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The very first thing I have to do is come up with an idea. These ideas appear as tiny scribbles on the back of napkins, receipt paper, and on an organized day, my iPad. These ideas are called ideation drawings. A great idea may take ten scribbles of it may take fifty. I rarely decide to take on my first idea because there is usually a much better idea I have in my head and don't even realize it yet!


Once I choose an idea, I blow it up larger on my iPad and start to play around with the details, trying to make my idea as clear as possible. I also like to nail down where my dark areas, light areas, and midtone values will be.


Once I have a clear vision of what it is I want to draw, I search for reference so that I can create my finished sketch. Reference is taken from my own photographs, loosely based on internet images, and a lot of the times on my own sculptures.


Next, I can create my sketch. I like to use the program ProCreate on my iPad. This is much faster than drawing in pencil since I can block in large areas of shading rather quickly. I can also erase quickly and have less fear to mess up the "paper". I make this sketch as refined and perfect as possible because a lot of the line work will be seen in my finished painting.


Then, I take my sketch and start to play around with colors digitally. This allows me to change my mind if I want before I go to my painting.


This next step is a lot of fun! I make what is called an under painting of yellows, oranges, and reds for areas of my artwork that will be in highlights from my light source. I use blues, purples, and greens for the areas that are going to be in shadow. I am not worried about coloring in the lines, but more concerned about the overall feel of warms colors verse cool colors.


Now it is time to really get into the painting. I use Golden acrylic paint that I water down to add washes on top of my under painting. I try to paint for as long as I can without using any white so that my colorful under painting will be allowed to glow through my painted washes. I work until my painting looks like it can pass for a finished piece.


Now I can lay in my colored pencils on top of the painting. I like to add in the colored pencils for added texture and color. This is also a good way to push my light areas a little lighter and darker areas a little darker. You can see in my elf painting on the right that the background became lighter after the colored pencils. Voila! All finished!

witch tumbnails.jpg


I quickly scribble my ideas. A lot of times the only person who knows what the drawings are of is me!

elf reference.jpg

Photo Reference

If I can, I like to take photographs of a model with dramatic lighting to help me build my sketch. Isn't he cute?!


Digital Sketch

I build up my character and their world digitally using my iPad.

witch color comp.JPG

Color Comp

I like to test out my color palette by laying in color over my sketch digitally.

factory frolicker without colored pencil

Acrylic Painting

Make this your own.

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Choose an Idea

I choose what I think will be the best image and blow it up even bigger on my iPad so I can make it more refined.

scarecrow sculpt.jpg

Building Reference

Sometimes my characters and their worlds are too far-fetched from reality and I have to build or sculpt them myself before I take pictures.

witch sketch.JPG

Digital Sketch

Another example of a digital sketch, because it was too hard to pick just one!

touble maker under painting.jpg

Under PaintIng

This is my digital sketch printed on watercolor paper with light washes of acrylic paint.

CUnalt_Santa's Smallest Helper-Gift Wrap

Colored Pencil

This is the last step, where I go on top of the painting with colored pencil.

If you are interested in trying my technique. You can shop for these supplies through the Blick Art Supplies Link on the right.

You will need:

Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper 160Ib. weight or heavier, Golden Acrylic paint tubes (cadmium yellow, cadmium red, alizarian crimson, magenta, medium violet, sap green, permanent green, cobalt teal, primary cyan, ultramarine blue, paynes grey, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, and titanium white), windsor and newton brushes (series 7 is the best but others will do) in varying sizes (make sure you get a 0 or smaller for detail).

PAID LINK: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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