'For I Am Yours' Children's Book Illustrations in Watercolor by Lorraine Watry

This is the continuation of my posts to create 17 watercolor illustrations for the children’s book, “For I Am Yours” by Pauline Hawkins. My plan was to post about the process every Friday, but life got in the way! I have until the end of July to complete all 17 illustrations, so I have planned to get one or more done each week. Right now, I am ahead, but some of the coming illustrations will have more figures in them and I am anticipating these to take longer.

The images that I have completed are not in order. I have skipped around to the ones that I felt either wouldn’t take too long or that I felt the drawing was resolved and ready to go. The first two pages also helped me figure out the colors for almost everything because they will be repeated throughout the pages.

Here are the first two pages with the blanket waiting for the baby to arrive. Before applying paint, I masked some of the shapes with Winsor and Newton masking fluid. The shiny shapes in photo #1 is the masked areas. The masking will protect the white paper until I am ready to paint in those areas or I can leave them white.

Then I started painting the background walls. I used a mix of Aureolin (Cobalt) Yellow with Amazonite Genuine (a turquoise blue) and created a soft yellow green. Because I am making up these scenes, I am building them slowly so that I don’t go too dark. I found it easiest to paint in the objects that I was certain of their color and value and then move on to the objects with more value or color variations.

As I add objects, I keep adjusting the things around the room because I can better judge the value of everything. I ended up needing to increase the value of the walls and I gave them some shadows in the corners to make them less important and bring the focus to the middle of the image. In the final image, I have everything painted in and I have added shadows. .

As I was working on these pages, I took a break in the beginning and started adding some color to the second double page spread. It helped to get away from the first image to see it with fresh eyes and while one area dried on the first image, I often added the glazes to the second image.

Here are some images from the next pages:

Again, I started by painting in the color on the bedroom walls and the color on the blanket. In this scene the blanket has a little more character and is dreaming of the day the baby comes home.

I used some Winsor Newton and some Pebeo (blue) masking fluid to save some of the smaller parts of this illustration.

I then started painting the image of the baby in the ‘dream bubble’. I used a mix of a warm red (Pyrrol Scarlet) and yellow (New Gamboge), thinned with water to paint the base color on the skin and slowly added layers of color to form the face of the infant. I used lighter color and soft edges along the outside of the bubble to make it feel like a dream.

After looking at the scene some more, I decided to increase the size of the circles that lead to the thought bubble. Using some masking tape over the area, I cut out the larger shapes. I used a small piece of a ‘Mr. Clean Magic Eraser’ to scrub off the color and get those areas back to the white of the paper. If you use a ‘Mr. Clean’ make sure to use the kind that does not have soaps or chemicals because you don’t want to transfer these to the watercolor paper. Also, test your paper. The ‘Mr. Clean’ is abrasive and can tear some papers.

The final image here still has some areas that need adjusting or painting. I also decided to add the lamp in the lower right corner. I was able to use the same method listed above with the tape and ‘Mr. Clean’ to lift the paint and get back to the white surface of the paper.

I was pleased with the outcome of the first two, double page spreads, for the children’s book. I have already started work on several others and will continue to post more as I create them. Thanks for following along!

Creating Illustrations for a Children's Book - Starting the Paintings

I am working on creating 17 illustrations for a children’s book, “For I Am Yours” written by author Pauline Hawkins. This is the second post of my journey to create the illustrations. I have not illustrated a book before and I thought I would blog about the process. The first blog post in this journey is linked here: Creating Illustrations for a Children’s Book

Fabriano Hot Press paper - Click to Enlarge

Yesterday, I started painting two of the pages on Fabriano 140 lb. hot press paper. I have used this paper for other paintings and really like it for ink and watercolor. However, while painting one of the figures in the story, I tried to make a change by lifting some color off with a stiff brush and because the Fabriano is a soft paper, the paper surface became marred. My usual substrate, Arches watercolor paper, can handle a lot of rougher techniques like: lifting, masking, and scrubbing. So, I decided instead of struggling with the Fabriano throughout this process, I would go back to the Arches paper.

Masking Fluid - Click to Enlarge

After deciding to change back to Arches 140 lb. cold press paper, I began with pages 3 and 4 because there are no figures, accept toys, on this double spread. So, I could get used to my process for the illustrations without the extra pressure of painting a figure. My paper was stretched and dried overnight. I taped the edges down to help hold the paper a little more firmly while painting some of the wetter areas. Then I masked some of the shapes with masking fluid to protect them while painting.

Mixing Colors - Click to Enlarge

Before starting the painting, I mixed a large amount of the color for the wall color in the baby’s room and a smaller amount for the blanket. I mixed the colors in some jars with lids to hopefully have enough to use for all the pages of the book. I used a mix of Amazonite Genuine by Daniel Smith (the aqua color) and Aureolin Yellow for both colors. There is more yellow the wall color and more Amazonite in the blanket color.

I began painting the bedroom walls on dry paper because I didn’t want to lighten the color I had premixed. This is a different way to work because I usually mix the color I need as I am working on a painting. Once the wall color was dry, I started painting some of the other objects in the room. I am making up the scenes, so I have to imagine where the light is coming from and how that will affect the objects. I will be adding layers and making adjustments as I go.

I have 3 other pages drawn and stretched onto the Arches watercolor paper. I will start painting portions of these that repeat from this first image like: the blanket, walls, stuffed animals, etc. That way I can get a production line going.

I have one video on my Youtube channel so far and will continue to film and post others. And you can check out Pauline Hawkins’ blog post - “For I Am Yours: The Story Behind the Story”.

First Layers - Click to Enlarge

Beginning and Basic Watercolor Supply List by Lorraine Watry

The following list of beginning and basic watercolor supplies is what I give to my beginning students and as a basic list for some of my classes. Sometimes I add to or subtract some supplies depending on the class or workshop. You can see a more in-depth talk about watercolor supplies on my Youtube channel - Lorraine Watry or click this link for the first video: Watercolor Supplies Part 1 of 4

The one thing that I do recommend to all of my students is that they buy artist or professional grade watercolor paint and paper because it really makes a difference when working with watercolor. It may seem like they could save some money when buying watercolor supplies by buying the student grade paint and paper, but because these student grade supplies don’t work the same the students end up getting frustrated.

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The student paper is often made of wood pulp and can’t handle the same techniques. This paper also dries a lot faster and that will cause streaking and blooms to happen more readily. The student grade paper often tears when using masking tape or masking fluid to protect areas until we are ready to paint them.

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Student grade paints are another problem. Students will often buy the cheaper, student grade pigments. However, these paints include a chalky filler to extend the pigment in the mix and make them less expensive. The chalky filler will make these paints less vibrant and more opaque compared to professional watercolor. Students may have paid less for the student grade paint, but they tend to use more of it because they are trying to get the same intensity as I get with my professional paint.

Watercolor paint is unlike acrylic and oil paint because it can dry out and be re-wet. You don’t throw it out like you do with acrylic or oil after they have hardened. So, it takes a long time to go through a tube of professional or artist grade watercolor.

The brushes are the third basic watercolor supply that can make a difference in how easily it is to learn and work with watercolor. The most important thing is to get brushes made for watercolor not acrylic or oil brushes. There are better and better synthetic watercolor brushes, three brands that are decent are Princeton Neptune, Golden Fleece by Cheap Joes, and Grey Matters by Jack Richeson. My current favorite brushes that cost a little more than synthetic brushes are a brand called Silver - Black velvet. These brushes are a blend brush made with half synthetic bristles and half natural hair.

Main Supplies:

Watercolor Paper:

  • 1 or 2 sheets (22x30) of 140 lb., cold press, Arches or Fabriano watercolor paper or a watercolor paper block (a block is a bound tablet of paper, 10”x14” would be fine)

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Watercolor Brushes:

  • At least two round watercolor brushes that come to a good point - a size #16 or larger and around a #6 to #8 (If you have other brushes, please bring them. My current favorite brushes are a #16 or #20 blend (½ synthetic/½ natural) - Silver Black Velvet brushes (a little more expensive), or a #8, Quill by Princeton Neptune (less expensive). A small flat #2 or #4 brush is good to have, too.

Watercolor Paint:

  • If you can only afford 3 or 4 tubes, please get Ultramarine Blue or Cobalt Blue, Quinacridone Rose, Aureolin (Cobalt Yellow), and Burnt Sienna. I found a set of Daniel Smith colors on Amazon that works great plus a small tube (5ml) of Burnt Sienna. If you have time to order it and have it shipped before the class, the set is 6, 5ml tubes: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Essentials Introductory watercolor If you already have paint or can purchase others, these are good to have: Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Red or Pyrrol Scarlet, Lemon Yellow or Hansa Yellow Light, New Gamboge, Quinacridone Gold, Sap Green, Quinacridone Magenta, Manganese Blue or Cerulean Blue (I use mainly Daniel Smith paint, but also Holbein, Daler Rowney, and Winsor & Newton)

Other Supplies:

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  • A board to tape or staple your paper to, don’t need if buying a watercolor block. I use Gatorboard or gatorfoam - 1st (foam core with a hard surface) or a white, corrugated plastic sign (for garage sales from Home Depot or Art store might carry this) - 2nd

  • Something to lean your board on, that is about 2 1/2" to 3" high. (Some students have used a tuna fish can, flattened roll of paper towels, piece of styrofoam etc.)

  • Palette or white plastic plate 8” or larger (A good starter option - Creative Mark Folding plastic Palette ($4-$7) http://www.jerrysartarama.com/folding-plastic-palette)

  • Masking tape (I use the High Adhesion masking tape by Scotch from Home Depot's paint department. It says 'High Adhesion' inside of the roll and Pro Painter on the box, I think.) (See Image Below)

  • Removable Masking fluid or frisket (make sure it doesn’t say ‘permanent’. I use the Windsor and Newton, colourless art masking fluid.) Do Not shake masking fluid! (See Image Below)

  • Paper towels (I use Viva brand, extra absorbent and hold up well and NO texture)

  • TWO water containers (plastic or glass, should be about 5” or 6” high and around a 3” opening)

  • Spray bottle (bottle that you can adjust the spray to get bigger drops of water, not mist)

  • Pencil #2 and white or kneaded eraser

  • Sketch book (5”x7” or bigger, can be one you already have used)

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If you have time you can order your supplies by mail, some good online art supply stores in the United States are: (I compare prices to get lowest)

Cheap Joes - www.cheapjoes.com

Jerry’s Artarama - www.jerrysartarama.com

Dick Blick - www.dickblick.com

or Amazon.com (has some supplies)

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Masking a Watercolor with Masking Tape by Lorraine Watry

Masking tape is my favorite way to mask a watercolor.

For those that are just starting out with watercolor, masking is a way to protect areas of your painting, while you paint around them. Then the mask can be removed and you can leave those areas white or you can paint them.

Click the Photo to Enlarge

There are two ways to mask a painting, masking fluid or masking tape. Masking fluid is a liquid latex substance that can be painted on your paper, canvas, Yupo, or clay board. You have to carefully apply it to get clean edges and so that it completely covers the shape you are protecting. After you are done painting around the masked area, the masking fluid is removed by rubbing it off or by using a rubber cement pick up tool. Using masking tape as a mask for watercolor is done by laying down a strip of masking tape over your shape on your watercolor paper and then carefully cutting around it to protect that shape. Masking tape works best on watercolor paper, less so on the canvas, Yupo, and clay board surfaces because the paint can seep under the tape if it is not sealed well.

There are a few of things to know if you are going to use masking tape to protect areas of your painting.

  1. Not all watercolor papers, even the professional grade papers, can handle masking tape on their surface. Some papers will tear when you are removing the masking tape. I found all pulp based papers (most are student grade) and even some cotton papers, will tear if you use masking tape on them. So, test your watercolor paper prior to using the masking tape on a painting. I use Arches, 140 lb. cold press paper and the masking tape works just fine on this paper. NOTE - If you use an Arches watercolor block, test the masking tape on a spare piece because a couple of my students had issues with their Arches paper from a block tearing. The Arches blocks may have a different amount of sizing and it may not hold up to the sticky masking tape.

  2. Make sure to use a super sticky/high adhesive masking tape because the water and paint will seep under tape that is not attached well to your paper. I use the Scotch brand masking tape #2020 from the paint department at Home Depot. It says “High Adhesion” on the inside label and pro painter on the box or shelf. You may be able to purchase this tape online if you don’t have a Home Depot near you.

  3. Use a SHARP blade to cut the tape. I know it may seem counter intuitive to use a sharp blade because you don’t want to cut through your watercolor paper, but the sharper the better. With a sharp blade you need very little pressure to cut through the tape. If your blade is dull you will press harder and can groove your paper causing the paint to make dark lines in these areas or you might press hard enough to cut through the watercolor paper. I use a snap-able, 9mm blade from Home Depot (paint dept.). This blade is inexpensive and can be refilled with new blades. When you need a new blade, you just snap off the previous blade and push up the new blade. (see image above)

  4. You can see your pencil line through the creamy colored masking tape. So, you don’t need to draw your lines extra dark. If you click on the images in this post, you should be able to see my pencil lines under the tape. There are other colors and brands of masking tape, even some with an edge sealant (like Gorilla tape). I don’t use the other colors because they can be hard or impossible to see my pencil line and I don’t want any added sealants on the tape because I don’t know what this might transfer to my watercolor paper. Those sealants might cause issues with my paint or paper down the line.

My Process for Masking this Watercolor:

For the painting in this post, I used both masking tape and masking fluid.

After drawing my image onto the watercolor paper, I stretch my paper onto my board. You can see how to stretch watercolor paper on my YouTube video at this link: How to Stretch Watercolor Paper and Transfer a Drawing

After stretching my paper, I wait until it is completely dry, sometimes I have to wait over night. You can tell if your paper is completely dry if it doesn’t feel cool to the touch. If you apply masking fluid while the paper is wet, the fluid will spread instead of staying in the shape you are masking and could adhere to the paper fibers and tear the paper when you go to remove it.

Where I Use Masking Tape or Masking Fluid on My Watercolors:

When my paper is dry it is safe to apply my masking tape and masking fluid. I use the masking fluid in small areas that might be hard to cut around if I were to use masking tape. I like using the masking tape to cover large areas, in this case the swan needed to be protected so that I didn’t get my background colors on the white bird and to make painting around the bird much easier.

Using the blade with the masking tape can be a little tricky at first, especially around curved shapes. As I said before, you need to use a sharp blade. I give the blade very little pressure as I follow my lines to cut around the shapes. I place one piece of tape at a time and cut it, then overlap the next piece of tape by about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. The Scotch brand tape comes in 3 sizes and I use the size that will cover the most area or that fits the shape with the least amount of waste. Some of the tape I cut off a shape is usable in another area, so I hold onto the bigger off-cuts until I know I won’t need them.

While I am cutting the tape, I found that I have to turn the paper or angle my blade a different direction to be able to see my drawing under the tape. As I have used the tape more and more, I am able to cut more precise shapes and smaller shapes. After I have cut all the tape, I go back over the tape with my fingers and press it down again to make sure that all the edges are sealed. I don’t want any paint seeping under the tape. I don’t leave the tape on the paper for very long. I think the longest I’ve left it was a month and that is pushing it because the glue that is on the tape can start transferring to your paper and causes a sticky mess.

The Reason I like Masking Tape Over Masking Fluid:

I used masking fluid only for many years. However, now my favorite way to mask a watercolor is to use masking tape.

Masking fluid takes longer to apply and if I was not careful, I would end up with messy edges or openings in the mask that I got paint on. Shapes that were protected with masking fluid usually need some clean up after I remove the mask because the shapes usually aren’t exactly as I want them and they look rough and out of place with the rest of the painting. So, I would have to go in with paint to clean up the edges or a scrubber to soften and change the look of the shape.

Masking tape will give me a very clean edge (as long as I cut carefully) that doesn’t need any clean up when I remove it. As long as I use “High Adhesion” masking tape there shouldn’t be any paint on my shapes when I remove the tape.

See this Full Watercolor Demo in a Future Magazine Article:

This painting will be published in an article that I am doing for International Artist Magazine. This is only a portion of the full painting. The article will include a step-by-step demonstration of the complete painting.There is no date yet for the article, but if you sign up for my newsletter, I will announce when the article is available in the Magazine.