The Leaf Test . . .

leaftestI had seen Cathy Johnson use a water soluble pencil line in her watercolor sketching a few times, and Jane LaFazio using a water soluble marker in her recent Sketchbook Skool lesson.

The idea is to outline your drawing with the soluble lines, and then paint inside the shape with a wet brush or water brush to dissolve some of the line into a sort of automatic shading.

I had tried this a few times before, but had not given the idea a real workout.

No time like the present . . .

I like the look in black & white, but I was more interested in how this trick would work as an underpainting for watercolor.

The tricky part would be to add a wash or glaze over the shading without moving it around too much or polluting the glaze color.

So, I thought of Inktense pencils, because once wet and dried, they are supposed to be permanent. This is a relative thing of course, because if you haven’t actually wet the Inktense thoroughly, it is still soluble.

(I learned more than I ever even wanted to know about Inktense when writing my Inktense Soup to Nuts Workshop, and you can too. If you are intrigued by these pencils, check it out.)

It turned out that in a smaller space, if the whole area got wet, the Inktense would dry into a flat wash, but if you left a white area in the middle of a larger space, you could get nice modeling.

inktenseleaf1And it turned out that my favorite result came from painting a watercolor glaze over the dried Inktense shading . . .

inktenseleaf2But, I did make some other interesting discoveries, and I will give you a close look at them here.

My least favorite leaf resulted from outlining with a Koi Brush marker. They are rich and juicy, and very hard to control once you wet them. Over painting then made a real mess . . .

koileafThis isn’t horrible or anything, but not subtle either!

Because graphite is somewhat water soluble, I tried a #2 pencil with this technique and then overpainted with a watercolor wash.

Subtle, but I think a little too subtle . . .

no2leafFinally, I discovered something really interesting about some inexpensive markers I had been using to paint some wildflower illustrations last summer.

They are called Fibracolor, come from Italy and cost only about $22 for 100 at Amazon.

I think I like them the best of any water soluble marker for this painting technique.

Anyway, we all know black is made up of many colors (all colors if you’re talking pigment).

This shading technique brought out the colors in the black marker and made things very interesting . . .

fibracolorLook even closer . . .

fibradetailI just love that!

This test was done in my Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook.

I hope you have learned something useful from my little leaf test. I certainly did!

6 thoughts on “The Leaf Test . . .

  1. Elaine Golt Gongora

    If you want to carry one pen to use for sketching and washes the Pilot Razor Point with the yellow tip is great. It has been on the market for years but may be a little hard to find. Also has a blue tone but easy to control your wash.
    For graphite use General Pencil Sketch & Wash. Nice soft pencil and good for washes.

  2. Diana in Texas

    My only experience in this area has been with the Sketch & Wash pencil and I like it very much for the black and white.

    Thanks, Jessica, for teaching us so many things with your experimentation.

  3. Timaree

    I use the Tombows and a Uniball Signo for my bleed pictures. This one was a Tombow and I didn’t even take 5 minutes to draw and paint this in with water (I added the color afterwards) as I was showing my son’s friend how you could sketch fast if need be. It’s not my best drawing but it is wonderful when you want to do something fast or you don’t want to carry a lot of supplies.

    I did one drawing which I couldn’t find just now where the blacks had green and blue tones. It’s good to try every black felt tip pen to see what you get!

  4. jessica Post author

    Cool coffee pot, Timaree – I like it!

    I ordered Pilot Razor Points with yellow tops from Amazon. Eager to see what they are like.

    Got some soft sketching pencils, but I don;t like the smear-ability afterwards.

  5. LynnInColorado

    Yay…More supplies to try in my various beginner experiments! Your mention of blue in your black marker reminded me of my attempts to get a gray from combining white and black oil-based food coloring for white chocolate cupcake toppers. Frustrating!

  6. LynnInColorado is having a sale. Better prices than Amazon Prime in many cases.

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