Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eureka! Colored Pencil Over Watercolor

Last night, as I went over Gennady Spirin's wonderful illustrations with a magnifying glass, inspecting his technique like a private investigator (Spirin doesn't teach or write about his work so you have to guess) I discovered something which had eluded me before. Colored pencil on top of watercolor! Aha! The interesting texture is from the cold press watercolor paper and the shading from the use of a similar color of pencil. You can see this if you look closely at the beard on his Gulliver.
I experimented with this technique all evening and, Eureka!, it works.

I am very excited about this, not only because I unraveled a mystery which has plagued me for months, but also because my medium of choice before I turned to watercolor was colored pencil. I learned a lot about it and became quite good at it. Instead of the rough, cold press, I worked on hot press paper, though, which produces a smooth, blended look. And I never underpainted in watercolor. I used colored paper instead, as in "ClockFace" below.

This is exciting.
So, I've uncovered several of Mr. Spirin's techniques and will be reviving some of my own, one of which is to smooth out features with pastel over watercolor, shown here in my sketchbook.

Mixed media here I come! Now let's see what I can do with the painting I am working on.


  1. How exciting! You make an excellent slueth

  2. How interesting, I love his work, he is a genius.

  3. I love him too! Had several of his books about 15 years ago...