Here’s the new painting I did for my upcoming art showâ€”a painted version of the cover to Paradigm Shift – Part Three. Background is watercolor and gouche on paper and the character is acrylic on a Dura-lar overlay.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with paintings that mimic the look of traditional animation production art using backgrounds painted on watercolor paper and the characters painted on an overlay. I’ve loved the results so much, I gave the treatment to this cover piece.
Here’s the background minus the overlay. I printed the original inks for the cover in light blue on a big 12×18 sheet of watercolor paper and lay down an underpainting in watercolor over it, then built up the painting in layers of gouache. I love that gouache can produce really flat colors like this, or you can dilute it and use it like watercolors for textured effects. The brick work behind Kate is the result of several layers of glazing, so the paper & watercolor texture shows through. The only downside of gouache is that if you re-wet any of the flat areas, they tend to smear and create odd textures. However, it’s easy enough to touch up with a fresh layer once it’s dry (which doesn’t take very long), and if you use Holbein Acryla gouache, once it’s down, it’s down. I decided to hash out the color palette for Kate here before I painted her on the Dura-lar.
The Dura-lar overlay is painted like a pre-digital animation production cel: character inked using FW acrylic ink on the front and colors painted using Holbein Acryla Gouache on the back. Of course traditional animation houses didn’t use such extravagant materials. They used basic india ink and cheap vinyl paint in a standard unmixed color palette. In my case, I pre-mixed the colors I wanted in generous quantities on the palette before I tackled each major section (the hair, the skin, the shirt, etc…) so I wouldn’t have to re-mix the colors if I ran out. Gouache colors tend to shift when drying (even the fancy acryla gouache). They tend to get lighter when they dry, so I have to mix the colors a shade or two darker on the palette and hope for the best. Even with pre-planning, it didn’t prevent a mistake. When I painted the jeans, the colors didn’t match the underpainting. After some hand-wringing, I wiped out them out and repainted them to get the colors right. The nice thing about Dura-lar is anything out put on it can be wiped out with a wet paper towel, so it’s easy to try again.
The painting took about a week’s worth of work ing total, spread out over a couple of weeks. (It’s always much faster when all the preliminary work is doneâ€”in this case I already had a final digital painting to work from!) Here’s how the final piece looks in in its frame: