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Monday, September 07, 2009

AWOL Watercolor

Watercolor and Charcoal on Bristol

This week, I've been making zombies; millions of zombies.

I have begun work on an animation project for an upcoming PS3 title and it has consumed my every waking moment. It has been a steady diet of profound carnage, terrifying mayhem and Chic-fil-a chicken sandwiches.

Considering this, you might wonder then how the above image came into being. The truth is that while I enjoy zombie-killing havoc as much as the next guy, there came a point where I had to paint something completely different or I'd lose it.

This was done while waiting for my files to upload to the client. I used charcoal and watercolor this time to try a new approach in my ongoing campaign of finding the perfect illustration medium to work digitally over.


Side Note: The PS3 game I mention above is going to be awesome. I wish I could show you the illustration work done on it thus far. However, the lawyers tell me that the company who has hired me will have the legal right to come and toss a pack rabid baboons into my studio if I let anything slip on the blog. Stay tuned.


  1. If you ever consider selling this, please let me know. jodesb@gmail.com

  2. Love the blues and grays in this one.

  3. Justin,

    Very nice work, one question working with charcoal then watercolor over top any problems with the watercolor over top?

    Or are you putting down watercolor first then charcoal?

  4. I'm with Paul, I've tried watercolor over charcoal and have had some muddy results. Did you fix the charcoal with a light spray? Did you just go easy on the charcoal so that there wasn't much to move around when you applied water?

  5. This piece was penciled out first in brown pencil. Next the tones and atmosphere were painted in watercolor, wet into wet. You can see the remains of this wet into wet step in the blossom effects in the clouds and ocean. I love watercolor blossoms and anytime I find ones that work well I will work to preserve them in the final image.
    Only after the major elements of lights and shadows were resolved in watercolor did I start adding charcoal, and only then did I begin to really detail the figures and add shadows and dimensional shading.
    I did not use any spray fix on the piece.

    I tried another piece before this one, working with charcoal under the watercolor stage, but like Mike and Paul, I found the results unsatisfactory. I prefer this method of charcoal on top of watercolor as it has less tendency towards muddying details.
    I am still experimenting with how these different approaches react when you modify them digitally.

    I will be posting the digital version of this on Wednesday.

  6. Thanks Justin, I was curious just had to know.I've been of trying to arrive at a quicker way to get at some of my finished whimsical gargoyle series I would put down the sketch then build up the tones by stippling the ink work in then placing the watercolor on top.

    This looks like what I'm aiming for and has a softer look then pen with watercolor.

    Oh, as to those blossoms you can always add them here and there with simple table salt I like them also I've sometimes just drop in one grain of salt at a specific spot when the paper is mildly wet and if I like it great and if not lift out that grain of salt by lightly touching it with a wet brush waiting a second or two and go over it with some clear water blending the blossom back into the paint.

    Thanks for allowing me to look over a pros shoulder.

  7. Be careful - baboons really like chick-fil-a.

    This watercolor is gorgeous - I wouldn't have guessed charcoal would blend so well with it.

  8. No zombie influences here! Just exquisite beauty. I think you are best at watercolors. Anyway that's my humble opinion.

  9. Beautiful feeling of serenity in this. The perfect antidote to zombie carnage I would think.

  10. I love this, and the fish are the finishing touch. I'm so glad I found your site.

  11. It's just occurred to me that you said you did this whilst waiting for files to upload... so how long did it actually take? (Be careful here - if you say it only took ten minutes to produce something this amazing, hundreds of thousands of envious artists will probably shoot themselves in despair...) ;)

  12. This is just lovely. The texture and the subdued color pallet make a really unique atmosphere. It's also very interesting to read about your experiments with technique, so thank you very much for sharing!

  13. I was going to suggest that you put this up on your ETSY store, but it looks like it might already be spoken for. Beautiful work.

  14. justin, this is beautiful. you should sell prints. i agree with kate about the fishes. also, turtles are th'mazing.

  15. Zombie killing? Definitely need more of that!

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