Ever wondered what the simplest way to create a killer dark watercolor image is and still keep it interesting and vibrant? Well for today's project I needed to do exactly that - create a dark image, full of interest and pattern using watercolors! Why - well I'm on a bit of a mission - Karl Urban (one of my Top 10 favourite actors of all time) is going to be at Comic-Con in Sydney 2016 and so am I (insert girly squeals of delight!). So in a moment of feeling horribly brave, I decided that I would create something original in my art journal in the hope that Karl might sign it, and yes I am aware that all items for signing must be approved first, so there was a chance that it wouldn't happen - but I decided to take a risk.
Now with one of the Star Trek lead actors potentially signing my art journal it had to be something appropriate, Star Trek themed and gorgeous. I toyed with a few ideas and finally settled on a very bold and dark Star Trek logo filled with a night sky/galaxy effect and some accompanying text - in this case, those iconic words "To boldly go where no one has gone before".
3 Simple Steps to Create a Stunning Watercolor Galaxy
- No painting
- Keep dark colors thick and syrupy
- Layer and create texture any way possible
Don't worry, I'm about to tell you exactly how I did this and there is a video with a complete start-to-finish in case you want more. So let me explain:
1. No Painting
To keep this piece as fluid and random as possible, I used the Wet-in-Wet technique, where I painted water onto my design and then dripped, splattered and simply touched the paintbrush loaded with paint to the wet image. This is so simple, no work for you at all and results in a very fluid, organic spread of colours, plus it's heaps of fun!
2. Keep dark colors thick and syrupy
To make sure I got as much darkness as possible into my galaxy I added 5-6 drops of water to my watercolour pans and let them sit for 5 minutes before beginning. The lighter colours I mixed with a little water so they would flow, the darker colours I used in their syrupy consistency right from the pan. This made sure the watercolor was chock full of pigment and in some cases sparkly bits.
3. Layer and create texture any way possible
With all of that dark juicy paint, there needed to be a way to add some interest, pattern and the look of texture to the piece, I created this in 4 ways.
1. Let some of the watercolour puddles of colour dry on the page before adding more colour - this creates drying marks, edges and patterns.
2. Flick alcohol over the wet watercolours, this causes them to split, crack and create 'windows' and is truly an amazing secret weapon.
3. Add salt while your piece is wet, just sprinkle it over to create a gorgeous pattern. Remember to brush it off once your piece is dry!
4. Add metallic dry gouache powder (gold, silver or copper) while your piece is wet to create metallic highlights and dazzling effects.
You can see these effects up close, aren't they simply gorgeous - the cracked effect from the alcohol, the random colours, the sparkle and of course the metallic hints from the dry gouache.
Now I mentioned that I was hoping to get my page signed by Karl Urban - I did! He couldn't have made this huge Star Trek fan happier!
You can watch and see exactly how I created this here or over on my YouTube Channel https://youtube.com/KatePalmer
- Winsor and Newton Watercolors: Cobalt Violet, Indigo, Cobalt Blue, Permanent Magenta
- Daniel Smith Watercolors: Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, Rhodonite Genuine, Kyanite, Lunar Blue, Moonglow, Duochrome Aquamarine and Rose of Ultramarine
- Table Salt
- Copic Various Ink - Colorless Blender (as alcohol)
- Copic Multi Liner Black 0.3
- Schminke Tro-Col Bronze Dry Gouache Powder: Reichgold
- Dr Ph Martin's - Bleed Proof White
- Princeton Neptune Watercolor Paintbrush - No 8 Round
- Mixed Media Travellers Notebook from Yellow Paper House