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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Dragon Watercolor and Final

Color Comp

Last time I posted a color comp and a few studies for a recent personal piece.  This is how the watercolor turned out:

 12" x 18" Watercolor on Bristol

As you can see, the watercolor is not nearly as intense as the color comp.  This is something I run into a lot when I do really saturated color comps.  I would like to say that it is a "feature" of my work, rather than a deficiency in my own ability, but I never plan for it.  Somewhere along the way I get taken in by the subtleties and then can't quite bring myself to take it further traditionally.  
Which is where the digital comes in:

Digital work over Watercolor 

The digital allows me to get a lot closer to that initial comp, while at the same time leaving the watercolor alone.  But this, like invading Russia before a winter, leads to its own set of problems. For one, things become more tedious.  In the initial color comp, you are pulled along by the joy of exploration.  There are still mysteries and borders never crossed in the world. But with our comp, we have already been there.  Now we are going back with magnifying lenses and little shovels and rock sampling kits.  It takes a different mindset for exploration. And while I usually love it, it's generally not as exciting as the initial comp for me.

I find that often the only time I ever get excited about a piece again, is after it is printed. Only then can I really judge wether a digitally modified piece has been a success or not.  The digital format can tell awful lies. Sometimes you need to get a piece into the light of physical reality before you can really know. 
Until then, like others whose armies got bogged down in Russia in the dead of winter, I am usually left second-guessing myself and wishing the final was a little closer to the original comp.   


In other news: I have been working on Sketchbook 2012.  Preview next week!


  1. Looking at your work is like eating a nice big meal- so very satisfying.

  2. Its impressive how you keep the design intent so close to the digital comp. I don't know how you could have gotten it closer to the original comp, or what qualities are missing in the final.

  3. Great to see this finnished. As a personal oppinion I start to prefer your pure watercolors over the digital version. They are so light, as if the color just floats over the paper.

    Wanna do some dinosaurs ? ^^

    1. I always want to do dinosaurs! One of these days I hope to get around to doing some Lost World imagery...

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  5. Justin, I know the frustration of my art not quite reaching what my mind saw or heard. So, I definitely understand... but I also have to say... this piece is wonderful and I especially like the digital version. I hope it prints as well for you :o)

  6. Hey Justin,
    What process do you follow for getting the Bristol paper ready for the watercolor. Do you soak it first? Tape it down dry? I have been trying to soak the paper first, but after stretching it, it buckles like some crazy rolling hills. I'm using the 400 Series Srathmore vellum. Perhaps I need to be using the 500 series?

    Thanks sir!

    1. I use 500 series and rarely ever have to tape it down! I don't soak it or anything either. 500 is indestructible and holds up far better than the 400. I only ever use the 400 series for dry media.

  7. Thanks Justin! I shall certainly go with the 500 series. In regards to the digital vs traditional discussion, you had talked earlier in the year about applying more washes to push the value range of your work. I find also fight with the lack of intensity with my traditional work,and push to digital. Is the issue value, color, or both?