I want to paint detailed feathers using watercolour digital brushes. Can you help?
Eddie Carter, England
Much of the charm of watercolour as a medium springs from its physical characteristics, and as a result the creation of convincing digital watercolour tools remains elusive. Recently I’ve been achieving good results using a digital workflow based on the William Stout recreation of Arthur Rackham’s ink and watercolour technique. I sketch my line work in graphite, and ink it with Faber-Castell sepia artists’ pens.
Theoretically, you could do the line work digitally with a tablet, but I find I get more character by actually inking the lines on paper. I scan that inked art, and colour it in Photoshop or Procreate.
Whenever possible, I try to work nondestructively, which means lots of layer effects, layer masks and sometimes a Smart Object or two. This will enable you to easily try many variations on your colouring ideas – a big advantage to working digitally! Line work and colour are kept on separate layers, with mask layers for easily blocking in important areas. This practice will give you a lot of flexibility when experimenting with watercolour brushes and textures.
This creature is my interpretation of a vildvittra, a small but scary Swedish variant on the harpy of legend. Blocking out the big form of the wings is an important first step. Details come later. For now it’s crucial to get the proportions right. To paint convincing wings, first look for good reference, such as the construction of insect wings