Layering Watercolor on Yupo

A guest post by Martice Smith II

I absolutely LOVE watercolor! I wanted to experiment with layering watercolor on Yupo paper and Gina Rossi Armfield's book No Excuses Watercolor inspired me to create a cute illustration, full of charm and expressive lines. In this tutorial, we are exploring the spontaneous, nonporous nature of Yupo as an unpredictable painting surface. Expressive line work, color observation and wet on dry painting techniques are emphasized, as well. MarticeSmith_Post3-09 Materials
  • #2 pencil
  • paper towels or baby wipes
  • Pigma Micron pens (permanent and waterproof ink)
  • watercolor brushes: round, filbert
  • watercolors (I’m using Fluid Acrylics - DecoArt) and a jar of water
  • water-soluble pencil
  • Yupo paper (or 90 lb. watercolor paper; hot-press)
  • optional: hair dryer, straw
STEP 1: Choose an image you want to draw and paint. I chose to illustrate one of my favorite animals—panda bears! First, sketch the image on Yupo paper with a pencil using light pressure. (Use a reference image to help you with proportions.) When your sketch is complete, trace over the lines with a Micron pen.

STEP 1: Choose an image you want to draw and paint.
I chose to illustrate one of my favorite animals—panda bears!
First, sketch the image on Yupo paper with a pencil using light pressure. (Use a reference image to help you with proportions.) When your sketch is complete, trace over the lines with a Micron pen.

STEP 2: Add color + washi tape Start with the lightest watercolor and add it to your sketch.  (Paint with Fluid acrylics if you prefer your colors to have a rich, concentrated look.) When painting on Yupo, you will quickly learn that it does not behave like other papers you may be familiar with. Instead of the paint being absorbed into the paper, the paint actually dries on top. It’s like a magic show! For the first layer, I applied a very loose wash of Raw Umber to represent the black fur of the pandas. (Multiple colors will be added to darken the fur.) Painting outside of the lines makes me happy! (You’ll see a lot of that going on in this painting.) While this layer dries, add a strip of washi tape to divide the page for journaling.

STEP 2: Add color + washi tape
Start with the lightest watercolor and add it to your sketch.
(Paint with Fluid acrylics if you prefer your colors to have a rich, concentrated look.)
When painting on Yupo, you will quickly learn that it does not behave like other papers you may be familiar with. Instead of the paint being absorbed into the paper, the paint actually dries on top. It’s like a magic show! For the first layer, I applied a very loose wash of Raw Umber to represent the black fur of the pandas. (Multiple colors will be added to darken the fur.)
Painting outside of the lines makes me happy! (You’ll see a lot of that going on in this painting.) While this layer dries, add a strip of washi tape to divide the page for journaling.

STEP 3: Add a second layer of color Add the next lightest color, gradually adding darker colors to your drawing. (Titan Buff +Translucent White for the white fur.) Let dry.

STEP 3: Add a second layer of color
Add the next lightest color, gradually adding darker colors to your drawing.
(Titan Buff +Translucent White for the white fur.) Let dry.

STEP 4: Add a third layer of color If you study colors, you will know that each color has many different tints and shadows, and also, a mixture of reflective color and highlights.  The fur on pandas isn't just flat black and white; there’s a beautiful spectrum of color! I’ve added some Prussian Blue, Raw Umber and later I’ll be adding a splash of purple!  When sunlight hits black fur, you’ll discover deep blue in the shadows and cool purple in the highlights. Very neat, right? (TIP: Let every single layer of paint thoroughly dry before adding the next color. Paints that mix will become muddy and dull the color intensity.)

STEP 4: Add a third layer of color
If you study colors, you will know that each color has many different tints and shadows, and also, a mixture of reflective color and highlights.
The fur on pandas isn't just flat black and white; there’s a beautiful spectrum of color! I’ve added some Prussian Blue, Raw Umber and later I’ll be adding a splash of purple!
When sunlight hits black fur, you’ll discover deep blue in the shadows and cool purple in the highlights. Very neat, right?
(TIP: Let every single layer of paint thoroughly dry before adding the next color. Paints that mix will become muddy and dull the color intensity.)

STEP 5: Blow the paint around! Lay down small puddles of paint in a few areas. Using a straw, blow directly on the paint with a short puff of air to create movement. (You may need to get very close to the page.) Lift the paper and blow air in quick, strong bursts in the direction you want the drips to go. The twigs, blades of grass and baby panda’s little feet are done with this technique. (TIP: Blowing into a straw will give you a very different effect than if you blew directly onto the paper. Try them both!)

STEP 5: Blow the paint around!
Lay down small puddles of paint in a few areas. Using a straw, blow directly on the paint with a short puff of air to create movement. (You may need to get very close to the page.) Lift the paper and blow air in quick, strong bursts in the direction you want the drips to go.
The twigs, blades of grass and baby panda’s little feet are done with this technique.
(TIP: Blowing into a straw will give you a very different effect than if you blew directly onto the paper. Try them both!)

STEP 6: Add some red! Red is such a powerful color. I don’t want to overpower my painting with it, but I do love the idea of adding a bit of red to catch attention. Primary Magenta is used here for the berries and on baby panda’s tongue.

STEP 6: Add some red!
Red is such a powerful color. I don’t want to overpower my painting with it, but I do love the idea of adding a bit of red to catch attention. Primary Magenta is used here for the berries and on baby panda’s tongue.

STEP 7: Color palette: Document your colors Document all the colors you used in your painting. Paint small swatches along the side of the washi tape.   There are 10 main colors in my painting:  ● Titan Buff + Translucent White ● Primary Magenta ● Green Gold ● Raw Umber + Prussian Blue Hue ● Carbon Black + Paynes Grey ● Dioxazine Purple (added later) ● Cobalt Teal Hue

STEP 7: Color palette: Document your colors
Document all the colors you used in your painting. Paint small swatches along the side of the washi tape.
There are 10 main colors in my painting:
● Titan Buff + Translucent White
● Primary Magenta
● Green Gold
● Raw Umber + Prussian Blue Hue
● Carbon Black + Paynes Grey
● Dioxazine Purple (added later)
● Cobalt Teal Hue

STEP 8: Prepare for journaling Paint a mixture of water and Cobalt Blue Hue onto the paper. Let this dry. (Optional: speed up drying process with a hair dryer.) I almost always embed positive messages within my work. I like to choose words and mantras that give me power and evoke confidence.

STEP 8: Prepare for journaling
Paint a mixture of water and Cobalt Blue Hue onto the paper. Let this dry. (Optional: speed up drying process with a hair dryer.)

 
STEP 9: Journal! I almost always embed positive messages within my work. I like to choose words and mantras that give me power and evoke confidence. Journal whatever you wish! Be sure to use waterproof and permanent ink and a calligraphy pen. I love how my handwriting matches the fun personality of the pandas— spontaneous, quirky and simple.

STEP 9: Journal!
I almost always embed positive messages within my work. I like to choose words and mantras that give me power and evoke confidence. Journal whatever you wish! Be sure to use waterproof and permanent ink and a calligraphy pen. I love how my handwriting matches the fun personality of the pandas— spontaneous, quirky and simple.

Advice to readers: Unusual surfaces produce unexpected results! Explore different surfaces to create artwork on. Be sure to document your preferences!   Bio: Martice's signature style has a bold, urban edge infused with mixed-media, fashion, graffiti + photography. (Yes, this means vibrant colors + grungy textures!) As an internationally published multi-medium artist, she loves sharing her art passion by serving as an educator for several companies and design teams. Through tutorials on her blog, Martice helps thousands of creatives live their soulful, colorful dreams to the max, by showing how to embrace their soulful magic. Martice's work has recently been published in A World of Artist Journal Pages and was juried into Incite 3: The Art of Storytelling, as well as in online publications. Connect with Martice at www.marticesmithart.com, on Facebook and Instagram and join the party in her MUSEletter! No Excuses Watercolor

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