap paper, then draw out the lines for the composition in a light blue pencil. Then finally I start the final painting, making sure to try to do each area as much in one go as possible, to keep the vibrancy of the colors. And then a little digital editing if I lost some of the smaller details and whatnot. 

I’d also recommend getting good materials, even if you’re just starting out! Good brushes and paper make a big difference, for me at least. For my class, we had to buy a watercolor block for our final paintings, and two varying sizes of paper for our studies.

(Photo of my watercolor materials, & more answers below cut!)


2 & 5 - Please look at this post of all the tutorials I recommend! I got a lot of my art fundamentals from those when I was starting out.

4 - Sure, go ahead! (:

6 - Sorry for the slow reply to this one - if you need a quicker response, please send me asks off-anon. Thank you. And, well, I have very mixed opinions about the program! It averages out to, I think it’s pretty good. (Otherwise I wouldn’t be here!) I’m very critical of how my education is going, and I disagree or personally don’t do super well with a lot of things that MICA’s illustration department does. But unexpectedly it’s made me think about a lot of important things, mostly broadening my ideas of what I want to do with my art, that I’m not sure if I would’ve considered if I’d stuck entirely to self-teaching/online communities for my education. I haven’t been to any other college art program so it’s difficult to compare, but for me one of MICA’s best aspects has been the supportive community, and from what I hear it’s a bit better than that at RISD or Pratt. If anyone has specific questions, (for someone who’s only been attending MICA for 2 years, by the way) I’d be happy to answer them!