Watercolor Galaxies

The landscape I posted last week isn’t the only watercolor practice I’ve been doing. . . I’ve also enjoyed making these galaxies.  They were originally inspired by this tutorial on Youtube:

Unfortunately, this method didn’t work for me exactly.  My paints are less pigmented and have a smaller variety of color – so, for example, I couldn’t use the deep indigo as shown in the tutorial.  I also don’t have any masking fluid.  Nevertheless, Cloud and I developed a new method that layers colors and creates stars through splattering opaque white watercolor paint.  Though this method cannot achieve the intensity as shown in the tutorial – or many other galaxy paintings seen online – I’m very happy with how these turned out.  (^__^)

By the by: I’m thinking of photographing the next galaxy I paint step-by-step and making a tutorial.  Would you be interested in this?  Let me know! 😀

Experimenting with Watercolor: Mountains and Rivers Landscape

Watercolor painting of mountains and rivers, with birds flying above.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been sketching on watercolor paper with the full intent to paint them traditionally, rather than digitally – but I’m a little nervous to start.  What if I ruin it?!  You know the feeling?  With digital art, you always have CTRL+Z, but with watercolors, you can’t change it once you put down the paint.  So nerve-wracking! 💦 💦 💦

I didn’t want to let that feeling hold me back, so I looked up some tutorials on Youtube and started painting some small pictures to break the ice!  This painting of mountains and rivers was made using simple techniques from this video by Mr. Otter Art Studio:

The idea of a simple landscape using washes sounded easy enough for even a beginner!  And it was a lot of fun. 😀  Though, I think I’ll practice a bit more before I try to paint one of the sketches! (^__^);;

And a close-up of the painting:

Have you tried painting with watercolors?  How did you like it?  Let me know in the comments below!

Cloud Finished Painting a Mermaid!

Today I’m happy to share with y’all that Cloud finished the first of the mermaid paintings!  ~(˘▾˘~) (~˘▾˘)~  This sketch:

Mermaid Chibi Cloud Sketch by River

. . . is now a lovely watercolor!  I’m so happy. (。◕‿◕。)  Please head on over to Cloud’s World Of: and check it out!

What I Used for Inktober 2016: Sakura Gelly Roll Pen

River Painting: Finishing Touches with Sakura Gelly Roll SMALLWelcome back to the fourth and (for now) final installment of What I Used for Inktober!  Today we’ll be looking at the Sakura Gelly Roll Pen in White, a gel pen that I like to use for accents, outlines, and highlights, like I did in the picture above!  (I also added a blue background using a Promarker – but that’s a review for another day! 😛 )

When I committed to Inktober, I was worried about highlights.  In digital art, it’s easy to add a white outline or highlights at the end of a painting – just make a new layer!  But with markers? o~o  Luckily, with the Sakura Gelly Roll pen, it’s easy to add highlights and finishing touches after the main shading!  At about $5 USD for a set of 3, these pens are budget-friendly. . . and, I would say, well worth the price.

The pen looks like this:

Sakura Gelly Roll Pen close-up. Photo by River.

White-on-white is hard to capture! orz

The pens are about the size of a pencil and very light.  They are small in diameter, so not very ergonomic, but it would be easy to add one of those squishy pencil grips to make ’em comfier.  ^w^

As the ink is white, it works well for highlights, and the gel formula means that it flows easily.  It’s also a lot of fun to use on black paper, like on these sketchcards:

Seasonal Witch Sketch Cards by River

I especially like how the summer berries turned out! :3

One thing to note is that the Sakura Gelly Roll White is slightly translucent.  It’s an effect I like, but for a strong white line you may have to go over it two or three times – especially if the base color is dark.  Here’s some examples:

Sakura Gelly Roll Tests Page by River

This photo has a larger version! Click to view!

In Row 1, I layered the Sakura Gelly Roll over black Tombow water-based markers.  For some reason, the Sakura Gelly Roll appears more translucent over water-based markers, so you may need to layer more to have an opaque white.  They also have a tendency to smear if the marker ink is still wet, so make sure to let it dry thoroughly before using the Gelly Roll. On each black square, I drew a white loop, increasing the number of layers each time.  So left is 1 layer, middle is 2 layers, and right is 3 layers. (In the picture, “rep” is short for “repetition,” or layers.)

In Row 2, the same tests are repeated – but this time they are over an alcohol-based Promarker.  Again, left is 1 layer, middle is 2 layers, and right is 3 layers. I am not sure why, but the Sakura Gelly Roll appears more opaque over the Promarkers.  This doesn’t seem to change with darker colors; so it may have to do with the pigment composition of the Gelly Roll and how it interacts with water-based vs alcohol-based pigments.  In any case, even the 1 layer example shows up well against the blue Promarker, and increased layers will create thicker and more opaque lines.

In Row 3, I laid down a wash of blue-violet Promarker, and just doodled!  The Sakura Gelly Roll really shines with loose, fluid movements.  The line is even and consistent.  I’ve only had a Gelly Roll skip on me twice – which is amazing compared to the Papermate gel pens I use for writing.  Each time, it was only a small break in the line, and easy to repair.

To recap, here are some things I’ve learned using the Sakura Gelly Roll:

  • Let the painting dry completely before using the Gelly Roll.  This will prevent smears!
  • Go over the line several times to make it more opaque or thicker.  Or, leave it at one line for a slightly translucent effect.
  • Relax a little! Loose, fluid movements help the gel ink flow smoothly and consistently.

Though there are other tools one can use for highlights, outlines, or the like, I really enjoy using my Sakura Gelly Rolls and would definitely recommend them!  😀

What do you use to create highlights in traditional media?

~ ~ ~

And this concludes the review series,  What I Used for Inktober!  Thanks for reading!  I hope you’ve enjoyed these reviews over the past month. Please do let me know what you think of this series, and if you’d like me to do more reviews in the future. 😀

 

Chibi Mermaids for #Mermay

Mermaid Chibi Cloud Sketch by River

Cloud as a mermaid!

On Twitter this week, I’ve seen a lot of people drawing mermaids for May (Mermay, get it?), so I was inspired to draw some, too!  I won’t be doing one every day as I’m working on a few other projects right now, but I’ve had fun with these sketches. ^u^

Mermaid Chibi River Sketch for #Mermay by River on Strike A Spark

And River as a mermaid!

These pictures are a collaboration with Cloud, who will paint them!  Recently, Cloud has been enjoying painting with watercolors, so these sketches were drawn on watercolor paper.  I really like the toothy texture – it picks up pencil well.  We decided not to ink them to give a softer impression.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how they look painted! (◕‿◕✿)  Cloud will post them on her blog when she’s done, so keep an eye out! ,

Digital Painting: Falling (finished!) + Thoughts on Improvement

"Falling" - An Alice in Wonderland-inspired digital painting by Studio Luminessa's River. Postcard size version.

Last night I had a strange dream. Wearing my favorite dress, I was falling through the air. Was it to Wonderland or. . . ?

Today I am happy to share with you the final version of “Falling”!  It took a bit of work, but I think I finally managed to get the dream-like atmosphere I was aiming for.  \(^o^)/

Stats

  • Time: ~20 hours
  • Materials: GIMP 2.8, Wacom Intuos 3

“Falling” is definitely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, but personally, I don’t think the girl in the picture is Alice herself.  Perhaps Alice in Wonderland was one of her favorite childhood books. Perhaps she’s always longed to go to Wonderland.  Perhaps that’s why she looks so calm. What do you think?

If you asked me if I’m happy with “Falling,” I would have to say yes – and no.  In many ways, “Falling” represents the current level of my digital painting abilities.  It was also an experiment and a challenge: Different style, focus on shading, and the sheer number of objects to paint gave room to explore and hone my skills.  I’m quite proud of how much I progressed just in the painting of this piece.  Yet at the same time, I felt myself bumping up against the upper limit of my skills.  It was a delight to paint, and yet frustrating at the same time.

At some point, though, you just have to say: “It’s done now.”  No, it isn’t perfect.  Yes, I’m sure with more time/energy/practice it would be more polished.  But I feel that right now, this is the best I can do with this piece.  So rather than going over it again and again and again, or putting it away where it will be forgotten, I’d like to share it with you. 🙂

So, yes, I’m happy with “Falling.” Happy and proud both. And no, I’m not.   But I will take everything that I’ve learned in the hours that made this piece and use them on the next piece, and the next.  No painting, no matter how dissatisfied I am with it, is useless.  Each one takes me closer to my dream.  Hopefully I can just remember that. . . 😛

How about you? Are you a perfectionist?  How do you decide when a piece is “done”?  Let me know in the comments below!

Colored Pencil Painting: Portrait

Worked traditionally with colored pencils for a change of pace!  Portrait of a girl I saw in a dream – I’m pretty sure she has a story to tell, but I don’t know what it is yet. . . .  But kimono remain one of my favorite things to draw, so I’m happy!  I got to draw a hakama too. (^u^)  I was a little careless, so the paper got a little crinkled, but otherwise it turned out quite well!

This time I used a new brand of colored pencils, the Staedtler brand.  They seem a bit softer than Prismacolor Premier pencils, and I liked them a lot.

Here’s a close-up:

I enjoyed working on “Portrait” a lot, more than I thought I would.  It was very relaxing. . . I’d like to learn more colored pencil techniques and try them out, too.

Time: 10 hours

Tools

  • uCreate sketchbook with 75lb paper
  • Staedtler colored pencils, 48 pack