I am often asked how I
draw water drops. Although my medium of choice is colored pencils, I do work
with watercolor, and watercolor pencils. But the technique remains similar in
all three of these media.
I generally start with
wax or masking fluid as demonstrated below, then work with pencil or colored
pencil in and around the borders. This is especially important in photorealism
Another great medium is tempera, or egg tempera, made famous by Leonardo
Da Vinci's water droplet technique. But watercolors bring a dimension of blending that is bright and easy to render once practiced.
Below are the general
steps utilized when we render these into our artwork. A well known American
artist, Birgit O’Connor, known for her great watercolors, demonstrates below,
how you can also draw or paint with this technique.
This is the first in
many visual art rendering techniques we will make available in The Searchlight
Messenger. Of course most people know that I work from photographs and very
patient models who sit for hours.
To practice, find a good close-up photograph
of water droplets to draw from, then have fun trying this technique. I think
you will be very pleased with the art you produce.
O’Connor has been featured in Watercolor
Artist and The Artist’s Magazine, and continues to be a great
resource for those learning how to master the medium. Scroll down for one of
her quick tips on watercolor painting for beginners.
“Watercolor has always been
perceived as a very unforgiving medium that offers very little control,” says
O’Connor. “This can cause a lot of frustration. But the effects and luminous
washes possible with watercolor are unrivaled. In order to take advantage of
the way watercolor works, there are some basic things you need to know.”
Find the Proper Materials
Using brushes that are too small or a poor grade of paper are paths to
Instead of beginning with the darks and then adding the lighter colors, begin
with the lighter areas and then move toward the darker colors.
As a self-taught artist with years of experience, I have found that it is
most important to simplify. I have tried to convey this through my articles,
books and DVDs.
Use Enough Water
Once you have an understanding of how to really use water and color to your
advantage, the rest is up to you. The world is wide open.
There is a very simple painting
technique you can use to add water drops to a painting. A realistic water drop
creates a three-dimensional illusion and leaves a lasting impression on the
Get an idea of how this technique works by doing this simple painting exercise.
- Masking fluid
- 1/8 sheet Arches paper
- Large wash brush
- No. 8 and No.14 synthetic brushes
- Incredible nib or bamboo drawing pen
- Color: permanent alizarin crimson, indigo
Draw the drop:
Draw an oblong circle approximately 1 inch long, and then place a small
dot of masking in the upper left hand corner.
After the masking fluid has completely dried, apply a wash of permanent
alizarin crimson over the entire area extending past the drop approximately 4
inches (MM) on either side, leave enough room on the outside edges so the
effect is not hindered and the drop can stand out.
Once the wash has completely dried, reapply water only to the inside of the
drop, allow the pigment to soften then lift out the color from in the inside using
a No. 14 synthetic brush, you can vary the size and type brush (acrylic
brushes, q-tips and paper towels work), anything to lift color out.
Before adding the shadow allow the drop to completely dry again or the color
can bleed back in. You want a nice crisp line. Using a No. 8 synthetic with a
mixture of permanent alizarin crimson and a small amount of indigo, then add
the shadow just below the drop, tapering up the side to define the edge.
Add color to shadow:
Now remove the masking from the drop and lift some color out of the shadow.
This helps to show light refracting through the drop.