I was browsing through ‘Decorated Lettering’ by Jan Pickett yesterda and came across something I thought I’d like to try. This something involved drawing a letter using coloured pencils or watercolour pencils then adding patterns and embellishments afterwards.
I usually do the patterns and embellishments first, then add the colour. But I also know that if I were to use coloured pencils, watercolour pencils or other media over my line art (traditional art time here!) then the black lines can become masked a little by the colours.
So, I had to try this out.
I grabbed a pad of Daler-Rowney Mixed Media paper along with my Inktense pencils and a fine water brush and began the process of creating the design in colour.
I did use a pencil to sketch out the shapes very lightly, even using an eraser to make them lighter still. Pencil can become trapped under colours and become difficult to erase.
As I knew I’d be posting it on Christmas Eve, I thought a monogram C along with a simple Christmas themed dangle would do the job just nicely. Red, green and gold had to be the colours used too.
For each part of the design I used two or three different colours to achieve the colour gradients. Once I’d finished this step I scanned the drawing/painting/design in and you can see it on the left. Scanning does tend to wash out the colours a little – they are a little more saturated, honest, but not much more.
Then the fun begins. I decided to use a 0.7 Copic Multiliner outline the design elements and add some of the patterns and lines. I then used a 0.25 Copic Multiliner to add some of the finer lines, particularly around the dangles.
I was toying with the idea of using a dip pen or brush and gold ink, but thought I’d play it safe this time and go with rather graphic black lines.
My final steps included using green and gold metallic Sakura Gelly Roll pens to fill in small sections and add dots. I regret the outlines around the stars.It’s made them way too heavy and cumbersome I think. However, as this was an experiment, was me trying something a bit different, it’ll do.
Although I carefully drew out the design elements and added the colour to ensure that the shape was maintained, adding water to activate the Inktense colours meant there were places where I didn’t keep to the shape exactly. I used the finest water brush that I have, but I really could’ve done with not being so lazy and grabbing a fine brush and a pot of water. However, as this was just a bit of a play the waterbrush worked.
Also, I realised that I could fix any wobbly edges with the black lines and any overspill could be incorporated into the embellishment lines/patterns quite happily.
So, I didn’t start over. I went with the imperfections in the ‘just colours’ version.
Next, it was the fun bit – adding lines and patterns. My favourite thing! This time it was adding them to the shapes formed by colour, which is backwards to how I usually work.
There were times when I was getting a little stressed about the lines not looking right or I was making a mess of it all and I’d have to start again.
However, I reminded myself it’s an experiment, it’s trying something new to me and I just need to trust myself and go with it. Which I did. After all, working directly with black pen with no pencil lines, as I mostly do when I draw, means that what you put down stays down!
Adding metallic colours to these patterns as well as the dots around the lines meant that I became happy with what I’d done.
What I could’ve kicked myself for, however, was using the mixed media paper. This has a grainy texture to it and the pens just didn’t want to leave clean lines on it. I do have smooth watercolour paper lurking in my stash, but the mixed media paper came first to hand. Also, some of the smooth watercolour papers – the hot pressed ones – aren’t as white as the mixed media paper and I didn’t want the vibrant colours of the Inktense pencils to be dulled. Mind you, a watercolour paper would’ve helped the colours to flow and not be quite so patchy I think.
Overall, I’m fairly happy with this. It is ‘perfectly imperfect’ in its own way. Learned from the process. Enjoyed challenging myself to do something a little different. It’s certainly something I’ll be doing again, perhaps with different media. Copics or Chameleon markers spring to mind, as do Tombow Dual Brush pens and the Kuretake Clean Colour Real Brush pens, though not exclusively these. I do have watercolour pencils here somewhere, and Distress Ink pads and refils so they’re a possibility too. And, of course, I have plenty of coloured pencils.
I definitely have a love affair with digital art these days, but I also love using traditional media. They’re both important to me and allow me to express my creativity in different ways, that are really the same in so many ways.
Traditional media really makes me have to accept imperfections in colouring and line work as I create. Digital art means it’s easier for me to create those perfect colour gradations and to blend colour and add texture and so on. Also, it’s so easy to have really vibrant colours with digital art, something I really struggle with when using traditional media. I do love vibrant colours, if you hadn’t noticed!