Kelly Smith: Experimenting with Watercolour

Copyright from: 07/01/15
Copyright from: 07/01/15

I chose to breakdown this Kelly Smith piece because I felt it would allow me to experiment with watercolour, as it is made up of both fluid and refined painting techniques. I absolutely love the movement in the skirt and elegant stride in the figures walk. I like how there is a strong style in this illustration, the maxi skirt combined with the feather background creates a bohemian ambiance. The pleated skirt was definitely a challenge, I used very little water when painting the pleats because the lines around the waistband were so defined and I had to make sure they didn’t mix together. When the watercolour in the skirt dried, I used watercolour pencils as an overlay to enhance the pleating. When painting the blouse I used a lot of water and mixed it with white to make up the soft blush pink with hints of purple. I sketched the face using a soft graphite pencil and had to draw finely to delicately capture the features.

I opened the scanned image in Photoshop and altered the Curve setting to whiten the background and intensify the watercolour. I used Smith’s layering technique to enhance the pencil sketch over the watercolour, I only wanted to layer the painted areas therefore I sketched the skirt, shirt and hat by hand and opened them in the document I was working on in Photoshop. With the Magic Wand Tool I deleted the white sections of the hand sketch and placed it in line with the original drawing, slightly reducing the opacity. I then used the Triangle Pastel brush in a light grey colour with low opacity to subtlety shade the face, arms and hands. To achieve the background, I simply sketched the outline of a feather and scanned it into the computer, I opened this in Photoshop as a new layer. I used the Polygonal Lasso Tool to delete the background of my sketch and dropped the feature outline in behind the figure. Here is the final interpretation:

Final result of the techniques
Final result of the techniques

I thoroughly enjoyed this breakdown, I think the features are a great way to infuse an elegant relaxed feel into the illustration, I am happy with how I broke this down although to begin with I think I complicated the water colours by using a build-up of different shades on the skirt. I enjoy using mixed media, I am surprised at how much hand painting and computer aided design complement each other. I have a lot to think about when considering my own style.

Stay posted to follow the next stage of the illustration project…
Emma ♥


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