Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tutorial: Old Painting Tutorial From 2009 (ink and gouache)

*Very old painting tutorial from 2009. Wouldn't have posted it except it breaks down the steps a bit more than my later painting tutorials... my apologies for the shitty paintings (again, 2009.)

Paints: black waterproof india ink, brown waterproof india ink, and Winsor & Newton Gouache in spectrum red, prussian blue, and permanent white. (I often work with a limited pallet.)

Brush: Winsor & Newton series 7 (#5)
Pencil: Colorase in Tuscan Red
Paper: Stonehenge paper in white with museum board adhered to the back using matte medium for structural integrity

This is really important: LET THE PAINTING COMPLETELY DRY BETWEEN WASHES IF THE AREAS YOU ARE WORKING ON TOUCH. Otherwise it will look mushy and colors/values will bleed into each other. It really helps to be working on a couple at a time so you can rotate between them. You can also use a hairdryer to speed things up.

Another note: Gouach is water soluble but waterproof india ink is not, so you should try to only put gouache on top of ink and not the other way around or cracking and weird shit could happen. It's ok for little details like pupils in eyes and buttons but any extensive ink washes should be done before the gouache.


1) I sketch on regular printer paper with colorase pencils, usually in carmine red.

2) Once I like a sketch I scan in and use photoshop to turn it black and white and increase the contrast and print it out at the size I want to paint it.

3) Using a ghetto lightbox I made from a glass shelf from a mini fridge and a fluorescent light I transfer the drawing to stonehenge paper using colorase pencils in either tuscan red, light blue, or carmine red.

4) I mount the paper to museum board or a wood panel using matte medium, let it dry under a heavy book for a couple hours/overnight, and then trim away any excess paper/board with an exacto knife.

5) I establish the values with washes of waterproof india ink.

6) I use washes of gouache to build up color and further refine value. At the end I use white gouache opaquely to hit shiny highlights like on noses and in eyes.

7) I go back with my colorase and reestablish any linework that was covered in the gouache stage to crispen up edges.

Details of painting process:

This is the first wash of the india ink, thinned way down. This helps establish initial values in the skin and creates a ground for the clothes.

The next wash starts to establish and refine value relationships.

Many washes later, I'm finally happy enough with the contrast and how the clothes are reading to move on from the black india ink.

This is the end result of several washes of brown india ink applied to select areas.

Color at last! Only using spectrum red gouache I slowly built up the warmth of the skin and the color of the clothing. To get gradations like in the cheeks, apply the watered-down gouache to a small area then quickly wash your brush and just lay a line of clean water on the blending edge of the still-wet paint.

The next color: prussian blue. Again, just built up in thin layers. I also mixed a new purple-red for the jackets using the blue and red because I wasn't happy with their tone.

The final product. I kept building up colors and contrast until I was happy, then I went through with a thick, opaque mix of permanent white to hit the highlights. Finally I went back through with my tuscan red colorase pencil to pick the lines back up and crispen up the edges and voila!

Elapsed time for both together: about 6 hours. (It takes as long to do one as to do two because either way you need to wait between each wash for it to completely dry.)


  1. How did you get that perfect border?

  2. I printed on heavyweight printmaking paper with my printer. I wouldn't necessaily do it that way again though since printer ink is unpredictably lightfast and gets funky if wet so no washes of paint can go near the border.


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