Gouache Painting Demo

December 14, 2006


…from sketchbook to finish…

I am constantly experimenting with different supports to paint on. The other day I came home with a sheet of 140 lbs hot press Arches watercolor paper. It had been quite some time since I had painted on it and I wanted to see if I liked it any better now than I did then. I scanned shots of this little exercise at different points along the way and posted them as a sort of “mini-demo”.

2006_12_14_Wolverine1I am constantly experimenting with different supports to paint on. The other day I came home with a sheet of 140 lbs hot press Arches watercolor paper. It had been quite some time since I had painted on it and I wanted to see if I liked it any better now than I did then. I opened my sketchbook and picked out this image for my experimentation.

2006_12_14_Wolverine2I made a photocopy of the sketchbook page, taped it to the bottom of the 140 lbs Arches watercolor paper and then redrew it onto the watercolor paper using my light table. The drawing that I do on watercolor paper is pretty much all just contour line. I will use paint to define line, value, and shape so I don’t need to waste time doing that with the pencil drawing.

2006_12_14_Wolverine3As with most any project you take on in life, if you have some sort of a plan before you start, things will usually run a bit smoother for you as you try to accomplish your goal. My game plan in painting is almost always, paint the stuff in back first, the things up front last. This helps you avoid that “painted up to” look you see in a lot of watercolor paintings where the background and the foreground images meet. Since I am painting the old Wolverine in his bright yellow spandex jumpsuit, I will stick with a very limited yellow palette. I use purple to tint and accent as it is yellow’s compliment.

2006_12_14_Wolverine4With the background basically finished, I turn my attention to the foreground image. The first thing I do is simply block in color with flat, mid-tone washes. Now it is just a matter of refining these areas of color. I start modeling the yellow areas using purple to dull and darken my paint, and white to build up to the highlights.

2006_12_14_Wolverine5I continue to define the different blocks of color I have previously laid in. Using value to the max (extreme dark and extreme light), I turn the blue areas on Wolverines outfit into shiny looking black passages. I also start painting the cracks into the ground.

The reason Wolverine is digging and partially in a hole is because this picture came out of my sketchbook and I ran out of room on the small page to draw his bottom half… so I stuck him in a hole. This is the problem with doing sketches on small pieces of paper. There’s not enough room to let your drawing go where it needs to go to work properly. But it doesn’t matter here because I am simply testing Arches hot press watercolor paper on this piece.


At this point I go ahead and add the finishing detail. I am now done with the painting phase. The 140 lbs Arches hot press paper has performed pretty well, but it’s surface is a bit harder than the softer surfaced hot press Winsor-Newton and Waterford papers that I usually paint on. I still prefer them.

As I evaluate the art, it doesn’t seem to have the punch I had hoped it would. The values aren’t quite right… but that’s OK because there is one more step to my art process. As an illustrator, I have to send my clients digital files to work with. Photoshop is always the last destination for any piece of art that I do. I scan the artwork into my computer and address miscellaneous problem areas there.


In Photoshop, the first thing I do is pump up the saturation of the colors. This gives Wolverine a brightly colored, “comic book” look. I then adjust the value of the background. By darkening it up a bit, the lighter valued Wolverine snaps up and off the page. Then, (for the sake of this little demo), I add the lens flare effect to one of his claws. There is an infinite number of things you can do with a piece of artwork in Photoshop but I will stop here.

That is pretty much my standard painting process. I hope you enjoyed seeing it.

The Comments

Don Jones

Inspirational… motivational! This is much more than just a “mini-demo”. It’s a stinking tutorial worthy of PBS publication!! In HIGH DEF!

Dan Lietha

Now THAT’S a Christmas present!

craig schutt

Well, you know I’m partial to the long underwear superhero scene, so I think this is great! SNIKT!

Dennis Jones

..oh, yeh… SNIKT! …I forgot about that… I even had room for it…

Doug Jones

SNIKTity doo dah… SNIKTity day…. hey… did you skip the colored pencil step on this one? I’m thinking with the hard surface on this paper, pencils wouldn’t work real good, Clark.

Dennis Jones

…yep… the colored pencil deal is kind of a complex thing to try and explain in sound bites so I thought I might do something with that topic at some future date… but, to answer your question, while I was able to put those finishing touches in with colored pencils, the hard paper surface did seem to fight me a bit as I did…

Doug Jones


Don Jones

Could someone explain SNIKT!? I have been left out of the loop on this…

Dennis Jones

…to your credit, Don, you never were that much of a comic book geek… Snikt is the sound that you hear when Wolverines claws pop out… and oddly enough, the sound you hear as the Colts and Chiefs fade out of playoff contention in December… snikt… SniKt… SNIKT…

Doug Jones

Thanks for asking that, Don… I was clueless too. Is it a sign of the end times when the Colts start loosing and the Titans start winning? There is something weird going on in the NFL…

Don Jones

Things went completely downhill with those stinking Thursday night NFL channel games… Monday Night Football on ESPN… I think we should get prepared to kiss FREE NFL football coverage bye-bye.

Doug Jones

pucker up…

Don Jones



Amazing, Mr. Jones! I’ve been an admirer of your work since way back in the 1980s when I was in a church youth group and every month beheld your art in various church youth group publication (whose names I can’t recall).


Hey! I’m not the only one! Welcome Brian.

Dennis Jones

…Hi Brian, thanks for the kind comments…

…and RobalLOO …the nominating committee meeting has just adjourned and (based on the strength of that last comment you made), I am pleased to be able to ask you to serve as my brand new official web page greeter…

…please give this your prayerful consideration…

Don Jones

According to the 1998 charter and bylaws of the Brother Jones Accord, “each official web page greeter will be expected to provide a firm handshake along with a pat on the back to each and every website visitor.” RobalLoo, welcome to work.


At least I was alerted before I was voted into office. Could be worse. Two friends of mine found out they were Deacons in their new church when their names appeared in the church newsletter!

Dennis Jones

…whew …glad you hadn’t received your copy of the Brother Jones newsletter in the mail yet…


Mr. Jones sir…..what was the overall time frame of this piece….very nice indeed-o…. yes….many days late on seeing this…hopefully you check old “post a comment” comments… Happy New Year to ya…

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