Watercolor walkthrough of a custom painting

I recently finished this very Spring-y mouse custom painting for a very nice art collector friend of mine, called “Easter Joy”. Maybe too late for Easter, but I thought it would be fun to show you the steps it went through! LOTS of pictures in this post!

Firstly, after getting ideas from her, I made a very rough thumbnail sketch to get a feel of what I would include and how it would all lay out:

Watercolor walkthrough

Next, I scanned it into my computer to draw on top of it with my Wacom tablet and digital pen to get a much more refined drawing. I also gather reference material as needed. As you can see, some of the elements had changed at this point. This is what I showed to my collector friend – and she approved! At this stage, I will normally make any desired changes if someone would like to see something different or moved around, etc. until it looks good to them.  But this time around there weren’t any changes to make. Sometimes I will do this part on the computer, sometimes on the original sketch or tracing paper. It is easiest on the computer though to erase things that need to be changed without messing up the sketch paper, and I can resize it to whatever the final painting will be. I still hadn’t done much about refining the flowers in the pots yet, though. I decided to draw those on the actual watercolor paper after I transfer the sketch.

Watercolor walkthrough

Next, I transferred the sketch to watercolor paper. I have two main ways I do this: with a lightbox or with carbon transfer paper. In this case I used the carbon paper, since I happened to be stuck in a hotel because of that snowstorm (as you may recall). J  I had a printout of my drawing, so I put that on top of the watercolor paper and carbon paper and used a pen to draw on top of the printout.

Watercolor walkthrough

Then I sketched the lilies and pansies directly on the watercolor paper – luckily I did have reference with me at the hotel for those!

Watercolor walkthrough

First thing to paint are global washes, like the sky and grass here:

Watercolor walkthrough

More basic first washes on other elements. I did a little more than that on the little mouse and chick characters, though. I generally like to do any characters quicker than the rest, because it helps me feel the personality of the painting.

Watercolor walkthrough

Much more detail work on the characters. This is done by layering up several watercolor washes, particularly in the contours and shadows. For this whimsical style of painting, I like to put in tiny notch details with a very fine black Micron pen, size 005. They’re mainly little dart shapes at corners and transitions between fabric and fur, etc. It really helps the art pop. I don’t like to use a black line over all of it, just  teeny details. Starting to work on the flowers here, too.

Watercolor walkthrough

Lots of shading work done here:

Watercolor walkthrough

Hello, pansies! Also a white gel pen made the polka dots on the eggshells.

Watercolor walkthrough

More work done on the flowerpot, grass, and starting the lilies.

Watercolor walkthrough

Lilies completed.

Watercolor walkthrough

In this last in-progress shot, I’ve finished up the butterflies, grass and wildflowers, and darkening of the edges/corners of the sky. Time to scan it into the computer to show to my friend!

Watercolor walkthrough

The finished painting  🙂

Easter Joy cute mouse chick painting

See you next time!



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