Category: watercolor

Steampunk Assassin WIP

I showed this sketch in my last post and mentioned possibly showing some of the progress, so I’m starting a new post all about this painting. I will be updating this post as the painting progresses so check back if you want to see it’s progress.

So far, I’ve pretty much done background work. I just started the skin earlier today, and plan on doing more tonight. I haven’t gotten far enough with that to show pics yet, so back to the background work.

My first step is to transfer the sketch to the watercolor paper. I do this using graphite paper and tracing over the sketch. Once that is done, I tape it down to a board with masking tape. Next is my ALL time favorite step (being very sarcastic here), applying masking fluid to the foreground parts that I don’t want painted yet. I really hate using masking fluid. I used to completely avoid it but over the last few years I’ve come to realize that it is a necessary evil because my backgrounds turn out so much better when I can just paint carelessly over the foreground. I think in one of my old tutorials, I even mention how I use it as little as possible. But methods do change over time. The yellow tool you see in the picture next to the masking fluid bottle is what I use to apply it. It’s a cheap plastic sculpting tool I got at Michael’s a while ago when I was trying out polymer clay, which I had no talent with so didn’t pursue for very long. lol But it works great for MF and it peels right off it afterwards, so no more ruined brushes!
I next start painting the background. I’ve decided to paint it as a rusty, riveted steel wall. I’ve found that since I got my Kindle Fire around Christmas, that it is really handy for looking up reference pictures while painting! I don’t have to waste time and paper printing them out and this takes up very little room propped up in the corner of my table.  🙂
Now, I have the background basically finished. Once everything else is done, I may think it needs something else done to it, but for now it seems done. Next is my second favorite part (more sarcasm here), removing the masking fluid. I don’t always have to use quite as much masking fluid as I did in this painting, but this is a 8.5 x 11″ painting and she takes up most of the paper! So it took a while just to get all this off. I use and eraser and just lift it off.
Eventually she is masking fluid free! But a lot of the lines lightened with the removal of the MF. Not as bad as the picture looks, but still quite faded.
So I went over the lines with a light blue/gray paint, and also cleaned up around the outside of the figure where the MF bled outside of the lines.
Now that she is cleaned up, I’m ready to continue onto the skin. I’ll add more pics and progress once I get there. 😉
So, moving onto the skin now, I began by filling in all the skin with a flesh-toned mixture of burnt-sienna/burnt umber. In the second two pictures shown above, I’m am adding some shading and shadows with various mixtures of burnt sienna/ultramarine blue. And in some of the darkest areas I used payne’s gray, to bring in a little of the background colors.
I wrote a tutorial/walk-through for my painting “Fairy of the Spring Bloom,” which can be read HERE. This tutorial is from 2008, but I still work in much the same way. Especially for skin tones. I paint almost exclusively on hot press watercolor paper now, which is completely smooth and much easier to get little details on and also use with colored pencils. Sometimes I don’t use colored pencils at all in a painting. But I think that with all the details and the size of this painting, that I probably will in her clothing and hair. Colored pencils add some different textures to a painting too, which will be nice with the different materials in this painting.
The colors for the skin tones do vary depending on the colors being used in the painting, though I usually do start off with the basic burnt sienna/burnt umber flesh tone. Colors for the shadows and highlights are what change. This painting and my 2008 fairy painting just happen to both use bt. sienna/BU, and ultramarine. But the ultramarine can be swapped for greens or purples, depending on the painting. For example, my painting “Lilac” used more purple tones in the shading, and “Woodland Magic” used green tones.
The pictures below show the same basic process shown above only with the face, which I give a lot of attention to since I feel that it is one of the most important parts of a painting, if not THE most important part.
After the shading is done (at least for now), comes a very important part of the skin tones. As of right now, the skin is kind of cold, dull and lifeless. If you look skin tones, they usually have some red/pink tones to it and some yellows. Adding these colors to the skin really breaths some life into it. For my older fairy painting I used alizarin crimson for the red tone because it is a more cooler, pink leaning red. That made sense for that painting since she was surrounded by pink cherry blossoms. It worked to bring some of that pink into her skin.
But the color scheme for this painting is much different. A lot more neutral tones will be used in this paintingPerylene Maroon is a color that I most often use. It is a nice deep reddish-brown. It seems to work great for skin tones!  I used that for this painting and some Yellow Ochre for the yellow tones.
I was concentrating pretty hard while working on the face, so I didn’t take many progress photos. Sorry about that! I saw some little anatomy type issues while painting that I worked to fix as much as I could. Like making sure the eyes are level and sized right. Eyes are so easy for me to have one a little off, so I really try to make sure they are as right as possible. I narrowed her chin out a little and also her mouth by like a millimeter. It’s so small you probably won’t notice.
Despite all that, the face is one of my favorite parts! I love working on the makeup and watch as she comes together on paper.
I’m fairly sure that the face will need some more shadows, particularly near her forehead, but I think that I will move on to her clothes now and then come back to that. It is often easier to tell if the skin needs any more work once the clothes and hair are filled in.

Now, I’ve started on the clothing.  I began first by filling in most of the base colors. This also included filling in behind the lacy part of the fan lightly with the colors that will be seen through it.  I think that I’m still going to have to darken the part of her dress that is behind the fan.

In the second picture, I’ve colored the brown leather of her corset, gloves and choker with colored pencils. Next time I work on this, I have to finish the gold buckles and fasteners and detail the teal insert of her corset… Then onto the fan! 🙂


This time, I started with the gold/brass buckles and details. I shaded and highlighted them making them look more shiny and real. I also filled in the teal panels of her corset with colored pencil so that the coloring is smoother and now I can add the pattern back into the fabric.

Using colored pencils again, I drew the pattern back onto the fabric.

Now I can finally move onto the fan!

I began by filling in the main colors of the fan… the gears and the lacy interior. I was originally going to make the gears silver or steel gray coloring, but I decided that the fan would be much more striking if it was brass/gold too. The lace of the interior section is going to be black so I filled that in with a transparent layer of paint, and painted the gears a golden color.

I used ink to draw in the frame (?) of the fan. I’m not sure that’s what it’s called but that’s what I’ll call it. 😉  I used ink because after filling the area in with paint, I couldn’t see the lines anymore, so I basically had to redraw them. This was a lot easier to do with a ruler and ink pen than with paint and brush. And faster too.  I also found later that this was nice for darken the area further. I didn’t have to worry about the lines disappearing.

After darkening the panel with another layer of paint, I drew in the lace detailing.  I also used an ink pen for this and it was so much easier and faster! I’m glad that I thought to do it that way this time.  I have used paint for things like this in the past and it does take quite a bit more time.

I got a bit carried away while working on the rest of the fan, and I didn’t take any more pictures until I was done. I detailed and defined the gears of the fan, and added the little bit of blood along the edge. I also added a little highlighting to the frame of the fan.

Next I can move onto the hair and hat. Then probably some finishing touches and she should be done! So when I update this next it should be with the final stages of the painting and the finished product. 🙂

*NEW* 4/30/12:

I begin the hair by outlining around the edges with a small paint brush. I also outlined the hat since I intend to work on this at the same time. Before filling in the hair with paint, I added the details to the angel wing charm.

Next, I fill in all the hair and hat with dark brown paint. I let that dry completely.

Then I detail the hair and hat with colored pencil. I used several different shades of brown colored pencils for this and and a light tan color for her blonde streaks. I use Prismacolor pencils, so I used dark brown, dark umber, sienna brown and I did some dark shading with indigo and a little black. The highlights were done in ginger root and light umber and some shine added with white.

I used the same browns to color the hat.
I didn’t take anymore photos, but I used black painting to fill in a transparent wash for the veil of the hat, and I added some detailing with white colored pencil.  Then I painted the larger feather of her hat a teal color to match her eyes and corset.

Having all her hair done, I decided that her face need a little more shading added, so I went back and darkened around her forehead and the right side of her face. With all that done, I then believe that she is finished!

I hope that you enjoyed seeing this painting come together!! Prints of her are now available on my website HERE
Share This: