Graduating To “Official” Watercolours

Blog Post, illustrations

Taking what watercolour pencils taught me (previous post) not only made me more comfortable but gave me the trial and error I needed without as much frustration to go back to using official watercolour paints.

The first time I used watercolour paints (excluding those sets you get when your a kid) was in university for an illustration course, where we were assigned 1 landscape watercolour project – it felt like the hardest project I have ever had to do – landscapes are a bit challenging on their own, but throwing watercolours into the mix made it exponentially more difficult. My professor was a bit surprised as I really enjoyed doing washes with ink, acrylic and gouache but found watercolours a completely different beast to tame! So after all the practice with the watercolour pencils I have decided to “graduate” myself to using “official” watercolour paints and the first piece done using the medium in almost 5 years!

The subject chosen for my first “official” watercolour illustration/painting was inspired by a blogger/photographer I follow on Instagram: @bumblebria (check her out!)

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The lighting, composition and colours of this lemon lavender loaf caught my eye, encouraging me to recreate a version in “official” watercolours. I took a screenshot for reference, and to note the photographer’s handle so I could tag them when posting my WIP (work in progress) and final outcome online.

I started with a light pencil outline, using a mechanical pencil and Fabriano Studio Watercolour Paper.

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The sketch actually sat in my sketchbook for a little while, I decided to watch a couple watercolour tutorials online for different techniques and tricks before painting; really enjoying the image I did not want to mess this piece up, even though it is more for practice to grow my skillset; that said, I am a perfectionist and am trying to embrace the imperfections of art as it makes things more organic and interesting…not to mention a lot less stressful and more fun!

A couple of days before starting he painting process of this piece, my boyfriend actually bought me some new watercolours (not knowing I have a little stash as he has never seen me use “official” watercolours before lol) and some water-brushes for us to try out. I bought a water-brush a couples years back but was not a hundred percent sure how to use it and was afraid to wreck it; a silly thought as this is what they are made for, but again the perfectionist and fear of messing up took over so I never actually used it (more to come on this topic in a later post). These water brushes are a but of a game changer!

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I was excited to try “official” watercolours again already and the new brushes made me even more enthusiastic to “graduate” myself to the next level of watercolours lol

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The level of control with the water-brush made my experience more relaxing and fun – I was not worried about using too much water or accidentally dripping water or pigment somewhere else on the page when filling the brush with more paint. I would highly recommend getting one of these and trying them out, they are pretty inexpensive (depending on where you go).

I thought I was done the piece when I recorded this video removing the tape, but something just wasn’t right and I HATED the dark background – I wanted it to feel more like a marble finish but was not able to create the perfect cream colours, so I tried to use some blue tones – clearly I had a brain fart – there is already blue in the cloth that the background then blended them together; so in a dire attempt to fix the background, I attempted to make it look more like the cracked concrete in the original photo…I was not happy with this and even debated on making a new background and just cutting the old one out and pasting a new one in.

Looking at the piece a couple days later, it began to grow on me, but something still was missing. Taking a black studio gel pen, I outlined the edge of the cloth that meets the background – looked like I was onto something – then went over this with some black watercolour to make a shadow that created more contrast. Later, I used the same gel pen to add some subtle outlines to other areas to really pull it all together as a finished piece.

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Not going to lie, I am still not 100% happy with the final outcome but am glad it turned out much better than expected using “official” watercolours. I am trying to not be so hard on myself and embracing imperfections, especially on pieces like this where my intention is to better learn the medium and just have fun experimenting.

Please let me know what you think and about your watercolour experiences/preferences.

Don’t forget to follow my on Instagram and/or Twitter for live updates.

Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

Faber-Castell Watercolour Pencils

What Watercolour Pencils Taught Me

Blog Post

If you have read my previous posts, follow me on instagram or twitter, you are aware that I really enjoy using watercolour pencils, because they are kind of like watercolours for dummies lol in this I mean the user has much more control over the medium and can manipulate and blend the medium with a lower chance of getting a ‘muddy’ image. Now don’t get me wrong, they are not fool proof; trust me I have made some ‘happy little accidents’ and some not so ‘happy little accidents’ with these as well, but it is with these accidents that one learns how to correctly use medium.

Some of the mistakes & lessons I have learned from using the watercolour pencils that can transition to when using ‘official’ watercolour paints are as follows:

  1. Blocking in colour: I would start by illustrating a subject (usually lightly with a pen, occasionally pencil) and would then proceed to block in all my colours. Once the colours were all in place, using the brush that came with the set, I would add water to start blending the colours.
    Problem: If you block in all your colours then try to add water to blend, ALL the colours start to blend together. So if there is an orange fading to yellow section and blue fading to purple section side by side the water may start to bleed into each section (this can happen if either too much water is used or if for instance the yellow section is still wet and you start to blend the blue section that is beside it), resulting in a colour(s) you may of not wanted.
    Solution: Colour in 1 area, blend with water and allow this section to dry before adding colour to the next section; preventing 2 wet colours from becoming 1 unwanted colour or mud puddle.
  2. Adding Black: Be sure to do this last, once all the layers are dry.
    Problem: If you add black to the colours before blending the colours in with water, that section will become very dark and muddy.
    Solution: Allow all the layers to dry, add small amounts of black to areas you want to have shading (remember to build up, do not add too much at once). Another option is to use a scrap piece of paper: add black to the scrap paper, wet it with your brush (adding as much or as little water to it in order to get the desired transparency) and do a wash over the desired areas.
  3.  Substrate: Watercolour paper obviously works best when using watercolour, it is made to handle the medium; hence its name. But some sketchbooks claim they can handle wet mediums.
    Problem: When paper becomes wet it can begin to warp or tear and water just sits on top, flowing all over.
    Solution: Test the substrate to see if it actually handle wet mediums; if it tests are good, still be cautious not to use too much water, some of lower limitations than others. Use the appropriate substrate for the job, watercolour paper (thought not all created equally) is probably the best to use when using the medium…it’s all in the name after all.
  4.  Using too much water: This can really mess up your substrate, technique and final outcome you are trying to achieve (unless this is the outcome you are looking for).
    Problem: Tearing, pilling (paper starts to ball up on the surface and in paintbrush bristles) & warping that can cause pooling.
    Solution: Use a scrap piece of paper or paper towel to remove any excess water from your brush. Allow layers to dry completely to prevent pilling of the paper which can lead to tearing. Using good quality watercolour paper tends to prevent some warping, but if this is not in your budget or you want the paper to stay as flat as possible, just tape it down to a board with masking or painters tape (be sure to remove some of the tackiness of the tape by sticking it to your pants or shirt a couple of times before taping down the paper to prevent tearing your substrate when removing the tape); a flat, secure surface also prevents the water and pigments from pooling.
  5. Be Patient:  When working with watercolours it is very important to be patient, allowing for areas/layers to dry.
    Solution: Have another project you can work on or do something else like read a book/article, laundry, go for a walk, etc.
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice!  

you can tell which illustration had more experimentation and which is more polished in my Bear Watercolour Illustration post.

Pink Whale

Pink Whale Watercolour

Blog Post, illustrations, shop

Completed this whale illustration I started during #artwalk & it is also available in my Redbubble store

For this piece I used Royal & Langnickel watercolours, watercolour paper & watercolour pencils (see my watercolor post for details on the pencils & paper used here), Liquitex muted inks & Fabre-Castel artist pens.

Please let me know what you think of this piece & don’t forget to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for the most up to date info on new creations & promotions!

Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

Bear Watercolour Illustration

Blog Post, illustrations, Redbubble Shop

This illustration came about while on a family camping trip, near crows nest pass. I was sitting at our picnic table with my watercolour pencils & paper (more on materials here), when I noticed one of my watercolour illustrations was tucked between some of the blank pages; my geometric buffalo illustration.

The combination of finding this lost illustration with being surrounded by beautiful trees & mountains inspired me to create a similar piece with a woodland creature – bears in particular – these beautiful, gentle, yet fierce animals who rule the mountain side.

Wanting to make the new illustration more powerful in colour & shapes, I planned the geometric designs/patterns out in pencil before outlining in ink (instead of inking on the fly like the buffalo), which made the inking process quicker & colour choices a bit easier; allowing me to play with different shades of colour opposed to the inking to give the piece more dimension.

Overall, this illustration is much more solid & put together compared to the buffalo. I am very pleased with the final outcome & have received a lot of positive feedback at artwalk & online.

This illustration is also available in my Redbubble shop as prints, appareal, gifts & more! Check it out here: Noelle Fontaine’s Redbubble Shop

Please let me know what you think of this piece & which you prefer – the Bear or the Buffalo.

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for the most up to date info on new creations & promotions!

Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

Jolly Rancher Skull Studio Pouch

My Redbubble Shop

Blog Post, illustrations, Redbubble Shop

It has been a while since I made my account on redbubble.com, just never really could make the time to create or post illustrations; However, I find myself with some more time on my hands, which allows me to create and post to my shop!

I will have many of my illustrations up on the site as t-shirts, tank tops, laptop cases & skins, phone cases, bags & so much more!

You can check it out here: Noelle Fontaine’s Redbubble Shop

Take a sneak peak at my wares:

Here is some information: About Redbubble

Also, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for the most up to date info on new creations & promotions!

Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

My First Artwalk YEG 2017Β 

Blog Post, Events

Participated in my first Artwalk this year, it was such an awesome experience. I was excited and terrified to see my work displayed next to other artists lol all of the feelings were felt!

There were also some things discovered about me and my work: a lot of my illustrations are more masculine, I still have quite a variety of different styles of work – some people thought there were 4 different artists in my tent lol and stepping out of my comfort zone to engage with people looking at my work – being some one with social anxiety, this was terrifying to say the least, but it is one of those things that help you grow as an individual to better yourself and your skills so you just gotta power on through – which was becoming a little less terrifying each time πŸ™‚

I was on 83rd Ave all weekend (July 7, 8 & 9th, 2017) from 10am-5pm each day. The spot I had was fantastic: right across the park where there was live entertainment, between both the crafter’s market and Farmer’s market; however, the majority of people walking through this area were of an older and a more family orientated crowed – now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with an older and more family orientated crowd, it is just that my sales were not so great. It was my first year, so there have been a couple of lessons learned, one of them being that my work appeals to a younger/more niche crowd. So next year I will see if I can be positioned along Whyte Ave as this is more of where my target market will be; I just hope the weather is as beautiful next year as it was this year!

Special thank you to my volunteers, supporters and @thepaintspot plus all the sponsors for creating this great event!

Follow my Instagram and Twitter for live updates @noelle_fontaine

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FAN ART: HR. GEIGER’S ALIEN

Blog Post, fan art, illustrations

Out of the blue I was stricken with inspiration to do some Alien fan art; I love HR. Geiger’s work, in fact I have some as wallpapers on my Mac book pro & pc at work lol

I though about doing this as an airbrush piece at first, but then decided to do an ink wash instead; once i decided this I was debating on doing highlights with the airbrush…but it’s been so long since I’ve done traditional ink (with India ink, water and paintbrush brush) in general so I decided to just stick with the 1 medium.

Ink washing is one of my favourite techniques, the last time I did any was back in October for inktober 2016 which were all relatively quick illustrations, so it was nice to actually be able to spend a bit more time on this than the inktober pieces (October is a bit of a busy whirlwind month for me lol).

I can see some things that I think I could do better but that comes with time and experience lol want to refine  and improve my skills and the only way to keep improving is practice, practice, practice πŸ™‚

The substrate used for this illustration was Canson Bristol 96lb (260g), 11″x14″ (27.9cm x 35.5cm). I have been using this for most of my illustrations lately, it is double sided (1 is smooth and the other is textured – prefer the textured side myself but its nice to have the option) and is made from 30% recycled paper #awesome

In retrospect, to really achieve the look I was initially looking for I should of used Illustration board, but I am pretty happy with how this turned out…even though I am very out of practice lol That said this substrate surprisingly holds up really well to ink wash and water colour techniques (posts to come!) with little to no warping of the paper; mind you taping this down to a board does help to prevent this as there is a fair amount of water and ink used on this piece lol but even if there is a bit of warping you can place a heavy book on top and it smooths right out!

PENCIL SKETCH
PENCIL SKETCH CLOSE UP
INKED OUTLINE
MID-TONES AND BASE LAYER OF BACKGROUND
FINAL OUTCOME
CLOSE UP

I’m not going to lie, since it had been so long I procrastinated on finishing this piece for a little while lol I was afraid to mess up my pencil sketch and inked outline so the first layer of the ink wash was terrifying lol but sometimes you just gotta take the risk, swallow your fear and give it your all!

To see more of my work be sure to follow me on Instagram & twitter @noelle_fontaine where posting happens more regularly πŸ˜›

Thank you for reading and please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and critiques on this piece πŸ™‚

INKTOBER 2016, accomplished

Blog Post, Creative Challenges, illustrations

Inktober has already come and gone, it seemed to happen so fast!!

This was my second year participating in inktober, you can check out last years blog post inktober 2015, many random ink pieces were created lol I found it a bit hard to squeeze in time to get these done but I am very happy I was able to complete the challenge and work on my inking skills!

October is usually a crazy month for me (making my niece & nephews halloween costumes, freelance work, full time work, participating in the night of fear festival media promos & event itself) so I decided to get a bit more organized & go with a theme: horror & macabre  movies & tv series.

Please let me know what you think!

Check out my 2015-2019 Inktober collection.

Buy Prints Here!

Don’t forget to follow me on my social for instant updates πŸ™‚

Playing with Pastels

Blog Post, illustrations

  
Playing with pastels at the Inspiring Designs studio, updates coming soon!!

Follow me on my social to watch the progress in real time πŸ™‚

   
    
    
    
   

Halo Master Chief

Blog Post, fan art, illustrations

My big little brother is a Halo master! Master Chief CJ, Halo MASTER!!!

He lives, breaths, eats halo & it shows! The things he unlocks in the game & how good he is at playing it amazes me, not to mention his online gamer friends! I wish he would post his gaming skills because they are insane.


REWIND: He is my β€œBig Little Brother” because he is the baby of the family but is about 6 feet tall. He just turned 20 January 23rd, its hard to believe he is already 20!

So it is clear the inspiration for this illustration (which was his bday present πŸ˜› ) is my big little brother, Justyn.


The Materials:
β€’ Bainbridge Illustration Board
β€’ X-Acto Knife
β€’ Watercolour Paint
β€’ Masking/Transfer Tape
β€’ Faber Castell Watercolour Pencils
β€’ Prismacolor Premier Pencil Crayons
β€’ Steadler Pigment Liner 0.1
β€’ Sharpie Extra Fine Point
β€’ Jelly Roll 08 White Jelly Pen
β€’ Reference Pic
β€’ Pencil & Eraser
β€’ Wooden Board
The Process:


1. On the Illustration board I sketched out the rough image, using reference image, then added the details

2. Outline final sketch & details with Steadler Pigment Liner 0.1

3. Mask off entire sketch with the transfer tape

4. With the x-acto knife lightly trim round the boarder & character. (Be sure to use a sharp blade & do not push down too hard, you do not want to cut the illustration board)

5. Peel the pieces of the tape off the background (only in areas you want to be painted)

6. Painted the background with water colour paints, starting with a light purple, gradually fading into darker a darker shade of purple to blue to black.

7. After 2 layers of this I used a dry brush, dipped it in white paint & spattered it over the entire image to create stars.

8. Once this dries, peel the tape covering the image & start blocking in colour with the watercolour pencils & blend with water, when it dried I did a second layer to add more dimensions with shadows, keeping the highlighted areas light from the start (it is easier to keep the white areas light than trying to add them back in)

9. Once this dried I used prismacolour pencil crayons (they go on creamy & blend awesome) over top to finish adding colour & dimension to the image

10. I did the pencil crayon one section at a time, using the extra fine tip sharpie to go over my existing ink lines to make them pop more, while adding some line work for shading (the pencil crayons pushed the strength of the felt back)

11. Once this was complete I used my Jelly Roll pen to add some texture to the highlighted ares & some stars to the background.

12. Peel off the rest of the transfer tape & framed the image (I made the illustration 8.5”x11” so I trimmed the matting of an 8”x10” frame to showcase the entire illustration)

Let me know what you think of this illustration, & of any critiques you may have. Don’t forget to follow me on my social to see what I am working on in real time!

Thank you for reading πŸ™‚